A black and white photo of three individuals on bikes passing through a parking lot. A boy wearing a t-shirt and long light-coloured pants is walking in the middle. In the background one can see cars and individuals walking behind the cyclists.
Cyclists rallying before a memorial service for the late Jack Schratter in 1994. It was partially Jack’s tragic cycling-related accident that inspired his son Michael Schratter to embark on the first ever Ride Don’t Hide campaign in 2010.

A Canadian-Wide Event with Local Roots

This June, thousands of cyclists across Canada will come together to raise awareness and funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

This event, which is in its 13th year, has local roots. In 2010, Michael Schratter, born and raised in Vernon, embarked on a worldwide bicycle trip that saw him cover 40,000 km and raise $100,000 for the CMHA. He called his campaign “Ride Don’t Hide,” in an effort to stimulate conversation and overcome some of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

Michael Schratter

Michael has openly shared his experiences with hypomania, a mild form of bipolar, and ADHD. In a 2011 interview with Vancouver Magazine, Michael stated that, in terms of personal courage, his around-the-world trip was nothing in comparison to engaging in conversations with friends and colleagues about mental health. “Yet one in five people will be treated for some form of mental illness in their lifetimes, and virtually everyone is affected by it,” he said.

Michael was also inspired to begin this campaign to honour his late father, Jack Schratter. Jack was a popular professor of physics and mathematics at Okanagan College who was known to “arrive early, stay late, and always be available to students.” In 1993, Jack sadly passed away in a cycling-related incident.

Jack Schratter

In a Vernon News article published shortly after his passing, one of Jack’s former students, Lyn Hartley, suggested that “there is hope coming out of such a tragic loss. The hope lies in knowing students of Jack are strung out across the province, country and world. Each of us taking a little bit of Jack’s inspiration and passing it on to others.”

Following in their father’s footsteps, both Michael and his brother Ed have also inspired Canadians across the Country, but this time with their commitment to destigmatizing mental health. Since its origins in 2010, the Ride Don’t Hide campaign has morphed into a nation-wide movement.

a blue and green graphic with the words "Ride Don't Hide. Ride for your mental health, raise funds for your community."

CMHA

The CMHA is the most extensive community mental health organization in Canada, providing “programs, advocacy and resources that help prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.” The Vernon branch of the CMHA will be hosting this year’s local Ride Don’t Hide at Polson Park on September 16, 2023. Click here to learn more.

 

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives

 

 

 

 

vernon hospital’s founding mother

 

October 9. 2020

October is Women’s History Month, a celebration of the outstanding achievements of women throughout Canada’s history. Since its incorporation in 1892, Vernon has been home to a number of fascinating women, and this is therefore the perfect opportunity to explore how their legacies have shaped our city.

For any of us who have visited the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, we owe this woman our health; she was the driving force behind the establishment of Vernon’s first hospital, fondly known as the Cottage Hospital.

Clara Chipp came to Vernon circa 1888 after marrying the town’s first government official, Walter Dewdney. Walter had recently lost his wife, and Clara stepped up to act as a surrogate mother to his three young children. The young stepmom quickly became active in Vernon’s social scene, hosting picnics for local children and playing the organ at church services.

 

 

Clara & Walter Dewdney, 1889

Unfortunately, Walter was under a significant amount of stress from his job. He had little time for anything other than work, and spent long hours confined his desk. He began to suffer from bouts of depression, on top of chronic pain due to a kidney disorder. Just four years after marrying Clara, he took his own life.

Following Walter’s tragic death, Clara found herself alone with her three stepchildren. She moved in to a new house closer to that of her father, John Chipp, a local doctor, so he could help with their care. From this vantage point, Clara was also afforded a clear view of the handsome young shopkeeper, William Cameron, who worked across the street. In 1894, Clara and William were married.

In 1894, diphtheria broke out in Vernon, and underlined the urgent need for a local health care facility. At this time, Clara was Vice-President of the National Council of Women and used her position to canvas the district for financial support towards the construction of a hospital. In 1897, Vernon’s first Jubilee “Cottage” Hospital was opened in a boarding house on 28th Avenue—a temporary facility until the new building opened on Hospital Hill in 1909.

Tragically, Clara would never live to see this day. In 1898, she was diagnosed with cancer, and instead of suffering through her deteriorating health, she took her own life by drinking carbolic acid in 1900. A tribute to her in the Vernon News stated that “the establishment of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital was due almost entirely to the untiring efforts of the late Mrs. W.F. Cameron … It is eminently fitting that her memory should be honored in this connection.”

So next time you pass by or through the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, spare a thought for the woman who fought tirelessly for the health of Vernon’s citizens.  

Gwyn Evans