Two photos. On the left is a black and white image of a woman who is a member of the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners working on a loom. The right photo is a closeup of blue and yellow textiles.
(Left) Sandra Jung, a member of the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners Guild, in 1991; (Right) Examples of the guild’s textile creations for sale at Artsolutely. Courtesy Facebook.

An Ancient Craft

One local organization that is keeping an ancient tradition alive is the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners.

The guild was formed in Vernon in 1972 with the goal of promoting weaving and spinning, crafts which are acknowledged as among the oldest in the world. They can be traced back to the Neolithic Period, when plant fibers where twisted together to create string. This progressed to the use of stones and sticks to wind the twine, and then to the first spindles roughly 7000 years ago.  

Branching off

While the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners mainly focus on fiber creations, including those produced through knitting, crocheting, dying, and felting, in the 1970s some members were also avid basket weavers.

The baskets were made from locally-harvested ponderosa pine needles that were bunched together and held together with raffia from Madagascar. One former president of the guild, Bea Sworder, described basketry as “one of nature’s gifts to mankind.”

The members of the guild who took up this craft were modeling their creations off of the traditions of Indigenous communities in B.C., who created—and continue to create—baskets using a variety of natural materials, including pine needles, birch bark, and cedar roots.

In fact, it was a Secwepemc Elder, Dr. Mary Thomas, who first taught the group how to basket weave in the mid-1970s. Thomas was a celebrated ethnobotanist, and an advocate for the protection and promotion of Indigenous language, culture, and traditions. She hosted several workshops for the guild, and was selfless in her willingness to share the teachings of her own Elders.

Passion, success, and Artsolutely

The more recent history of the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners is one of ongoing passion and success. In September of this year, a team from the guild placed second at the Sheep to Shawl competition of the Salmon Arm Fall Fair, and they are aiming for first place in next year’s event. You can find some of their beautiful creations, alongside those of other talented local artisans, at the Vernon Community Art Centre’s Artsolutely. You can also keep up with the activities of the group on Facebook

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

Two women seated smiling at the camera. The woman on the white is wearing a white shirt and a pink coverall dress. Next to here is a woman in a white dress with blue and green flowers on it.
Joan Heriot (right) with friend Sveva Caetani circa 1990.

Canada History Week

Nov. 20 to 26 is Canada History Week, and this year’s theme is Arts, Culture, and Creators.

Although the name of her close friend, Sveva Caetani, might be more well-known, Joan Heriot was also a talented artist whose gift to Vernon was a series of beautiful creations.

Joan Heriot was born in Vernon on January 7, 1911, and lived with her parents Allan and Jessie in Coldstream. Allan worked as an entomologist, but both he and Jessie were also amateur artists. Joan was fascinated with her father’s work, and decided to pursue her own career as an entomologist when she was only six-years-old.

Entomologist by trade, artist by passion

Joan went on to complete a science degree at UBC, but was told she would never find employment as a female entomologist in Canada, and so departed for England. She completed a Master’s degree at the University of Liverpool, and then taught as a lecturer at the Brighton Technical College for around 30 years.

After her retirement in 1966, Joan returned to Coldstream. With a renewed reminder of the beauty of the Okanagan’s scenery, Joan decided she wanted to start painting again, a hobby she had not indulged since her childhood. She tracked down her former art teacher, Miss Topham Brown, who was then in her nineties, and took a series of art classes with her, but it was in working with pastels that Joan found her calling.

She went on to create a series of beautiful pastel landscapes, and was particularly fascinated with trying to capture light and form. Her artwork was in high-demand, and although she did not paint on commission, she did have a waiting list of people to whom she would offer her new creations.

A Lasting Legacy

 

Joan Heriot’s circa 1930 watercolour depiction of Miss Topham Brown’s drawing camp near Killiney Beach on Okanagan Lake.

Joan was also an active community member and supporter of several local organizations, including the

Allan Brooks Nature Centre

and the North Okanagan Naturalists Club. She maintained an interest in biology, geology and archeology throughout her life, and was always ready for an adventure; when she was in her 70s, Joan went white-water rafting for the first time. 

Joan passed away on July 29, 2012, but her legacy lives on. The Joan Heriot Studio at the Caetani Centre and the Joan Heriot Centre for Environmental Studies at the Mackie Lake House serve as reminders of her dedication to both organizations. The Vernon Public Art Gallery has exhibited her artwork on several occasions, and a series of her personal records are held at the Vernon Archives. A tree was also planted in her memory at the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

A view down a street over the rooftops of houses. A green hillside is visible in the background. A double rainbow is also visible, with the bottom one being much stronger and the top one quite faint.
View of a double rainbow over the rooftops of Vernon’s Foothills development in 2014. Photo by F. Arseneault.

LGBTQ+ History Month

October is LGBTQ+ History Month in Canada, the United States, and Australia. Meanwhile, one local organization that fought against discrimination of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community members was the North Okanagan Gay and Lesbian Organization (NOGLO).

Socializing without fear

NOGLO was founded by Arne Kirkeby and his partner Chris, who arrived in Vernon in the 1990s. They wanted to become part of a community, and so through word-of-mouth organized a dance with other LGBTQ+ couples. The event provided a place for Vernonites to socialize without fear and was a major success, with around 300 attendees. More events would follow in the coming years.

In 2013, NOLGO embarked on a number of projects to raise funds for community events, including a garage sale and the production of a business directory. These projects helped support events like a Halloween Howl later that year, hosted in memory of Chris and other NOGLO members who had passed away. Prizes were offered for the most creative individual and group costumes.

YouthGlo

Brian Webb, a former North Okanagan resident and board member of NOGLO, received the People Choice’s award in the 2012 competition of Mr. Gay Canada. Webb also served as a peer counsellor at YouthGlo, an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth in the North Okanagan. In 2013, he founded HomoCulture, a leading online resource that attempts to increase awareness of the interests and values of the LGBTQ+ community across North America.

As for NOGLO, the organization later disbanded, but others have emerged to fill its void, including the Vernon Pride Community who worked tirelessly to host their first Pride event earlier this year. Two former NOGLO members, Dawn Tucker and Susan Armstrong, alongside Madeline Terbasket, will present how the lived experiences of the historically underrepresented 2SLGBTQIA+ community can have more Pride in Place in local museums, archives and other cultural institutions at the Vernon Museum on October 13. Click here to learn more. 

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

Do you have memories of winter carnivals past?

The Vernon Winter Carnival logo. The word Vernon is written in a straight font while Winter Carnival is written in cursive. To the left of the words are two baby blue snowflakes.

Vernon Winter Carnival will be creating a series of videos – engaging local residents to tell their stories of past Vernon Winter Carnivals – allowing us to share knowledge and past experiences to future generations, thereby engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others. The videos will be edited and shared with the community through social media and possibly featured in schools and at an event during Vernon Winter Carnival 2023. This project is funded through the Government of Canada – New Horizons Seniors Program.

The video interviews will be conducted in mid-late August with a focus on three main questions:
  1. Tell us your memories of Vernon Winter Carnival…
  2. How has VWC impacted our community
  3. What would you like to share to our future generations about the importance of community events like Vernon Winter Carnival?
Residents wishing to be interviewed should meet the following requirements:
  • Over the age of 60
  • Lived in Vernon for at least 10 years
  • Must sign a media release allowing VWC to use their interview and image for promotional purposes
  • Must be available in August to be interviewed
  • Must have a strong, positive, connection to Vernon Winter Carnival and the Vernon Community
If you or someone you know might be interested in participating contact the Winter Carnival Society today by emailing INFO@VERNONWINTERCARNIVAL.COM or calling 250-545-2236.​

In the meantime, take a trip back in past to the 1964 Vernon Winter Carnival. 

First Stop: Winter Carnival Parade

We’re not sure what those Vikings from the Revelstoke float are doing would go over very well today, that spider float is a bit horrifying, and at least one small child is not impressed! Nonetheless, it’s a charming and entertaining journey back to a parade of the past.

Next Stop: Silver Star Mountain

This appears to be a slalom competition. We’re fairly certain those were the alpine downhill skis of the day, but it looks like people are competing downhill on Nordic cross-country skis — and admirably so! 

 

Happy Father’s day!

An Indigenous man wearing a blue ball cap is looking off to the left. He is wearing a black shirt and camouflage jacket. The background shows a wintery landscape.
Frank Marchand. Photo by Athena Bonneau, courtesy of https://thediscourse.ca/okanagan/frank-marchand-okanagan-changemaker.

Traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture emphasizes the importance of learning from one’s elders and passing along knowledge to younger generations. Frank Marchand, a member of the Okanagan Indian Band, epitomizes this cultural value in both the relationship he shared with his father and Elders, and in the role he has played as an educator to dozens of local students.

From Father to son

Frank Marchand’s late father, Gordon Marchand, was a Master Carver, a practice and designation he passed along to his son. Now, Frank has followed in Gordon’s footsteps in emphasizing the importance of dugout canoes and traditional waterways to the syilx and secwepemc people through public education.

A large trunk of a tree which is half-carved into a rounded, dugout shape. The legs of two people standing nearby are also visible, as well as a red chain saw. Wood chips cover the floor, but the far background shows that it is a winter's day.
A photo of the in-progress canoe constructed by Frank and students from SD22 in 2022. 

CANOE CULTURE REVITALIZED

In 2020, Frank and his apprentice William Poitras spent the summer working with youth from the Westbank First Nation. Together, the group took 21-days to construct a dugout canoe, which was inaugurated at a blessing ceremony at kłlilx’w (Spotted Lake), located near Osoyoos. Frank also worked with students in Kamloops’ School District 73 to create three other canoes.

That same year, Frank was nominated as a community changemaker, one of several individuals identified by IndigiNews as having a positive impact on his or her community.

Now, in 2022, Frank has spent several months working with students from Vernon’s Alternate Learning Program, Open Door Education Center, and Kal Secondary School to create another dugout canoe which will be unveiled at a ceremony at Canoe Beach. The canoe will then be on display at the Vernon Museum for summer 2022. 

In addition to revitalizing canoe culture across the Valley, Frank is also a member of the Okanagan Nation Response Team, a group of community members with extensive training in suicide education, community mobilization, and critical incident response.

FOOTAGE OF FRANK AND STUDENTS WORKING ON A CANOE IN 2018

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

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

A pale blue diner on the side of a road with a cloudy sky in the background. A blue, yellow, and white banner above the building's front door reads "Rosalinda's All Day Breakfast." A beige truck is parked off to the right.
Rosalinda’s diner at 2810 33rd Street. Photo: Gwyn Evans, 2022.

The Filipino Community in Canada and Vernon

Celebrated every June, Filipino Heritage Month acknowledges one of the fastest growing multicultural communities in Canada.

Unfortunately, Filipino immigration to the Okanagan, and Vernon more specifically, is not as well documented as other cultural groups. However, as of 2016, Vernon had a Filipino population of 370 individuals.

Canada’s earliest documented Filipino immigrants were sailors living and working on the west coast; up until the 1930s, almost all immigrants were male. The population continued to increase steadily over the years, and by the 1970s, 16,913 Filipinos lived in Canada. By 2016, this number had increased to 837,130.

Vernon has an active Filipino community, with groups such the Filipino Association of Vernon (FAV) spearheading anti-racism initiatives, and relief fundraisers for family and friends suffering through natural disasters back in the Philippines.

Emergency Relief

In November of 2013, Super typhoon Haiyan (also known as Yolanda) made landfall in the Philippines, displacing 4.1 million people, killing more than 6,000 and leaving 1,800 missing. Vernon’s Filipino Community quickly mobilized, raising $26,000 of emergency relief through a number of community events. In 2020, another $1,315 was raised through a virtual Christmas concert for those affected by typhoons Rolly (Goni) and Ulysses (Vamco).

Stand up against racism

Meanwhile, in May of 2021, the FAV launched their inaugural Stand Up Against Racism initiative with a paddleboarding event at Kal Beach. Later that year, they also joined other local community groups in producing Allyship in Action, a short film sponsored by the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan to show the harmful impacts of racism and initiatives to counteract them.

ROSALINDA’S

In terms of a local success story, Rosalinda Smelser, a local business woman who was born in Mainit in the province of Surigao Del Norte, Phillipines, fits the bill. Rosalinda, who runs a diner of the same name, moved to Vernon in 1999, and opened her business in 2011. Rosalinda’s, located at 2810 33rd Street, serves both Canadian classics and Filipino favourites.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

A black and white photo of children supporting a Chinese lion head and body. Only there legs and knee socks are visible. They are standing in a park with a fence around it in the background.
A group of children operating the Chinese lion head and body, which is now part of the Vernon Museum’s collection, circa 1935.

Asian Heritage mONTH

The Chinese Lion Head in 1977.

With May being Asian Heritage Month, it is a perfect time to uncover one of the Vernon Museum’s most fascinating, but rarely seen, artifacts.

In 1985, a traditional Chinese lion head was donated to the museum by the Chinese Free Masons. Due to its fragile condition and rarity, the head is rarely put on display, but spends most of its time in a custom-made storage container.

It is made from a framework of bamboo and wire, with brightly-coloured paper fleshing out its shape. Levers and pull-strings on its underside allow the eyes and mouth to be manipulated, and a long swath of fabric forms its body.

aN iMPORTANT cULTURAL aRTIFACT

The Chinese Lion Head in 1983.

Although its exact age is unknown, the head is believed to be more than 120 years old, and was the first to be used in Vernon. This incredible artifact made appearances at many important city events, including festivities hosted in honour of B.C.’s 100th Anniversary in 1958.

The head was also used at local Chinese New Year celebrations. While the traditional dragon dance requires at least nine performances, lion dances only require two, with one managing the head and one the body. Vernon’s lion costume was usually operated by two members of the local Chinese community, Walter Joe (1916-2005) and John Wong (1921-2001).

Lion dancing is believed to have originated in either the Han (206 BC-220 AD) or Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and has continued to evolve as form of cultural expression ever since.  

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Vernon Winter Carnival chairman George Melvin presenting the silver plate and trophy to the new Queen Silver Star, Rhondda Oliver (Biggs), in 1961.

The Vernon Winter Carnival is always new

One thing you can be sure about with the Vernon Winter Carnival is that each year will bring something new. However, in 1961, everything was new, since that was the year the annual event began.

From radio coverage captured by CJIB (now 107.5 FM) and preserved in the Vernon Archives, we are able to relive the exciting moment the Carnival’s first ever Queen Silver Star was crowned.

Royalty and Dignitaries

As the coverage begins, announcer Jack Pollard states that the crowd of two-to-three thousand gathered on Barnard (30th) Avenue is awaiting the arrival of the Vice Regal Party, composed of Lieutenant Governor George Pearkes, Mrs. Pearkes, Lieutenant Colonel David Kinloch, and Mrs. Kinloch. Once the dignitaries arrive, they gather near a large ice palace, which was carved on the main drag for the occasion, with the Queen Silver Star participants and the visiting royalty. Queens from Trail, Summerland, Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver, Port Alberni, Salmon Arm, and Lumby travelled to Vernon for the occasion.

Vernon: A Winter Playground

Peter Seaton, the president of the Vernon Board of Trade, then says that the occasion marks the “final lap in a long hard race to make Vernon and Silver Star a winter playground … The Carnival is going to be to Vernon like a drink to a man in the desert.” The crowd cheers, some standing around the palace, others watching from the roofs of nearby businesses or parked cars.

Queen Silver Star I accepts her crown

The RCMP clears a path through the crowd to the sounds of the McIntosh Girls’ Pipe Band. The Vernon Girls’ Trumpet Band then escorts a car carrying the new Queen Silver Star to the ice palace. The young lady emerges, and is revealed to be Miss Rhondda Oliver (later Biggs). She is helped up the palace’s stairs by two six-year-old pages. They neatly arrange the long train of her blue and white robe as she takes her place on the throne. Her princesses, Sharon Magee and Joyce Moilliet, stand on either side.  

Mayor Frank Becker and Miss Vernon Barbara Wolsey then place the crown on Rhondda’s head. As she gives her acceptance speech, a bonfire of Christmas trees on the hill behind the ice palace blazes to life. Mayor Becker wishes her a happy reign, before reading congratulatory telegrams from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and M.P. Stewart Fleming. Lieutenant Governor Pearkes then declares that the first ever Vernon Winter Carnival has officially begun.

More than 60 years later, the 2022 Vernon Winter Carnival is set to begin on February 4.

To the Max 80’s Party – Virtual Edition

As part of Carnival, the Museum will be hosting “To the Max 80’s Party – Virtual Edition.”

Tease your bangs, pull on your leg warmers, and grab the kiddos for an 80’s style sing-and-dance along with Kiki the Eco Elf. This family-friendly virtual event will feature music, dancing and prizes for best dressed, all from the comfort of your own home. Tickets are $20 and on-demand video access will be available for the entirety of the Winter Carnival! For more details, please click here

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

 

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toward Truth & Reconciliation

 

at the Vernon Museum & Archives

 

Thursday, SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

 

Please join us in honouring Canada’s first annual National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.

We will be offering exhibits and programs throughout the day. 

We will have self-led activities, such as scavenger hunts and colouring and activity pages, to engage younger children.

SCHEDULE

 

1 PM – EXHIBIT OPENING

The Community Hall will have displays on Truth & Reconciliation, Residential Schools in Canada, and Residential Schools in BC. 

Suitable for all ages.

 

2 PM – PRESENTATION: HOW DO WE RECONCILE?

Presentation on Truth & Reconciliation in Canada

Suitable for all ages.

 

3 PM – DOCUMENTARY VIEWING

Viewing of a residential school survivor’s personal account

Suitable for 12+ years.

 

4 PM – PRESENTATION: HOW DO WE RECONCILE?

Presentation on Truth & Reconciliation in Canada. (Repeat of 2 PM)

Suitable for all ages.

 

 

 

 

 

6 PM – DOCUMENTARY VIEWING

6 PM – Viewing of a residential school survivor’s personal account

Suitable for 12+ years.

 

7 PM – DISCUSSION CIRCLE: HOW TO BE AN ALLY

Reading of the letter to Sir Wilfred Laurier from the Chiefs of the Syilx, Secwepmec, and Nlaka’pamux Nations (1910) followed by a facilitated Community Discussion Circle on how to be an ally.

Suitable for 12+ years.

Due to public health precautions, we will have a limited occupancy for this Discussion Circle. If you would like to reserve your spot, please register in advance below!

 

PLEASE NOTE

The Vernon Museum will be following all provincial public health mandates and recommendations. Masks will be required inside the museum, and physical distancing between parties. Vaccine passports may be required to be shown to enter the museum for those over 12 years. Thank you for your understanding.

 

How to Be An Ally Discussion Circle - Registration

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