Where it all began: The Dreamland Theatre shortly after its opening in 1908.

World theatre Day

Today is World Theatre Day (and, coincidentally, also the occasion of the 94th Academy Awards ceremony).

The history of theatre in Vernon can be dated back to December 12, 1908, when the Dreamland Theatre opened on Vernon’s 30th Avenue. For the first few moving picture shows, the audiences were small, and the theatre could barely cover expenses. In a 1910 newspaper article, the theatre’s manager, H. H. Dean, claimed that the people of Vernon were “afraid they would see something they would be ashamed of, and the public had to be educated as to the class of pictures which would be shown in “Dreamland.”

From Dreamland, to Empress, to Capitol

The Empress Theatre opened at 3207 30th Avenue on May 30, 1912. In 1921, the theatre hosted showings of the films “Stranger than Fiction,” “The Devil,” and “Nobody.” The first films with sound, known as “talkies,” arrived at the Empress in February of 1930.

The Capitol Theatre opened on 30th Avenue in November of 1938. The premier feature film was “The Valley of the Giants,” a “four bell” picture in technicolour selected to showcase the up-to-date colour reproduction equipment at the new theatre.

The Towne and Famous Players

In 1970, the Capitol’s name was changed to the Towne Cinema, which is currently operated by the Okanagan Screen Arts Society.

Vernon’s largest theatre, the Famous Players Cinema in Polson Place, also opened in 1970. In 2005, Cineplex Entertainment purchased Famous Players, and the local theatre’s name was changed to Galaxy Cinemas. Today, Cineplex Entertainment is a three-billion dollar company, while 115 years earlier, Vernonites had to be convinced to visit the Dreamland.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

Spring of 1925

Today is the first day of spring (finally, some might add). Spring has long been a time for new life and fresh starts.

In March of 1925, the coming of the new season was celebrated in Vernon with “Spring Sewing Week” at the Hudson’s Bay Company, in which “thousands of yards of spring fabrics” were put on sale. Notices also began to appear in the Vernon News reminding readers to put in their orders for baby chicks and hatching eggs.

The district’s horticulturalist, M. S. Middleton, provided the British Columbia Fruit Growers’ Association with tips on how to treat winter injury (a type of plant damage) at a public presentation. The city also began its summer tourism campaign, describing Vernon as “the center of the apple-growing industry where the finest, rosiest, and sweetest apples in the world grow.”

The fashionable style for women that spring included long tunics and blouses, chamoisette gloves, and kid-leather heels, while men were encouraged to buy knitted or crepe ties with matching shirts in Spring patterns. 

As the last of the snow melted from Vernon’s road, bikes went on sale at Okanagan Saddlery for $40, and the fishing season began (much to the delight of local anglers). MacDonald’s Pharmacy advertised “a splendid assortment of Easter greeting cards and chocolate novelties,” while several local drycleaners recommended giving one’s Easter wardrobe a refresh in the lead up to the holiday.

The city was caught up in the excitement of the new season, another winter behind them.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

killiney BeaCH

May the road rise up to meet you this St. Patrick’s Day! Vernon is home to a healthy Irish population, which is reflected in some of its place names. Killiney Beach, originally called Sproul’s Landing by the region’s settler population, is situated on Westside Road. Of course, long before the area bore either of these names, it was known to and used by the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation.

Killiney Beach in 1944.

Killiney Hill

The beach was named after Killiney Hill in Dublin, Ireland. Killiney Hill is a popular destination for hikers, drawn to its spectaculars views of Dublin, the Irish Sea, and the mountains of Wales. The hill is also topped by an obelisk built in 1742 in remembrance of the victims of the Irish Famine of 1740/’41.

Sproul’s Landing

Sproul’s Landing was a stop for the sternwheelers of Okanagan Lake. Some stops along the lake, including Sproul’s Landing, were unscheduled, and the ships would only halt at these smaller settlements on occasion. In order to request the S.S. Sicamous to make an unscheduled stop during its trips between Penticton and Vernon, residents would need to stand on the shore waving a white flag during the day, or light two bonfires at night.

Killiney Hill near Dublin, Ireland. Photo courtesy of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

 

Harry Percy Hodges

When Harry Percy Hodges decides to settle at Sproul’s Landing in 1903, he hanged its name to reflect his Irish roots. In addition to running his own farm, Hodges also worked as a bookkeeper at the Coldstream Ranch. He later married Arabel M. Ricardo, sister to W.C. Ricardo, the ranch’s manager. The couple has at least one child, a son named John.

Hodges passed away in Victoria in 1922.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

Vaselena and Nicholai Malysh are featured in Vernon’s Multicultural Mural (3101 32nd Avenue); Vaselena is wearing the blue dress in the center of the image, with Nicholai’s arm around her shoulders.

War In Ukraine

This Tuesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, and in light of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, it seems fitting to feature some of the many remarkable Ukrainian women who have called Vernon home. In particular, the Malysh family has a long local history.

Vaselena Malysh

In 1903, a young woman named Vaselena immigrated with her family from Ispas, Ukraine, to a farm in Hamlin, Alberta. Here, Vaselena married Nicholai Malysh (also from Ispas), and the couple had 14 children; sadly, 5 children died under the age of four from various illnesses. After this tragedy, and seeing their rights stripped away during World War One, the couple decided to start a new life in the Okanagan, and moved to the Swan Lake area in 1926.

When she arrived, Vaselena felt like she was finally home again, since, in her eyes, the Okanagan greatly resembled Western Ukraine. The couple became successful orchardists. A portion of the property was later given to son Alex, who operated a fruit stand (now the Swan Lake Market).

Anne Malysh

Anne Malysh (nee Daneliuk) married Vaselena’s son Paul in 1950, at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Vernon. Anne was a remarkable community member and a loving mother and grandmother. She was a longtime member of the Ukrainian Women’s Association, and volunteered many hours with the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Women’s Auxiliary.

Anne and Paul also operated Paul’s Driving School, which they started in 1959. Anne was said to be a very patient teacher. She was also a talented baker, and was known for her Ukrainian braided breads, cinnamon buns, cabbage rolls, and perogies (the recipes of which were kept top-secret).

Andrea Malysh

Anne’s daughter Andrea is an active voice for the Ukrainian community in Vernon. She started the Zirka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in 1979, and later the Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in 1999, and has always loved to share Ukrainian culture through dance and performance.

Andrea is now central in mobilizing aid from the North Okanagan to Ukraine. These are the aid organizations that she recommends: Canada-Ukraine Foundation/UCC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, and Friends of Ukraine Defense Forces Fund. The Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will also be hosting a local humanitarian aid fundraiser event in the coming weeks.

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator