The Sydney Smith Family
as told by daughters, Ivy and Phyllis
Syd Smith was born near Birmingham, England and apprenticed for seven years as a carpenter. He had an older married sister living in Michel, B.C. and came to Canada as a young man of twenty. His first job in Canada was in Victoria where he met and married Marguerite Taylor. They returned to England for a honeymoon and remained for a year. A daughter, Ivy, was born in Syd's home town before they returned to Victoria, where two more daughters were born, Ruth and Phyllis.
Syd spent some time working in the Queen Charlotte Islands, then the family lived in Ladysmith for three years.
The Walter Glanville's were friends from Victoria and they had moved to Kimberley. Carpenters were needed in the fast growing community and Mr. Glanville encouraged Syd to come here as there was no work at the coast at that time. In 1924, Syd came and his family joined him a year later after he had built a home for them at the Top Mine.
All three girls attended the one roomed school that covered the first eight grades. Their first teacher was Miss Puffer. In order to attend high SChool,Ivy had to walk the long two miles into Kimberley. The first high school was in the original white single roomed house that had been moved from the property where the Company general offices now stand, to the Central School grounds, now Watkins. One experience she had walking home alone late in the afternoon, was when she saw a timber wolf on the trail to the Top Mine. Some of her fellow students in high school were: Jay Colthorp, Wally Snyder, Ida Hannington, Phyllis Daker, Freida Lye, Elmer Holmes and Bessie Bidder.
The girls recall playing basketball in Warren's Hall when Jack Wills was manager. There was boxing and bowling and many other activities held there. Basket socials and Christmas concerts included.
They remember the night the Top Mine Company office burned down and all the records were destroyed. Joe Bell was the timekeeper when this happened.
Syd was the secretary for the Top Mine school for the three years they were there. He was also the man that planned and helped build the dam that created the water supply. When the Lafortune boy drowned, Syd helped find the body. The girls remember coming down from the pond and meeting the young lad on his way up, he told them he was going to catch pollywogs and when he didn't return, they were the ones that had seen him last.
Ivy liked to ski and thought nothing of skiing alone on a moonlight night. She was on the first committee when they built the cabin on Myrtle Mountain around 1935. Ole Linquist built the beautiful stone fireplace where many happy hours were spent. All work on this first ski hill was volunteer labour.
Ivy has worked in all three cookhouses in the area, for short periods of time; Top Mine, Townsite and Chapman Camp. She spent two years during the war as a riveter for Boeing Air Craft. Once in awhile, an ice cream cart would make the trip up and park near the cookhouse, ringing his hand bell to attract attention. Occasionally, John Bett, a kind-hearted bachelor would buy a cone for every kid in sight. An ice cream cone in those days was a very special treat as few kids had a nickel to buy one.
After Syd moved down from the Top Mine to Townsite, he worked in the Mine carpenter shop. He became the building inspector for the Company. Finally, he worked in the General office in charge of Company housing. He retired in 1951.
Syd is now 92 years old in this year of 1978 and his wife of 83 is the second child of a family of ten girls, one boy was killed in World War II. All ten girls are still living and all are pensioners. Eight live in Victoria, one in Trail and Mrs. Smith in Kimberley. Syd and Marguerite reside at the Pines Special Care Home.
Ivy married Bert Fontaine and they had one son, Ronald. He is still in Kimberley, married to the daughter of Duke Nicholson. He is the present assistant superintendent of the City water works. Ivy is now Mrs. Robert Londen, living in Vancouver.
Ruth worked for a number of years in the Mark Creek store shoe department when Brock Markle, Al Morris and Art Reinhart worked there. She married Joe Chesham and they have one son. She was Kimberley Ski Queen in 1939 following Ethel (Zak) Loraas. Ruth was killed in a car accident on the Creston-Salmo highway several years ago. Joe still lives on Townsite.
Once when Ruth was walking down the narrow path, called the nurses trail, she met a bear coming up. There was only room for one and he had the right of way, so she took to the bush, tearing her stockings and later arriving at work in an awful fright.
Phyllis married John Trinder and they have one son, Wayne. They still reside in Kimberley.