Alice Lee, left, and Gilda Koenig with the Vernon and District Family History Society raised funds and got donations to put up a pair of commemorative rock monuments for people who died in the Vernon-based B.C. Provincial Home for the Aged between 1948 and 1961. <ins>The rocks were put in a row where 41 people from the home are buried, and to stop people from driving over the graves as a shortcut through the cemetery.</ins> (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Alice Lee, left, and Gilda Koenig with the Vernon and District Family History Society raised funds and got donations to put up a pair of commemorative rock monuments for people who died in the Vernon-based B.C. Provincial Home for the Aged between 1948 and 1961. The rocks were put in a row where 41 people from the home are buried, and to stop people from driving over the graves as a shortcut through the cemetery. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon volunteers protect graves with unique row at cemetery

Engraved rocks commemorate some who died in Vernon’s B.C. Provincial Home For Aged from 1948-1961

Thanks to a pair of retired Telus volunteers active with Vernon and District Family History Society, a shortcut through a portion of the Pleasant Valley Cemetery is now blocked by a pair of monuments that honour those buried in that one particular row.

Gilda Koenig and Alice Lee were able to raise money and have a pair of large rocks donated to commemorate 41 souls buried in a row off Birch Street, between Fir Street and Walnut Street, people who died in Vernon’s B.C. Provincial Home for the Aged on Mission Hill, which operated between 1948 and 1961.

“As we were cleaning up the cemetery, we noticed vehicles driving over the graves, and that upset us,” said Koenig. The ladies put up plastic markers indicating gravesites but that still didn’t stop people from driving across the graves to get to another portion of the cemetery.

There are 377 of the close to 500 people who died in the home buried in Vernon’s cemetery. Only about 70 of those have markers. Most are in unmarked graves.

The original site of B.C. Provincial Home for the Aged was an old military building off the Vernon Army Camp that opened in 1948. It operated until 1961 when it became Dellview Hospital, and operated as a care facility until 1976 when Dellview was torn down and the current Polson Extended Care Unit was built, opening in 1982 and remains in operation today.

People from all over B.C. were cared for at the B.C. Provincial Home for the Aged.

“A lot of men I’ve read about came this way, leaving their families behind to search for gold in the Monashees, and then simply ended up being transients,” said Koenig. “They never went home, they became street people, became ill and whenever space opened up in B.C., they were sent to these facilities.”

Added Lee: “We’ve looked at the death registrations and there’s no information on them. No father’s name, wife’s name, nothing, not even where they were born. It’s a real hunt to trace anybody to find a family member. There’s nothing there.”

Lawrna Myers from the society said as people aged in the mid-20th century, there was nowhere to put somebody who had medical problems or who were on their own.

Essondale Hospital in Coquitlam was the provincial mental hospital, but a lot of people who were housed there didn’t have mental problems. It was the only place that had the medical facility to house them. Thus, Homes for the Aged were built, including the one in Vernon.

“In today’s terms think of Noric House or Gateby, the more advanced care facilities,” said Myers. “That’s where men and women would go if they couldn’t look after themselves or they had nobody else to look after them.”

On behalf of Koenig and Lee, Telus donated funds toward the 500 volunteer hours each woman attained working on the project. Lynx Earthworks and Westridge Quarries Ltd. donated the rocks and the engraving on each rock – “In remembrance of those who died in the BC Provincial Home For the Aged 1948-1961” – was handled by Caufields Engraving Ltd.

READ MORE: Society preserving local history

READ MORE: Vernon internment camp part of family history society film screening



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Local History

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One of the tractors, loaded on a truck bed to avoid impeding traffic, from the Oct. 17 rally in support of farmers in India. Another rally will be held on Dec. 5 from 9 to 10 a.m. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Rally in support of Indian farmers to drive through Penticton

‘Farmers’ lives are in danger right now’

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

This is how the two-way cycle lane would look like on Martin Street for the Lake-to-Lake route. (City of Penticton)
Penticton to involve residents in detailed planning for new bike route

The city is considered reducing the 200 block of Martin Street to one lane instead of removing parking

The Penticton Vees announced Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 that all players have staff have tested negative for COVID-19. The team has been in isolation since a player tested positive Nov. 28. (Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees players and staff test negative for COVID-19

The team has been in isolation since a player tested positive last week

Painted Rock Estate Winery has had their “Red Icon” Merlot blend recognized as one of the country’s best wines. (Painted Rock Winery / Facebook)
Penticton winery’s Merlot blend recognized as Canada’s best

Decanter’s 2020 ‘Wine of the Year’ list includes only one Canadian wine, and its local

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

The Siberian elm is an invasive plant. In Manitou Park in Naramata, crews are working to remove these trees and plant native species instead (File photo)
Crews remove Siberian elms from Naramata park

Invasive plant identified as a problem in region

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Two arrested after attack at Vernon home

Police spotted around 43rd Avenue linked to Wednesday assault

Most Read