Murder mystery is aboard

Vernon Lions Club hosts fundraiser, Death on the SS Aberdeen, a murder mystery set on a sternwheeler that once travelled Okanagan LaKe.

Barbara Keith and Mike Smith are preparing for the Death on the SS Aberdeen murder mystery April 28.

Barbara Keith and Mike Smith are preparing for the Death on the SS Aberdeen murder mystery April 28.

High society and working class converge on the SS Aberdeen as the ship makes stop at settlements along Okanagan Lake.

It’s an absolutely leisurely experience until a body is found.

And until the Aberdeen docks at Okanagan Landing, intrigue abounds and the passengers and crew are left looking over their shoulder for the killer.

This is the 1893 scene that awaits those attending the Death on the SS Aberdeen murder mystery — an April 28 fundraiser by the Vernon Lions Club.

“Actors will circulate around and the guests will ask questions,” said Mike Smith, event chairperson.

“Everyone there is a passenger on the Aberdeen, including the guests.”

Barbara Keith, a local resident, is currently weaving together the tale.

“They’re going to be surprised,” said Keith of the reaction to the mystery’s inevitable outcome.

As part of the process, Keith has looked over photographs and documents about the valley in the 1890s, including the importance of lake travel and Okanagan Landing’s role as a transportation hub.

Keith, who is part of Powerhouse Theatre, has also tried to conform to the common mores of the period.

“I’ve had to get my head into the time and it was socially far more formal in terms of communication (between people),” she said.

“I’ve been developing characters and there are some famous names I’ve used but not in a murderous way.”

Funds from the murder mystery — which also includes dinner and a silent auction — will go towards a new museum in Okanagan Landing and the Lions guide dog program.

In the case of the museum, it will be located in the restored CPR station house in Paddlewheel Park and be operated by the Greater Vernon Museum.

“There will be artifacts from that time period there,” said Smith of sternwheelers and trains using the Landing as a terminus in the 1880s and early 1900s.

The guide dog program is part of a long-standing Lions commitment to help people with medical and physical disabilities.

“There are at least two dogs in Vernon and they are free to whoever needs them,” said Smith.

The Death on the SS Aberdeen murder mystery takes place April 28 at the Schubert Centre, with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and the action starting at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $40 each or $300 for a table of eight and they can be purchased from Lions Club members, at the Schubert Centre or by calling 250-549-4201.

It’s anticipated that the event will be popular.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Smith.