WIld nights at the Kal

 

January 15, 2021

The Vernon Winter Carnival is beginning in just over two weeks, and for those of us who have been starved for a change—albeit a safe one—to our repetitive lockdown lives, it couldn’t come too soon.

This year’s Carnival theme of “Wild West” fits in quite well with our mandate here at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives.

While this area was home to the Indigenous Syilx people for centuries, the place that came to be known as Vernon began as a small, sleepy “cow town”. 

 

The Kal Hotel, the year it opened in 1892

Many of the stories preserved within our walls tell of life back in its frontier days.

The hub of social activity in Vernon during this time was the Kalamalka, or Kal, Hotel. This impressive piece of architecture was built in 1892 by the Land and Development Company for a cost of $19,000. The new hotel was named in honour of local indigenous chief Kalamalka (this being the anglicized spelling and pronunciation). The hotel’s interior was complete with a billiard room, bar and ladies parlour, while the exterior boasted tennis courts and a vegetable garden.

In his book “Valley of Youth,” colourful local historian and photographer C.W. Holliday describes the Kal Hotel as the local social centre of Vernon, saying that “here one might meet celebrities and interesting people from all over the world.” One of the favourite places for locals and visitors alike to relax was the hotel’s cozy lounge, where they could gather around a large open fireplace and enjoy a favorite drink carried over from the bar on cold winter nights.

Despite the tendency for the hotel to be considered the go-to spot for “festive and convivial gatherings,” the wife of the hotel’s first manager, Mrs. Meaken, ran a tight ship. If she felt the evening’s proceedings were becoming too disorderly, she had the disturbing habit of appearing in the doorway of the billiard room dressed in her nightgown. “Gentlemen,” she would say sternly, “it is time to go to bed.” A gloomy silence would then descend over the room, as the men packed up and shuffled home. No one, it seems, ever refused her orders.

Another story recalls Mr. Meaken, who, unlike his wife, was said to be meek and mild, took full advantage of the Missus being out of town and had a little too much to drink. While under the influence, he had the brilliant idea of bringing a horse in from outside and riding it around the billiard table. One can only imagine what Mrs. Meaken would have thought if she had seen this spectacle.

Holliday is careful to add that although these stand-out moment’s in the hotel’s career naturally stick in his memory, most of the time the gatherings were quiet and composed, and this Wild Western hotel was exactly what it claimed to be—a comfortable family venue.

For more tales of Vernon’s “Wild West”, join us for the GVMA Winter Carnival event, Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

Gwyn Evans

all that jazz

 

November 20, 2020

Vernon has a healthy, but somewhat underground, jazz scene. Not literally underground, of course. In fact, the Vernon Jazz Club sits proudly overlooking Vernon’s 30th Avenue in the upper floor of a heritage building that also houses Nolan’s Pharmasave.

The building was built in 1906 and used as a sales outlet for farm machinery. In 1910, the Ranchers’ Club, described as a “family social club” with male and female members, took over the second floor. A few years later, the bottom floor was purchased by R.E. Berry and converted to a drugstore. Meanwhile, the Ranchers’ Club was starting to lose their family-friendly reputation. In 1919, the club’s steward was fired for hosting all-night card games with unrestricted stakes. 

 

The first gig hosted by the Vernon Jazz Society and featuring the Larry Crawford Jazz Ensemble, held on September 11, 1999, in the basement of the Sandman Inn

In 1922, the group was reorganized as the Vernon Club for men only, and a peephole was installed in the door to screen those entering. It is even reported that the RCMP set up surveillance in the building across the street to determine what kind of card games were being played. The Vernon Club lasted until 2001.

A few years before the club folded, Tom Collins, a former HVAC technician, Curt Latham, a doctor, and Gerry Sholomenko, a secondary school teacher, and all jazz lovers, meet over coffee to discuss the organization of a venue where the music “wasn’t too loud, couples could have a dance or two, and local jazz musicians would have a stage,” and thus the Vernon Jazz Society was born.

The Society’s first gig, performed by the Larry Crawford Jazz Ensemble, was held on September 11, 1999 in the basement of the Sandman Inn. Drinks and chairs were hauled into the venue, which seated about 60 at tables around a small dance floor. Despite an awkward moment when the owner of Bean Scene, where the tickets for the evening had been sold, was turned away at the door, the performance was a success and inspired a greater public interest in Vernon’s jazz scene.

The club began to rent the current building from the Vernon Club in November of 1999 after the basement of the Sandman Inn was flooded by a burst pipe. They made a few changes to the venue, such as constructing a raised stage with curtains, and adding performance lighting and a sound system. After the folding of the Vernon Club, the Jazz Society began fully paying the modest rental fee to use the building. Since then, the Society has hosted a number of local and traveling jazz musicians, such as Brandi Disterheft, the Tom Collins Quartet, and Sherman “Tank” Doucette, to name but a few, as well as several sessions where young and mature musicians alike are invited to simply come out and “jam.” While the Jazz club has been closed since March this year, with such a passionate group of music lovers at its helm, it’s sure to continue bringing jazz to Vernon for many more years.

Gwyn Evans

glory days

 

August 25, 2020

“They used to have the like of Sing Le Lung, Mr. Lee, Mr. Kwong, Mr. Loo Jim who were the head ‘boss.’ If anybody had any problems they would go to see him and he would say ‘now let’s think this thing out. What seems to be the problem?’ And then he would say ‘well, I think you’re wrong. You should just pour a cup of tea—offer your friend a cup of tea and an apology, and the case will be all settled.” – Walter Joe (born Chow), talking about the resolving of interpersonal conflicts within Vernon’s close-knit Chinese community.

Chinatown was one of the most culturally rich and lively parts of our city’s downtown. Despite the fact that they were immersed in a larger settler community that, throughout the years, regarded them with alternating detached curiosity and out-right intolerance, Vernon’s Chinese population was unabashed in their traditions and lifestyle.

 

 

McCulloch’s Aerated Waters Coca-Cola ‘Cooler’ float, used for a parade in 1934

 

In fact, they were known for their hospitality, and particularly so on Chinese New Year. According to the Vernon News of 1905, “during this special season of rejoicing, the Chinese are peculiar in the open-hearted manner in which they welcome stranger as well as friend and acquaintance to share their best and join with them in the festivities of the occasion.” Shops and dwellings throughout Chinatown were elaborately decorated, and cigars, wine, sweet-meats, and fruit were handed out to visitors to the light of fire crackers. Other cultural practices enrichened life in Vernon over the years, from the Dance of the Dragon, to the flying of kites, to the secretive rituals of the Chinese Freemasons.

A variety of businesses and residences formed the physical bounds of Chinatown, including several restaurants that were frequented by both Chinese and non-Chinese. The smorgasbord at Goon Hong, which opened in 1950, was particularly popular; a heaping plate of fried prawns, egg rolls, roast pork, chop suey, chow mein, and fried rice cost only $4 in 1976. Other businesses included laundromats, cobblers, groceries, stables, a boarding house, and a church. 

One such business was a dry goods and grocery store run by Eng Shu Kwong. Kwong immigrated to Canada from a village near Canton, China. After failing to strike it rich in the Cherry Creek gold rush, he moved himself and his family to Vernon, and opened a business. The two-storey building, which housed the family on the top floor, had a facade with the store name printed in block letters — KWONG HING LUNG & CO. DRY GOODS & GROCERIES. “Hing Lung” translates roughly to “abundant prosperity,” and this is indeed what the Kwong family brought about for themselves. The second youngest of Kwong’s 15 children, Larry, would go on to become the NHL’s first non-white player.

How is that so few traces of Vernon’s one-vibrant Chinatown, which allowed families like the Kwongs to prosper, remain in 2020?

Gwyn Evans

early chinatown

 

August 14, 2020

“We were in Chinatown. On each side of the street were unpainted, boxlike, two-story buildings. They were dimly lit. In the background, the unfamiliar tones of a stringed instrument were heard and there was the drone of sing-song voices in the air. Seated on a porch were a couple of men with lighted punks in hand sucking on their gurgling water pipes. Noise coming from one building told us that a gambling game was under way. Everything was serene” – Vernon’s Chinatown as it was described in a passage of the 1983 Okanagan Historical Society report. 

Since few visual traces of it remain, it comes as a surprise to some Vernonites to learn that their city was once home to a thriving Chinatown, and the largest Chinese population in the B.C. Interior. A community that was once so full of vigor has been silenced by the passing of time.

 

 

Vernon Chinatown, 1907

 

The first group of Chinese immigrants came to B.C. in the mid-19th century in the pursuit of gold. Back home, these men were known as “Gold Mountain Sojourners,” and like most hopeful prospectors, only hoped to stay long enough to make a fortune before returning to their families. Unfortunately, most never did strike it rich and were instead forced to stay in B.C. for longer than expected.

Many Chinese labourers were also employed in the construction of the western portion of the CPR; in fact, over half of the crew that worked on the Shuswap & Okanagan spur line were Chinese. They were lead to believe that they would be paid well for the back-breaking work, and given a ticket back to China once the job was finished. Unfourtunately, the Canadian Government and the CPR did not honour this pledge, and many of the immigrants were left destitute, unable to return to their families.

About 1000 settled in the Okanagan; while some were entrepreneurs who opened cafes and laundries, most worked as low-wage labourers on farms and orchards. Some also worked as kitchen help for pioneering families like the O’Keefes and Ellisons.

Since their early days as hopeful prospectors, Chinese immigrants had faced prejudice and discrimination, and had formed tight community groups, modeled off of traditional Chinese societies and clan associations, to combat to this ostracism. It was for this reason that distinctive Chinese communities would begin to crop up in the middle of interior towns, including in Vernon. One of the first administrative buildings in Vernon’s Chinatown was a hall for the local chapter of the Chinese National League, opened in 1919 on the corner of 28th Avenue and 33rd Street.

Gwyn Evans

admiral of the okanagan

 

August 6, 2020

He was one of Vernon’s most colourful personalities.

Captain Dolman Shorts arrived in the Okanagan Valley in the 1870s, by which time he had already gained quite the reputation for his optimistic and persuasive personality. He probably put these charms to good use when, in the 1880s, he saw that there was a need in the valley for lake transportation and convinced people that a ride up Okanagan Lake on his homemade rowboat would be a sound idea.

As it turns out, the rowboat, named “Ruth Shorts” after the captain’s mother, was far more predictable that he was. Captain Shorts did not have a set boating schedule, as he despised routine. Since the trip from Okanagan Landing to Penticton took at least 9 days of hard rowing, the captain and his passengers would put into shore at night, catch some fish for dinner, and sleep under the stars. When prompted about how long the trip might take, Shorts would say “I haven’t the faintest idea, but rest assured we’ll fetch up there sometime.” If the Captain fancied a midday nap, he caught 40 winks on the nearest beach, regardless of what his passengers might think.

John McCulloch’s experience working as a tobacco and soft drink salesman for his father’s business prepared him for ownership, and he also had the support of a remarkable woman.

 

 

Captain Dolman Shorts

 

When prompted about how long the trip might take, Shorts would say “I haven’t the faintest idea, but rest assured we’ll fetch up there sometime.” If the Captain fancied a midday nap, he caught 40 winks on the nearest beach, regardless of what his passengers might think.

Despite his quirks, Shorts had a strong group of supporters, and he soon graduated from a rowboat to one with a small steam engine, christened the “Mary Victoria Greenhow.” The vessel had a voracious appetite for coal oil and what was supposed to be her magnificent inaugural trip ended up with her being rowed anticlimactically back to the dock after she ran out of fuel. Only about a year later, she went up in flame.

However, Shorts’ spirits were certainly not dampened. In fact, these misadventures seemed to bring him great pleasure, perhaps because they provided stories to tell his passengers during their trips up the lake. He was known to have a vivid imagination, and with each retelling, the details grew more and more dramatic.

Shorts would go on to own a number of other vessels over the years, both big and small, including a barge named the “City of Vernon,” launched in August of 1894. Unfortunately, with his irregular schedule, the Okanagan’s first captain was eventually outcompeted by the more routine (but far less colourful) service of the C.P.R. steamships. He ended up broke and disenchanted with modern machinery, saying “I made six thousand dollars rowboating and lost it all in steam.” But his friends refused to let him wallow; a banquet was held at the Kalamalka Hotel in his honour, and he was granted the title of “Admiral of the Okanagan.”

Eventually, the Admiral moved away from the Okanagan, chasing gold in the Klondike, but his optimism and ambition have not been forgotten.

Gwyn Evans

what’s in a name?

 

July 16, 2020

Where in Vernon is Elizabeth Street? What about Connaught or Vance Street? If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone. Nowadays, we know these three streets as 31st, 19th, and 33rd.

On October 20, 1947, after a lengthy, two-year discussion, the Vernon City Council passed a bylaw that changed the city’s historic street names to a set of numbered streets and avenues. Price Street became 28th Avenue, Sully Street became 33rd Street, Regina Street became 17th Street, and so on. 

While the Council likely had several logistical reasons for this change, a group of outspoken citizens, headed by a committee of the Vernon Old Timer’s Association, felt that this change was a disservice to the pioneering men and women whose initiative, business acumen, or civic service merited the honour of having a street named after them. They blamed the changing of a system that had worked for more than sixty years on “modernization, a burgeoning population, and the post office.” 

 

 

The above photo was taken in 1922. Notice the street names on the bottom left

 

The committee’s main “adversary” was the youthful and progressive Junior Chamber of Commerce; J.G. Simms was quoted in the Vernon News as saying that “those who are trying to change the street names are  virtual strangers compared to the old settlers.” It appears to have been quite a heated debate.

A referendum on the question was held in May of 1947, and 56% of citizens had voted against the change. However, five months later, after consulting with a city solicitor who ensured them that they were legally, if not morally, allowed to so do, Council quietly passed the bylaw.

At that time, some of the street names were retained alongside their new numbered descriptions, perhaps to appease the majority of citizens who had opposed the change. This is why you might have noticed some less-than-familiar names appearing on street signs around town under their assigned number; names like Ellison Street, Girouard Street, and Mara Street might still be recognizable to some of Vernon’s older residents, but they aren’t often referred to as such nowadays, and are much more familiar as 28th Avenue, 35th Street, and 27th Street.

The passionate debate of the 1940s over the reordering of Vernon’s street truly makes one wonder “what’s in a name?” Would our downtown core be any different if 30th Avenue was still known as Barnard Avenue?

Gwyn Evans

i want kandy

 

June 11, 2020

It is a place that many Vernon residents remember with the fondest of memories.

Vernon’s Kandy Kitchen was started in 1921 by Greek immigrant Constantine Haros. Gus, as he was known, was an avid businessman, and alongside his partner George Mellos, opened the National Café a few years later.

Meanwhile, another family of recent immigrants from Greece was setting up a small confectionary and fruit stand in Victoria. Theodore and Catherine Alexis had three children, Mary, Nick, and John, all of whom worked for the family business.

Gus’ brother John was a fried of the Alexis family, and knew all the children well. When he became involved with the National Café, he offered sixteen-year-old Nick a job in Vernon. Nick accepted and in a matter of days have moved to the Okanagan. His first job was washing dishes.

Despite these humble beginnings, Nick’s work ethic so impressed Gus that he soon moved him to work at the Kandy Kitchen. Later, Nick would purchase Gus’ share in both businesses, and by 1941, the confectionary shop began to be known as Nick’s Kandy Kitchen. In 1944, Nick married Gus’ daughter Helen, and two children, Nick Jr. and Margaret, soon followed.

 

 

Nick Alexis behind the counter at Nick’s Kandy Kitchen (3017 30th Avenue) in 1947 or 1948

 

Nick’s Kandy Kitchen was a centre of community activity, and this reputation has continued unabated despite the 45 years that have passed since it closed its doors for the final time.  Moreover, a recent post on the FaceBook page, Vintage Vernon BC, reveals that memories of the business are swaddled in nostalgia; there is a certain universal appeal to a “retro” dinner like Nick’s, complete with long, high counters, stools that swivel and stick to bare legs in the summertime heat, burgers, milkshakes, and of course, confectionaries.

“Lots of memories at Nick’s,” said one individual. “Nick was always at the cash register and everyone would stop to have a little visit. The men would stand at the counter facing the magazine rack on the wall. Some were bold enough to read the Playboy magazines.” Or, at least, tuck thembetween the pages of Car and Driver.

A stop at Nick’s appealed to people of all ages. While adults would sit at the counter chatting and sipping coffee, children would share milkshakes in tall-backed booths or listen to the jukebox. To keep one young boy busy while he and his dad chatted, Nick would prepare him a chocolate milkshake and let him sprawl on the floor reading comic books.

The food is recalled in mouth-watering detail, from 25 cent burgers, to peanut brittle, to grilled butterhorns.

A friendship was kindled over a shared love of ketchup on fries, an expectant mother went into labour (much to her embarrassment), and a regular customer sold questionable Irish Sweepstake tickets, all  in Nick’s hallowed halls.

Beyond the business, it is Nick himself who endures in Vernon’s collective memory. Exceptionally community-minded, he seemed to know everyone by name. “Nick was one of my favourite people on the planet,” one individual said. He was “such a nice man,” another agreed. Someone even suggested that “the best excuse for being late for dinner was, ‘I was at Nick’s’. Mom always knew I was safe.” Nick was even once spotted running at full throttle through a blizzard, still in his apron, to answer a hooter call at the fire department.

Although Nick Alexis passed away in 1990, I am sure he would be humbled to see just how much of an impact his business, and his community spirit, had on the citizens of Vernon, recalled so many years later.

It is perhaps best said by an article published in the Vernon News shortly after his passing: “You didn’t have to know him too well before his infectious personality and good-hearted nature rubbed off on you in some way or another. Above all else, this may have been his greatest gift to the world, and certainly to the City of Vernon.”

Gwyn Evans

Golden age of small town cinema

 

May, 2020

“Modern In Every Detail Building Brings Vernon To Front In Theatre Activity.”

These were the headlines in the Vernon News on November 3rd of 1938. The previous year J. Fitzgibbons, Canadian Director of Theatres, had made a promise to the citizens of Vernon in the special “Marching Onward” edition of the Vernon News, stating that Vernon would soon have the most modern and complete theatre in British Columbia. On Monday, November 7th, 1938 this pledge became reality when the Famous Players Canadian Corporation opened the new, state of the art, Capitol Theatre on Barnard Avenue

The theatre site at the east end of Barnard Avenue had been settled on after negotiations with the National Cafe Holding Company, who agreed to erect the structure on the site previously occupied by the National Ballroom, and then lease it, under a long term arrangement, to Famous Players.

 

 

Capitol Theatre Box Office with advert for Don’t Give up the Ship with Jerry Lewis, 1950

 

Vernon architect Richard Curtis was engaged to design and supervise the construction of the building. The general contract was awarded to David Howrie Ltd., and the electrical work was given to Okanagan Electric and J.M. Edgar. The Vernon Hardware Company was engaged to install the modern heating and ventilation system, cable of handing one million cubic feet of air per hour.

A formal opening was held at 6:45 p.m., Monday November 7th, with the Hon. Grote Starling, Member of Parliament for Yale, in attendance, along with Mayor Harry Bowman, British Columbia manager for Famous Players, Frank Gow, and new local manager, Walter Bennett. The curtain then rose for the premier feature film “The Valley of the Giants,” a “four bell” picture in technicolour selected to showcase the up-to-date colour reproduction equipment.

The following enthusiastic description of the new theatre appeared in the Vernon News.

“Surmounted by a 50-foot tower and enhanced by a wide marquee running the full length of the National Block, the new building offers an imposing, modern appearance. From Barnard Avenue the play-goer enters an arcade, fifty feet long and beautifully decorated in rose and silver, and goes on into a spacious oval foyer which is handsomely furnished and which is flanked by rest-rooms, and the manager’s office. Here too is noticed an innovation – a check room with a young lady in attendance. As the main auditorium is entered the Vernon theatre-goer will notice another change, that of boy ushers smartly uniformed and specially trained.”

“The auditorium is the last word in theatre accommodation and decoration. Having a floor space two and a quarter times the old Empress Theatre, it will seat approximately 800 persons in the very latest type of fully upholstered chairs set wide apart with ample leg room. The heavily carpeted aisles which hayed concealed lighting, are wide and the floor has sufficient slope to assure perfect vision from every seat. Here too, the decoration has been carried out in shades of rose, lavender, and silver for the walls, while the ceiling is plain, having been treated with acoustic plaster to abolish any chance of echo and to assure a good sound reproduction.”

The cost of construction was approximately $60,000, and the Capitol Theatre was rated as one of the finest theatres in Western Canada. Since that time, many changes have taken place, including the loss of the imposing 50-foot tower and the change of name to the Towne Theatre. However, the theatre still plays a major role in the entertainment scene, bringing in a wide and varied range of movie fare to satisfy Vernon film buffs.

To learn more about some of Vernon’s earliest businesses, visit http://www.okcreateonline.com/the-history-of-local-businesses.html.

Barbara Bell

R U coming to buy a home b 4 it’s too late?

 

May 21, 2020

Long before texting acronyms were even invented, a postcard from the mid-20th century employed a similar tactic to encourage newcomers to settle in Vernon. The advertisement for H.P. Lee Real Estate boasts the tagline “R U coming to buy a home B 4 it is too late???” A bundled immigrant with a suitcase of cash standing “East of the Rockies” is welcomed into the warmth of the Okanagan by a well-dressed orchardist.

The beginning of the 20th-century marked a boom in immigration in Vernon. Prior to that, parts of the Okanagan Valley were largely inaccessible due to a lack of infrastructure. Forbes George Vernon, our city’s eponym, was responsible for adding some much-needed roads during his tenure as Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and these additions, alongside the movement of steamships up and down the lake, allowed more people to settle in Vernon.

 

 

 

 

Governor-general Lord Aberdeen, who had emigrated with his family from Scotland, invested in orchards in the BX and Coldstream, and this decision was called in the 1958 Royal Commission on the Tree Fruit Industry of British Columbia “the single event which served most to focus the attention of people on the Okanagan Valley.” Following Lord Aberdeen’s interest in the Valley, the region began to be promoted widely throughout the United Kingdom as a pleasant and abundant place to live.

Indeed, most of the early settlers to Vernon were European, and largely British. In the 1901 Census of Canada for the district of Yale, which encompassed the Okanagan Valley, the British were by far the largest ethnic group at 7,821, followed by First Nations people at 5,247. The other groups included 1,148 Chinese and Japanese, 501 French, 461 Germans, and 284 Scandinavians.

An important by unfortunate truth of Vernon’s immigration story is that not everyone was welcomed with opened arms. The political and social selection process was choosy, and largely favored Europeans. Other minority populations, such as the Chinese and Japanese, faced discrimination, while the arrival of newcomers of all ethnicities largely displaced the local indigenous peoples for whom the Valley had long been home.

And yet, thanks to immigration from around the world, Vernon now boasts a more varied and diverse population than one might think. In 2016, more than 5,000 Vernonites spoke languages other than English or French at home, including nsyilxcən, Hindi, Tagalog, and  Italian.

Gwyn Evans

kindness is contagious 

March 27, 2020

It takes a community coming together to face a pandemic. It is with cooperation and compassion that the North Okanagan has faced challenges in the past. Indeed, kindness is contagious, as the story of one remarkable Vernon woman reveals.

Alice Mann and her family came to Vernon from England in 1910. At the age of 22, this young entrepreneur entered into a partnership with Frank Nicklen and opened the Okanagan Bakery and Café in the 3100 block of Bernard (30th) Avenue, thus beginning a long career.  The bakery quickly became a hidden gem known for its high teas, lady fingers, and cakes. Alice, with the help of her brother Tommy, a baker who entered the business in 1931, produced close to 1000 loaves of bread per day. After Nicklen retired, Alice bought his share of the business, as well as the property which housed the bakery.

 

 

Alice Mann at home in 1958, the year of the fire.

 

On November 9, 1958, a fire ripped through the bakery. Alice fled through a newly installed fire escape, as searing flames blocked the main entrance, while her brother Tommy was helped off of the roof where he was trapped with an aerial ladder.

Alice was alive, but found herself with no business, and around $147,000 in damages.

The community of Vernon was quick to respond in her hour of need. Doug Kermode, a celebrated local photographer, along with Joe Peters and Ed Openshaw, started a fund to help support Alice until the restaurant could be repaired. The community responded in excess, and helped Alice to quickly get back on her feet. Only a year later, she took out a permit to begin construction on a new, three-story building on the same location. As Alice noted later in life, the building was opened just in time for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 1960 visit to the city.

Alice would never forget the kindness Vernon’s citizens had shown her and tried to “pay it forward” for the remainder of her life. She raised thousands of dollars by participating in walks for individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges. She was also a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club and the Garden Club. But Alice was mostly known for her willingness to lend a helping hand or a sypmathetic ear. “I’m known as ‘Soft Alice’,” she joked in a 1972 Vernon News Article, “otherwise I could have been a millionaire by now.”

In 1972, Alice was named Good Citizen of the year. Mayor Stuart Fleming surprised her with the news at home, where she responded with tears and disbelief. “Oh, I can’t be,” she proclaimed, before burying her tearful face into the mayor’s shoulder. But the award was well earned. Mayor Fleming later told the Vernon News that “Alice has probably been involved in every community organization in the city, as a person, over the past 50 years.”    

After her retirement, Alice moved into a spacious home  on 24th Avenue, where she enjoyed painting, gardening, and reading. But mostly, she loved gazing out at the view her house provided of the city and surrounding scenery. “I have always lived on a hill,” she said, “and I like to look over the city. I love this city – I adore it.”

Gwyn Evans