'Boat of fun:' Working on the Fintry Queen in its heyday - InfoNews

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'Boat of fun:' Working on the Fintry Queen in its heyday

The Fintry Queen is seen on Okanagan Lake, May 20, 2016.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
September 18, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Tia Comer was in her early 20s when a famous marine conservationist and filmmaker wanted to use the Fintry Queen to search for the Ogopogo.

She remembers walking down Kelowna’s waterfront in the 1980s, seeing the Fintry Queen, a replica paddlewheeler known for its parties, docked at the end of Bernard Avenue.

Comer, a Westbank resident, worked as part of three kitchen staff on the boat in the 1980s, when she was in her early 20s, which was originally used to ferry people between Kelowna and the Westside before the Okanagan Lake Bridge was built in 1958.

Known as the MV Lequime, when the bridge opened the ferry was turned into a replica paddlewheeler and renamed the Fintry Queen. It went through various owners and formats from taking tourists to Fintry to a floating restaurant to a tour boat, but it has spent most of the last decade out of operation.

READ MORE: The Fintry Queen is looking to ferry passengers on Okanagan Lake once again

At one point, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a well-known French marine conservationist and filmmaker, wanted to use the boat to look for the Ogopogo but it never transpired, Comer said.

“That was in the day the bridge would go up. It’d have to rise and all of the guests would have to go under," she said.

Now with word that could reopen next spring, Comer is excited and wants to bring her grandchildren aboard.

“We had weddings on the boat, lots of parties on the boat and sometimes we would go up to Vernon, but Sunday afternoon were family days. That’s when families would come on the boat and bring their kids… I have a picture of my sister and I back in the 1990s with our kids,” Comer said.

Fitted with a big dance floor and a DJ, the boat was the perfect party scene during her time in the kitchen.

“We would do all-nighters to go up to Vernon,” she said, which took about four-and-a-half hours to get there, one-way. “For the people who came on the boat, they would want to just stay. We would stop and they would continue to want to party afterwards.”

There was never a moment in her time working that a person was disgruntled, she said.

Working as a dishwasher and doing food prep in the tiny kitchen, Comer eventually ended up spearheading the food section, she said. Most of the food was prepared on land and cooked onboard.

It was sad to see it retire, she said.

“Never did I go, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to go to work.’ It was a boat of fun and everyone seemed to have fun, from the workers on the boat to the people who came, especially Sunday afternoons when it was a true family affair,” she said.

Andy Schwab, the boat’s current owner, is in the process of getting Fintry Queen recertified by Transport Canada, saying it’s in great shape but needs a paint job, which he’s working on.

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