The Vernon area needs to do a better job looking after its heroes.
For one thing, there’s the Vernon Canadians hockey club.
I did a story last week featuring the 60th anniversary of the Canadians’ historic Allan Cup victory in 1956 over Ontario’s Chatham Maroons. At the time, the Allan Cup was the second most important trophy in North American hockey circles.
There were 4,000 people who lined the streets of Vernon. Not for the Canadians’ victory parade, oh no. There was double the amount of people for that on Main Street.
No, 4,000 people showed up to welcome the visitors – the Maroons. Could you see that happening today?
When the Vernon Vipers won back-to-back Royal Bank Cups in 2009 and ‘10, there were a few hundred people that welcomed them home. Hardly a hero’s return. Yet the Vipers were like the Canadians. National champs. A team mainly made up of players who were born and played elsewhere before coming to Vernon.
The Canadians were the first national hockey champions from this city. The Vernon Civic Arena was overflowing when they beat Chatham 5-3 to win the ‘56 Allan Cup series in five games, and more had gathered outside the arena to listen to the radio broadcast.
That same Civic Arena where the Canadians won the Allan Cup, there was nothing inside to commemorate the feat. No banner. No pictures. Nada. Still isn’t.
Today, the only thing that shows the Canadians won the Allan Cup – the same trophy league rivals Penticton Vees won in 1954, and followed that up by winning the world hockey championship in 1955 – is a picture in Kal Tire Place.
At the Penticton Memorial Arena, there is a shrine to the Vees. Pictures, old newspaper articles, old uniforms. In Vernon, there’s a picture.
There are four surviving Canadians left and they all live in Vernon.
How cool would it be for the city or somebody to create a banner commemorating the 1956 Allan Cup win, invite the survivors to the Vipers’ season-opening game in September or October, and have a banner raising ceremony?
Without the Canadians, there wouldn’t be junior hockey in Vernon. They deserve the recognition.
The other thing is the condition of the Vernon Cemetery.
There was a front-page story in this paper on Wednesday about the terrible shape it’s in. The story, posted on the paper’s Facebook page, touched a nerve with people as there were many negative comments about the look of the cemetery.
There are hundreds of heroes to lots of Vernonites in the cemetery. My parents, both sets of grandparents and my best friend are buried there.
I was near tears last summer when I saw the brown grass because there hadn’t been any watering. I stopped by last week and it looked like a run-down lot in some places.
How did it get to be like this? Why did it get to be like this? Are we not aware of how much the people buried there mean to us, to the city, to its history?
“There were a lot of weeds. A lot of it looks like a desert landscape. It shouldn’t look like that,” said Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund.
No, Akbal. It shouldn’t.
On May 24, city staff will bring forward recommendations and cost estimates for improvements and upgrades to address weed control and repair damaged turf areas at the cemetery.
Our heroes deserve that.