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The SS Sicamous turns 100

The old sternwheeler which transported people up and down Okanagan Lake for decades, is turning 100 on Monday.

The important date for the SS Sicamous will be celebrated with the launch of Steamfest, 18 months of steam driven events in the South Okanagan.

"Steamfest has been in the works for two years now, so to finally kick it off on the birthday of the SS Sicamous is a thrill and also quite an honour," said Peter Ord, curator of the Penticton Museum and Archives.

The SS Sicamous, known as the Queen of the Lake for the past century, was launched on May 19, 1914 at Okanagan Landing, where she was built.

She went on to serve as a transport vessel for passengers and cargo. She carried fruit, livestock and coal to market as well as providing transport to hundreds of soldiers in WWI.

On Monday, the celebration on the Penticton-based ship will include the launch of a commemorative stamp and an outdoor steam show, where local residents can register their home-made steam craft and gadgets in hopes of winning prizes in their category.

At the same time, they will kick off the culinary part of the festival, lighting the rock oven and cooking breads and signature stew, created by Joy Road Catering.

A free tour will also give visitors the opportunity to see the results of the big renovation project on the ship in the last year.

The party doesn't end Monday. On Saturday, May 24, there will be a centennial launch party on the ship with beer and wine tastings, fine foods and live music.

It is a fund-raiser for the SS Sicamous. Anything beyond the cost covered will go to restoration of the ship and the marine park.

Steamfest also celebrates other historic landmarks, the SS Naramata and Kettle Valley Railway system, turning 100, in 2014 and 2015.

The launch event is from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday.

For more information, go to www.steamfest.ca.

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