the Hundred Homes
In 1942, WW11 was in full swing and our soldiers were fighting for our country and their lives. The Government of the day established the VLA (Veterans Land Act) to provide the returning soldiers with low interest loans to purchase farms and homes. Here in the North Okanagan, there was a shortage of rental homes, and a housing crisis was looming. The City of Vernon and the VLA came to an agreement in 1945 and land in the upper East Hill area was donated to develop a subdivision for 100 new homes. Several simple designs were drawn up, varying in size and amenities with the local overall VLA plan extending from Kamloops to Penticton. Kelowna opted to build entire neighbourhoods in blocks of 50 identical homes, while Vernon chose to build smaller groups of homes mixed in with existing homes. This decision helped shape the classic look of East Hill that we know and love today.
As with anything that government and politicians are involved in, red tape and controversy struck the plans early on. The initial idea of $3500-$4800 per home became $6000 and the possibility of a price hike was undeniable. The contract to build the homes went to an out of town contractor, Bennett and White, which upset local contractors. And then there were the time delays and the accusations of poor build quality. Advertisements in the local newspaper showed a returning injured veteran in his uniform standing proudly with his young family, asking for housing help. Living in a pickers shack for the winter wasn’t going to cut it.
Eventually, the problems were ironed out, and the veterans were finally able to start moving into their new homes….only to find the septic systems were backing up. An early solution was to have the “wives” go into the basement and turn off a water valve making sure the septic systems weren’t getting filled by accident. I can imagine how that solution would go over today!
Over the years, the “Hundred Homes” have become fabulous places with many being added on to, renovated, lifted, and more! The character of the homes and the neighbourhoods are what sold us on East Hill when we first came to Vernon. The next time you are out for a drive, or looking to purchase house, call me and we’ll go check out them out. The politicians of the day had no idea how cool these homes would be 65 years later.