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

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

 

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

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Columbia Shuswap Regional District office to begin phased reopening

Office will be open for four-hour days beginning next week

Flooding prompts closure of parks along Shuswap and Mara lakes

Boaters asked to respect No Wake policy protecting properties along water

Back in play: Columbia Shuswap Regional District reopening playgrounds

Signs with reminders about COVID-19 regulations will be posted

RCMP seek to identify person of interest in Salmon Arm arson investigation

Police believe a June 4 residential garage fire was deliberately set

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Vernon protesters take Black Lives Matter movement to park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

Police watchdog investigating Lake Country incident

A man was taken to hospital after the June 3 incident

Community backlash over Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Some members of Kelowna’s black community stated they don’t support Friday’s rally

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Bear strolls into Okangan homeowner’s living room

Conservation officers are searching for the bear, which entered a home in the Foothills area

Most Read