The Story of Kimberley would not be complete without a tribute to Mark Beduz. Born in Italy in 1897, he came to Canada when he was only sixteen. He had a brother in Montreal, where he spent a few months working at odd jobs. He came west in 1914 to join another brother who worked for the Otis Staples Lumber Company in one of the camps near Wycliffe.
On his arrival, they were building a cookhouse at Camp Eight. He had intended to work in the woods as his brother did, but his brother advised Mark to accept the job of flunky in the cookhouse to save buying heavy clothes for outside work.
There were about six flunkies, the hours were long, beginning at 4 A.M. All went well until the boss insisted they wear white shirts with their white aprons. They agreed to comply if they got a raise of two dollars to pay for the shirts. This was over the ten dollars per month. The proposition met with a flat refusal and all were fired.
Mark came to Kimberley and got work with the Company. Only seventeen and a half years old, he was not permitted to work underground. His first job was on Graveyard Shift in the Rockhouse. He still understood very little English, but being an enterprising young man, he followed another chap that had received the same instructions. His interpretation of "graveyard" was a cemetery. He soon found out, to the roars of laughter from his fellow worker, that it only referred to the hours from eleven at night to seven in the morning.
In the fall of 1915, Paddy Graham, the superintendent, spoke to him about his experience working in a cookhouse. The Top Mine cook, Bill Green, was short-handed so Mark was sent to work for him. This was the beginning of what was to be his life-long career.
He started out washing dishes and lunch buckets. He learned all there was to know about running a cookhouse, how to make gravies and puddings, how to bake cakes and cookies and pies, and how to cut up whole carcasses of beef and pork. He could bake one hundred pounds of flour into bread at one time and whip up forty pies in a matter of minutes. As there were no recipes around, once shown, he had to remember for the next time. He relates one early experience. Baking was always done at night. He had put about twenty dozen cup cakes in the oven and gone to the basement to do something else, when he came back, the place was full of black smoke. Too much or too little of something in the batter had caused it to bubble over and burn on the bottom of the oven. This had to be cleaned up and the place aired out before the men arrived for breakfast.
The town of Kimberley was just beginning to grow in 1917. Mark remembers only four of five stores in the main part of town. One of the storekeepers would go up to the Top Mine on Wednesday and take orders that would be delivered on Saturday. There was no bank in town as yet, so a banker came up from Cranbrook, twenty miles to the south, with the payroll, once a month, returning with any savings deposits late at night. He travelled by horse and buggy and, believe it or not, he was never held up.
During the building of the Concentrator at Chapman Camp four miles south of the Top Mine, there were about four hundred and seventy men employed. A cookhouse had been built to accommodate them and Mark was sent down there when one of the cooks quit without notice. He was given a quick tour of the place, and with dinner time not far away and no bread on hand, he met the challenge and baked up almost a hundred pounds of flour into baking powder biscuits in time to feed the men. Two hundred pounds of flour went into bread that had to be baked at night, and as the generator was shut off at ten o'clock, it all had to be done by the light of a coal oil lamp.
Mark has memories of the opening of the Townsite cookhouse in 1922 and the years that followed. In 1927, a pretty brunette by the name of Evelyn Skorheim, from Picture Butte, Alberta came to wait on tables there. In 1927 they were married. They have two sons, Roy and Louis.
Once a large company from Toronto wished to take over the supplies for the cookhouse. Mark insisted that he still had full power to do as he usually did. A Mr. Pruer came to observe. He had no idea the amount of food necessary to feed five hundred men, two hundred and seventy at one sitting. For breakfast alone, there was hot and cold cereal and Mark cut up five slabs of bacon, cooked up thirty-five or forty dozen eggs, plus loaves and loaves of bread, or stacks and stacks of hot cakes. Most of the bread was used for lunch buckets. For dinner, mountains of steaks had to be cut, and sacks and sacks of vegetables were prepared. There were pies by the dozens. It proved too much for the man from Toronto, so he left.
Mark not only cooked for the Company. He spent many summer holidays cooking for Boy Scout camps and other youth groups. He also prepared banquets for lodges and large receptions of all kinds.
Kimberley was incorporated in 1944 and Mark took a big interest in community affairs. He served as alderman for over sixteen years. Cliff Swan was the first Mayor and the members of the council in 1948 where Mark Beduz, Harry Wells, Stan Norton, Fred Burrin, Bill Waldie and Bruno Fabro. Mark says he had had no experience in this line, but as an interested citizen, he learned by keeping his ears open and his mouth shut!
He was an active First Aider and as a member of a team made up of Alf Watkins, Walter Glanville, Alfred Oakes and a patient, Jim Davis, they entered competitions year after year.
As a member of the Knights of Pythias, he went through all the Chairs in the local lodge and the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. He is a Past Deputy and attended the Supreme Lodge in Chicago and Philadelphia as B.C.'s representative.
He recalls when they used to meet upstairs in Tom Summer's store. In 1927 the I.O.O.F. and the K. P. Lodges decided to build a hall for both organizations, but because of some disagreement, the I.O.O.F. decided to do it alone. The K. P.'s then purchased a lot across the street, for $135.00 and in 1928 opened their new hall. The Native Sons of Canada held the first dance in the new hall and the Company provided the refreshments, planned and cooked by none other than Mark himself!
Mark was appointed on the Pioneer Lodge Committee in 1948. When the Lodge was turned over to the Lions Project Society in 1977, he was asked to continue working with the new group. Mark was Citizen of the Year in 1976 and in 1978 he was awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal.
Retired from the Company, Mr. and Mrs. Beduz reside in Happy Valley. He is a familiar figure to all, and maintains a keen interest in everything the City has to offer.