Boston Bar Aerial Ferry

Boston Bar, BC, Canada

Note- This is NOT a Reaction Ferry, but an unusual Aerial Car/Passenger Ferry

Boston Bar is 132 miles from Vancouver BC. It lies on the East Bank of the Fraser River on the old Cariboo Rd
North Bend is on the opposite bank, and was a divisional point for the CPR
North Bend was originally called Yankee Flat in the gold rush days.
It was named North Bend by a contractor building the CPR in 1883.
Named because the Fraser River bends to the north here.

Boston Bar Aerial Ferry to North Bend

The BC Dept of Public Works started work on this Aerial Ferry in 1939
It cost $20,000 to build the system.
It replaced the use of rowboats to cross the river.
It opened Friday afternoon around 3 pm, Mar 15, 1940, with Dr. J.J. Gillis, MLA for Yale (1928-1958), at the opening ceremonies,
Dr. John Joseph Allan Gillis
b- June 17, 1881 in Miscouche, PEI, Canada
d- Apr 6, 1965 Merritt, BC, Canada, age 83

This was the only Aerial Automobile Ferry in North America for many years
In 1961 it was reported there was one similar in the US
It carried a single vehicle, or 40 passengers

40 ft high Triangular steel tower, 20 ft wide was built on North Bend side.
On the Boston Bar side the cables were anchored into the rock
1 3/4“ cables 20 ft apart, 1019 ft long, were placed
There was a sag of 51 ft in the span
The Travelling cage was 10 ft, 14” long
It was rated to carry 6 tons.
The Cage has been put on display in The Frances Harrington Park, in Boston Bar

The tramway was operated by a hoist (Hauler cable), and hoist man located on the Boston Bar side.
Operated by a 70hp electric motor in 1949, with a gas engine as standby.
Originally a large donkey Gas engine
the Landing Stages were constructed of timber.

It closed in 1986, replaced by the Cog Harrington Bridge, running alongside of the ferry
Bridge was named after Walter “Cog” Harrington,
His widow Frances Harrington cut the opening ribbon on this bridge
The first Post Master in Boston Bar, when it opened Apr 1, 1917, was Charles Harrington
John “Charles” Harrington
b- Dec 25, 1878 in Winnipeg, MB
d- Oct 8, 1933 in General Hospital in Vancouver BC
He was a hotel man in Boston Bar, father of Walter Harrington above.

The following pictures were taken by Elain Genser in 1974, donated June 2020

1949 Manny Rowse was the purser, who collected the car fares
Alfred Earnest “Manny” Rowse (Jan 17, 1927 - Feb 6, 2020)
The purser travelled with the cage, and signalled stop and go with flags and lights, to the hoist man.
fares in 1949- passengers 5 cents, cars 25 cents, trucks 50 cents
Horses and cattle were 25 cents each. Smaller animals were 10 cents each
Bill Hogan was the donkey engine engineer in 1949.

1961- Steve Springenatic was the operator

Sept 4, 1974 they closed the ferry for 30 days and spent $280,000 on upgrades to the ferry. New tower, drive system and haulage rope. Contractor Brittain Steel Ltd. from New Westminster BC

Jan 28, 1986- Last Operator was Cliff Fisher, who worked for 21 years on the ferry

Would you put your car on this today?

External Links
NOT my sites-
I do not guarantee these links will work in the future

video of the tramway

history story of the aerial ferry

1940 Maclean's article

Postal history


  • Last modified: 2021/06/11 15:43
  • by dlgent