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Crew Members

Many people helped to maintain the sternwheelers and tugboats and run them on schedule. While men filled most positions, some women worked as stewards during World War II.


A well-respected position, the Captain was responsible for everything to do with the boat - the passengers, crew and the boat itself.

The First and Second Mates

The Mate, assistant to the Captain, was responsible for cargo, fuel (cordwood and later coal), maintenance of the boat and supervision of the deckhands.


Deckhands performed the physical labour on the sternwheelers: unloading and loading the boat with fuel and cargo, as well as maintenance - washing the decks and painting.


The Purser was responsible for whatever came on or off of the boat. The Purser collected tickets, took reservations for staterooms, arranged wakeup calls and flag stops and accounted for all of the freight on board.

Freight Clerk

The Freight Clerk took care of all cargo and mail.

Chief Steward

In charge of passenger service, the Chief Steward supervised the cleanliness and service in the staterooms, dining room and saloons.


Stewards were well-trained in the role of dining room service. Those in the CPR Lake and River Service were well known for the care and attention that they paid to each passenger in the dining rooms, saloons and staterooms.

Chief Engineer

The Engineers on the boats operated the machinery. They kept boilers and engines in shape and maintained the steam in the boilers at safe levels under watch of the Engineers. They received signals from the Captain in the pilothouse through sound tubes that indicated where the Captain wanted the boat to go.


The most physical job on the sternwheelers was that of the Fireman. Feeding the fire with fuel and keeping the temperature in the boiler steady was an exhausting job. The Fireman also had to compensate for variances in the quality of the fuel. Coal from the Fernie region was known to be difficult to deal with, for example, compared to coal from the Crowsnest Pass.

Night Watchman

The Watchman kept the fire going in the firebox, to allow the boilers to stay warm for the morning run. He was also responsible for the well-being of the boat overnight - checking for leaks, preventing fires and keeping the boat safe.


Media Clip Description: Exterior of the SS Moyie in Kaslo BC

SS Moyie Exterior

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Media Clip Description: Exterior of the SS Moyie in Kaslo BC

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