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Kimberley Families

The Loewen Family


as told by Pete

Pete was born in 1901 at Rosthern, Saskatchewan. This was near the place where the Riel Rebellion broke out at Duck Lake.

He grew up and received his schooling in Rosthern. He worked in a store there for awhile, before getting work at Big River, Saskatchewan and at The Pas, Manitoba, working in lumber mills.

Early in 1923 work was scarce and when three train loads of immigrants arrived in Saskatchewan and went to work on farms for fifty cents for a ten or twelve-hour day, Pete and another lad decided to travel west. They landed in Cranbrook on a Sunday and Pete thought he'd like to try for work in that area. The other lad went on. This was June of 1923 and talking with some of the men loitering around town, he was told there was work at Kimberley. On Monday morning he caught the train for Kimberley and, along with about twenty-five other men that had applied for work at the Mine office, he walked up to the Top Mine. Being young and anxious, he hurried so he could be first. He met Mr. Fortier and when asked if he had ever done any mining, he said, "Oh, sure."

He was assigned a place in one of the log bunkhouses, so went back to the station to pick up his bed roll. Here he heard that men were being hired at the Concentrator, a mile away and, having fibbed about doing some mining, which he knew nothing about, decided to investigate the possibility of getting work there. The construction boss was Mel O'Brien and the carpenter boss was Nick McKenzie. He was hired, for carpentry work, a job he understood little more than mining. Each man had to supply his own tools, so back to Cranbrook he went where he bought some second hand tools.

He was put on as a carpenter's helper and worked hard and asked numerous questions, learning the trade as he went along. On one occasion, a set of steps had to be built so he asked Harry Hutchinson how to do it. He practiced at home that evening and he went about building the required steps with some show of knowledge. Later, he was promoted to lead-hand under Harold Andrews. When Mr. Andrews retired, Pete got his job.

He remembers the years of living at the bunkhouse in Chapman Camp, rooming with Joe Pemberton and eating in the cookhouse where Tom Crossley and Jimmie Pittao were cooks at different times. He became involved in the many activities that took place by playing for the Chapman Camp teams at a bit of softball in summer and a bit of hockey in the winter. He loved to skate and recalls walking to the Top Mine rink or the Townsite rink to skate.

One evening he met a young lady, Blanche Moisson, at the box office of the theatre. They were married on the 8th of August, 1940 on a pay day!

They bought property in Meadowbrook and built a garage in which they lived for that winter. Next spring they started their house. This has been their home for thirty-eight years.

Prior to this, however, he did spend some time working at Moyie on construction and some time on the South Slocan dam. He helped build the spillway to the tailings pond below the Concentrator. The tailings pond was a mere puddle in those days.

Pete was a good man working in high places and helped frame some of the steel beams for the Concentrator, but ironically, years later, he fell off his own roof and fractured his pelvis. That put him out of commission for a few weeks.

In the early 1930's, cars were still scarce and airplanes were a rarity. There was one young daredevil pilot in the area, Eric Gunner. Pete had the opportunity to up with him once, and they flew over Kimberley to see what it looked like from the air. When they came in for a landing, Eric put on his usual show, but a misjudgment tore the top off one wing. Pete says that was an experience to remember.

Pete and Blanche have a daughter and three boys, all graduated from Kimberley Schools: Sandra attended business college in Victoria before working in the law offices of a local lawyer. Barry and Gary are identical twins. Barry works in the Company Mine shops and married Louise Clerf. They have one daughter, Amanda. Gary married Judy Thorrougood and is Shop Foreman for Finning Tractor in Sparwood and they have one son, Jason. Robert (Butch) was a mechanic in a service station at Radium Hot Springs. All three boys attended Nelson Technical Vocation School.

Pete retired in 1966 and still resides in Meadowbrook. His hobbies are woodworking and gardening.

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