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Museum Hours
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday to Saturday
Archives Hours
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday to Friday
(limited access on Sat.)
Address
3009 - 32nd Avenue
Vernon, BC
Canada
V1T 2LB
Tel: 250-542-3142
Fax: 250-542-5358

 

THE PERMANENT EXHIBITS AT THE VERNON MUSEUM

The Ice Age:  Using text and illustrations, the story of the North Okanagan begins with this exhibit as we take visitors back some 20,000 years ago when the world was a very different place.  Then, many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including the North Okanagan region, were frozen wastelands.  Ice sheets over 3 kilometres thick covered much of North America and northern Europe.  In this region, as the ice scooped out great masses of earth and rock and pushed them forward, the basins for many lakes began to take shape.  Shuswap Lake, Mara Lake, Kalamalka, Lake, and Okanagan Lake were all formed during this time.  Later, about 10,000 years ago, as the glaciers melted and retreated, the lakes were filled and rivers appeared leaving us a valley that has come to be known as the Okanagan.  The animals that once roamed the valley included the woolly mammoth and the ancient bison.  Specimens of mammoth teeth and tusk are on display along with early bison skulls.


Interior Salish Displays:  A floor-to-ceiling diorama of a lakeshore acts as a backdrop for an authentic 18-foot dugout canoe and introduces the visitor to a very early time period and the history of the region’s first human inhabitants: the Interior Salish.  Stone tools, basketry, and a number of other Interior Salish artifacts are on display along with extensive text and photographs.  Three of the five display cases in this area of the museum have multiple pullout drawers that allow visitors to see additional artifacts and comparative collections.  These displays form an integral part of school programming activities. 


White Settlement:  An authentic Hudson’s Bay Trade rifle and other artifacts on display assist in telling the story of the first Europeans to travel through the North Okanagan; fur trader David Stuart of the Pacific Fur Company and a small band of men on a quest to establish a network of fur trade posts in the region in 1812.  From this point, extensive but concise text explain to the visitor the turbulent years leading up to the Oregon Boundary dispute, the establishment of the Crown Colony of British Columbia in 1858, and the ensuing Fraser River Goldrush.  Additional display cases with artifacts and photographs tell of pioneer life, farming, and cattle ranching.


Metamorphosis of Vernon: A wood plank sidewalk directs visitors to large exhibits portraying the events leading up to the establishment of Vernon and its transformation from a sleepy cow town to a bustling transportation centre.  By the end of the 19th century the Canadian Pacific Railway established both freight and passenger service on Okanagan Lake and the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway had constructed a line north from Vernon to the C.P.R. main line near Kamloops, effectively connecting Vernon with the rest of the country.  These exhibits also include a small operational steam engine, the first to appear in a boat on Okanagan Lake in 1887.  The engine operates under compressed air and is “fired-up” for school tours and group demonstrations.


A Spate of Building: Vernon’s boom years took place from the late 19th century and into the early 20th century.  It was a time when grand hotels, magnificent houses, and elaborate retail establishments were being built.  This period in Vernon’s history is portrayed through extensive text, black & white photos, copies of original building plans, architectural artifacts, early tools, and furniture. 


Growing the Big Apple:  Agriculture is the theme of this display area with the history of the fruit industry in the North Okanagan the primary focus.  A near full-scale loading dock, complete with original wood siding, windows, etc. depicts the exterior of a typical early fruit-packing house.  Artifacts in the display include a selection of early apple boxes and various pieces of equipment that would have been used in a packing house at the time.


Main Street:  An entire corner of the museum is dedicated to six turn-of-the-century scaled down historical shop fronts and interiors from Vernon's main street.  Currently, a general store, photographic shop, operating print shop, drug store, radio repair shop, and taxidermist are shown.  The displays do change and different shop themes are presented from time to time.  The print shop is fully operational and demonstrations are given regularly to school classes and other groups.


Anyone's House:  Another corner of the museum is set aside for our single largest static exhibit.  Constructed to look like a typical turn-of-the-century house from the Okanagan, this two-roomed exhibit allows the museum to present to visitors aspects of Okanagan social history through frequent exhibition modifications.  Currently, the house is set-up in the style of the 1930’s with a kitchen, complete with electric stove, and an adjoining bedroom.  Other historic periods may be depicted from time to time with the functions of the rooms also changing.


Natural History Corner:  This corner interprets the natural history story of the region through elaborate wildlife dioramas, mounted animals, and extensive text panels.  The main feature of this exhibit space includes four display cases that house a massive butterfly and moth collection.  Two additional cases tell the story of the region’s geological history through a number of rock samples and fossils.  Many of the exhibit cases in this area of the museum contain wildlife specimens that date back to the 1940’s and earlier.  They form part of a collection that was originally donated to the City of Vernon in 1949 by William Pound, a local taxidermist, for the purposes of starting a museum.  The result was the creation of the Vernon Museum a short time later in 1950.


Allan Brooks Gallery:  This space is primarily for the display of original watercolour and gauche paintings by wildlife artist, naturalist, and ornithologist, Major Allan Brooks.  Brooks lived in Vernon from 1905 until his death in 1946.  The government of Canada declared Brooks a person of national historic significance in 2000 and erected a cairn in his honour at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre in Vernon.  The space at the museum enables us to display upwards of thirty works by Brooks.  Works by other North Okanagan artists from our past are also occasionally displayed in the gallery.  Namely, works by B.C.’s first studio potter, Axel Ebring; works by pioneer photography and watercolour artist, C.W. Holliday; and watercolour works by naturalist, Tommy Brayshaw.


The B.C. Dragoon’s: Vernon’s Own Regiment:  This exhibit space consists of four large shadow box style cases that house uniforms, medals, photographs, and other memorabilia from the museum’s collection.  Together, they tell relate the history of the B.C. Dragoons; a regiment that had its beginnings in Vernon in 1908 when an unauthorized militia unit, the Okanagan Mounted Rifles, was organized.  The cases begin the story with the formation of various militia units in the Okanagan in the late 19th century through to the South African or Boer War then on to World War I, World War II, and Korea.  Artifacts of particular interest are a pair of dated (1899-1900) Queen’s South Africa medals that were awarded to two Okanagan soldiers.  The medals were presented to the men by King Edward VII in 1901 and are considered to be extremely rare.