The culmination of a two-year planning and fundraising process was officially celebrated outside the Okanagan Military Museum on Tuesday.
Located on the south wall of Memorial Arena, where the military museum is housed, now is hung a third mural depicting the valley’s military history, this one dedicated to the Canadian Navy and Air Force.
The mural is a collage of representing different stages in the history of the two arms of Canada’s military.
And Tom Wolf, vice-president of the Okanagan Military Museum Society, wanted to make it clear Tuesday that despite it being a photo collage rather than an artistic rendering, it’s still a mural.
Wolf said he looked up the definition of mural to find the world can be applied both to artistic renderings on a wall, or an enlarged photo attached to a wall.
“I just wanted to make sure that question was answered,” he said to the local naval and air force veterans gathered together for the ceremony.
Wolf explained the original idea was to create an artistic drawing, similar to the two painted murals already in place on the wall for the B. C. Dragoons and the museum.
“We found that we were unable to fundraise enough to pay an artist to do that,”Wolf said.
So the fallback idea was to create a photo collage that would tell the story of the Royal Canadian Navy since 1910 and the Royal Canadian Air Force since 1924.
Wolf joked that getting the Navy and Air Force vets to agree on what pictures should be included was a challenge, but “we finally came to agreement I think on version number 40.”
It includes photos of the HMCS Niobe, one of the first two ships in the Canadian Navy, the HMCS Weyburn, an iconic corvette vessel that did convoy duty during the Second World War, and the HMCS Okanagan submarine. Representing the air force are photos of of World War 2 Lancaster bomber and the Spitfire along with the current CF-18.
The cost for the project was split between the military museum and both the local air force and navy veterans associations.
Rick Hebner, president of the Kelowna Naval Veterans Association, said there were “many heated discussions” about the photo contest for the mural during the planning process.
“But it’s a great thing to have for those that served, those who serve in the Navy now and those who didn’t come home,” Hebner said.
He noted the naval history runs deep in the Okanagan in terms of people from here who served in the navy. “There is a rich history here is it will be great to have this mural be a daily reminder of that fact,” Hebner said.
Douglas Stanley, president of the 883 (Kelowna) Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, echoed Hebner’s sentiments, saying the mural reflects on pilots and their crew members who served and came home, those who didn’t and those who serve today.
“This kind of ceremony brings back a personal memory to me, of my step-brother who flew Lancasters during the war and was shot down and killed over Germany,” Stanley said.