Hands up! Who has been on the M.V. Native, also known as the Paddlewheeler Riverboat that cruises the Fraser and Pitt Lake? This is one of my favourite New West things to do and it’s one of the things I’d put on my “New West Score Card” for visitors and locals alike to check off. If you haven’t been, you need to go. The owners, Doug and Helga Leaney, are two of the nicest people you’ll meet. 27 years ago, they started this local company with a single boat, and now they offer two boats – the M.V. Native, a 100 passenger replica sternwheeler built in 1988 and the smaller M.V. Beta Star, a 40 passenger catamaran better for cruising shallower waters such as in Pitt Lake.
They offer a lot of really great pre-programmed cruises, many of which are family-friendly, as well as custom designed private charters for family reunions, weddings, corporate team building, and community events. They’re flexible and open to new ideas, too, like this Pitt Lake Bike tour they’ve introduced this year.
My first experience on the boat was a number of years ago during FraserFest (now called Riverfest!) where Doug and Helga opened their doors and took people out for free mini cruises on the Fraser, sponsored by the Port of Vancouver.
My next experience was when Tenth to the Fraser collaborated with Next New West and hosted an all candidates meeting on the boat. It was super fun and was a unique way to talk politics and be social at the same time. Recently Doug and Helga invited a number of New Westminster people on the boat for a reacquaintance tour to check out the New Westminster riverfront by water. It was a really beautiful day, despite the drizzle.
Here’s why I like going on these cruises and why they bring me joy:
- Supporting a local business who gives back to the community
- Being on the water while living in the city gives you a different perspective of the city
- Something different, that feels like another era – all the dark wood and brass decor is gorgeous
- The spinning paddlewheel is super hypnotic
- Being able to say “I’m on a boat!” is still funny
Enter to Win!
Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours is offering two tickets to an upcoming cruise to a lucky Tenth to the Fraser reader. It’s easy to enter, all you need to do is comment on this post with a note about who you’d take if you win, and why! We will draw the lucky winner on Friday at 5pm.
Note, you might think I was asked to write this post, but I wasn’t. I also wasn’t paid for it, aside from the lunch cruise I took a few weeks ago and helped them organize. I think what they’re doing is fun and unique, and I want more people to experience it.