Mr. H. (Bert) Banks Sr. was born in Toronto, Ontario, attending schools right through to the University of Toronto, where he graduated as a Metallurgical Engineer. On completing university he was sent to Phoenix, Arizona, where a comet had crashed into the earth's surface and a team of young engineers were to test it for its mineral value. Unfortunately it had sunk too far below the surface and the Calvo Caresses Company ran out of money and couldn't complete the project.
It was there Mr. Banks met a young lady from Noumea, New Caledonia, in the South Pacific off the coast of Australia. This was in 1914 and Mr. Banks signed up for overseas duty with the Canadian Engineers. He saw action during the war and rose to the rank of Captain and was awarded the George Cross. In 1919 he married the young lady he had met in Phoenix.
One of his university classmates was Ralph Diamond and it was through him that he came to Kimberley in the winter of 1923. In the spring of 1924 he persuaded his wife to join him.
They soon became involved in the growth of the young community. Both liked to play tennis on the tennis courts that had been built near Taylor's Mill. Mr. Banks was instrumental in laying out the new golf course at Marysville and he also acted on the Kimberley Hospital Board.
However his main concern was the operation of the new Sullivan Concentrator. He came to the Concentrator as Assistant Superintendent under Mr. Cliff Oughtred and when Mr. Oughtred was killed in a car accident, Mr. Banks was promoted to Mill Superintendent, a position he held until his retirement in 1956. After his retirement he was promoted to Outside Properties Manager and made his headquarters at the Company office in Kimberley. In 1957 Mr. and Mrs. Banks moved to Ottawa where he became Consultant in the Department of Mines until his death in 1959.
There were four children in the family. A daughter, Jaqueline, was born in Phoenix, and then three sons, John, Nick and Bert Jr. were all born in the St. Eugene Hospital in Cranbrook, just twenty miles south of Chapman Camp where the family lived. They all received their schooling in Kimberley, although Jaqueline attended grade twelve in Victoria. Bert served his apprenticeship as a machinist at the Concentrator where he still works.
One incident that Bert remembers vividly, was a winter when a group of young people went sleigh riding. They had tied their sleighs together, but somehow they lost control. Bill Poole and Nick Bank's sleighs collided and the metal runner of Bill's sleigh pierced Nick's eye forcing it out of the socket. The muscle pulled the eye back into place but his sight was lost in that eye. He was rushed to an eye specialist in Vancouver who did not have to remove it and in time it healed enough so he did not need and artificial eye.
Jacqueline is now in Ottawa, she married a Comet jet pilot and they had two children. He was killed while flying the original Comet when it crashed in Karachi India. She is now remarried and has two more children, a boy and a girl. John lives in Cranbrook, is married and has two girls. Nick remained a bachelor and is employed with the Department of Mines in Ottawa.
Bert married Beverly Livingstone in 1935, a daughter of another early Kimberley family. They have four children, Lori, twins Judy and Doug and Lynne. Lori attends the University of Victoria where she will graduate as a teacher.
Bert spent two years in Los Angeles working for the Bennett Respirator Products in the production department. At first the family loved it but by the second year with no rain or snow, they missed the changing seasons and decided to move back to Kimberley. Bert also spent eight months in Trail.
Having worked with Bennett Products, Bert was influential in getting a Bennett valve for the Kimberley Hospital for people with respiratory problems.
He was very active in civic affairs, especially in Chapman Camp where he has lived all his life. He was elected on the Village Coucil in 1943. He recalls an amusing incident in 1944 concerning the swimming pool that had been built in a beautiful wooded spot in 1928. Inspections showed that the many trees surrounding the pool were cracking the concrete and causing the pool to leak. Bert contracted a man to cut down certain marked trees, however, before anyone realized it, not only were the marked trees cut down but all the trees in the area were lying on the ground. Irate citizens started phoning their disapproval that morning and it continued all day.
In 1946, amalgamation of Kimberley, Chapman Camp and Marysville was imminent but the controversy was hot and heavy. The Department of Municipalities was forcing the issue, much to the disapproval of most of the residents of Chapman Camp and Marysville.
Bert was active on the Council for twelve years, mostly on finance, but also on the Parks Board and the Public Works Department. He was on the Council when the Bavarian look was introduced to Kimberley.
Bert was elected to the Dynamiter Hockey Executive for the 1976-77 season and president for the 1977-78 season. He had a great deal to do helping to put a team together that won the Allen Cup for Kimberley in 1978. It was also a nostalgic event for Bert as his father was a member of the Dynamiter Executive in 1936 when Kimberley won its first Allen Cup.
Bert enjoys skiing very much and finds it very satisfying that Kimberley has one of the best skiing areas in Canada and that skiing is becoming Kimberley's second industry.