R.J Haney Heritage Village & Museum curator Deborah Chapman will lead a historical tour of the Salmon Arm cemetery on Sunday, Oct. 14. (File photo)

Cemetery Tour to feature life and times of Mayor Cyril Thomson

Event returns on Oct. 14 with stories of community’s past.

When residents heard shots fired at the Mt. Ida Cemetery, they called into town for the constable and the mayor.

Why the mayor? Back then, running the municipality was a part-time job. Mayor Cyril Thomson also owned the taxi service at the Lester and Thomson Garage, so both men loaded their guns and jumped in the mayor’s cab. It was a false alarm. The cemetery caretaker’s son, Willy Pidhirney, was playing with blasting caps.

When Salmon Arm residents simply wanted a new vehicle in the late 1920s, they also called on the mayor, heading for the Lester and Thomson Garage on the corner of Front and Alexander streets. The dealership sold McLaughlin, Overland, Chevrolet and Dort automobiles and “traffic trucks.” It was named for partners A.W. Lester and Cyril Thomson, but when the partnership dissolved and Lester left for California in 1923, the name and reputation stayed on.

Related: 2013 – Dead tell their tales during cemetery stroll

The same year A.W. left for southern climes, Cyril assumed the business and, in spite of the increased workload, also took on community work as an alderman, eventually serving on city council for five years. Then he set his sights higher and successfully made a bid for the mayor’s seat, a position he held for 15 years.

Thomson’s political career survived the disastrous fire of 1928, the Dirty Thirties and three years of international conflict. Times weren’t always easy.

Thomson employed mechanics and sold new cars on credit. When the 1930s hit, many Salmon Arm residents couldn’t meet their payments and Thomson’s relationship with them changed. He was a guarantor of sorts and was required to repossess their financed vehicles for non payment. The dealer resold the automobiles when possible, but was also responsible for paying off the difference between what was owed the manufacturers and what he could make on the sales. The Thomson yard was filled with unsold vehicles, so Cyril took on more work, reviving his taxi service.

Thomson was lucky to have married sweetheart Eva Bromhan after a courtship that included a dip in Shuswap Lake while skating in December 1908. There’s no doubt their parents found out about the plunge – because it was reported in the Observer and everyone read the newspaper! The chilly romance led to a wedding four years later. Five children were born to the couple but the family was heartbroken when nine-year-old Olive died of influenza in 1924, and 24-year-old Gilda died of cancer in 1946. The Thomsons were well- matched.

Related: 2016 – Who killed Sam Kee?

They were both born in England. Both painted, he in oils, she in watercolours. They volunteered to help community groups like the social and dramatic club. Eva designed and sewed the costumes and Cyril painted the sets. One of the perks of being an auto dealer and an alderman was driving the former May Queen, Joan Tester, with her princesses during the 1925 May Day parade. Looking closely at the photo of the decorated car shows Eva in the front seat.

Cyril Thomson passed away in England in 1972. His ashes were returned to Salmon Arm to rest with Eva in the old section of the Mt. Ida Cemetery.

The former mayor of Salmon Arm will be featured in the 13th annual Mt. Ida Cemetery Tour, Sunday, Oct. 14. The cost is $10 and space is limited to 35 guests. Call R.J. Haney Heritage Village & Museum at 250-832-5243 to book your spot.

General


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Cyril Thomson and Eva Caroline Bromham, pictured here in their wedding photo on Aug. 10, 1912 at St. John’s Anglican Church in Salmon Arm. (Photo courtesy of R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum)

Just Posted

Slaughterhouse in Salmon Arm site of another protest by activists

Incident at meat processing plant under investigation by Salmon Arm RCMP

Avalanche control scheduled today on Highway 1 east and west of Revelstoke

Avalanche control work is scheduled today for two different locations along Highway… Continue reading

UPDATED: Absolute discharge for mischief charge against Sagmoen

Trial starts at 9:30 a.m. in Vernon Law Courts

Snowfall warning issued for Highway 1 from east of Sicamous to Golden

Environment Canada says to expect 15-30 cm of snow by Thursday evening

Single-bridge option chosen to replace RW Bruhn Bridge

Five-lane span selected over plan with second bridge at Main Street

Your morning news in 90: Dec. 13, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Giving the gift of nature

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

‘I thought I was dead as soon as I saw the gun’

Keremeos gas station attendant tells story about man with gun coming to store

‘People talk about deep sadness:’ Scientists study climate change grief

Some call it environmental grief, some call it solastalgia — a word coined for a feeling of homesickness when home changes around you.

As protectors abandon Trump, investigation draws closer

Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes.

Senate delays start of sittings in new home, delaying start of broadcasts

The Senate and House of Commons are moving into temporary homes for the next decade as a result of long-planned and badly needed renovations to the Centre Block.

UK leader seeks EU lifeline after surviving confidence vote

EU leaders gather for a two-day summit, beginning Thursday, which will center on the Brexit negotiations.

Warrant issued for South Okanagan man facing manslaughter charges

Sylvain Modeste Demers is wanted on a warrant

Snowfall warning for Coquihalla, B.C. highways

It’s another wintry day for B.C. highways

Most Read