Most visitors come to Vernon for the golf, food, beaches, and skiing. But did you know that Vernon hosts one of the largest collections of outdoor art in Canada?
The Downtown Vernon Association, with the help of artists, downtown merchants, and others, have produced 28 high-quality murals representing the history, folklore, culture, and scenery of Vernon. All can be seen with one good long walk of a couple of hours throughout the downtown core.
I am just showing a sampling of the murals here, but they really must be seen in person. Photographs do not really do them justice because many of the murals are too large to capture in a single frame. Some wrap around buildings and cover half a city block in both directions. Some carry on into the niches of doorways, such as the Cowboys mural, or consist of multiple pieces of art, such as the In Memory mural, which wraps around the Vernon war memorial.
This tour is a nice addition to your Vernon agenda in any season. It’s even great for children, who might enjoy the challenge of locating the murals from a map. And it’s free!
There are free tours in July and August, but you can do the self-guided tour anytime. You can pick up a map from the Information Centre or the Library, both of which are also located downtown. I used the centre spread from Greater Vernon Map Book and Guide, which I picked up for free at the library. And the Arts and Culture Guide for the North Okanagan (which I also picked up free at the library) gives excellent background information for each of the murals.
Enjoy your art-filled and informative walk!
C.E. Perry of the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway, circa 1892. Many people thought they could walk faster than the train, which is why it earned the nickname ‘Molasses Limited’.
An Okanagan Valley Co-Operative Association truck, which collected cream from the local dairy farms.
Part of the ‘Cowboys’ mural. You can see how the art extends into the niches along the walls.
This is Catherine O’Hare, the first white woman to travel overland from Eastern Canada to BC, in 1855.
Thomas Dolman Shorts, Captain of the S.S. Penticton, a steam-powered boat that provided transportation on Okanagan Lake.
And this is part of the crew of the S.S. Penticton.
Vernon lads Eldon Seymour and Jim Diddle built an open-cockpit monoplane in 1934 from plans purchased from a magazine. It flew perfectly.
Part of the ‘World Wars’ mural.
This is a covered delivery wagon (with telephone, no less) from Vernon’s first commercial laundry, opened by Cecil Johnston in 1908.
James J. Hull, Vernon’s first fire chief. When the brigade first operated, they fought fire with leather buckets filled with water.
‘The Allure of Clay’ depicts Axel Ebring, a Swedish-born and trained potter.
‘Sovereign Lake’, depicting a cross-country skier from Vernon’s Nordic Club.
This mural honours the Okanagan Indian Band, who first made contact with European fur traders in the early 1800s.
‘In Memory’, dedicated to those who sacrificed in the name of Canada’s freedom.
An additional piece from ‘In Memory’.
For the motorcycle fans, ‘Indian Motorcycle’, sold through McLaughlin-Buick dealership, which was opened by W.R. Megaw, Vernon’s third mayor. Megaw moved from Ontario to Vernon in 1878.
The Vernon Newspaper opened in 1891, the first in the Okanagan.
Ogopogo, the mysterious lake monster from Okanagan Lake, depicted in this mural, which wraps around the corner of a building.