Landing history captured
A critical chapter in the Okanagan’s early history is now being told.
The Okanagan Landing Stationhouse Museum and Art Gallery was officially opened at Paddlewheel Park Sunday.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time for this event,” said Val Heuman, with the Okanagan Landing Community Association.
The museum is in the original 1892 stationhouse, which was part of the Canadian Pacific shipyard and railway terminus, where Paddlewheel Park is.
From the late 1880s to the early 1930s, Okanagan Landing was the transportation hub for the entire valley. New settlers passed through the shipyard on their way to their final destinations, while fruit and other commodities were shipped out to the world.
The stationhouse used to sit by the boat launch and was almost demolished in the 1980s until community advocate Edna Oram led a fight to save it.
Ultimately, it was moved farther on to the park property and eventually was connected to Paddlewheel Park Hall as plans for a museum took hold in 2009.
“The building is an artifact even before you put items into it,” said Heuman.
About $150,000 was raised from donors to transform the aging building into a museum, but critical to the process was the army of volunteers.
Among them was Miriam Jayne, who died in March at the age of 90.
“Every Monday she came and worked at what ever she could. Right until the end she was here,” sad Heuman.
The focal point for the museum is a 20-foot-long diorama, which details the shipyard as it was in 1914. The model was constructed to scale by the North Okanagan Model Railway Association.
“We had a set of plans of what everything looked like,” said George Copley, NOMRA president.
Everything has captured right down to outhouses and chickens.
“I came in when they were doing the wharf and they had tiny match sticks and they were being laid in by tweezers,” said Heuman.
Checking out the model Sunday was resident Gary Fisher.
“It’s breathtaking,” he said.
The rest of the museum includes photographs and period artifacts.
“As the summer progresses, you will see more,” said Ron Candy, Greater Vernon Museum curator.
Alan Hill, who was instrumental in the CP lands becoming Paddlewheel Park, welcomes the museum.
“The idea of establishing the park is we (Landing) have a somewhat separate identity and this helps,” he said.
Volunteers are currently being sought to operate the museum.
“We want it open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekdays,” said Heuman, whom prospective volunteers can reach at 250-558-1063.