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Kimberley Families

The Hepper Family
as told by Henry

Henry Hepper was one of nine children, some born in South Dakota and some in North Dakota. Henry was born in Armour, South Dakota. When he was a lad of thirteen, his father came north to Canada to homestead in southern Saskatchewan, although their Post Office was Walsh, Alberta.

Henry remembers that first winter very well. His father had purchased fifty cows and one hundred calves and it was Henry's job to feed and water the stock. For six weeks, the temperature did not go above 30 degrees below zero F. and went as low as 50 degrees below, on several occasions.

When he grew older, he went to farm on his own in Northern Alberta, but later ran a livery barn in Amisk, Alberta for three years. In 1923, he gave that up to come to B.C. where he worked in a tie camp near Sicamous, at a place called Annis. He spent some time at Eburn Mills, Vancouver, then owned and operated a pole mill on the North Thompson River for 2 years.

In 1929, he came to Kimberley to visit his sister, Lily McLeish, who had come here in 1924; and a brother, Emil, who came in 1928 and got work at the Stemwinder Mine. Prospects for getting work at the mine were good and as Henry had an offer to sell the pole mill, he decided to stay in Kimberley.

Henry had been married in Hatton, Saskatchewan, and had two children, a girl, Ruth, and a boy, Bill. His wife wished to live in Calgary so Henry brought his son, who was eight years old, to be with him. They lived with his sister, Mrs. McLeish, for a while, then boarded with the Archie Wallers who had a son the same age as Bill. They finally rented a small dwelling from Mr. C. Foote, right behind Bob Turner's Barber Shop, where they "batched" for eleven years. Henry worked at the mine and Bill attended school.

Bill Hepper and young Archie Waller joined the Army at the same time and Bill spent six years in the service, two years in the Army and four in the Air Force. He met and married a girl from Springhill, Nova Scotia. After he was discharged from the forces, he attended four years at U.B.C. in Vancouver, studying forestry. He worked for the Parks Board in Nelson for nine years and spent another nine years in the Kamloops district. He is now working out of Victoria. They have five children, two were born in Vancouver while he was attending University and three were born in Nelson. One of his jobs was the planning of the Wasa Park.

Henry and his wife were divorced and he married Archie Waller's widow. In 1948 they purchased 'property in Marysville and built a comfortable home, moving in it in 1948.

When skiing was more or less just beginning in Kimberley, a few enthusiasts built a ski jump on that part of Blarchmont hill above where the Overwaitea now stands. It was cleared by means of a team of horses and a scraper and by hand mostly. When the Ski Club called a meeting, Lelo Almas and Henry Hepper decided to attend. They emerged with Lelo voted in as President -and Henry as Secretary-Treasurer. After studying the books Henry found out the club was $350 in debt. A tournament had been agreed upon so Lelo and Henry personally canvassed Cranbrook and Kimberley to raise funds for prizes. A Queen contest was held, the tournament was a success and after all was over the Ski Club was $400 to the good. That winter the first ski cabin was built with volunteer labor. It was heated by a beautiful fireplace built by Olaf Linquist and Pete Fowler. When it was completed, they held a box social and dance to celebrate. Henry was a trustee of the Ski Club for over twelve years.

Henry enjoys his gardening and Jessie keeps busy knitting and crotcheting. Henry has been retired for over twenty years. They visit their children whenever they can and in turn enjoy visits from them. Henry's daughter, Ruth, still resides in Calgary, she is married and has three daughters.

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