Okanagan-Shuswap Major Cities: Vernon

Vernon's interesting City Hall This town of 24,000 is the major business centre for the northern Okanagan. It is located at the junction of four valleys, the Priest, the Pleasant, Coldstream and Mission. The pleasant Valley stretches 75 north past Armstrong and Enderby to Sicamous on Shuswap Lake. The town is also bordered by three lakes: Okanagan, Kalamalka and Swan and has great sandy beaches accessible to all.

The natives called this place "Hun-cul-deep moose-chin" or jumping over place. The city is named for George Forbes Vernon the Chief Commission of Lands and Works. In the 1860s George Vernon and his brother Charles where settling in. Cornelius O'Keefe was driving cattle all the way from Oregon to the Cariboo to provide beef for gold-seekers.

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O'Keefe realized that the area's natural meadows with benchgrass that was chest-high, he could raise cattle right there. By 1867, he had bought land and breeding stock and went on to become the area's leading cattle baron. The first orchard in the area was planted in 1891 by Scottish-born Lord Aberdeen and his wife, who bough 5,367 hectares from George Vernon and renamed it Coldstream Ranch. It went on to become one of the largest producers of fruit in the British Empire, and Lord Aberdeen also became Canada's Governor General.

Vernon's busy downtown By 1917, after Lord & Lady Aberdeen had moved from the area, the Coldstream Ranch produced over a thousand boxcars of apples and other fruit, worth over $1 million. Venron's cooler wetter climate than the Okanagan makes it better suited for fruits like apples, prunes, plums, and crops like hay and alfalfa.

These are Vernon's annual events: Vernon Winter Carnival (February), Creative Chaos Craft Fair (June), Vernon Racing Days Begin (June), Downtown Street Festival(June), Canada Day Celebration (July), Funtastic Slowpitch Festival (July), Midsummer's Eve of the Arts (July), Okanagan Landing Regatta (July), Restoration Music Festival (August), Fall Fashion Gala (September), Okanagan Wine Festival (October), Downtown Christmas Light-Up (December).

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