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Kimberley Families

The Almack Family
as told by daughters Nancy and Edna

James Henry (Harry) Almack and his wife, Ellen Owen, came from Manchester, England. They were married in 1907and came to Canada in 1919, following his discharge from the British Army. Mr. and Mrs. Almack brought along their four children: Harry Jr., Nancy, Reg and Albert. They settled on a cattle ranch, owned by Harry's father, near Dauphin, Manitoba. They stayed two years, but Mrs. Almack could not adjust to the vast change in climate, or from city to farm life.

In 1921 they moved to Calgary, where Mr. Almack got work with the Imperial Oil Company. Edna was born there. Still the climate did not agree with Mrs. Almack so Harry started west with Vancouver in mind. A few hours stop at Cranbrook gave him the opportunity to visit an Imperial Oil man in Kimberley. During the visit he was introduced to Harry Stone, whoasked him if he could work on girders. The Concentrator was being built and he could start work in the morning.

He sent word to Ellen in Calgary with instructions to sell the house, collect his pay from Imperial Oil and pack up everything. She left her four oldest children with friends and came with the youngest. Her first introduction to Kimberley was a walk around the two or three sparsely inhabited blocks and down to the creek. They stayed with the Dick Scone family until they could move into a little house in Happy Valley. Nancy recalls that first trip from Calgary. They changed trains in Cranbrook and caught the local to Kimberley and she cannot remember ever again using that very slow train. They went by taxi from town up the front road that was very narrow. Calgary had hills but this was something else. The top corner took her breath away. Theirs was the last house in Happy Valley at that time and the closest neighbours were the McPhersons and the Keigans.

Merle Smith and Harry Almack

Some of the incidents that Nancy and Edna remember were the toboggan rides down Top Mine road, across the Townsite and down the back hill to town, where they seldom made the bottom corner. They once took their mother down and of course dumped her in the snow bank on the curve. They recall the park-like row of cottonwood trees with benches to rest on where Norman's Drug Store now stands. They remember the Indians from St. Eugene Mission with their soft voices and sad eyes as they went from door to door selling gloves and moccasins. The L. D. Cafe had its own farm, so fresh cream and eggs were available.

In those early years their firewood came from the fire-killed trees above Happy Valley and around the Top Mine. There were no chain saws. Everyone in the family lent a helping hand, with a trusty cross cut saw operated by two men - or two women as was often the case.

With the bush at their back door, they could pick huckleberries nearby in late summer and it wasn't uncommon to see coyotes occasionally.

The Company barn was in this vicinity where George Amos looked after several teams of horses. During the heavy snow of winter they hauled the snow plough of sorts that made narrow lanes of the streets with snow piled high on each side, it was like walking through tunnels to and from school. Invariably the water pipes would freeze in that area and water had to be hauled in a barrel on a sleigh. When spring came the slush seemed to last for weeks.

They remember Reverend Mr. Crick and Mr. Resker, Anglican ministers, that were very well liked. Both clergymen worked with the Boy Scouts.

The McDougall Hall was not too far from their home. It gave them bowling, billiards, badminton and basketball. Card games, music and dances; all supervised by Mr. Stanton, who also conducted ladies keep fit classes along with his many other duties.

Another memory was the day-long trips to Fairmont Hot Springs. They owned an old Star touring car. They would start out at five in the morning, four hours to get there and the same coming home if they didn't have any flat tires. They always carried three spare tires and usually had one or two flats to fix.

Mr. Almack never missed a day's work in all the years he was with the Concentrator. He passed away in 1963.

The eldest son, Harry, was an electrician for the Company. He married Beatrice Boardman and they had two children, Joyce and Ron. They moved to Penticton. Nancy married Ernie Derbyshire and they have five children. They moved to Riondel where Nancy, now a widow, still resides. Reg worked underground as a timberman, motorman and hoistman. He married Helen Johnson and they had a daughter, Jean, and a son Dan that now works in the Mine. Albert married Gloria Whitehead and their two children are Margie and Bill. Bill is working for the Company at the Concentrator. Both Reg and Albert have passed away. Edna, the youngest, married Gordon Fisher, an electrical foreman for the Company. Mark, one of their seven children, also works for the Company, making three generations in Cominco service.

Mrs. Almack was born in Queen Victoria's Coronation year and is over ninety years old. She lives in the Pines Special Care Home, only a couple of blocks from her original home in Kimberley.

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