A black and white image if a building on the corner of the street. A door with a sign reading "Elks" above it is located on one side, and on the other a mural showing people and vehicles.
The Elks Hall in 2005, featuring a mural of Frank S. Reynolds’ warehouse painted by Michelle Loughery and her team.

70 Years

The Vernon Elks Hall is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year. While the building located on the corner of 30th Street and 32nd Avenue opened in 1953, the Elks Lodge #45 is even older, dating back to 1920.

The Elks of Canada, founded in 1912, is a fraternal order whose members dedicate themselves to serving their communities. A. E. Kellington, then the provincial organizer of the Elks, traveled to Vernon in March of 1920, where he stayed at the Kalamalka Hotel. His purpose was to establish an Elks Lodge in Vernon, and he found there to be a significant amount of interest in the City.

104 Members

The Lodge officially started on March 30 of that year with 116 members, although only 104 were able to attend the first meeting, held at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ Hall on 30th Avenue. In the coming months and years, the Lodge would direct a number of fundraising events and activities, including hosting dances at the local armoury, putting together Christmas baskets for those in need, and (in more recent years) distributing gaming funds to other local organizations.

In the 1920s, they led a number of Flag Day Parades, and in 1945, donated over $5,000 to the City of Vernon for the construction of a wading pool in Polson Park. The pool, which was dedicated to the city’s youngsters, opened in 1947 and later became a splash area circa 1993.

Acquiring the Elks Hall

Prior to being acquired by the Lodge in 1953, the building that now houses the Elks Hall was used by the Scottish Daughter’s League and was known as the Burns Hall. The structure itself was built in 1907.

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives






The spitfire replica being returned to the roof of the ANAVETS building on 46th Avenue in 2011. Glen Fletcher is standing on the lift while Randy Lundman watches from the roof.


This year marks 20 years since a replica Spitfire plane was installed above the building of Vernon’s Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans Club on 46th Avenue.

The ANAVETS is Canada’s oldest veterans association, believed to have been founded in 1840, with the first unit in Montreal. Meanwhile, ANAF Unit #5 has served the Vernon area since 1971.

In the 1980s, the unit approached the Department of National Defence with the goal of purchasing a genuine Spitfire plane, but could not afford the $90,000 price tag. The Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used during and following World War Two. Today, the spitfire remains popular among enthusiasts, with approximately 70 still operational around the world.


Although ANAF Unit #5 could not secure an authentic spitfire, they were determined to see one “fly” over Vernon, and took on the task of creating a replica. The model was the brainchild of Jack Brash, Glen Fletcher, and Doug McNichol, and construction on it began in 1992.

In 1993, the built-to-scale replica was complete, and measured 31 feet from nose to tail. A dummy, named Jackson Glen after two of the three original contributors, was even installed in the front seat. This fake pilot is allegedly so realistic that he had engaged in a one-sided conversation with a Vernon utility worker while seated on the back porch of Glen Fletcher’s home before being installed in the plane.


According to an ANAF Unit #5 brochure, the letters and numbers on the model were borrowed from the log book of a spitfire which was piloted by Vernon veteran Philip Bodnarchuk. Bodnarchuk served as a pilot with the RCAF in World War Two. Despite being shot down three times, he survived until demobilization and passed away at the age of 79 in 1996.

In 2010, Vernon’s spitfire was discovered to have been damaged by rock-throwing vandals which allowed water to enter the model. The damage was so extensive that it had to be completely rebuilt, including dummy pilot Jackson Glen. Glen Fletcher, than 74-years-old, was aided by Randy Lundman in this task, which took the two men 11 months. Finally, in August of 2011, the replica was returned to its rightful place above the ANAVETS building.


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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives






Clockwise from top left, the W.R. Megaw Motor Co. garage and machine shop circa 1914, the Community Bingo Hall circa 1988, the Valley First Credit Union in 2006, and the Dollarama in 2023.


How many different businesses can occupy a building over the years? If 3322 31st Avenue is any example, the answer is “many.”

Thanks to city assessment records and directories held in the Vernon Archives, we can trace this address and its corresponding businesses back as far as 1906. At that time, the property was owned by shopkeeper W. R. Megaw. A few years later, in 1910, he built a garage on the property and named it the W.R. Megaw Motor Co. garage and machine shop. This was the first of its kind in Vernon.

By 1931, the business was known under the name Okanagan Motors Ltd. In 1936, the property was sold to Frank Boyne, who used the building as a salesroom for his auctioneering business. In the 1940s and 50s, Kineshanko Motors operated on the spot.

A shopping centre, a bingo Hall, A thrift store, and More!

In 1964 and 1965, the building belonged to the City of Vernon, and from the late 1960s to early 1980s housed the MacLeods Family Shopping Centre. In the mid-1980s, the building started to be used as a Community Bingo Centre.

In 1999, the business of the day was the Valley First Credit Union. The Kindale Thrift Store later occupied the building, and most recently it has opened as a Dollarama. Such variety!

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives






Two black and white images. One shows a classroom with five girls seated at desks working on artwork. Artwork is also hung up on the walls. The other photo shows Miss Jessie Topham Brown. She has white hair and glass with thick black frames and she is wearing a striped collar shirt with pearls.
An undated photo of a class at Miss Jessie’s art studio; (inset) a portrait of Miss Jessie in the 1970s.

International Women’s Day

March 8 was International Women’s Day. One woman who had a particularly important influence on the local art scene was Miss Jessie Topham Brown.

Miss Jessie immigrated to Canada from England in 1909, and later arrived in Vernon in 1916. She began working at the St. Michael’s Boarding School for Girls, located on East Hill, as a cook, coach, and art teacher. After World War One, she started teaching at the Vernon Preparatory School, and in the summers, offered art classes for both children and adults from a camp on Okanagan Lake near the Killiney Wharf.

Summer Art Camps

Those who attended these camps would pack out their supplies on horseback, and spend several days sleeping beneath the stars and painting during waking hours. The groups would sometimes venture to other locations, including the Mara and Shuswap Lakes, to capture different landscapes.

Described as a “paragon of the arts,” Miss Jessie had been exposed to creative pursuits since childhood, having spent three years at the Slade School of Art at University College, and although she did not paint much herself, loved cultivating the talents of others.

Art Studio and Art Gallery

Miss Jessie later opened her own studio on 32nd Street, which she then moved to the former Post Office building at 30th Avenue and 30th Street. Besides drawing and painting, she also taught pottery, weaving and silk screening until her retirement in 1967. Many of Miss Jessie’s former students went on to be accomplished artists, one of whom was Joan Heriot, good friend to fellow artist Sveva Caetani.

Miss Jessie was also integral in creating a facility to house a permanent collection of local artwork. The Topham Brown Public Art Gallery was originally located in the top floor of the Vernon Museum (now used as a storage space for artifacts); it later moved to its current location at 3228 31st Avenue, around the same time as its name was changed to the Vernon Public Art Gallery. To honour Miss Jessie’s contribution, the main gallery at the VPAG continues to be known as the Topham Brown Memorial Gallery.

In 1971, “in recognition of her service, contribution, influence and encouragement in the field of the arts to all residents,” Miss Jessie was granted Freedom of the City. She passed away a few years later, in 1974, at the age of 92.


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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives






A sepia image of two men sitting on top of a very large rock.
An early photo of the erratic, taken circa 1906.

tHAT IS a nice boulder

One particularly large rock has stood as a landmark in the Greater Vernon area for thousands of years. Technically known as an erratic, one theory suggests that it was deposited by a large glacier that was creeping southward and scouring out the Okanagan Valley during the Ice Age.

The boulder is located a few yards north of Highway 6, just before the intersection with Grey Road. It is located on private property, but can be seen from the Highway when safe to do so. Back in 1877, as reported by a Dr. G. M. Dawson, the erratic demanded attention at a whopping 22-feet long. However, by 1982 it had been eroded to only 12 feet in length and nowadays it is even smaller, which makes it easy to miss unless one knows where to look. 

Rapid Erosion

The erratic, made from layers of feldspar and quartz, has a notable crack down one of its sides. Evidence suggests that in the early days, a fir tree had made its way out of the rock, but was struck by lightning in 1916. The damage from this lighting strike caused a large portion of rock to break off and tumble down the hill.

While there are many glacial erratics strewn throughout the Valley, this particular rock has seemed to fascinate Vernonites for generations. In 1926, the first edition of the Okanagan Historical Society (OHS) Report included an article about the boulder. The article’s author, Arthur H. Lang, was concerned that given the erratic’s rapid erosion, it would disappear within the next fifty years.

More than this span of time had passed when the OHS next reported on the erratic in 1982, saying that although it was now 6 feet shorter, it was still withstanding the test of time. This continues to be the case in 2023.

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives