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Kimberley Families

The Elmer Miller Family


as told by daughter Muriel

Elmer Miller and his engine.

Elmer Miller was born in Picton, Ontario, in 1882. He came west to Calgary where he started working in the C.P.R. Ogden Shops. He started as a wiper and worked up to fireman and engineer in a short time. He spent the next 22 years as engineer on freight trains running through the Kootenays. He was on one of the last trains through the Crowsnest Pass just prior to the Frank Slide in 1903. He was on one of the trains that helped evacuate fire victims during the 1908 Fernie fire.

Annie Bradley was born in England and came out to Cranbrook to stay with her Aunt and Uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Wardman. She worked as a waitress in the hotel that is now known as the Bing.

Elmer and Annie were married in 1912.They had four daughters, Violet, Muriel, Christina, and Gladys. Unfortunately, Annie died a few weeks after Gladys was born and Elmer was left with his four small girls to care for. As far as Muriel can recall, her father was the first engineer on the industrial train that ran between the mine and the concentrator, beginning in 1923, and was the first one over the new trestle that spanned the old Taylor Mill site.

In 1924 he moved his family to Kimberley. The girls were brought up by a series of housekeepers, some good and some not so good. Their first home was on Spokane street, next door to Hamish Scott.

They remember taking short rides on the cow catcher of the engine and even taking the odd ride across the trestle in the cab with their father.

Violet received her first two years of schooling in Cranbrook and Muriel began school there, but finished her grade one in Kimberley.

Elmer died in 1935 in his early fifties. Muriel remembers him as a strict disciplinarian but very fair. If one of the girls was told not to do something, then none of them did.

He was the engineer on the industrial train for twelve years, working day shift for six months then night shift for six. There were three railways crossings through town in the short distance between the concentrator and the mine, and rules demanded the proper whistle signals be blown for each one, two long, one short and one long blast. These whistles woke people up as the train ran approximately every hour, day and night. As a result, Elmer was accused of being responsible for the increase in the Town's population!

Violet (Vi) worked for Walter Slade in the Daily Bulletin for a number of years before moving to Vancouver where she met and married Ray Jarvie. She worked for Peoples Credit Jewelers until her death in 1978. They had no children.

Muriel obtained work with the Kimberley Transfer when their offices were between the Sullivan Hotel and the Station. She started just one month before her father's untimely death in 1935. Muriel married John Adamek in 1942. He also worked for the Transfer for a time. He worked for a Company property, the Inca Placer Mines near Lumberton, before returning to Kimberley to work in the mine in 1941. They have two children, a son John, now married and is in Real Estate in Calgary, and they have one son. Their daughter, Trudy, married Keven Fitzgerald. They live in Canmore and Kevin is with the R.C.M.P. in Banff. They have one daughter. John Adamek passed away in 1972 and Muriel worked for Norman's Pharmacy until March 1978.

Christina (Chris) attended Normal School in Victoria, returning to the area to teach at Sanca and LaFrance Creek. She taught in the Chapman Camp School, then went back to teach in the West Kootenay at Shutty Bench, near Kaslo. She married Stanley McLellan in 1943. They lived in Ainsworth, but Stanley worked across Kootenay Lake at Riondel, going to work by boat. They had 2 adopted sons, Lyle and Gordon, who were still quite young when Stanley died in 1969. Chris then married Charles Lind and they still reside in Ainsworth.

Gladys took a business course in Vancouver and worked for the B.C. Electric for a time and also in Woodwards offices. She married Jim Spafford. He worked in Nelson for a while before coming to Kimberley where he worked for the Company in the Mine. They have three children; their daughter Enid is now living in Calgary, married and has a boy and a girl Teressa (Terry) lives in Delta and is married to an R.C.M.P. officer. Their son Bradley, works for the Company at the mine and still lives at home. When Gladys returned to Kimberley she worked for Massies' Coffee Shop for a short time and then for the City Bakery for ten years. When the Super Valu opened a bakery, she went to work for them and is still employed there. Muriel and Gladys live side by side on Jennings Avenue, a part of town that was built before Upper Blarchmont.

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