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Vernon’s lost street names

Story behind Schubert Street (32nd Ave.)
James Schubert’s once-grand house stood on the northeast corner of 32nd Avenue and 30th Street (former library location). Renamed Gateby by Benedicta Yeatman, it served variously as a ladies’ drop-in shelter, a boarding house for professional women and a social venue for wartime miliary personnel. (GVMA 26383)

James Armstrong Schubert was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in March 1860.

When he was only a few months old, natives in the area began harassing his family.

The Schuberts fled for Fort Garry (Winnipeg) where, in June 1862, they joined the Overlanders, a group of 150 men determined to seek gold and new lives in British Columbia.

Age two, James was carried most of the way by the men who endured extremes of weather, exhaustion and near-starvation in their four-month, sometimes-desperate struggle across the prairies and through the Yellowhead Pass.

When they reached Kamloops, Catherine Schubert, pregnant, and the only woman in the group, gave birth to British Columbia’s first white child, James’s sister Rose (later Swanson).

James’ father, Augustus, pre-empted land in the Spallumcheen in 1881, and James apprenticed as a glazier in Victoria.

In the early 1880s, James drove the stage from Kamloops to Okanagan Mission – and later to the Boundary, a frequently hazardous journey.

He may have been instrumental in renaming Priest’s Valley, suggesting to a post office inspector that “Vernon” would be a more appropriate name.

After years of exposure to dust and weather, he contracted tuberculosis and travelled to Santa Barbara, California, where he recovered his health.

On his return, he moved to Vernon where he built a fine house on Schubert Street (now part of the Civic Complex) which was later named “Gateby” by a subsequent owner.

When the property was eventually acquired by the city, it was a condition of the sale that the names “Schubert” and “Gateby” would be memorialized by the Knights of Columbus. That organization had purchased the house and swapped it for the city-owned land on which Schubert Centre is built.

James Schubert was later appointed road superintendent for the Okanagan and with David Lloyd-Jones built the first road on the west side of Okanagan Lake from Penticton to Trout Creek.

Since only a few hundred dollars were allocated, all they could do was widen the old Hudson’s Bay trail.

In 1902, James moved to Penticton to open that settlement’s second store.

When the new Hedley mine attracted his attention, he moved there to build a large department store and post office.

Ten years later he moved again to Tulameen to open a store and try placer mining.

He took up cattle breeding, but in 1938 at the age of 78, he died while attempting to build a stack of hay.

James Schubert is buried in the Tulameen cemetery.

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