Allan Brooks Nature Centre manager Cheryl Hood welcomes guests to check out the new view boards donated by Vernon realtor David Pusey as the centre is open to the public under strict COVID-19 rules. The boards are one of several new items to the centre, celebrating its 20th anniversary. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Tours connect North Okanagan to history

Museum makes August all about field trips

After several summers of popular tours of the historic murals of downtown Vernon, the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives is now also hosting small group tours further afield to heritage sites around the North Okanagan.

“The Historic Mural Tours are always popular,” Museum executive director Steve Fleck said. “Because people have the choice of either a Tuesday evening or a Friday morning tour, we’ve been able to host the tours with small numbers to accommodate for social distancing and health protocols.

“And the tour guides – Larry Lundgren and Greg Poirier – have not only wealth of local historical knowledge, but an easy rapport and great senses of humour!”

While not knowing what the province’s gradual re-opening protocols would be, and having part of the museum exhibit space under construction, staff brainstormed on other ways to connect people to North Okanagan history, heritage, and stories.

“GVMA has three satellite museums and is in partnership with other local heritage sites – all of which are fascinating, and hold their own stories, lore, and legacies that make the North Okanagan the place it is today,” cultural program coordinator Laisha Rosnau said.

Hence, the notion of Heritage Field Trips to these heritage sites was born.

“In July, we learned about the history of Silver Star Mountain from two of the original co-owners – Norm and Nancy Crerar – and the spirit and ingenuity that made Silver Star the destination it is today.

“At the Stationhouse Museum, we learned about the bustling ship building yards on Okanagan Landing and the luxury Sternwheelers built there that took both people and produce up and down the valley. And at Mackie Lake House, we got a glimpse into how upper class English families lived amongst the orchards and ranches of Coldstream – it’s all fascinating,” said Rosnau.

“With every field trip, we learn more about the diversity of people and places that have created the culture in the North Okanagan today. And, it doesn’t hurt that every field trip is to an absolutely beautiful location.”

Heritage Field Trips are on Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m. throughout August. Upcoming tours include Allan Brooks Nature Centre, Fintry Estate and Manor, Caetani Cultural Centre and Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary. Each tour is geared toward either adults or family groupings, is limited to eight participants, and follows all B.C. health protocols. For more information and to register, visit www.vernonmuseum.ca.

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