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Kimberley Families

The Dicken Family
as told by son, Robert

Northumberland, England, was the birth place of Robert Martin Dicken. He trained as a machinist and was married to Elizabeth Jane Fell of Sunderland before coming to Canada in 1903. They had two children born in England, John and Winnifred. Mrs. Dicken had relatives in Toronto where she stayed while Robert crossed Canada to see what he could find. One of the fabulous stories he brought back with him, was the salmon run in the Fraser River; that there were so many it appeared that one could walk across on their backs.

Son, Robert (Bob), was born in Toronto before the family moved west to Diamond City, Alberta. They spent a short time there and in Bellvue and Frank where they met the Jolie and Dawson families.

It was while they were living in Bellvue in 1914 that the Hillcrest Mine disaster occured. All available men were sent in from the surrounding area. Robert was one of the rescue team that helped bring out the one hundred and ninetyeight miners that were killed.

Mrs. Dicken and the children returned to Toronto while Mr. Dicken went overseas in the first World War. He was in the Fort Garry Horse Cavalry, and, as he played cornet, he was also in the band.

On his return they settled in Stettler, Alberta for a year or more and in 1922 they returned to Blairmore. Their friends, the Dawsons, told them about Kimberley and Robert came in 1927 to work in the machine shop at the mine as a pipe fitter. The family joined him in 1929.

Bob Dicken

He and his wife and daughter Winnifred, sang in the United Church Choir and he also played in the Kimberley Brass Band for many years.

Their son John played hockey for the Dynamiters. He married the Company Fire Chief's daughter, Doris McNicholas, and they had one son, Jackie. Winnifred married a Stettler man. J. W. (Bob) Robertson, and they had two sons, Robert and Keith. Both John and Winnifred and families live in White Rock, B.C., where Mr. and Mrs. Dicken moved when Robert retired in 1945.

As their son Bob was a bit younger than his brother and sister, he attended his last year of school in Kimberley before starting work with the Safeway Store. He was there for only a short time. In 1935 Bob got work at the Mark Creek Store.

He married Gwen Bryant in 1938. Bob joined the Army in 1941, one of two westerners in an Eastern unit. He was with the second wave of troops that stormed Normandy on D. Day. Even amid war and tragedy there is always a little bit of comedy. Bob and some of his buddies were on reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines to assess the number of troops in the area. They blackened their faces and were crawling in a ploughed field. There were Jerries all around and they could hear the sentry each time he clicked his heels on a turn. Bob spoke to one of his companions and all he could see was white eyeballs and teeth and it looked so funny he got the giggles. His chum immediately shoved his face into the dirt and sat on his head so they wouldn't be heard.

Following his discharge in 1945 he worked for Fabro's lumber for awhile and then started the Speedy Delivery. After a year and a half he gave that business up and went to work for the Company on the electrical gang at the mine.

Bob and Gwen have two adopted daughters: Joanie is married to Ervin Jobe and they reside in Kimberley. Wendy is a secretary to a lawyer in Cranbrook.

Bob used to play hockey for one of the intermediate teams and he played a lot of basketball in his earlier years and coached a ladies basketball team. Both he and Gwen love dancing and have attended classes in ballroom dancing.

Bob's favorite sport is duck hunting in Alberta in the fall and he has always had a dog, all black Labradors, and he keeps himself in good physical condition by walking his dog daily.

They both like Kimberley and still reside on Wallinger Avenue.

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