Content warning: This blog post includes a general discussion of the abuse of women and children. Please proceed at your discretion. 

A black-and-white image of a house, nearly complete, with three women standing at the top of a set of stairs.
The new Transition House in 1994, with Catherine Lord, Joan Jacobi, and Edna Austin on the steps. Because this facility still provides shelter to women and children fleeing abuse, the location remains private.

Archway Society for Domestic Peace

A plaque, located outside of the Vernon RCMP building, bears the names of those individuals and organizations involved in the 1993/1994 fundraiser that brought about the construction of the new facility. GVMA #17353.

In April of 1994, a new Transition House opened in Vernon; over several months, the Vernon Women’s Transition House Society (VWTHS) and the Greater Vernon community had managed to raise $750,000 to build an improved facility that would provide a safe shelter for women and children fleeing abuse.

The VWTHS, now known as the Archway Society for Domestic Peace, began in 1975 (International Women’s Year) when a group of impassioned women recognized a need in the community for women-centered support services. The first Transition House opened in 1976 in the United Church Manse on 27th Street.

Increased Capacity

In the first year, 276 women and children sought refuge at the Transition House, although only 6 beds were available. In 1980, the Transition House moved to a new building, and while this particularly structure was already over 50 years old, it provided an increased capacity of 15 beds.

By the late 1980s, the age of the structure had begun to show, and in 1992 plans were in the wordks to demolish the old building and construct a new one on the same site. When it was unveiled, the new structure was able to house 25 women and children and continues to operate to this day. Meanwhile, the administration offices have been located elsewhere since the 2000s.      

Against all odds

Nowadays, the Archway Society for Domestic Peace offers many vital counselling and justice-related services. Yet, when it first began operating in the 1970s, the community considered it with some skepticism, since Vernon was seen as a quiet community and the abuse of women and children, as is often the case, occurred behind closed doors. But thanks to a group of outspoken women, Vernonites began to realize, as Executive Director Joan Jacobi was quoted as saying in 1991, that “violence is happening, and it could be next door,” and rallied to see a new facility built.

Thank you to the Archway Society for Domestic Peace and Megan Hamilton for providing information on the historical background of the Transition House.

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

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives