Vernon, British Columbia

Vernon is a city in the south-central region of British Columbia, Canada. Named after Forbes George Vernon, a former MLA of British Columbia who helped grow the famed Coldstream Ranch, the City of Vernon was incorporated on December 30, 1892. The City of Vernon has a population of 35,944 (2006), while its metropolitan region, Greater Vernon, has a population of 55,418 (2006). With this population, Vernon is the largest city in the North Okanagan Regional District. A resident of Vernon is called a "Vernonite".

In 2005, on an episode of The Early Show, Vernon was ranked as one of the top six most desirable communities to retire to in North America by Consumer Reports.


In the early years, parts of the Okanagan Valley were occupied by the Interior Salish people. Fur traders first arrived in 1811. The earliest development occurred alongside Swan Lake. Growth occurred quite rapidly in the few decades following the first trading posts. Discoveries of gold in surrounding creeks generated a small rush of miners, which in turn drew cattle farmers. Native presence prompted Oblate missionaries. Father Durieu built a cabin near the junction of Swan Lake and Long Lake Creeks about 1863, joining Luc Girouard, a gold miner and the first white settler in the area. By 1890, a charter was granted for the construction of a branch line from Sicamous to Okanagan Landing. In the surrounding district, wheat growing had become an important industry, second only to cattle ranching. Fruit farming was introduced by Lord Aberdeen on the Coldstream Ranch lands, attracting many British families to the area.

New subdivisions on East Hill, Mission Hill, and other areas near the city core accommodated the rapid population growth of this period. By the early 1900's, Vernon was recognized as the economic hub of the Okanagan. This period of growth and development came to an end in 1913, when an economic depression slowed the movement of capital for land development, although the establishment of the military camp in Vernon in 1913 and the growing importance of the food packaging industry softened the economic blow.

During both World Wars, Vernon was an important training ground for Canadian troops. The military camp, #110 Canadian Army Basic Training Centre, trained thousands of soldiers from 1940-45. The 19th Infantry Brigade made its headquarters here, comprising of 3rd Battalion Irish Fusiliers (Vancouver Regiment), Winnipeg Light Infantry, Prince Albert Volunteers, 26th Field Company Royal Canadian Engineers, 25th Field Ambulance and various support units. Some 6 km to the east of the camp on the edge of the Coldstream Ranch was the Battle Drill School. This camp trained Canadian soldiers in advanced fighting skills from 1942-45. It was the first FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Areas) training centre in the world. To this day, unexploded artillery and mortar shells used in training are still turned up by the frost and development of the surrounding hills. Internment camps were also located in Vernon during the World Wars; in WWI for Ukrainian Canadians (this camp is now the site of a high school) and in WWII for people of Japanese decent (mostly from Vancouver).

After WWII, the camp was mothballed. In 1949 it was reopened and became an Army Cadet Training Centre for the Royal Canadian Army Cadets which it continues as to this day, Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre. This training centre teaches approximately 1400 cadets: citizenship, leadership, orienteering and map using, canoeing, sports events, bushcraft, safe firearms handling and shooting, rock climbing, mountaineering, first aid training, drill each summer. The ACSTC (Army Cadet Summer Training Centre) is operational for 10 weeks with course cadets taking courses up to 6 weeks in duration. The cadets come from nearly all parts of Canada. During the balance of the year the training centre serves various reserve and cadet units on weekends or longer training. It is the oldest ACSTC in Canada. Other ACSTCs include: Rocky Mountain ACSTC (NW of Cochrane, AB), Whitehorse CSTC, (Whitehorse, YK), Blackdown ACSTC (Borden, ON), Connaught ACSTC (Ottawa, ON), Valcartier ACSTC (CFB Valcartier QC), Mont St-Sacrement CSTC, (St-Gabriel-de-Valcartier QC) and Argonaut ACSTC (CFB Gagetown, NB). Approximately 75,000 young Canadians have attended Vernon ACTSC in the past 57 years. Vernon ACSTC will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary in the summer of 2009.


Three provincial highways can be found in Vernon: Highway 97 which passes through Vernon, Highway 97A which begins in Vernon, and Highway 6 which ends in Vernon. In recent years, each of these highways has undergone major renovations, including a new $22-million interchange system and four lane expansion at the Highway 97 and Highway 97A junction.

The City of Vernon, in conjunction with the District of Coldstream and the North Okanagan Regional District, operates the Vernon Regional Transit System through BC Transit. This transit system is responsible for all local full-service and handyDART public bus transportation. Currently, thirteen scheduled routes are operated under the Vernon Regional Transit System name, as well as various other community bus services. Greyhound Canada also serves Vernon for out-of-town destinations from their downtown bus terminal.

Vernon is served by the Vernon Regional Airport (IATA: YVE, ICAO: CYVK) in the Okanagan Landing area. Currently, the airport has no scheduled air service, and is primarily used by civilian aircraft.

The Greater Vernon area is also served by Kelowna International Airport, located approximately 40 kilometres south on Hwy 97. Numerous airlines provide scheduled passenger and cargo services to points throughout British Columbia and Alberta, as well as to Toronto, Ontario and Seattle, Washington (USA).


Vernon is currently served by School District 22 Vernon, a school district that includes 14 elementary schools and 5 high schools. Vernon is also home to multiple tuition charging schools such as religious schools.

For post-secondary education, Vernon is home to Okanagan College, a multi-campus full degree granting college. Other smaller community and specialty colleges exist within Vernon.

Arts and culture

Each winter, Vernon plays host to the Vernon Winter Carnival. First held in 1961, it is now Western Canada's largest, and North America's second largest Winter Carnival.

Also, in summer, there is the Sunshine festival, held on the main street.

Vernon is also home to a state of the art performing arts centre, The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. The society presents three series of entertainment including dance, theatre and child oriented. The performing arts centre also hosts hundreds of touring musical acts, local talent and community based events on a yearly basis.

Sports and recreation

Vernon is known for its lakes and beaches in the summer, and skiing and hockey in the winter. It is therefore a year-round tourist destination and weekend get-away for people from Vancouver and Calgary. During the summer Vernon hosts a large SloPitch tournament (Funtastic)

The Vernon area is home to several golf courses. Among these is the prestigious Predator Ridge Golf Resort, a 27-hole golf resort and community. This resort is one of only two public golf courses in Western Canada to have been ranked by Score Magazine as one of Canada's top 25 golf courses over the last 8 years, and in 2000 was the host of the Export A Skins Game featuring Fred Couples, Sergio García, Phil Mickelson, and Mike Weir. A new Fred Couples Signature golf course is scheduled to open in early 2008. "The Rise" will showcase unsurpassed views of the Okanagan Lake and of Vernon itself.

One of the most popular winter sports in Vernon is skiing. Blessed with two major ski locations, each winter locals and tourists alike flock to Silver Star Mountain Resort and Sovereign Lake Nordic Club. Known as one of the top ski resorts in North America, Silver Star also has a large cross-country skiing area which hosted a 1991 FIS Cross-Country Skiing World Cup event. As another world class ski area, Sovereign Lake is the region's premier cross-country skiing location with over 50 kilometers of skiing terrain. This Nordic Club gained worldwide exposure as the host of a 2005 Viessmann FIS World Cup event.

Curling also has a strong following in Vernon, with local curlers being found at the Vernon Curling Club. In past years, Vernon has hosted several major national curling events, including the 1979 Canadian Senior Women's Curling Championship, the 1992 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, and the 2004 Canadian Senior Curling Championships. Its first international event, the 2008 Ford World Women's Curling Championship was held at the Vernon Multiplex.

Hosting several beaches, Kalamalka Beach (Kal Beach) is amongst the most popular near Vernon. A large pier built by a local service club is used for sun bathing and jumping. In the evenings the beach is used extensively for beach volleyball. Kin Beach and Paddle Wheel Park Beach on Okanagan Lake are also amongst the most popular of the twenty or so beaches in or near Vernon.

SunValley Speedway brings stock cars, including a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series national event, to their facility north of Vernon.

Cougar Canyon is near Vernon, with both a popular rock climbing site and an ecological preserve.

Vernon has also seen success in minor hockey. The Vernon Vipers (former the Vernon Lakers) have won the Royal Bank Cup (formerly the Centennial Cup) 4 times, all coming in the 1990's. They won while hosting the tournament in 1990, repeated in 1991, again in 1996, and most recently in 1999; giving arguably the most dominant performance of any franchise in a single decade since the introduction of the Centennial Cup in 1971.

Club League Sport Established Venue
Vernon Vipers BCHL Ice hockey 1961 Wesbild Centre

Notable Vernonites

Sister cities

Vernon has “sister city” agreements with the following cities:


External links

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