John and Angus Campbell were born in Glengarry, Ontario, sons of Alexander and Isabel Campbell. Angus was born on March 10, 1859 and John on February 12, 1866. There were a total of seven children in the Campbell family including: Donald, Katherine, Mary, Angus, Ann, Jessie and John.
John Colin Campbell arrived in Priests Valley (Vernon) in 1891. He opened a furniture and upholstery business in the developing area that by 1961 celebrated its 70th year in operation.
Angus Campbell arrived in Vernon in 1893 and immediately joined his brother in business, calling the new firm ‘Campbell Bros.’. With Angus joining the company the business expanded and they carried a larger stock of furniture. Campbell Bros served the citizens of Vernon until it closed its doors in 1966.
Bringing furniture to the British Columbia Interior in the 1890’s was no small feat. There was no Highway 97 at that time, connecting travellers and goods from one point to the next. The furniture inventory came from the east by rail to Sicamous, from Shuswap Lake to Enderby by river boat and from Enderby to Vernon by wagon.
Campbell Bros. was originally located in the Schubert block (32nd Avenue). Later the business was moved to the corner of Whetham (31st Street) and Barnard Avenue (30th Avenue). Unfortunately this building burned to the ground but was immediately rebuilt larger than before.
When merchandise was hard to obtain during the war, the company added a section of yard goods and drapery. From coal oil lamps, ice boxes, parlour suites and carpet beaters the business saw the coming of electricity, automatic defrost refrigerators and electric vacuum cleaners.
In addition to selling furniture, Campbell Bros. were also the local undertaker for Vernon. Until 1944 the majority of people buried in the older portion of the Vernon (Pleasant Valley) Cemetery would have gone through Campbell Bros. It was in 1944 that the undertaker portion of the business became Campbell & Winter. Today it is the Vernon Funeral Home.
Ten years after his arrival in Vernon, Angus passed away on August 31, 1903. His death registration lists no cause of death but the notice in the paper alludes to the fact his passing was a result of a serious accident that happened 14 years prior to his death. Angus was thrown from a bucking horse and dragged a considerable distance by one foot that was caught in the stirrup. When the horse finally stopped and the rider’s foot disentangled his injuries were so severe that Angus spent weeks in the hospital. Unfortunately he never fully recovered and specifically his lungs continued to give him trouble.
The article provides great detail to this accident and it leading to his death and then almost at the very end with one sentence includes...” [his death] may have been hastened by a fall from a step-ladder while engaged in picking apples”.
Angus was buried in the new Vernon (Pleasant Valley) Cemetery the following day.
John married twice in life, the first time to Clara Gibson on January 5, 1892 in Vernon. She died on February 6, 1900. Clara was originally buried in the Pioneer Cemetery; her body was moved to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery and buried in the family plot with Angus Campbell and Katherine Campbell. John and Clara had one child, Allister born on April 2, 1896. He was killed in the Great War as a member of the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles on November 7, 1917. Allister was buried at the Lijjsenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.
John and Angus’ sister Katherine, born August 13, 1856, moved to Vernon presumably to look after Allister after his mother’s death. She died on September 16, 1908 and buried next to her brother Angus.
John’s second marriage was to Margaret McLeod in on June 16, 1902 in Calgary Alberta. They had four children: John (Jack) McLeod, Douglas Osborne, Lorna McLeod and Islay Isabel.
John passed away very suddenly on June 17, 1924 in Vernon from myocarditis, brought on by high blood pressure. His death was unexpected, he had been in town in the morning visiting various businesses, he then sat down for a hearty meal at lunch time and following, feeling a little indisposed, he said he would lie down for a moment. However he dropped instead into his chair and passed away.
John was buried in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery on June 19. Margaret died on March 19, 1936 and is buried next to John. Also in the family plot are daughter Lorna Campbell (August 21, 1903 – December 15, 1988); son Douglas (March 5, 1910 – August 23, 1954), along with his wife Gwendolyn; and daughter Islay Watkin (September 16, 1905 – April 21, 1988) and her husband Joseph.
After John’s death, his two sons Jack and Douglas took over Campbell Bros’. By 1941, Jack had left and moved to Vancouver and Douglas was working with H.J. Fosbrooke.
John’s home is a well-known landmark in Vernon, standing at the top of 30th Avenue and 22nd Street.