Myra King Ellison
1890 - 1979
Myra King Ellison was born in Vernon, B.C. on May 30, 1890, the third child of Price and Sophie Ellison. Ellison was educated in Vernon then went to Havergal Ladies College in Toronto in 1906. The next year she entered McGill University in Montreal where she graduated in 1911 with a B.A. degree in Economics. She continued at McGill and in 1913 received her M.A., again in Economics. Myra Ellison returned to Vernon upon graduating where she taught physical education at St. Michael's School.
In May 1920 Ellison married Howard Clarke Debeck, a young Lawyer in Vernon who was in partnership with Hugh Heggie. In 1925 he went out on his own until his passing in 1929. For a time Howard Debeck was the Vice-President and Director of Price Ellison's Vernon News Printing and Publishing Company.
Soon after her husband died, Myra and her two children moved back to the family Big House on Pleasant Valley Road. During this time she worked part time at the Vernon News and was involved in many of her father's projects.
Myra Ellison was a life member of the Alpine Club of Canada and went on many camps beginning in 1912 when she graduated to active ACC membership by climbing Mount Little on August 7 along with her cousin Harry McClure Johnson. She was in at the founding of the Women's Canadian Club in Vernon and served as the second President from 1933 to 1935. She was with the University Women's Club and a charter member of the North Okanagan Girl Guides Association. Myra Ellison was an active participant with the North Okanagan Naturalist's and an authority of flowers and birds of the Okanagan. As well she was with the Okanagan Historical Society and active in church life.
In 1910 Myra joined her father Price Ellison, who was the Chief Commissioner of Lands in the Richard McBride Government, on an expedition to Vancouver Island. The aim was to look at the potential for a park in the centre of the island. The party that included her cousin Harry McClure Johnson and twenty others left the town of Campbell River and journeyed inland up the Campbell River. Once at Upper Campbell Lake, a party of nine then went and scaled Crown Mountain giving her the honour of the first ascent and female ascent of this peak. It was most likely the first ascent of any mountain on the island by a woman. After the ascent the party continued down Buttle Lake, up Price Creek and eventually over to Port Alberni. The report from Price Ellison led to the establishment of Strathcona Provincial Park in 1911, the first in park in British Columbia.
Prior to the start of the trip the Vernon News of July 7, 1910, wrote the following of Myra Ellison.
In 1977 Myra King Debeck (Ellison) moved to Victoria and on September 3, 1979, and passed away at the age of eighty-nine.
"Myra Ellison." Vernon News. [Vernon, BC] (July 7, 1910)
of Crown Mountain
Mountain - Crown of fair Vancouver Isle
forest - stream and rock faced height
win! What matters now the weariness
maid amongst them - light of feet
Traveller Stop and Read
swear words use when weight drags down
By Myra K. Ellison