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Queen of the May

The first May Day celebrated in Oyama was on May 24, 1945 and Mary Petereder was crowned as the first May Queen. The last queen, Connie Haber, was crowned in 1961.*

Nowadays, very few communities celebrate May Day with May Queens and Maypole dancing, but residents of Lake Country certainly have celebrated in the past. One of the Museum’s volunteers was Oyama’s Queen of the May in 1958. Sandra Harder (née Thomson), who currently is Lake Country Museum’s “resident volunteer gardener”, was Oyama’s 14th May Queen.

Historically Canadians have celebrated Queen Victoria’s birthday (May 24th) and have called it Victoria Day (or the May long weekend). It is a public holiday observed across Canada on the Monday before May 25th.  This past Monday, May 21st, was Canada’s 2012 May Day. Did you attend any May Day activities? Did you meet the Queen of the May? Following is the local newspaper’s reporting of the 1960 May Day celebrations in Oyama.

Queen of the May
FOUR QUEENS IN ONE FAMILY__The Thomson sisters have set a distinguished record in the district as May Queens. Daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Harold R. Thomson, Oyama, they all have had their turns in their community. (Left to right) Wendy is this year's May Queen, Sheron had the honour in 1951, Sandra in 1958 and Brenda in 1959. While other orchardists in Oyama raised fruit trees, the Thomson family raised queens.

Wendy Thomson Reigns as Oyama’s May Queen

OYAMA – Wendy Thomson is the Oyama’s new May queen.

Attended by her princesses, Mary Dungate and Diedre Pothecary, she was crowned here recently. It was the 16th annual coronation and was witnessed by over 300 people.

On hand were last year’s queen, Brenda Thomson, and her attendants Joann Appleton, Gladys Witzke and Jim Oram.

Douglas Van Tuyle, aged five, presented the new queen with a special memento of the occasion.

The parade was led by a colour party from the Canadian Legion. Music was provided by the Rutland-Winfield High School band, under the direction of T. R. Austen.

Displays were given by the Vernettes Drill Team, and the local cubs, commanded by Rev. A. J. Jackson.

Prize winners in the parade were: Cynthia Shumay, best decorated bicycle; Monica Byatt, best decorated tricycle; Elaine Gatzke, best decorated wagon; Vivian Ley, best decorated doll’s carriage; Jennifer, Diane and Pauline Eyles, best group.

Ken and Chris Kushner put on a display of model aircraft flying.

Children of all ages participated in the sports program. Winners were: Girls, aged six to seven: first, Beverly Trewhitt; second, Diane Allingham; third, Janette Allingham. Aged eight to nine: Maureen Kennedy, Kay Arnold, Teresa Trewhitt; Aged 10 and 11: Sarah Byatt, Connie Haber, Linda Schaumleffel, Shirley Appleton, Wendy Thomson; Aged 12 to 13, Isa Russo, Frances Hayward, Mary Dungate; Aged 14 to 16, Irene Appleton, Sandra Thomson, Cheryl Trewhitt.

Boys, aged six to seven: first, Bill Crozman, second Raymond Kushner and Bobby Young, third, Grant Janz; Aged eight to nine Mark Gingell, Gerald Marchuck and Tim Schitel, David Young; Aged 10 to 11, Richard Ley, Bobby Pothecary, Charlie Allingham; Aged 12 to 13, Johnny Russo, David Flavell, Gordon Witzke.

Beverley Trewhitt won the grand aggregate prize for girls with a total of 28 points. Mark Gingell headed the boys with 23 points.

D. J. Eyles acted as chairman of the May Day committee, while B. R. Gray was the parade marshal.

The Emeralds” provided the music for a teenage dance held 9-11 p.m. to round off the day’s festivities.

Organizations taking part were: The Kalamalka Women’s Institute, The Evening Guild to St. Mary’s Anglican Church, the Ladies Aid to the United Church, the Ladies Auxiliary to the Canadian Legion, the Oyama PTA, the Oyama Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Canadian Legion Branch 189, and the Oyama Community Club.


Postscript: This event sounds very much like the current celebration OYAMA FUN DAY which takes place this year on Sunday, June 3rd.

Some of this information was found on Ken Ellison’s Oyama Timeline. 1871 to 1995 and Sandra Bernardo’s The Histories of Winfield, Oyama, Okanagan Centre and Commonage Schools, both of which can be found in the Archives at the Lake Country Museum or online on the Museum’s website.


  • Thanks for the little trip down memory lane. Good memories -sisters, baton twirling, decorated bikes, friends, neighbours, stage fright, parades, waving from a sports car,
    races, Oyama fun!

    • Wendy, I am looking for your sister Brenda if she is a 1968 graduate of Royal Columbian Hospital School of Nursing. We are trying to find everyone for a 45 year reunion next year. Can you answer me by this site or by my personal email ? We have tried everywhere for her. Hope to here from you.

  • It was a great year for me to be May Queen as it was 1958 and the Centennial year. We got to ride in a horse-drawn carriage in the parade. it was also the year that the first Oyama Fire Hall was constructed and as May Queen of 1958, I was allowed to cut the ribbon for the grand opening.

    Sandi Harder (nee Thomson)

  • Fun to see the Eyles name in this article and I have the picture
    Of our decorated doll carriage. Good old family fun !

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