THE HISTORY OF KOOCANUSA
In 1961 an international treaty between Canada and the United States was signed to coordinate flood control and maximize electrical energy production throughout the Columbia Basin.
In 1972, the Kootenay River was transformed into Lake Koocanusa, a 150 kilometre long body of water, following completion of the Libby Dam located approximately 80 km south of the United States border.
A contest to name the Lake was won by a Libby, Montana resident. The name was derived from “Koo” from Kootenay, “Can” from Canada and “USA”.
In the late 70’s an accidental release of approximately 100 kokanee salmon entered the water system and thrived, due in part, to the lack of natural predators. Shortly afterwards, anglers were pulling in many thousands of these tasty land locked salmon.
It is interesting to note that the original “big” plan was to create a much larger body of water that would have flooded an immense area of the Columbia Valley. Common sense prevailed and we are now blessed with this amazing and useful water system known as Lake Koocanusa.
Koocanusa, as a reservoir, rises each March to June in a refresh that can see as much as 4 million acre feet of water enter the system from the mountains through the many tributary streams entering the lake.
This all means a wonderfully clean and warm (heats as it rises) lake each year.
The water retreats starting slowly in mid summer to late fall when water is held for power production in the winter. All this time the lake remains an ever changing, enchanting and marvellous place to be.
Lake Koocanusa has emerged as a great recreational haven.
Sunshine Houseboat Vacations Ltd. was founded in 1999 by Brant and Dianne Cullum, residents of Cranbrook, BC. The couple had a vision to offer houseboat charters on Lake Koocanusa stemming from some thoughtful insight during family camping trips to the lake.
Resourceful entrepreneurs, Brant and Dianne understood the importance of having a competitive advantage and they knew that the area rivalled any other location.
To begin, four original Three Bouys’ Suncruiser craft were purchased in Sicamous and transported to Lake Koocanusa. The first marina was established on a small piece of land located opposite the Elk River. This location helped the company establish its personality.
As word spread about the area, charter bookings grew and brand new state of the art houseboats were added to the fleet. To accommodate growth a new location was secured and Sunshine moved to Gold Bay in the spring of 2006.
In 2020 Sunshine will operate a fleet of 10 houseboats from their full service marina located on 4 hectares of land and 3 hectares of water.
Sunshine is a thriving and growing tourism business on Lake Koocanusa.