The Lake Country 'sailboat' isn't just roadside marketing, it's a historical landmark | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

The Lake Country 'sailboat' isn't just roadside marketing, it's a historical landmark

The Holiday Park Resort's sailboat, located beside Highway 97 near Lake Country, has a history in the Okanagan that stretches back almost 120 years.

A blue and white sailboat has been the marketing staple of Holiday Park Resort since its inception in the 1980s, but the boat has a far longer history, some of which was spent beneath the waves of Okanagan Lake.

The sailboat is actually the Orchard City II, a tugboat built in 1940 that was used to cart logs across Okanagan Lake. In 1948, it sank after a storm near Kelowna’s Mission area, where it sat for almost 30 years, according to the Okanagan Heritage Museum.

In 1979, it came back to the surface when Kelowna entrepreneur Leo Budnick decided to use it as a restaurant.

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But those plans fell through and the boat sat on the shore in Lake Country's Okanagan Centre, where local artists used it as a backdrop for their inspiration instead.

At that time, it was a subject with an air of mystery, said Sharon McCoubrey, president of the Lake Country Art Gallery Society.

One Lake Country woman, Gladys Goode, painted it several times.

“It was sitting on the shore for quite a while, but when you go for a walk and it’s still there, you start to wonder why?” McCoubrey said.

Eventually the boat was sold to Saul Sigal and Jody LaFontaine who founded the Holiday Park Resort in 1983.

Saul's son Dan Sigal, current president of the resort, said the boat was placed on a flat deck and transported from Okanagan Centre to its current location along Highway 97, where it was initially used as a sales office and presentation centre.

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

Once more buildings were constructed at the resort, it became more of a landmark that is still used as the park's marketing mascot.

"I don’t know how long I can keep it there for, it is on leased land… currently it’s making sense but we’ll see,” Sigal said.

To maintain the structure, it costs between $5,000-$10,000 a year and if major renovations need to be done in a year it can cost up to $20,000.

The sails were installed as part of the resort’s marketing and were used like signs, but after a windstorm destroyed them a few years ago they've been replaced with simple white ones.

“We’re trying to minimize our costs... it doesn’t warrant the same types of continued marketing presence. It was almost everything to the resort initially,” Sigal said.

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Customers still inquire about the boat, “they want to find more on it,” he said, adding that he’ll get the occasional museum inquiry and from guests who have an interest in its history.

“My dad was quite a businessman and a good marketer, and had a vision in various things, and had fair success with those things, and he may have thought of ‘don’t miss the boat,’ that type of thing (for it)," Sigal said. "And there was an opportunity to put something different than the standard billboard on the side of the highway."

He would love to see it stay as “it definitely has maintained its awareness and presence."

However there is concern about its upkeep, and Sigal said he isn’t sure if the sentimental value would warrant a $100,000 fix as the sailboat ages.

“If I can maintain it, of course I’d love to,” he said.

For now, drivers can see it nestled along the highway before they enter Lake Country.

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

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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