Painted in 1993, written in 2003: Along the tracks in the Canadian Pacific railyards in Vernon stands the old section house – the actual address is 3901 30th Street. I was prompted to paint it in 1993 by the fact that the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to build on the site and hearing that they were having some problems with the development as they couldn't provide enough parking spaces.
The CPR first reached Vernon and Okanagan Landing in the early 1890s under the name of the Shuswap & Okanagan Railway.
According to the Greater Vernon Heritage Resources Inventory, 1986, by Robert Hobson and Associates, the section house was built in 1911 at a cost of $1485.
According to the Heritage Society of BC newsletter, Spring 2003 page 12, quoting Vernon and District Heritage Society information, this building is a Number 5 section house. Most of the section houes that were dotted along the railway tracks every 20 to 50 miles were prefabs built in Ontario. They were rated from Numbers 1 to 6, with "1" being a single-room structure that might store equipment or serve as basic accommodation, while "6" was a 4-bedroom home. This one is the last remaining section house west of Thunder Bay still standing next to active trackage. There is a picture of a CPR Standard Number 4 Section House (1914 design) in Kalman, A History of Canadian Architecture, page 484.
In the autumn of 2002, the house was well-maintained and occupied. Fortunately, the tree that had been planted too close to the house, and which I painted in 1993, has been cut down. No longer owned by the CPR, the house is in a heavy industrial zone, and may be moved. The heritage society hopes it will be moved to an alternate trackside location somewhere, perhaps at Okanagan Landing, where it can retain its original context.
Update 2018 from Jocelyn Roeters-Robb: I am sorry to
tell you that the CPR Section house was demolished mid-October.
As you know, in the summer, there was a major fire on the upper
floor. However, I believe what led to its ultimate demise was
the many months of squatting and drug use that took place at the
Update 2018, from the City of Vernon website via Angie Epp:
August 11, 2018
Last night at 10:23 p.m. Vernon Fire Rescue Service (VRFS) received a call for assistance for a house fire at 3901 30th Street.
The first in engine found a working fire with flame extending from a window and spreading to the eaves of the house.
“Our crew knocked the fire down quickly,” said Vernon Fire Chief David Lind. “In all we had nine (9) firefighters working to extinguish the fire and control hazards.”
After the fire was controlled a search of the interior was completed and it was found that no one was in the structure.
The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.
At approximately 12:30 a.m., after the fire was extinguished the scene was turned over to the RCMP.