A chronological summary

The Building/Uses:
• The building was built in 1906 by E.G Prior as a sales outlet for farm machinery. Hay was stored on the second floor (VJC area now)
• In 1910, the Ranchers club took over the second floor- It was a “family social club” with men and women members known as the “Rancher’s club”
• In 1913, the main floor was converted to a drugstore and in 1919, the Rancher’s club steward was fired over all-night card games with unrestricted stakes/betting
• In 1922 the social club was reorganized as the Vernon Club for men only-with a “peep” hole in the door to screen people entering!
• Nolan’s family and specifically Hazel and Chester Nolan, brothers and both trained pharmacists, bought the pharmacy in 1927 and it has remained in their family since.

Fast forward to 1997 ish….
The Inception of the Vernon Jazz Club:
• The Vernon Jazz Society was founded by Tom Collins, Curt Latham, and Gerry Sholomenko.
• Tom, a retired tradesman, had been dreaming and scheming for some time about forming a jazz club.
• Tom discussed his idea with a neighbor and retired Vernon physician, Curt Latham, who was involved for many years with a jazz club in Vancouver.
• Tom said “The goal was to find a spot where we could listen to music that wasn’t too loud, couples could have a dance or two and local musicians would have a stage”.
• Tom also played in a band with Gerry Scholomenko who was a secondary school teacher.
• In 1998, Tom met with Gerry over coffee at the Bean Scene to explore the idea of starting a jazz club….. They even thought about calling it “Tom & Gerry’s”….. They wanted a funky little place. This meeting ended in the birth of the Vernon Jazz Society.

• Sept of 1999, the first gig took place in the basement of the Sandman Inn with the Larry Crawford Quartet.
• The Vernon Jazz Society was incorporated as a society in October of 1999 with the constitutional purposes of providing live jazz music and to support and promote jazz music locally.
• In 1999, post a water pipe burst, the club had to relocate from the Sandman Inn so they set up shop at a couple of different venues. The Coldstream Motor Inn for a few gigs, the Village Green, and the Elks Hall until they finally found their forever home on the second floor of Nolan’s Pharmacy for a modest rental fee–Naming it “The Vernon Jazz Club“.
• The venue came with hammered tin ceilings and wood-paneled walls. The club was already stocked with linens and candles on the tables, glassware in the cupboards, a fully equipped kitchen, and even some hard liquor in the cupboards. A stage was set up and fashioned with black curtains as a backdrop.

To date:

• A Board was formed, Annual General Meetings started in 2000, a liquor license was obtained in 2003, special events and fund-raisers and impromptu jam sessions have occurred at the Vernon Jazz Club since 2003. Although jam sessions have not occurred in some time, there is discussion about bringing them back.
• Annual student bursaries have been offered since 2002 and most
recently one was added to go to an indigenous student.
• In 2002, the Fire Marshall recommended upgrading the fire exit.
The City engineer recommended to the City Council that the
building permit for a fire escape be denied, however, the Mayor
Sean Harvey championed the VJC at the Council meeting
saying” What the jazz club is trying to do is exceptional and it
will be another cultural venue”. The City met with VJS to
discuss the issue and the permit was granted. With the fire
escape built, the VJC was safe to operate.
• The Vernon Jazz Club is run entirely by volunteers and relies on all its funding through ticket sales, bar sales and 50/50 ticket sales. For further funding, grants are applied for.

While local jazz musicians and those from around BC have frequently played at the Jazz Club since its inception, over the past decade the jazz club has risen in popularity as a historical and cultural monument and is coveted as a unique and special venue to perform for jazz musicians across the Country and indeed internationally.