A mother and six children posing for a photo.
An undated photo of the Postill children with their mother Eleanor. Happy Mother’s Day!

Social Justice Roots

The roots of Mother’s Day can be traced back to late-19th Century United States. After the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of Philadelphia initiated “Mother’s Friendship Day” to unite mothers from both Union and Confederate backgrounds. In subsequent years, Mother’s Day activities maintained a social justice focus, with activists like Julia Ward Howe and Juliet Calhoun Blakely organizing events promoting peace, abolitionism, and temperance.

Despite years of advocacy by Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Jarvis, Mother’s Day did not gain national recognition in the U.S. until 1914. It was President Woodrow Wilson who ultimately designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, fulfilling Jarvis’s long-standing efforts to establish it as an official holiday.

Vernon Keeps pace

The relatively young City of Vernon kept pace with these social developments in the United States. During the 1910s, Mother’s Day services were held in several churches of varying religions. By 1921, the Vernon News claimed that “Mother’s Day is becoming more and more a recognized Sunday when everyone’s thoughts turn to mother, the best woman in all the world.” The newspaper also made note that the day could be observed by wearing a white carnation, emblematic of the purity, beauty, fidelity, and peace of motherhood.

During the 1930s, various local businesses started to view Mother’s Day not just as a chance to honor maternal figures but also as a commercial opportunity to promote and sell their products. In May 1938, Nolan’s Drug Store promoted their chocolates, perfume, greeting cards, and photo frames, urging readers not to overlook their mothers on Mother’s Day.

By the 1940s, Mother’s Day had gained recognition in numerous countries worldwide. The Vernon News described how the occasion was marked in Canada and elsewhere, emphasizing the importance of gestures like acts of kindness, visits, letters, gifts, or tributes to honor mothers. The newspaper then tenderly suggested that perhaps every day of the year should be treated like Mother’s Day, recognizing the profound debt of gratitude owed to those who fulfill nurturing roles in our lives.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Archives Manager

 

Members of the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) regiment lined up at the Vernon CPR train station circa 1915. Behind them are crowds of well-wishers lining the station platform.

S & O Spur Line

The former CPR station in Vernon, located on 29th Street, is a testament to an era when trains ruled the transportation landscape.

Between 1890 and 1892, a spur line off the main C.P.R railway was built between Sicamous and Okanagan Landing. During construction, a station emerged in Vernon, sparking rapid urban expansion and solidifying the City’s role as a commercial hub of the Okanagan Valley. The station welcomed its inaugural passenger train in October 1891, with Lord and Lady Aberdeen on board.

A new Station is built

In 1911, the original station, then two decades old, was replaced by a new brick building with a fieldstone foundation and granite embellishments, a strategic move by the C.P.R to counter the burgeoning competition from other railways like Canadian Northern. Designed to be cutting-edge, the new station boasted separate offices, a central waiting area, an upstairs telegraph room, and a baggage room.

With its distinctive towers and dormers, the station exuded a landmark presence. Its architectural style, often described as “alpine” or “Swiss,” aimed to evoke a sense of the picturesque and inspire wanderlust. Operating as both a passenger and freight terminal, the station also served as the departure point for troops during both World Wars. However, by the 1960s, passenger services ceased, and the station transitioned into a freight office. By 1973, it was leased to commercial ventures following a fire in 1981 that inflicted damage to its roof and interior.

Commercial interests

After 1981, when the building was damaged by a fire, the CPR sold it to a private investor who undertook its restoration, returning it to its former grandeur. Designated as a heritage site since 2000, the building presently accommodates several private businesses, including the Station BBQ Smokehouse, Impressions Salon, and Ratio Coffee & Restaurant.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Archives Manager