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Kimberley Families

The Persson Family


as told by son Nils

Bernard Persson was born in Skane, Sweden, and came to Phoenix, B.C. where he worked in the mine when he was only eighteen. He worked at Rossland for a few years. It was in Rossland that he met Clara Nord and married her in 1914. The Nord family and the Hendrickson family had come out from Sweden around 1912.

A son, Nils, was born in Rossland in 1916. They then moved to Kimberley to a house where the Rotary Park Band stand is located. It was just across the road from Taylors Mill site. Bernard worked at the Top Mine as a miner. He also worked on the construction of the main tunnel.

He bought a horse from Mr. Ben Keer so he could ride to work up the long hill, and as they had to work twelve-hour shifts, he would sometimes turn the horse loose to go home by itself. But this was not too satisfactory as home, to the horse, was the dairy farm in Marysville, four miles south of Taylor's Mill.

They lived in the Ontario Hotel for a short time and became friends with the Scholund's and the Barr's.

Mr. Persson did barbering for a couple of years in Bull River, but in 1919 they went back to Sweden.

In 1924 they decided to head back to Rossland but there was a stopover in Cranbrook and Mr. Persson met Bill Lindsay, who had been doing survey work at the Top Mine when Mr. Persson had worked there before. Bill told him there was work in Kimberley. A daughter, Sven, had been born in 1923 while they were in Sweden.

By this time, four of Clara's brothers were working for the Company in Kimberley. Gus, Claus, Eddie and Elmer Nord. Gus was employed in the Mark Creek Store for years and he worked in the Mine warehouse and guardhouse before his death. His one daughter, Ethel, is married to Walter Cope and they have five children: Dorothy, Arthur, Barbara, Ron and Cheryl. They live on the old Stirton place, just south of Marysville.

Claus and Elmer were both machinists for the Company and Eddie was cooks helper at the Top Mine cookhouse before he went diamond drilling for T. Connor's.

In 1925, Bernard Persson suffered an appendix attack. There were few facilities in Kimberley's small hospital for operations so he was sent to Cranbrook but peritonitis had set in and he died. In those days young men in their thirties did not concern themselves with life insurance so Mrs. Persson had to work very hard to keep her family fed. She took in laundry for the Globe and the Kimberley Hotels. It was collected twice a week and all had to be ironed with the old style sad iron that was heated on top of the stove. Nils remembers his mother often ironing all night. He took many a taunt from his friends as they chanted "Chinky, Chinky, Chinaman", when he shouldered the heavy sacks of laundry which he picked up and delivered for his mother. He helped her clean the Bank of Commerce building on the corner of Wallinger and Spokane where Oakley's service station is now.

In 1927, Mrs. Persson married Arvid Hoglund. Nils started work for the Company in 1934 and was sent to Trail for training with Arnold Hedquist and Joe Moore for six years. This was Company policy when the boys were under eighteen and could not go underground.

On his return to Kimberley, he went underground and with the exception of over two years active service in the West Indies, in the Intelligence Corp. from November 1943 to May 1946, Nils has spent his time working for the Company. He retired in 1976 after forty-one and a half years service.

Nils married Nina Lloyd from Rossland, the daughter of Jack Lloyd. He was a bricklayer for a construction company that came into Kimberley when the Concentrator was being built. He also worked on the Fertilizer Plant when it was being constructed.

Nils and Nina have two children; Ronnie and Patti. Ronnie lives in Cranbrook working for Finning Tractor. He is married to a Cranbrook girl and they have three daughters, Susanne, Lisa and Arnie. Patti worked for the Kimberley Credit Union for a time and is now in the General Offices of the Company.

Nils and Nina moved to Marysville in 1951 where they still reside. In summer they enjoy fishing and gardening and Nils is a cross country skier. He won a trophy in 1977 in the over thirty-five class for cross country. Nils is over sixty. He learned to ski when Mr. Staples of Wycliffe taught a group of young lads how to cross country ski. Nils came in second in a race just before Mr. Staples was killed while skiing on the Butte. A ski pole penetrated his chest. The boys never did receive their prizes.

Nils remembers Archie Richmond when he coached a ball team called the Fleetfoots. There was much rivalry between the different teams.

Another memory is two brothers that were blacksmiths at the Stemwinder that befriended him after his father died and often took him fishing up St. Marys River. Sometimes he and his chums would walk up to the dam above the Stemwinder and go fishing there. They often watched the workings at the Stemwinder when horses pulled the ore cars up the shaft and set them on the track for the short run down to where they were dumped into bins. He recalls being warned away from the dam by Mr. Logan, the outside foreman, but the boys still climbed the ladders and took the trail up the mountain to the Top Mine cookhouse where they were always treated to a piece of pie.

Nils considers Kimberley a grand place to grow up in. Swimming in the creek above McKays Dairy, plenty of wilderness to explore and good fishing. He still loves fishing and skiing and the outdoors and has no intention of living anywhere else.

They did enjoy a trip to Sweden last year (1977) where Nils visited his first school house in Billisholm, Sweden, and saw his father's home there, which was still standing.

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