British Columbia

McLure Ferry celebrating 100 years crossing B.C.'s North Thompson River

The McLure Ferry is a free cable ferry that moves travelers between Kamloops and Barriere, B.C. and is celebrating its centennial this year.

'They've had to fight basically since its inception to keep it going'

A 2003 wildfire forced residents to flee the Town of Barriere in B.C.'s southern Interior and the McLure ferry was their only way out. (Barriere History Facebook)

What began more than 100 years ago as little more than a raft to help ranchers cross B.C.'s North Thompson River is still transporting people every day.

The McLure Ferry, located about 40 kilometres north of Kamloops in the southern Interior, is celebrating one century as a part of B.C.'s official transportation network, but it started life as a 'homemade' ferry as early as 1890, according to Lorene Fennell, president of the North Thompson Museum.

Its primary purpose in the beginning was for ranchers to move livestock.

"It was started by local people," Fennell told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. "It was more of a raft."


Residents relying on the McLure ferry

The provincial government took over the ferry's operations in 1919 and, according to Fennell, talks of terminating services began with plans to "build a bridge between Vinsulla [on the east side of the North Thompson] and Black Pines on the west side of the river."

Fennel says, those talks continued into the 1990s because the government said there wasn't enough traffic. "They've had to fight basically since its inception to keep it going," Fennell says.

The ferry began crossing the North Thompson River in about 1890 after being built by local ranchers. (Barriere &District Heritage Society)

Celebrating the Centennial

Fennell says the museum got involved in the celebrations after the Ministry of Transportation announced they would be putting up a plaque and photo to commemorate 100 years.

Fennell is hoping to expand on that by creating a photo exhibition and is asking anyone with photos taken during the past ten decades on the ferry to submit them for display via the Barriere History Facebook page.

The wildfire of 2003 is of particular interest for the exhibit because thousands of area residents — including everyone in the Town of Barriere — were forced to evacuate and the McLure ferry was the only way out.  

A date for the celebration this summer has yet to be released.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops


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