Vernon Military Camp History.
Located on Mission Hill at the southern edge of the City of Vernon, Vernon Military Camp has a long history. Troops first trained here in 1912 when the 30th BC Horse was formed and a permanent annual district summer training camp for cavalry and infantry militia units was established.
In May of 1915 Camp Vernon became a central mobilization camp and Battle Field training centre. By 1916 there were more than 7000 men training at the camp while the city of Vernon had a population of barely 3000. Between the wars, the hill was home most summers to a concentration of BC militia regiments.
When WWII broke out, Mission Hill became busy. In July of 1940, work was underway to expand and upgrade the facilities. Water and sewer lines were extended and a few buildings slowly began to emerge. In addition to the 5th Canadian Motorcycle Regiment (BCD), other units began to arrive at the camp for training. By August 30, 1940 the ranks had swelled to over 400 men. In September it was announced that the Vernon Army Camp would become permanent and would be upgraded to comfortably house 1,200 soldiers. By mid-month hundreds were employed erecting barracks and storerooms, and building roads. By the third week in September 1940, over 40 buildings were under construction.
At the height of World War II training, there were in excess of 7,000 troops at the camp at any given time. For those living near the camp, the constant sounds of bugle calls, men shouting drill orders, trucks, and the distant resonance of exploding mortar shells and gunfire during practice sessions became part of their daily life. With so many soldiers in town, Vernon’s economy thrived. Of these men who trained at the Vernon Military Camp, over 400 were indigence men from around BC and Alberta.
Following VE Day in May 1945, the Vernon military camp's focus changed to becoming the Canadian Army Pacific Force (CAPF) training base to prepare Canadian units for battle in the Pacific and ultimately the invasion of Japan. With the sudden of end of war in August 1945, the camp quickly demobilized.
By the spring of 1946, only a minimum staff remained. Many barracks on the upper camp were dismantled sold and rebuilt as housing for returning soldiers and their new families. The Hundred Homes subdivision on Vernon's East hill was constructed from several of these barracks.
In 1951 the Korean war was having a marginal effect on the camp. Earlier in the year the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) spent 4 months at the camp from 15 January - 15 April en route to Korea. Arriving by train at the Vernon Station, they were supported locally by several units including the British Columbia Dragoon's (BCD's) 'A' Squadron and 218 Workshop Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME).