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Kimberley Families

The Blayney Family
as told by daughter, Evelyn

Mr. Blaymey, a Welshman, worked in coal mines in Wales from an early age. When he first came to Canada in 1910, he went to work in the coal mine at Fernie, leaving his wife and family behind, until he could get himself established.

In 1912, Mrs. Blayney and seven children arrived in Fernie. They moved to Cranbrook in 1913, where Mr. Blayney worked for the foundry for a short time before getting a job at the Top Mine in Kimberley. The family remained in Cranbrook until 1916. Mr. Blayney would walk the twenty miles to Cranbrook on a Friday after work and walk back on Sunday.

Two more children were born in Cranbrook before they finally obtained the old cookhouse at the Taylor mill site and converted it into a home. The Pearson family with seven children lived next door in what had been the offices of the lumber mill. Other families in the neighborhood were the Davis's and Watkin's.

Taylor's Mill Pond where the Blayney kids played.

The pond near by was a great place to play, especially for the boys. They built rafts on railway ties and poled around the pond. No one went swimming as it was shallow and full of blood suckers. It did make a good skating rink in the winter and many a skating party was held there. The hay loft was another favourite place to play. Evelyn was mute until she was nine, and a fall in the loft frightened her, causing her to cry out, releasing her vocal cords.

The family had a cow and once a calf got loose and went over to Pearson's and ate some clothing hanging on the line. The kids were either playing together or fighting by throwing bricks at one another. On one occasion, when rocks were scarce, the coal pile provided the necessary ammunition, which of course was utilized by the other family.

The Blayney children that were born in Wales were: Bessie, who married Evan Williams and lived in Chapman Camp. They had four children. Agnes became Mrs. Lloyd Griffiths, residing in Kimberley with five children. Annie married Donald McLean. She had been a waitress in the Top Mine cookhouse before her marriage. They had three boys. Dave Blayney was married with three children. He was killed overseas in 1918. Brindley worked in the Mine and was married with four children, three boys still work in this area, two in Marysville and one in Trail. Phyllis was also a waitress at the Top Mine cookhouse. She married Cyril Lyle, a miner. They had four boys, one was killed. Clifford worked in the assay office at the Concentrator but his health has kept him from working for many years and he remained a bachelor.

Lil and Evelyn were born in Cranbrook. Lil worked for J. C. Adams, a Kimberley jeweller, then in the box office at the theater until her marriage to Garnet Patmore of Cranbrook. They had three children and for a number of years they managed the hotel at Moyie.

Evelyn married Stewart Brown. They had a daughter and adopted a girl and a boy. Unfortunately, the little boy died at six months in the polio epidemic of 1952. Evelyn remembers the tension and anguish that prevailed during that time. Neighbors were afraid to speak to one another and kept to themselves. Their children were in voluntary quarantine all during the hot summer that took so many lives in such a short time. Many were left with crippled limbs. Evelyn said that there was also a plague of grasshoppers during that bad summer.

Stewart Brown passed away in 1970. Evelyn still resides in Lower Blarchmont. Her son lives in Windermere with his family of four boys.

Mr. Blayney worked for the Company for many years, later becoming the janitor at the school. He passed away on New Year's Day, 1952, after enjoying a gathering of friends for a ) sing-song. Evelyn remembers him smoking a cigar and when he set it down he stated that that was the last one he'd smoke. Mrs. Blayney had predeceased him in 1946.

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