HISTORY OF THE VERNON MUSEUM
The beginnings of the Vernon Museum can be traced back to three men, Charles Edward Haines, David Howrie Sr. and William Pound. Charles “Charlie” Haines was born in Norfolk, England in 1885. Haines moved to Canada in 1920 and settled in the Coldstream where he earned his living as an orchardist. Haines was trained as a cabinetmaker in England and he was also a skilled taxidermist. He had other interests as well. In his spare time, he would spend hours in the Mabel Lake area hunting for archeological and native artifacts. Over time, he amassed quite a collection.
David Howrie Sr. was born in Manchester, England in 1883. As a young man, he set off for Canada in 1905. He came to the Vernon area in 1908 and then criss-crossed his way through Canada trying his hand at everything from carpentry to cow punching. He did a stint overseas during World War 1 and then returned to B.C. after the war. By the 1920’s he was back in Vernon. Howrie entered the construction business and in 1934 was elected Alderman and by 1943 he was in the mayor’s chair.
In 1949, William Pound, a taxidermist and furrier in Vernon for some 58 years, passed away leaving his mounted birds, animals and many native artifacts to the City of Vernon. The understanding for the bequest was that a museum would emerge from this collection. In the meantime, a friendship was growing between Charlie Haines and David Howrie. As a result of that friendship, and with the bequest left by William Pound, the two men got together and organized a small museum in the back rooms of W.L. Seaton School in early May of 1950.
With his cabinetmaking and taxidermy skills, Haines was able to build wood and glass showcases for a number of the animal specimens left by Pound and included painted backdrops for each case as well. Haines contributed hundreds of hours of volunteer time and artifacts from his own collections to the creation of museum displays. Meanwhile, Howrie handled the politics of developing the structure of a museum organization.
On June 6th, 1950, Mayor T.R.B. Adams publicly opened the museum. In 1954, the creation of a museum board was achieved with George Melvin as chairman and Guy P. Bagnall as the secretary-treasurer. Other board members included David Howrie Sr., who served on the museum board for twenty years, Earl Quesnel, and Douglas Ross. The first annual budget for the new museum was presented to city council that same year for the princely sum of $250.00.
The museum moved from its quarters at Seaton School to the former police station and magistrate’s court on 30th Street across from Cenotaph Park in 1956 and to its present location in 1966.
Charlie Haines died May 5th, 1958 at the age of 73. David Howrie Sr. passed away on September 25th, 1976 at the age of 94.
From its humble beginnings, the Vernon Museum now occupies over 12,000 square feet of space and attracts thousands of visitors each year. However, the legacy left to us by William Pound, David Howrie and Charlie Haines are still clearly visible in the natural history corner of the museum where William Pound’s animal mounts are still on display in the cases built by Charlie Haines.