The Titanic on April 10, 1912, five days before its sinking. Public domain image.

A maritime tragedy

During the early hours of April 15, 1912, the Titanic descended into the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean following a collision with an iceberg. This catastrophe occurred just four days into the ship’s inaugural journey from Southampton to New York City, and regrettably, more than 1,500 passengers and crew perished in this maritime tragedy. Among those absent from the ill-fated voyage, despite prior intentions to be onboard, was Vernonite Baroness Herry.

The Herry residence in the BX in 1913. GVMA #18242.

celestine herry

Celestine Herry was born on July 23, 1879 in Brussels, Belgium. At the age of 21, she married Baron Harold Herry and the couple went on to have five children. In 1910, Baron and Baroness Herry attended the World’s Fair in Brussels, where they encountered details about the Okanagan Valley.

Since 1907, a consortium of Belgian land developers had been parceling out land in the BX and surrounding areas with the intent of attracting new settlers. Upon encountering advertisements for this “land of milk and honey,” Baron and Baroness Herry were captivated and purchased land sight unseen. They made the decision to move their family to Canada and intended to arrive onboard the Titanic.

Baroness Herry and four of her five children in 1915. GVMA #18237.

New Horizons

However, the story goes that the Baroness had a foreboding feeling about the voyage and postponed their departure until later in April 1912. They ended up traveling onboard the SS Megantic which departed from Liverpool. When they did arrive, it must have been with a sense of relief to have their feet on firm ground.

The family settled into a large home in the BX which they called Sunshine Lodge. Baron Herry owned one of the first modern motor cards in the Valley, and the Baroness swiftly gained recognition for her artistic prowess. Baron Herry served overseas for four years during World War One, after which the family’s fortunes turned and they were required to move into a smaller house.

However, the couple remained active into their older years and passed away one year apart – the Baron in 1951 and the Baroness in 1952.

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

This article is part of the Vernon Archives’ “Roots of Green: Unearthing Horticultural History” series. Thank you to Wray McDonnell for his help.

A black and white image showing several sets of televisions on display in a shop.
A display of television at Vernon’s Hudson Bay Co. store circa 1960. This new technology was used by District Horticulturalist to connect with the Okanagan Valley’s growers.

A new technology debuts

Television made its debut in the Okanagan Valley in September 1957 with the launch of CHBC in Kelowna. At the onset, only 500 households owned television sets, but this figure surged to 10,000 by 1958. Among those quick to embrace this innovation were the Valley’s District Horticulturalists.

In April of 1958, Roy Chapman, general manager of CHBC, offered the horticultural branch 15 minutes of free airtime each week. Mike Oswell, who was serving as the District Horticulturalist for Vernon at the time, was assigned the responsibility of supervising the program. Initially, he hesitated to take on this task, since all television broadcasts were distributed live at the time, leaving little margin for error.

Okanagan farm and garden

Nevertheless, within a mere two weeks, Oswell has devised a program to occupy the 6:00 PM weekly slot, titled “Okanagan Farm and Garden.” The show aimed to share vital information on insect and disease control via a series of guest speakers. In its first episode, the discussion focused on fire blight, a destructive disease capable of decimating blossoms and shoots, leading to branch dieback in apple and pear trees.

Following the first three episodes, CHBC asked Oswell to expand the program to 30 minutes, which he willingly accepted. The ensuing discussions covered a wide array of topics including home vegetable gardening, lawn maintenance, sheep farming, the 4H program, and weed eradication. Some episodes even featured live animals. The studio atmosphere was described as relaxed and amiable, with surprisingly few technical difficulties. Oswell hosted the program for a year before passing the baton to Bob Wilson, District Horticulturalist for Kelowna.

chautauquas

In 1963, the channel introduced another horticultural-themed show called Chesterfield Chautauqua (named after the Chautauqua meetings utilized by the horticultural branch as a vital extension activity), allowing growers to phone in queries and receive live responses. By 1964, the program had been renamed Sunrise Chautauqua. CHBC continued airing horticultural programs until the 1970s, when airtime was no longer freely available. Consequently, the branch could not sustain this initiative financially, but fortunately, other extension projects ensured that District Horticulturalists remained available to assist both new and seasoned growers.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

 

 

 

(Left) Mayor Frank Becker wearing the ceremonial outfit and Chain of Officer in 1959 while greeting Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip; (Right) Victor Cumming wearing the outfit in March of 2024. After this photo opportunity, the outfit was meticulously placed back into its acid-free storage box, while the Chain of Office was returned to the City of Vernon.

A Ceremonial attire

The Vernon Museum houses an ensemble steeped in ceremonial significance within its artifact collection. The outfit, consisting of a black grosgrain robe adorned with spacious open sleeves, complemented by a matching hat and lace jabot, was purchased from The Toggery Shop in Victoria, likely during the 1950s.

Over the years, it was worn by several mayors at important civic functions. Its earliest recorded appearance dates to 1959 when Mayor Frank Becker welcomed Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during their first visit to Vernon. Over the years, successive mayors, including E. B. Cousins, Elwood Rice, and Lionel Mercier, also donned the regalia. Eventually, in 2011, the outfit was donated by the City to the Vernon Museum.

The mayoral Chain of Office.

Mayoral chain of office

In tandem with the first documented appearance of the mayoral robe, Frank Becker also introduced a Chain of Office in 1959. The name of each of Vernon’s mayors has been inscribed on its gold sections, dating back to W. F. Cameron in 1893 and up to Victor Cumming in 2018. The practice of mayor’s chains in the

Documents related to former mayor Elwood Rice donated to the Vernon Archives.

Thompson-Okanagan region traces its origins to the late 14th century, and the traditions of nobility during the Tudor era. While not mandated by legislation, various communities in the Thompson-Okanagan region uphold this tradition

Fast forward to 2024, the ceremonial robe resurfaced once more. With precision and patience, collections volunteer and textile expert Janet Armstrong draped it over a living mannequin in the form of Mayor Victor Cumming, who proudly showcased it alongside his Chain of Office (which continues to be used at investiture ceremonies by the City of Vernon).

Serendipitously, a set of records from former Mayor Elwood Rice had just been donated to the archives moments earlier, adding another layer to the historical tapestry of Vernon.

Thank you to Mayor Cumming for his graciousness and willingness to participate!  

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

A black and white image showing two men in hard hats next to a pile of bricks outside a concrete building. Beside them is a piece of heavy machinery.
A photo of the Vernon Archives Expansion Project between 1999 and 2000.
A white building with domed windows and a door under a sign that reads "museum." In front sits a watering through and a large bell.
Exterior view of the Vernon Museum at its second location on 3005 30 Street. GVMA #1272.

The MUseum & Archives is formed

How does the growth of an archival collection progress with time? While the specifics vary by institution, in the instance of the Vernon Archives, its collection has evolved organically since the organization’s inception in 1950.

That year marked the inception of the museum, initiated by the City of Vernon around a collection of mounted specimens bequeathed by W. C. Pound, a taxidermist. Spearheaded by former Mayor David Howrie and cabinetmaker Charles Haines, initial museum displays were housed in a back room of W. L. Seaton School.

In 1954, the City formed a board of directors to oversee the museum’s operations, with George H. Melvin as chairman and Guy P. Bagnall as secretary-treasurer. Concurrently, a committee was established to manage the archival aspect of the organization, and the first board meeting convened on January 12, 1955.

The Archival collection grows

The first photo donated to the Vernon Archives shows taxidermist W. C. Pound next to a mounted moose head. GVMA #1.

Later that year, the burgeoning archival collection received its first batch of records from the Vernon & District Women’s Institute, established in 1916 to support wartime endeavors. These records, comprising minutes, financial documents, and logbooks, were followed by contributions documenting the life of Alexander L. Fortune, an early pioneer who arrived in the region in 1862 with the Overlanders. This subsequent donation included correspondence and a manuscript containing Fortune’s personal reflections.

Between 1955 and 1987, 5000 photographs were donated to the archival collection, and another 5000 arrived between 1897 and 1991. One of the earliest ones that arrived into the collection shows taxidermist Pound next to the mounted head of a moose. In 2024, the photograph collection encompasses over 31,000 items.

A much-needed expansion

One of the first sets of records included these items documenting the life of Alexander L. Fortune. Images courtesy of Gwyneth Evans.

The collection’s growth necessitated relocation over the years, first to the former police station and magistrate’s court in 1956, and then to its present location in 1966. By 1992, space constraints became apparent as the archival collection outgrew its allocated 200 square feet, with stacks of boxes filling the area. Donations from local artist Sveva Caetani, the Vernon Daily News, and historian Margaret Ormsby exacerbated the issue.

But these important historical materials could not be turned away, and so, the Vernon Archives Expansion Project commenced in 1999, resulting in the addition of a dedicated archival office space and vault, and expanding the area by over 700 square feet. The vault now safeguards Vernon’s historical records in a fire-proof and climate-controlled environment.

The Vernon Archives remains committed to actively gathering the narratives of Vernon’s residents, with a particular focus on collecting the records of underrepresented communities. This dedication ensures that the archives will continue to expand and evolve over time.

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

A black and white image of male and female students.
The Clarence Fulton Secondary School’s 1964/64 Yearbook team, several of whom were seniors. Scanned from the 1964/65 yearbook.

Through the Pages of time

What was the experience like for a senior at Clarence Fulton Secondary School in 1965? A glimpse into the school’s annual from that year provides heartwarming insight.

The 1964/65 academic year began with some confusion for Principal D. L. Mans due to the introduction of a new student timetable. However, by the end of September, most of the issues with the new system had been resolved.

Various events dotted the school calendar, offering students opportunities for socializing and competition. A Sadie Hawkins’ dance kicked off in November, followed by a festive Christmas party in December. In February, students engaged in a spirited volleyball match against the teachers, while April saw them diligently preparing for Easter Exams. The yearbook captures these moments, showcasing students practicing on typewriters, commemorating birthdays, and sharing friendly moments in the hallways.

Athletic triumps and academic achievements 

The school’s Athletic Council, led by Executive President and Grade 12 student Robbie Dunn, orchestrated a dynamic year of athletic endeavors. From football and basketball games to track meets and excursions out of town, the council ensured a lively sports calendar. Notably, the football team enjoyed considerable success, with only one loss in eight league games.

The graduating class of 1965 marked a milestone as the largest in the school’s history thus far. Principal Mann expressed satisfaction with the number of high-achieving “A” students among the graduates. Noteworthy alumni from that year include Queen Silver Star VI Pat Chemko (later Wallace), lauded in the yearbook as “charming in her manner, winning in her way.”

Legacy and change

Local businesses also left their mark in the yearbook, extending congratulations to the graduates while promoting their products and services. Advertisements featured customized graduate jewelry, with WM. Arnott Jewellers offering girls’ rings at $2.50 and boys’ rings at $3.95. Notably, wedding bands also made an appearance in the advertisements.

Originally known as Vernon High School (VHS), the institution was established in 1937 on city land in Polson Park. In 1964, it was renamed Clarence Fulton Secondary School in honor of its first principal. The school later relocated to its current site on Fulton Road in 1993, with the original Polson Park building being demolished in 1998.

As the pages of the annual turn, capturing the essence of a bygone era, one cannot help but smile at the timeless memories and enduring camaraderie shared by the students of Clarence Fulton Secondary School in 1965.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

A black and white image showing a large arched entry made out of wood. A banner along the top reads "Vernon Annual Okanagan Industrial Exposition." On the left of the banner is a drawing of a man from the torso up, holding apples. On the right of the banner is a welder. Above the banner is a diorama of a building with the word "progress" printed on it. Real people can be seen in the photo walking into the exposition underneath the arched entryway. Mountains can be seen in the background.
The Vernon-Okanagan Industrial Exposition entryway at the Vernon Military Camp in 1947.

A most important event

In the late 1940s, it was deemed the “most important Spring event in the Interior of British Columbia.” The Annual Vernon-Okanagan Industrial Exposition was considered a means to attract fresh capital to the Vernon region for industrial ventures, and was hosted for the first time in 1947.

Earlier that year, a group of citizens met to advance the idea, helped along by the securing of Premier John Hart’s consent to act as patron of the event. Major-General Edward Plow, commander of the artillery component of the Canadian army, permitted the exposition organization to rent buildings at the Vernon Military Camp for the event.

1947

On May 28, the first Industrial Exposition took off with an aerial flyover, followed by a Grand Opening Parade which wound its way from the city to the camp. Over the next four days, around 30,000 visitors flocked to the expo, exploring exhibits ranging from bulldozers to can openers. The Allis Chalmers Co. exhibited a diesel engine operating electronically, while General Electric Co. featured a prominent display of household appliances. This event also witnessed the first automobile show ever held in the Interior of B.C.

A non-commercial section of the expo featured a variety of entertaining activities, including a lawn bowling tournament, a dog show, orchestral performances, and an arts and crafts exhibition.

1948 and 1949

The event returned in May 1948, and despite heavy rains, drew nearly as many attendees. Commercial exhibitors upped the ante this year, as could be seen in a dazzling display by automobile dealers featuring all the latest makes and models. Improvements had also been made to the exhibition facilities, and the 1948 pamphlet boasted that excellent lighting would provide “a brilliant kaleidoscope of color.”

Even more work went into the hosting of the 1949 Exposition, which included the installation of a “Big Top” tent to host entertainers. Despite these efforts, the event drew only about half as many attendees as previous years. Meanwhile, more and more exhibitors were eager to participate, and so a bigger space was deemed necessary if the event should run in 1950. This, coupled with the Department of National Defence’s request of $400,000 worth of insurance to cover the use of camp facilities, saw the exposition team start considering alternate arrangements.

Unfortunately, new facilities were never secured and 1950 did not see the continuation of the expo.

Here’s a collection of images featuring exhibits from the Annual Vernon-Okanagan Industrial Exposition. These snapshots of local history are preserved thanks to the prolific photographer Doug Kermode. For additional photos, click here.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

This article is part of the Vernon Archives’ “Roots of Green: Unearthing Horticultural History” series. Thank you to Wray McDonnell for his help.

A colour image of a group of people standing on a green lawn, with a small tree in front of them.
A group of OVTFA summer students and supervising horticulturalists at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, circa 1991. Pictured from left to right are Adrienne Roberts, assistant to the OVTFA’s CEO; Mike Sanders, Ministry Apple Specialist in Kelowna; Helmut Arndt, Ministry Horticulturalist in Kelowna; Ross Hudson, CEO of the OVTFA; Tim Watson, Ministry Horticulturalist in Oliver; Peter Waterman, Ministry Horticulturist in Penticton; an unknown summer student from Penticton; Lisa Jarrett, summer student from Kelowna; an unknown summer student; an unknown summer student; and Marie Pattison, Director of Finance and Admin for the OVTFA. Photo courtesy of Wray McDonnell.

The role of summer students

During the summer months, students play a vital supportive role for numerous businesses and industries throughout the Okanagan Valley, including those of horticulture and agriculture.

In July 1990, the Government of British Columbia established the Okanagan Valley Tree Fruit Authority (OVTFA), a new crown corporation aimed at rejuvenating the tree fruit industry, which had been suffering from poor market returns. The organization primarily focused on supporting replanting efforts and addressing production-related issues. Under the management of Wray MacDonnell, teams of summer students were enlisted to aid in extension activities, facilitating the industry’s transition from traditional, large apple orchards to more modern, high-density and profitable plantings.

Earlier times

Even in earlier times, the industry relied on student labour; in 1935, a young Maurice Welsh spent two weeks boring apple trees and administering boron compounds, which play a crucial role in flower development and fruit production. Dr. Welsh eventually rose to become the Head of the Plant Pathology Laboratory at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, and later served as the town’s District Horticulturalist.

During the 1960s and ‘70s, summer students were involved in developing a leaf analysis technique to identify hidden deficiencies or nutrient imbalances in trees, often tasked with sample collection. Around the same time, students were hired to aid in maintaining the Valley’s tomato crop. The industry would arrange for the rental of vehicles for students who lacked their own transportation, enabling them to travel between different sites.

A stepping stone to a successful career

Welsh was not the sole student to achieve a successful career in the industry following a summer placement. In 1961, John Price began as a Summer Student at the Summerland Research Station, lodging in a house managed by Dr. Lyall Denby. At first, the students remained near the boarding house, cautious of the distinct wildlife in the Okanagan, as Denby had warned them about rattlesnakes, scorpions, and tomato hornworms inhabiting the area. However, their fear did not confine them for long, and Price later served as a District Horticulturalist for Oliver and Vernon.

Like the efforts of horticulturalists themselves, over the years students have offered invaluable yet occasionally unnoticed contributions to the agricultural sector; their recruitment has provided essential labor, fresh viewpoints, and contributed to the long-term sustainability of the industry.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

 

 

An assortments of pins, around 1 inch each, in a variety of shapes including triangles, squares, rectangles, and round.

 

An assortments of pins, around 1 inch each, in a variety of shapes including triangles, squares, rectangles, and round.
One of the Vernon Museum’s set of Winter Carnival Pins, with examples from 1961 to 2022.

64 Years of Pins

The 2024 Vernon Winter Carnival has kicked off! While each year brings its own set of surprises and delights, this was particular true of the first Winter Carnival, held in 1961. This inaugural event brought about the first parade, a series of sports jamborees, and even a square dance melody composed by the renowned Canadian musician Don Messer as a tribute to Vernon (“Bow to your partner, corner too, circle to the left, that’s what you do, to Vernon, B.C., the sports paradise, their winter carnival’s a must in your life”). It also saw the introduction of the Vernon Winter Carnival Button Program.

Since then, a button with its own unique design connected to the Carnival’s theme has been released annually. Throughout the entirety of the Carnival’s history, individuals have sought to collect at least one button a year, with even some younger residents hunting through antique stores and at collectible shows to find them all.

Local varieties

In addition to the year-to-year buttons and pins, two distinct button varieties exist. In the inaugural year of 1961, a triangle-shaped button was initially produced with sharply pointed corners. Following an apparent sellout, a second run was executed, this time with rounded corners, creating the first variety. Similarly, in 1962, a second run was conducted with a different-sized round die, resulting in either a smaller or larger button than the first run. The quantities of these varieties remain unknown. In 1997, an all-metal button named the “Good Times Award” was introduced, with a blue ribbon permanently attached and stating “I was caught having a ball at the Vernon Winter Carnival.” While the volume of these is also unclear, they are seldom seen at the Carnival office.

Certain collectors aim to discover all the button varieties and designs crafted throughout the years. Some also seek out an additional set of metal pins that come in three “confirmed” varieties—one featuring Jopo and a snowflake, another depicting a hot air balloon, and the third showcasing a Carnival Cop. While some collectors discern between button colors, slight variations are expected due to the printing process, and these are not typically considered distinctive features.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

A man wearing a red bomber jacket and white and blue top hat holding another red jacket and a blue and white jacket. All of the jackets and the hat are covered in pins and buttons.
Alvin Timm displaying his Vernon Winter Carnival memorabilia in 2009.

The Button Guy

The 2024 Vernon Winter Carnival launches in less than two weeks, and this will be one of the first years it proceeds without the iconic participation of “The Button Guy.”

Vernon’s Alvin Timm was born on October 1, 1939. A life-long resident of the area, he worked at the Lavington Glass Plant until his retirement.

Apart from his skills as a Pattern Dancer and bowler, Timm was a passionate advocate for the Vernon Winter Carnival. He actively participated in the inaugural events in 1961 and, from then on, made it a tradition to collect a button each year. These buttons adorned a number of bomber jackets and a matching hat, creating a distinctive ensemble that Timm proudly wore while marching in numerous carnival parades throughout the years.

Nuts about Vernon Winter Carnival

His remarkable assortment of pins encompassed not just those acquired at the Vernon Winter Carnival but also examples from various carnivals and fairs across Canada and the United States. One particularly whimsical piece consisted of an acorn with googly eyes and a matching red nose, dressed fetchingly in blue and white and holding a sign that read “I’m nuts about Vernon Winter Carnival.”

Timm’s historical knowledge about all things Carnival was also unparalleled. According to Kris Fuller, the executive director of the Vernon Winter Carnival, Timm had a remarkable ability to recognize faces in vintage photos and willingly shared a wealth of memories and anecdotes about past events.

A passion recognized

In 2018, Timm was awarded the Carnival’s Jesse Ferguson Memorial Trophy. This award, originally called the Chairman’s Trophy, was renamed in either 1977 or 1978 in honour of Jessie Ferguson, an active Vernon senior who was involved in a variety of volunteer organizations before her passing. This trophy is awarded each year to a person or group in the community who has shown years of dedication to the Vernon Winter Carnival, and Timm unquestionably met these criteria.

Alvin Timm passed away on January 13, 2023. One of his delightful jackets was bought to the Vernon Museum later that year, and although it has not yet been officially added into the artifact collection, it will be on display in the museum’s foyer for the duration of the 2024 Carnival.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

A black and white image of a building, showing two men in apron looking out from a doorway. On the left of the building are a series of stacked milk pails, and on the right, a sign that reads "Home of Armstrong Cheese."
The Armstrong Cheese Co-Operative plant in 1940.

The ultimate comfort food

Cold snowy weather calls for comfort food like pizza, and what would pizza be without its quintessential cheese topping?

Moving back in time to 1902, the residents of the Village of Armstrong joined forces to establish a creamery, financing the project through the sale of land shares. Despite initial resistance from the municipal council, this determined group overcame obstacles. By the year’s end, a creamery had been constructed, furnished, and a skilled butter maker hired.

As detailed in an article by Mary Blackburn in the 47th Report of the Okanagan Historical Society, the creamery was situated just north of Armstrong, near Fortune Creek. In 1916, it was reorganized as part of the North Okanagan Creamery Association (NOCA), collecting milk from dairy farms extending from Mara Lake southwards to Vernon. By 1923, the Armstrong Creamery was producing an impressive 12,000 pounds of butter per month.

The City of Vernon Muscles in

The creamery changed hands in 1925, when it was purchased by Pat Burns and Co., becoming part of the Okanagan Valley Co-Operative Creamery (although the NOCA brand name persisted). Two years later, a devastating fire wiped out the Armstrong creamery, prompting the Vernon City Council to offer incentives to Pat Burns and Co. to centralize the creamery industry in Vernon. The history of NOCA and the Okanagan Valley Co-Operative Creamery carries on from here, but back in Armstrong, the loss of the dairy industry was being keenly felt.

A silver lining emerged in 1938 with the opening of a new cheese factory under the guidance of Charles Busby. Once again, shares were gathered for construction, leading to the official incorporation of the Armstrong Cheese Co-Operative in 1939. Armstrong Cheese swiftly became a renowned business, with temperature-controlled cooling rooms facilitating longer aging and mass production resulting in sales of 820,000 pounds a year by 1943.

Goodbye Armstrong

Fast forward to 1997, and the company changed hands, sold to Dairyworld Foods, the production and marketing arm of Agrifoods International Cooperative Ltd. In 2003, Saputo Inc. acquired Dairyworld Foods, including the Armstrong Cheese brand, and in 2004, closed the Armstrong plant.

Fortunately, just a few years prior in 1998, the Village Cheese Company opened in Armstrong, keeping the tradition of quality cheese-making alive in the region. Although the Armstrong Cheese brand can still be purchased throughout the North Okanagan, it is no longer the result of North Okanagan milk, most of which is now produced in Abbotsford, B.C., before being shipped to Calgary, A.B., for packaging.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives