(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 colour photographs taken from a hill and looking west over the head of a lake bordered by houses.
A view of the Okanagan Landing in the 1990s.

Once a Hub of Activity

This spring marks 30 years since the Okanagan Landing was annexed into the City of Vernon. Before April of 1993, the Okanagan Landing composed Area A of the Regional District of the North Okanagan.

Back in the early 1890s, when Vernon was only a sleepy Cowtown, the Okanagan Landing was a hub of activity; it served as both the terminus of the Shuswap and Okanagan spur line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the most northerly steamship port on Okanagan Lake. Although the last steamship on the Lake, the SS Sicamous, was retired in 1936, ship repairs continue at the Landing until the 1960s. Once the land was decommissioned, it was purchased by the Okanagan Landing and District Community Association.

Electoral Area A

Discussions as to the future of Electoral Area A began as early as the 1970s and ‘80s. The question was whether it was best for the area’s residents to maintain the status quo, join the City of Vernon, or incorporate as a new municipality. A referendum on the question of incorporation was held in 1986, but residents did not vote in favour of this decision.

The discussion of annexation came to head again in the early ‘90s. With permission from the Regional District, the City of Vernon offered the Landing a series of incentives for annexation, including a moratorium on significant tax increases for a decade, and the installation of multi-million dollar sewer and water services infrastructure. The issue was extremely divisive among Landing residents, all of whom were ultimately concerned with the future of their community. 

58% in favour

On April 3, 1993, a referendum was held at the Okanagan Landing Elementary School. A few days later, the results were declared; 58 percent of residents who turned up to vote were in favor of annexation. In June of 1993, the City of Vernon officially applied to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to annex the Okanagan Landing and thus the largest municipal restructuring in B.C. in more than 20 years was complete.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives