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Kimberley Families

The Armour Family
as told by Mrs. Armour

Robert (Bob) Armour was born in Scotland, one of a large family. His mother died when he was quite young, his father remarried and they had several other children.

Bob was nineteen when he left home to look for work in Canada. His first job was on a farm in Ontario, where he was handed a large knife to trim the loose and dried leaves off cabbages in the fields. Ashe moved west, he got a job on the C.P.R. firing boilers on a steam engine. This was his first experience with steam and he worked diligently to obtain his second class steam engineer's papers. He worked his way to the west coast and got a job for awhile at a Pulp Mill near Prince Rupert. It closed down during the winter so he was employed by the B.C. Electric in Van- couver for a short time.

He met his wife who was living with her grandmother in Victoria. She was the grand- daughter of the first white child born in Barker- ville. Her grandmother came from Scotland as a nursemaid for a doctor's family in San Fran- cisco. Mrs. Armour recalls her grandmother tell- ing her about their honeymoon which was spent travelling to the gold fields in the Caribou. She told her granddaughter she was so frightened of the narrow trail from Yale to Barkerville, that rather than ride in the stage coach, she would get out and walk most of the way. Her grandfather was not a prospector, but ran a bakery and a butcher shop in Barkerville and received gold dust as payment for his produce.

Mrs. Armour was born Nellie Uren, in Clin- ton, B.C. She met Bob when her brother brought him to Victoria for a visit. They were married in 1912. He was an ambitious young man and worked hard to get as much education in steam engineering as possible. They lived on St. James Island near Victoria for a few months. He had the opportunity to work in Anyox, in the steam plant, if he could earn his first class engineer's ticket. They moved to a small apartment in Van- couver where he spent five months studying and took his exams in New Westminster.

The next ten years were spent at Anyox where Bob was the Chief Engineer. In January of 1927, he transferred to Chapman Camp to take over as chief steam engineer at the Concentrator. Mr. Oughtred was superintendent at that time. Bob stayed in the bunkhouse and Mrs. Armour remained in Victoria until suitable accom- modations could be arranged for. When she came to Kimberley, she travelled by train via Kamloops, then a short trip down the Arrow Lakes on a paddle wheel lake boat, arriving in Cranbrook on the train and finally completing the trip by the slow mixed train to Chapman Camp. Their house was not quite finished, so they stayed with the Dupuis's, a family they had known in Anyox. They moved into the new house on August 20th, 1927. Some of their close neighbours were the Pooles, Stones, Banks, Buchmans and McKenzies. Mark Brooks lived next door until Bill Binnie moved into his place. Bruce Warden was the designer for all the houses built in that area.

Mr. Armour worked at the Concentrator for twenty-three years before retiring. The day he died, he had an appointment with the doctor at the hospital. The doctor had an emergency operation, so rather than sit idle while he waited, Mr. Armour spent the time chatting with the hospital engineer in the boiler plant. Glancing at his watch, he decided to see if the doctor was available but, as he was leaving the boiler plant, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Mrs. Armour had two sons. One died in infan- cy at five weeks, and the second son, Lloyd, was killed when he was twenty-one, in an air crash while on training manoeuvers in Scotland.

In the earlier days, Mrs. Armour was taking Lloyd for a walk one Sunday and met some peo- ple coming from church. She inquired about a Sunday School and was told it was held at the school house. That was the beginning of her Sun- day School teacher's role in Chapman Camp. She was a teacher for thirty-three years. When the school burned down, she carried on Sunday School teaching in her own home for twenty-six months. When they were without a minister for several months, she took over the Sunday School by herself. After the new Presbyterian Church was built in Kimberley, she taught Sunday School there for five years, making a total of thirty-eight years as a Sunday School teacher.

She and Mr. Armour were members of the Orpheus Choir, and she belonged to the Women's Missionary Group. Mrs. Armour was responsible for organizing the first Parent-Teachers Association in Kimberley.

Mrs. Armour was a delightful person to visit with. She passed away in the summer of 1978.

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