There has been some discussion about what is and is not represented around the town of Vernon.
I wanted to write in and mention that the City of Vernon has always had a role to play in the culture of this community.
This is done publicly and privately. Whether you think they support the whole community or not perhaps depends on how you identify yourself.
To give you an example, the City of Vernon gives property tax exemptions to community organizations and churches. This is a considerable loss in revenue in order to support certain groups.
Also, if you look around the community you will quickly see numerous plaques, monuments, memorials, public art, and parks which honour our soldiers, heroes, tragedies, history, people, cultures, and even a favourite swan.
Not all of these were funded by the city nor are all maintained by the city, but in many cases they are.
I will list a few examples off the top of my head. This is not a complete list. People can feel free to write in with their favourite monument or memorial.
Our military history is represented by a beautiful Cenotaph Park, two murals, and a large monument celebrating the B.C. Dragoons.
Our early settlers are honoured in a number of ways.
Firstly, they put their own names on many of our streets and even towns settling here. We have parks named after those early settlers, Polson Park, Ellison Park, Girouard Park, and Pioneer Park. Luc Girouard’s cabin still exists and sits in a miniature park across from the Schubert Centre (named after another early settler) and is a lovely place to sit and feed the pigeons.
Becker Park, which also has a monument, is named after a former mayor.
Of course there are numerous parks named after local men’s service groups, or at least they were men’s groups when the parks were formed.
There are monuments that honour heroes and remember tragedies.
The lives lost in the Okanagan Hotel fire are remembered as are the actions of Archie Hickling.
The Gakhal and Saran families are remembered in a moving tribute situated on a monument near the Greater Vernon Museum. In front of the Vernon RCMP detachment is a monument to Glen Evely and Jean Minguy, officers who both died in the line of service.
The Kranz overpass on Highway 6 at Polson Park, honours Mr. Kranz who died in an accident during its construction.
Meanwhile, quietly and mostly unnoticed, is a memorial for the homeless in Polson Park.
Many men have memorials and plaques around town, and I am not talking about the small ones that families put on benches, but larger ones for community viewing.
Memorials honouring Patrick Nicol in Polson Park, Don Campbell Way, Stuart Fleming at the ball diamond at Camp Vernon, and Albert Edward Ashcroft and the Vernon Irrigation District monument at the Highway 97 lookout.
There are also community spaces such as Vernon’s Centennial Legacy plaque and garden. In front of city hall, there is the beautiful Spirit Square and the sister cities monument and marker.
Different cultures are represented in the murals, as well as different markers around town.
The monument for the Ukrainians reflects on an unfortunate part of Vernon’s history — the First World War internment camp, an important story to remember. This story is also reflected in a powerful and personal mural.
The Japanese Garden in Polson Park is a beautiful place for reflection.
There is also a Chinese tea house plaque and a Japanese-Canadian centennial plaque in Polson Park.
I will leave off with my favourite two monuments, the Nintle-moos-chin sign near the Schubert Centre which mentions the reason Vernon is located where it is, and the charming memorial to Duchess the swan in Polson Park.
I encourage people to walk around town and check out these sights. They are everywhere.
Then you can decide whether they represent the true width and breadth of Vernon’s culture, but know that the City of Vernon has always had a say about what is supported publicly through tax breaks.