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Kimberley Families

The Dr. Hannington Family


as told by daughter, Ida

Dr. Hannington arrived in Kimberley in 1920, following the First World War, in which he served as a Medical Officer, first in Salonica and then in charge of various convalescent hospitals in England.

He had been in practice in the Windermere Valley prior to going overseas, but when he returned in 1919, he found that another doctor had settled there. So he was obliged to look for anoth.er location.

Doctors Green and McKinnon, who were in practice at that time in Cranbrook, used to make about one visit a week to Kimberley, but they found it was too much for them. They had a busy practice in Cranbrook, which was much busier than Kimberley, as it was really only a tiny village then. They offered Dr. Hannington a salary if he would consider going to Kimberley and taking care of their patients, on a trial basis for one year.

He left his wife and daughter in their home in Wilmer and he lived in a staff house at the Top Mine. After a few months of batching, he felt he would like his family with him. The Company very kindly found a house for them on the old hill going up to the Top Mine and they were all together again. Dr. Hannington enjoyed his work and the people of the area.

He was always a lover of dogs and had been adopted by a young waif who he christened, Pongo, and who became a well known personage in the town. He was part hound and part pointer, a very smart dog and very devoted to his master. When he died at the ripe old age of 13, his obituary was published in the local newspaper!

When the trial period with the Cranbrook doctors was ended, Dr. Hannington was called to Trail and offered a contract with the Company as the new resident doctor of Kimberley. He was very pleased, and felt that the town could now well support its own physician. The Townsite area had been opened up and Kimberley was getting busier. Next he approached the directors of the Company with an idea of opening up their own hospital in the town. Mrs. Hannington was a top-flight nurse and had helped the Dr. establish one in Wilmer before the war, and they felt they were well experienced in this line.

Fortunately the large house next to the small one they were living in came vacant and they decided to make this into the hospital. It was connected to the home by a corridor so that they could "commute" more easily. A chinese cook was employed and another nurse, Joyce Hueson who had come for a visit to Kimberley, and decided to stay.

Dr. Hannington had his dispensary in the large building and there was a large ward, holding about 12 beds. At the back of the house, adjacent to the kitchen, was the operating room. There were four bedrooms upstairs, one of which was used by Miss Hueson, and the others for the odd private patient or maternity case. This was ample, as most women had their babies at home.

Ida remembers one time when a young fellow was badly hurt in the Mine and her dad decided to put on a musical "Follies" to help him out financially. The Hannington family were well known in musical circles in Victoria where Dr. Hannington had grown up, so he was no novice at this sort of thing. The musical was held in the Handley's Hall and was a great success. All the local talent was engaged. She remembers a Mr. Evans with a glorious Welsh voice, who sang the Cornish Floral Dance and many ditties that her father wrote, spoofing the local merchants, such as Chris Foote, the haberdasher, Jack O'Neill, the druggist, Bill Shannon the banker and many others. There was also a childrens chorus that sang, "The Dream Mare's Train", and Ida herself sang a solo, "How do You Like to Go Up in a Swing".

Dr. Hannington was a busy man, but he always managed to have a lovely garden and although he and Mrs. Hannington were kept on the go, running the hospital, Ida never felt neglected and, of course, got to know all the patients and their ailments.

There was only one church in town in those days, the United Church, run by a wonderful young preacher, Rev. Evan Baker, who the children absolutely idolized. He seemed to have a way with young people, so that they really enjoyed going to Church, which at that time was held upstairs in an old hall. Mr. Baker talked Dr. Hannington into becoming the Sunday School Superintendent one year and led the children most lustily in the old hymns like "Jesus Bids Us Shine". He had a beautiful baritone voice, himself, and dearly loved to sing.

Pongo was very fond of Mr. Baker and used to accompany him on his Sunday "rounds" to Marysville and Wycliffe, but at times he felt that his sermons were a bit too drawn out, so he would sit outside while the service was being conducted. But if Mr. Baker got carried away, Pongo would push open the door, saunter down the aisle, pause in front of the pulpit, give Mr. Baker a withering look and let out a long, audible sigh. "Very well, Pongo" Mr. Baker would say, and quickly bring his sermon to an end!

Church was not held in summer, as the clergyman always took off on the Chautauqua circuit, but come fall, he would be back, ready to start work again. In the winter, he used a horse and cutter for his Sunday visitations, and believe it or not, Pongo would always be waiting at the house to accompany him, but only on Sundays. He never went near Mr. Baker the other days of the week. He was a clever dog, to be sure!

As the town grew, and especially after it was discovered how to separate the lead from the zinc and the Concentrator at Chapman Camp was built, it was decided that the Company would have to build a new hospital. A site was chosen on the Townsite, and a fine hospital was built there. The Hannington family moved into the old one and lived there until they left Kimberley.

Because of Dr. Hannington's love of flowers, he felt a garden should be built around the new hospital. At that time, he had a patient, Gus Nelson, who had suffered some lung damage through working many years in the Mine. He had a little gem of a garden around his modest little cottage, which the Dr. had always admired. So he suggested to Mr. Montgomery, that here would be the ideal man to create a garden for the hospital, and that is how the magnificent gardens that surround the Kimberley Hospital got their start. Gus stayed on for many years as the head gardener there, improving them every year.

Dr. Hannington practiced in Kimberley for over four years without a single holiday, so that it was a great relief, both to himself and his wife, when the Company decided that he should have a partner, a Dr. Wade Davis.

After Dr. Davis arrived, they took every other weekend off and in the summer, the Hanningtons took off in the old Ford, over the McGinty Trail to Findlay Creek, near Canal Flats. The fishing was wonderful there and in its small tributary, Lavender Creek, they had a wonderful time, camping in the woods with a lovely fire glowing outside the tent and Pongo snoring away happily, taking up most of Ida's bed. Early in the morning, Dr. Hannington would be up early, brewing coffee and making pancakes. The McGinty Trail hadn't been used for years, but when Dr. Hannington discovered what a great short-cut it was from town to TaTa Creek, he encouraged his friends to use it, and it became so popular, that it eventually became part of the main highway.

One incident that Ida remembers her father telling her about, had to do with the old hospital. A light was kept burning on the front porch all night, but the front door was usually locked, as his dispensary, with all the drugs, etc. was located on the main floor, just at the left of the door as you entered the hallway. There was a buzzer on the porch, so that any emergency patients could alert the nurse. One night, in the fall, the front door was inadvertently left unlocked, and in the wee small hours of the morning, Dr. Hannington was called out to a case, probably a woman in labour. Dr. Hannington came over from his house to get some necessary things from the dispensary, but when he came to open the door, to his horror, he realized that someone was inside, pushing against the door to keep it closed. He at once thought of a drug addict who was "on the loose" in the district, according to the local police. Realizing that if it was him that was inside, he could be a desparate and dangerous man. Retracing his steps softly down the hall, but still keeping his eye on the door of the dispensary, he lifted the receiver off the hook of the telephone which hung on the wall near the kitchen, he called his good friend Ed Montgomery. Ed was awakened out of a sound sleep to hear the doctor whispering "For God's sake, Ed. get over here quick and bring your revolver. I've got a crook cornered in my dispensary".

Minutes later, Ed arrived, pale and breathless, but with his revolver, and cautiously they crept down to the door of the room where the desperate man was cornered, and with a mighty push, they forced the door open. To their amazement, and relief, instead of a would-be-killer, there, on the floor, lay an old drunk! His head lay against the desk and his feet were wedged against the door. He was covered with Tamarack needles, which gave evidence to the fact that he had fallen before, probably many times, on his way back up the hill to the bunkhouse at the Townsite. But drawn like a moth to the flame, he had been attracked to the light on the porch, a safe haven for the night, he no doubt felt. Thankful that the midnight prowler had turned out to be such a harmless one, the two men transferred him to "sleep it off" in one of the empty beds in the ward. Then Mr. Montgomery toddled back to his cozy bed and the Dr. took off in the old Ford to where his patient awaited him.

Ida remembers Kimberley as a wonderful place for kids, going to movies every Saturday night in the old Handley's Hall. If the projector broke down, they could go back next week for free! Bebe Daniels was a favorite. Hallowe'en was great fun, she would steal one of her mothers best sheets and dress up as a ghost. They stole gates, and sometimes the more daring of them would venture down to harrass the poor Chinese. Much to her chagrin, she had a bucket of cold water dumped on her by an irate Chinese, which wasn't funny really, when you consider that the temperature by October 31st was usually at least 10 below zero Farenheit. Dr. and Mrs. Han- nington usually had a group of the children back for hot cocoa and biscuits and they would bob for apples.

She also remembers Chris Foote's birthday parties, as Mrs. Foote was THE best cook in town. She can still taste the puffed rice candies and her luscious cakes.

The school at this time was a one roomed one presided over by a very shy young teacher, Mr. Robinson, and all the girls had a crush on him. He gradually lost his timidness, as there were some tough kids in town then. The worst being the policeman's sons. He tamed them by giving them the strap in front of the whole class. That stopped the juvenile delinquency for good, and he ended up being the most respected teacher they ever had.

When she looks back on it, Ida feels the young girls were really attracked to those tough boys and felt that it was a real feather in their caps when the boys pelted them with snowballs in the winter. They would scream and run - but not too fast!

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