Vernon Cadet Camp Museum operations manager Maria Brunskill puts the finishing touches on one of the many displays for The Winged Lightning Bolt Exhibit which opens on Friday, May 21, in the Sun Valley Mall on 30th Avenue. (Wayne Emde Photo)

Vernon Cadet Camp Museum operations manager Maria Brunskill puts the finishing touches on one of the many displays for The Winged Lightning Bolt Exhibit which opens on Friday, May 21, in the Sun Valley Mall on 30th Avenue. (Wayne Emde Photo)

Okanagan cadet camp museum sets up in temporary location

With the Vernon Army Camp closed due to COVID, museum sets up display in downtown Vernon

WAYNE EMDE

For the Morning Star

The Vernon Cadet Camp Museum is on the move.

Operations manager Maria Brunskill said the camp is moving temporarily from its home at the Vernon Army Camp down the hill.

“The Vernon Military Camp is closed because of COVID-19 (restrictions), so we have decided to open an exhibit in downtown Vernon,” said Brunskill.

The Winged Lightning Bolt Exhibit, which opens on May 21 in the Sun Valley Mall on 30th Avenue, will focus on the Battle Drill School that was located at the Coldstream Ranch.

Museum volunteers who have worked tirelessly to assemble and present the exhibit include museum curator Francois Arsenault, Lisa Devine, Dan Emde, Mitch Steck, Corey Schultz and Dale Dickie.

“We have also used a Young Canada Works grant to hire an archival assistant for the summer,” said Brunskill. “Darrah Bridges combines academic credentials in fine arts, history and political science and she is currently working on a Criminal Justice Diploma from Medicine Hat College.”

The exhibit will feature more than 100 photos of military history in the Vernon area between 1940-45.

A never before viewed film of the training that took place at the Battle School in Vernon and on the Coldstream Ranch, as well as a number of artifacts and documents from the First and Second World Wars and the cadet camp will be on display. There is also a gift shop that features unique items, including one-of-a-kind replica Second World War unit T-shirts with the lightning wing emblem and golf shirts.

The Coldstream Ranch Battle Drill School was built at the Coldstream Ranch, six kilometres east of Vernon, in 1942.

It was the first FIBUA (Fighting in Built-up Areas) training centre in the world. In 1944 it moved to the Vernon Military Camp. It was used for advanced infantry training where real-world situations brought home from the European front were applied in life-saving training exercises.

More than 7,000 men trained in Vernon during the Second World War. To this day, unexploded artillery and mortar shells used in training are still turned up by the frost and development of the surrounding hills.

Internment camps were also located in Vernon during the World Wars; in the First World War for Ukrainian Canadians (this camp is now the site of W.L. Seaton Secondary School) and in for people of Japanese descent (mostly from Vancouver) in the Second World War.

After the conflict from 1939-45, the main camp on Highway 97 was mothballed. In 1949, it was reopened and became an Army Cadet Training Centre for the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.

This exhibit will be open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 10-6 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Construction Drilling Inc. and Fastik Printing and Packaging have sponsored the display.

Donors include: 899 Wing RCAFS, Tim Horton’s Vernon, Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, Five Star Awards, Graham and Maria Brunskill and The Man Shed of Vernon.

READ MORE: Calgary cop killed on-duty has Vernon Army Camp connection

READ MORE: Vernon Army Camp cadet returns as instructor



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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