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TIMELINE: THE HISTORY OF VERNON

Vernon Timeline Photos
Vernon Timeline Photos

INTRODUCTION

The Interior Salish Indians were the first inhabitants of the North Okanagan - mainly traders - a peaceful group - in the winters, they hunted elk and deer and speared salmon - in the summer the women gathered roots and berries. The Interior Indian tribes used to meet at what we know as Vernon today - this was a gathering place for them.

The Indians helped the white men settle in this area - taught the white people how to manage in the wilderness. As more people arrived in the area, the Indians moved onto reserves and became less nomadic.

TIMELINE: THE HISTORY OF VERNON

1860 Luc Girouard arrived in this area from California - he was Vernon's first permanent settler - Seven years later, he acquired 160 acres of land west of Swan Lake and extending into what is presently the city of Vernon - he planted an orchard and became the city's first postmaster

1862

Gold seekers passed through Vernon - not much was found - fever lasted about 2 years - Placer Mine at Cherry Creek (near Lumby) had some larger deposits of gold - there was some successful mining
1864 Barnard arrived - became a Vernon rancher - bought 6,300 acres of Crown land to breed and train horses - set up the BX (Barnard Express)/ Coldstream Ranch (Charles & Forbes Vernon) sold to Aberdeen - sold part of land to British immigrants for fruit growing
1867 O'Keefe and Greenhow were coming through this area from Oregon state - came to seek fortune in the Cariboo - made money - passed through Okanagan stopping to give cattle a rest and to fatten them up on bunch grass (full of nutrients for animals) - decided to raise cattle and to develop large fields of wheat and cattle herds - founded O'Keefe Ranch - built cabin, cleared land, planted grain - operated by O'Keefe families until 1977
1884 Horse racing was the most popular sport. First schoolhouse built cost $625.00 and had 13 pupils (perhaps compare to today’s costs for a new school) One year later, this school burned down and another was built using wood from the Postill sawmill which was located near O'Keefe Ranch. Vernon population at that time was 40. Bank of Montreal built (brick building behind the present bank)

1885
(approx.)

The building of the major railroads had been completed in B.C. which left many Chinese looking for new opportunities. Some came to the Okanagan to work.
1887 The name Vernon was given to the city - named after Forbes Vernon who owned Coldstream Ranch.
1892 Population had grown to 600 - several stores had emerged and 5 hotels - the railway was completed by then - people interested in large parcels of land arrived - mining was growing (gold, silver, zinc - Silver Star named after a Silver Mine) - Vernon had a lakeboat service
1893 Park School was built (today this building houses the Science Centre) - this school was used for elementary school pupils until 1907 - it is the oldest school building in Vernon
1895 Several mines all near the city were established - Swan Lake Mining Company - White Elephant and Bon Diable - two runs on the Putnam Creek side of Silver Star Mountain are named after these mines (White Elephant and Bon Diablo)
1900's 1st car in Vernon - it came from San Francisco and was owned by Judge Spinix - cost was $1,000.00 (horses had to be used sometimes to help pull early cars up hills). The arrival of the automobile opened this area up to the world. Gas lights arrived about that time - they were lit every night by a man who was paid 50 cents a night. Lots of orchardists immigrated to this area from Scotland, Britain, Belguim - they had little knowledge of necessary requirements for growing and found the extreme climatic conditions difficult to work with and consequently many became short of labour and money
1902 Steam plant was built - provided electricity for lights
1904 Samuel Polson arrived - he was a real estate developer from Winnipeg. He was on his way to Vancouver and had been told about the Okanagan Valley. He stopped to look at the area and referred to it as the "garden of Eden". He later donated land for the park and for the hospital. He also purchased 5 big ranches in the area
1905 Telephone line was completed to Kelowna
1909 Fire Hall built - horses pulled wagon; Beairsto Elementary School building was constructed - it had the reputation of being one of the finest buildings in B.C.; St. James Catholic Church was built (still standing today - 2601 - 27th Street)
1911 Vernon's first movie house constructed - it was called the Empress
1912 Train station completed; licence plates were issued
1914 Court House on 27th opened. Diesel power was established - Vernon's Electric Power House was the first of its kind in B.C. It was located close to where the Powerhouse Theatre is now
1915 Army Camp - a tented camp for training troops - by 1916, there were 7,000 men there for training - more soldiers than residents (3,000)
1917 Lord Aberdeen sold his interests in the Coldstream Ranch to Lord Woolavington (Lavington is named after him) In this year, the Coldstream Ranch shipped 800 boxcars of apples and 200 of fruit to a 1 million dollar value
1919 Now about 200 cars in Vernon - one of the popular ones - Ford Model T called "Tin Lizzie" cars were painted black because that color of paint dried faster than other colors and it meant they could keep the production line moving
1920
(approx.)
Japanese immigrants came into the Okanagan, first farming around Fintry on the west side of Okanagan Lake. Some purchased land in the Bella Vista area to farm
1926 The first gas engine train arrived - called the "Galloping Goose"
1931 Camp Hurlburt opened
1937 Building of the Vernon Civic Arena began
1939 Silver Star road went to the top - first car reached the summit; buildings were constructed at the Army Camp
1941 City population was 7,000
1951 Parking meters introduced. Safeway, Bus Depot and Vernon Medical Clinic open
1953 Kalamalka Lake gets named (it had been called Long Lake until that time)
1957 TV arrives to Vernon
1959 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visit Vernon, Eatons store opens
1961 First Winter Carnival celebration
1965 Library and Museum under construction; O'Keefe Ranch opens
1975 Polson and Village Green Malls open
1982 College opens
1987 Completion of the Sikh Temple on Mission Hill. Many Sikhs chose this area to settle
1988 Morning Star began publication and Beairsto Elementary School became a single track French Emersion School
1991 Coldstream Ranch for sale/Kekuli Park opens
1996 Vernon Daily News ceases publication after 100 years
2001 Vernon Multiplex opens
2006 Population 55,418

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