i’d like to buy the world a coke


June 4, 2020

Vernon once had its own Coca-Cola plant, built in 1969 at 4607 27th Street, but prior to the construction of this building, the local representative for the soft drink company was McCulloch’s Aerated Waters.

Alex McCulloch owned the bottling plant at 3400 Coldstream Avenue that would later be named McCulloch’s Aerated Waters from 1912 to 1934, at which point it was inherited by his son John.

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.

John’s wife Vera was born in Vernon in 1905. After attending school in Armstrong, she went on to earn a BA at UBC with a major in mathematics. Vera came to Vernon in 1927 to teach Grade 9 mathematics at Vernon High School, then went to Ontario for two years to attend the Royal Ontario College of Art. When she returned to Vernon, she was reacquainted with one of her former students, John McCulloch. The couple was married in 1932.



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


Alongside running their business, John and Vera were active citizens. Vera was involved with the local church community, while John was a trainer of the Vernon Tigers Lacrosse Team, a CJIB employee, and a member of the Kildonnan Pipe Band. The couple had two sons, Malcolm and Derry.

John passed away in 1951, and Vera took over the family business. Both Derry and Malcolm worked as employees. 

McCulloch’s Aerated Waters was a bottling plant, selling everything from sodas, beers, and mineral waters, to fruit drinks, juices, and syrups. One of their creations was a bright yellow soda pop called “Second to None.” Vera ran the business until 1964, when it was sold. The plant was torn down and replaced by a retirement building—fittingly named McCulloch Court.

As for Vera, the selling of the family business wasn’t an ending, but a beginning. She threw herself into local politics, serving on the school board from 1954 to 1963 and as president of the Vernon and District Council of Women from 1965 to 1967. She was also active with the Vernon Women in Business, the Okanagan Historical Society, the Friends of History and the Okanagan Regional College council.

To honour her service to the community, Vera McCulloch was named Good Citizen of the Year in 1971. She passed away in March of 1994.

Gwyn Evans