Okanagan Commenmoratve Pioneer
Okanagan Commemorative Pioneer Cultural Society
Four years after receiving its charter, Council 4949 was approached by a Miss Benedicta Yeatman
with the suggestion to build and operate a senior citizens centre. She donated her property for this cause. A society was
formed by our Knights and named "Okanagan Commemorative Pioneer Cultural Society (OSPCS)." Miss Yeatman's property
lay just about in the middle of town; our permit was denied and the City of Vernon expropriated this property for their own
use. Council then purchased another property--an old cannery--with the money received from the City.
The Knights renovated a portion of the big building for council chambers. One night, a few years later, a roaring
fire destroyed the building and thus left the St. James Council "homeless." Now renewed efforts were made by a number
of knights to continue with the original plans. With the help of the provincial government the men assembled a parcel of land
in town. It was located close to many seniors' residences.
There a 115-unit intermediate
care facility was erected, called "The Gateby", and after its completion in the fall of 1983, was just about immediately
fully occupied. A board of directors from the Knights was elected to govern this facility. The next step for the society (OCPCS)
was to erect a 17,000 sq.ft. building adjacent to the Gateby. It was to serve as a recreational centre as per the original
commitment of many years ago. The centre includes a pool room, crafts room, library, a cafeteria and a complete kitchen which
can cater to a variety of banquets.
The official opening was held November 3,
1989. Being so accessible from all directions and having a pleasant and tasteful interior, it proves a boon to our city and
surrounding area. Many Knights and other volunteers add to the welcoming atmosphere. After several years under the direction
and management by the Knights, the Schubert Centre (so named after a pioneer family) was given to the Senior Citizens Society
to continue the operation.
Now the OCPCS was able to concentrate on a low-cost
housing building. It was to be called Columbus Court. It was finished in 1992 and quickly the 36 suites were filled. A large
room became an office and board room for our council. A few years later it was shared by Council 12202. In another spacious
room the monthly meetings of St.James Council 4949 and Council 12202 take place. In 2002 an addition was constructed with
35 suites. The board of OCPCS still directs and administers the Columbus Court while the "Gateby" is now in the
hands of the provincial government. The Schubert Center is operated by the seniors’ society.
It took many years of committed "men they call Knights" to bring their dream as well as that of a woman
to a fruitful and useful conclusion. These three multi-million dollar buildings will remain a lasting monument for the men
of St.James Council 4949 and our Order.