The Vernon Court House was constructed between 1912 and 1914.

The Vernon Court House was constructed between 1912 and 1914.

Going back in time – 100 years ago in Vernon

A year to remember is 1912. That’s when the greatest steamship in the world, the Titanic, went down


Special to the Morning Star

A year to remember is 1912. That’s when the greatest steamship in the world, the Titanic, went down after a collision with an iceberg.

What was Vernon like in 1912?  The period from 1890 to 1913 was a time of growth and development for the prosperous community of Vernon. It was evolving from a village to a thriving town.

In 1911, the population was 2,671 and the city speed limit was 15 miles per hour.  Within this period, the post office opened and the Hudson`s Bay Company opened its third store on Barnard Avenue (30th Avenue). The militia camp opened on Mission Hill and a second CPR station was constructed.

From 1912 to 1914, the present-day court house on 27th Street, was built.  The building was designed by Thomas Hooper, a famous Vancouver architect, who designed well known landmarks in Vancouver, such as the Vancouver Carnegie Library. The architectural style of the court house is classical revival.  It creates the feeling of a Greek temple with its ionic columns supporting a central block with flanking wings on each side.  The building was constructed of white granite from a quarry on the south side of Ellison Park on Okanagan Lake.    

Back to 1912, when the All Saints Anglican hall was built as a scaled-down version of the 1907 church which burned down. The hall was moved to its present location on 27th Street. The Bank of Montreal was built in the high Victorian Queen Ann revival style in 1893.  It was moved in 1909 to its present location at 2908 32nd St. This building is valued as one of the earliest important brick commercial buildings in the Interior. The Bank of Commerce, which is currently Phoenix Steak House, was built in 1913/14 and is noted for its beaux arts design. This well loved building is located at 3117 30th Avenue.

Another fine 1912/13 architectural example is the Urquhart House still standing at 2501 23rd Ave.  This warm and classical home was designed by architect O. Beaston Hatchard, in what was then known as the Pine Grove subdivision. The twin-gabled bungalow, with matching carriage house, is also of merit due to its fine detailing of half timbering, triangular dormers and stately cupolas.

An historical footnote from 1912:

In April 1912, the Vernon News reported the arrival of Baron and Baroness Herry and stated the baron’s family and retinue will form a welcome addition to the population of the district. The baron secured 76 acres to plant orchards and another 18 acres to build a home.  In her later years, the baroness employed her artistic talents for sketching and painting landscapes of the Okanagan.  In 2002, the Vernon Public Art Gallery mounted a retrospective of her artwork.

This is the inaugural article of a new series of historical vignettes on buildings and landmarks that we all know by sight, but may not know the people who created them or the dreams they had.

Linda Jenkins wrote the article for the Heritage Advisory Committee of Vernon, with editing help by  Bill Hamilton and Shelagh McGinn. Special thanks to the Greater Vernon Museum for historical references and pictures.