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Backward Glances: Crossing the Big Lake

William R. Bennett Bridge
William R. Bennett Bridge

It has been seven years since the new William R. Bennett Bridge was opened in Kelowna — May 25th, 2008.

Thinking of “the history of the original [bridge] brought back many memories. As a boy, I remember the excitement in 1958 as this first ever link from Kelowna to the Westside, took shape. A visit from royalty was rather rare and the presence of a young, and quite glamorous Princess Margaret for the dedication created tremendous excitement. Her accommodation during that visit was the summer residence of the Gordon Finch family, now the Tuttle property at the end of Finch Road. I recall that the opening was the first “remote” broadcast by CHBC, then in its first year of operation. I also remember those early years when this was a toll bridge ….   [Premier] “Wacky” [Bennett] said once the bridge was paid for the tolls would be removed and he was as good as his word. …

MV Pendozi
MV Pendozi

No drive across a bridge, however, could match my excitement of crossing the lake on the old ferries. A trip on the Lloyd Jones, the Lequime or the Pendozi meant adventure. I personally preferred the Lloyd Jones as you could climb to the second deck for a better view. Each summer our family, along with the McCarthys and our Meadow Lake cousins, the Gibsons, would cross as foot passengers for a day of swimming and picnics on the beach just to the south of the ferry landing. I still recall the time when we were halfway home on the ferry before I remembered I’d forgotten my new running shoes behind a log on the beach. Mom wasn’t at all pleased about making another return trip to retrieve them. At other times a ferry ride marked the beginning of our annual fall visit to the metropolis of Wenatchee for shopping. Trips could be exciting when storms struck, or on those rare occasions when breaking through ice in winter.

I suspect that a few of us not living on Vancouver Island, feel that same way when we climb on a BC Ferry. We grumble about the inconvenience and the cost, but for me at least even now a crossing still means the start of another new adventure.”1

1 Gibbons, Richard. This article was first published in The View in Gibbons’ column Backward Glances.



Notes: The last day of Kelowna–Westbank ferry service (10 minute crossing) occurred on July 20, 1958. All three ferries carried a total of 534,371 vehicles during their last year of service. All vessels became surplus with the opening of the bridge in 1958. The MV Pendozi was turned over to the City of Kelowna who later sold it as the Clubhouse for the West Kelowna Yacht Club; the MV Lequime, was transformed into the Fintry Queen; the MV Lloyd-Jones was bought by BC Ferries in the early 1960s for the Vesuvius-Crofton run. Source: West Kelowna Yacht Club.


  • The Vesuvius Queen which was originally named Lloyd Jones and sailed on Okanagan Lake, sold to R & G Importadora & Exportadora of the Dominican Republic in 1998

    • Thanks David.

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