'I kept wishing it was a joke': Lake Country sailboat landmark goes up in flames | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'I kept wishing it was a joke': Lake Country sailboat landmark goes up in flames

Holiday Park Resort’s beloved landmark was destroyed by fire April 1, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Steve Windsor
April 01, 2021 - 12:05 PM

The beloved blue and white sailboat containing more than 80 years of Okanagan history is no more after it was destroyed by fire.

Holiday Park Resort’s marketing landmark along Highway 97 in Lake Country has been showcasing the resort since its inception in the 1980s.

Early this morning, April 1, president of the resort Dan Sigal watched as firefighters battled the blaze that ultimately destroyed the boat. Lake Country fire chief Steve Windsor said the boat was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived shortly after 1:30 a.m.

“It’s almost like the passing of a well-known human. Being on the corner of the highway there, for that long of a time, it’s hit a lot of people. The resort staff is all upset and saddened,” Sigal said. “I kept wishing it was a joke, being the day it is. The phone call I thought was but it became pretty real, pretty quick.”

His father Saul’s vision for the sailboat became a landmark for the community, he said.

“That struck me and I’m sad to see it gone,” Sigal said.

READ MORE: The Lake Country 'sailboat' isn't just roadside marketing, it's 120 years of history

Eventually the resort was going to see challenges with the costly upkeep of the boat and would have had to find other options for it, but Sigal expected it to be around for a while longer. They're still working out costs for the demolition of the remaining structure, he said.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation but the blaze was initially seen by B.C. Ambulance crews who pulled over and tried to put it out.

“No one was hurt, no other properties were damaged. It was an important landmark for people but we’re all going to move on. The resort is still operating and functioning,” Sigal said. “It’s a shame but I’m glad nobody was hurt.”

READ MORE: Lake Country 'sailboat' destroyed by fire

While the boat has been advertising the resort since the 1980s, its history in the Okanagan stretches far beyond that.

The sailboat is actually the Orchard City II, a tugboat built in 1940 that was used to cart logs across Okanagan Lake. It sank following a storm near Kelowna’s Mission but was pulled out of the lake 30 years later when entrepreneur Leo Budnick wanted to use it as a restaurant.

Those plans never came to fruition and it sat on the shore in Lake Country's Okanagan Centre neighbourhood where local artists used it as a backdrop for their inspiration.

Eventually, it was sold to Saul Sigal and Jody LaFontaine who founded Holiday Park Resort.

An old image of the Holiday Park Resort's sailboat that was transformed from an old tugboat.
An old image of the Holiday Park Resort's sailboat that was transformed from an old tugboat.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Lake Country Museum

- This story was corrected April 20, 2021 to say the boat was built in 1940, not commissioned in 1903.


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