A colour image of a lake with trees and mountains in the background. In the foreground is a pier jutting out into the water.
The Rotary Pier at Kal Beach in the 1990s.

Rotary Club of Vernon

With the warmer weather we have been experiencing of late, Vernonites are beginning to flock to the city’s beaches and parks, perhaps none more so than Kal Beach.

The landmark pier at Kal Beach was built by the Rotary Club in 1934 and donated to the City of Vernon for use by the general public. The club was chartered in 1925, and since then has sponsored a number of community projects in addition to the pier.

A black and white image of a pier with a diving tower at its end. In the background in a mountain with a highway running along tis base.
The pier in 1960. GVMA #19977.

The pier’s Evolutions

Although the pier has largely withstood the test of time, it has gone through a variety of iterations over the years. Up until about the 1950s, the pier was one straight line pointing south into the lake. In the 1960s and ‘70s, sides were added to the pier to form the shape pictured above. In 2008, the pier underwent major repairs and around that time evolved into the T-shape which is familiar today.

The water level at Kal Beach has changed significantly since the pier was first installed, since for many years it also boasted an impressive diving tower at its deepest end. Nowadays, the pier’s users are reminded not to dive from anywhere off the pier, since the water is too shallow.

A tenous Future

A colour image of a the pilling of a pier, with the board removed.
The pier under construction in 2008. GVMA #24286.

This public amenity, which now belongs to the Regional District of the North Okanagan and is under administration of the District of Coldstream, experienced a significant amount of vandalism and damage from exposure over the years, including in 2017, when its future became tenuous after a bad flooding season.

At this time, the Rotary Club urged Coldstream’s Mayor and Council to repair and preserve the pier for future users, a sentiment which was echoed in an outpouring of public letters on the topic. The district was receptive, and this year discussions are underway about how the pier can be updated, since many of the piles are beginning to rot. In February, three of the electoral areas of the RDNO approved $70,000 for the pier to be rebuilt, which suggests its future is likely secured until its 100th year.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

 

 

 

A black-and-white photo of a group of men. Four are standing in the back and five are seated in the front.
A group photo of some of the Okanagan’s “founding fathers” in 1890. Moses Lumby is located in the back row, second from left. Also pictured are (back, left to right) Cornelius O’Keefe, Luc Girouard, James Charles Crozier and (front, left to right) Edward Tronson, Bernard Lequime, Frederick Brent, Isadore Boucherie and Thomas Ellis.

A Lasting Legacy

You may never have heard of him, but in spite of his humble presence in talks of Vernon’s non-Indigenous pioneers, Moses Lumby left an impact on the valley that can still be seen today.

Moses Lumby was born in Nottinghamshire, England, to Ann and Frederick Lumby on Dec. 30, 1840. He came to Canada around 1861 or 1862, attracted to the area, like many others, by reports of gold being discovered. He first went up the Stikine River with a group of prospectors, but did not make the fortune for which he had been hoping.

A black-and-white photo of a man standing  in a room. He has an ornate cane and a hand in one hand. He is wearing a suit and pocket watch.
Formal portrait of Moses Lumby, circa 1890. GVMA #019.

Agriculture and transportation

By 1869, Lumby and some friends were operating a ranch in the Spallumcheen Valley, the Traditional and Ancestral Territories of the Syilx and Secwepemc Peoples. He had been drawn to the area by an old acquaintance of his, A.L. Fortune, who was the region’s first non-Indigenous settler. The ranch thrived, and in one particular year, Lumby reportedly sold 90 tons of fall wheat, 250 tons of spring wheat, and 20 tons of oats to a single company, Columbia Mills.

By the 1880s, the settler-colonial population of the Spallumcheen Valley had grown significantly, and it was time for an update in transportation. Lumby played an instrumental role in the formation of the Shuswap & Okanagan Railway Co., and spent years petitioning the provincial government to extend a railway line into the Okanagan Valley. Finally, in 1892, a spur line of the C.P.R. was completed between Sicamous and Vernon’s Okanagan Landing.

Politics and Law

In addition to his work in agriculture and transportation, Lumby contributed to local politics and law. In 1877, he was made a Justice of the Peace, and in 1892 became the Government Agent for the district. Later that same year, he chaired the meeting that brought about the incorporation of the City of Vernon.

In September of 1893, Lumby developed a cold that lingered for months. He traveled to Victoria for treatment, where it was discovered that he was suffering from typhoid fever. Sadly, he never recovered and passed away on Oct. 22, at the age of 52.

After his death, the Vernon News wrote that “since he became a resident of the place no man has been more interested in its welfare or has been more unselfish in his efforts to advance its interests.” It was in honour of this legacy that, shortly before his death, in August of 1892, the town of White Valley changed its name to Lumby.

 

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

This blog post was researched and written by Alice Howitt, museum ambassador. Well done, Alice!

 

 

 

 

Content warning: This blog post includes a general discussion of the abuse of women and children. Please proceed at your discretion. 

A black-and-white image of a house, nearly complete, with three women standing at the top of a set of stairs.
The new Transition House in 1994, with Catherine Lord, Joan Jacobi, and Edna Austin on the steps. Because this facility still provides shelter to women and children fleeing abuse, the location remains private.

Archway Society for Domestic Peace

A plaque, located outside of the Vernon RCMP building, bears the names of those individuals and organizations involved in the 1993/1994 fundraiser that brought about the construction of the new facility. GVMA #17353.

In April of 1994, a new Transition House opened in Vernon; over several months, the Vernon Women’s Transition House Society (VWTHS) and the Greater Vernon community had managed to raise $750,000 to build an improved facility that would provide a safe shelter for women and children fleeing abuse.

The VWTHS, now known as the Archway Society for Domestic Peace, began in 1975 (International Women’s Year) when a group of impassioned women recognized a need in the community for women-centered support services. The first Transition House opened in 1976 in the United Church Manse on 27th Street.

Increased Capacity

In the first year, 276 women and children sought refuge at the Transition House, although only 6 beds were available. In 1980, the Transition House moved to a new building, and while this particularly structure was already over 50 years old, it provided an increased capacity of 15 beds.

By the late 1980s, the age of the structure had begun to show, and in 1992 plans were in the wordks to demolish the old building and construct a new one on the same site. When it was unveiled, the new structure was able to house 25 women and children and continues to operate to this day. Meanwhile, the administration offices have been located elsewhere since the 2000s.      

Against all odds

Nowadays, the Archway Society for Domestic Peace offers many vital counselling and justice-related services. Yet, when it first began operating in the 1970s, the community considered it with some skepticism, since Vernon was seen as a quiet community and the abuse of women and children, as is often the case, occurred behind closed doors. But thanks to a group of outspoken women, Vernonites began to realize, as Executive Director Joan Jacobi was quoted as saying in 1991, that “violence is happening, and it could be next door,” and rallied to see a new facility built.

Thank you to the Archway Society for Domestic Peace and Megan Hamilton for providing information on the historical background of the Transition House.

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

 

 

IR

A black-and-white image of a group of men standing outside a fire hall. There are 7 men pictured and three trunks behind them.
VFD staff outside the fire hall, then located at 3005 30 Street, in 1952. Fred Little is pictured in the middle, wearing glasses. The new ladder truck can be seen behind him.

Ladder Truck BYLAW

In 1951, the city’s taxpayers were asked to vote on an important bylaw that would see a new ladder truck purchased for the Vernon Fire Department (VFD).

While this might nowadays seem like a no-brainer, at the time it did require some effort on the part of the VFD to convince Vernonites that this was a necessary purchase. Vernon had only a few multi-story buildings at the time, so some likely felt that the $38,000 cost to purchase the truck was a needless expense, considering that the VFD already had a truck with a ladder in its possession.  

But Chief Fred Little disagreed. In letter addressed to the city’s taxpayers, he argued that a new ladder truck was a vital piece of equipment, since the old one was already 17 years old, and practically obsolete. The new truck would be equipped with state-of-the-art supplies, including metal ladders of various lengths, a 150-gallon water tank, night lighting facilities, protective equipment, and a variety of fire hoses and nozzles.

vOTE YES!

At the end of the letter, signed anonymously as “your volunteer firemen,” Little urged the public to vote “yes” at the upcoming bylaw, saying “a vote for the Ladder Truck Bylaw is a vote for your safety as well as ours.” On March 2, 954 taxpayers came out to vote. The bylaw passed 632 to 329 (with two spoiled ballots).

By October of that year, the new fire truck arrived in Vernon. It was constructed by the Bickle-Seagrave Company in Woodstock, Ontario, and was shipped to Vernon by train. A photo in theVernon News shows Chief Little beaming with pride over this new piece of equipment.

oOPS

Unfortunately, the fire department quickly discovered that the truck was actually too big for the fire hall! It passed through the doors easily enough, but an uneven floor designed on an angle for draining purposes meant that it couldn’t quite make it underneath a steel beam running the width of the hall. But the VFD was quick to pivot, and dug channels into the concrete floor for the rear wheels of the truck to nestle into.

Finally, the VFD had a truck with a ladder high enough to handle fire-fighting rescues in any building in Vernon.   

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives