The Vernon Elks Hall is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
While the building located on the corner of 30th Street and 32nd Avenue opened in 1953, the Elks Lodge #45 is even older, dating back to 1920.
The Elks of Canada, founded in 1912, is a fraternal order whose members dedicate themselves to serving their communities. A. E. Kellington, then the provincial organizer of the Elks, traveled to Vernon in March of 1920, where he stayed at the Kalamalka Hotel.
His purpose was to establish an Elks Lodge in Vernon, and he found there to be a significant amount of interest in the city.
The lodge officially started on March 30 of that year with 116 members, although only 104 were able to attend the first meeting, held at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ Hall on 30th Avenue.
In the coming months and years, the Lodge would direct a number of fundraising events and activities, including hosting dances at the local armoury, putting together Christmas baskets for those in need, and in more recent years, distributing gaming funds to other local organizations.
In the 1920s, they led a number of Flag Day Parades and in 1945, donated more than $5,000 to the City of Vernon for the construction of a wading pool in Polson Park. The pool, which was dedicated to the city’s youngsters, opened in 1947 and later became a splash area circa 1993.
Prior to being acquired by the lodge in 1953, the building that now houses the Elks Hall was used by the Scottish Daughter’s League and was known as the Burns Hall. The structure itself was built in 1907.
Gwyn Evans is the Head of Archives with the Museum and Archives of Vernon.