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Kimberley Families

The Binnie Family
as told by Bill

Willaim (Bill) Binnie was born in Kelso, a border town in Scotland. His mother was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but lived in Scotland for a time. Bill was ten before coming to Canada and remembers his childhood days in Scotland; running up and down the retaining wall of the Tweed River, he could have been drowned, had he fallen in. He recalls fishing for eels there. His father was a rope maker and also had a greenhouse where he grew grapes and roses. Richard Binnie, Bill's father, came to Canada a few months before the family joined him. He bought land at Columbia Gardens near Trail where they lived for four years. Bill was the only son, but had three sisters, one was his twin.

They moved to Rossland and his father was Forest Warden that summer. Bill started working at the Josie Mine as an ore sorter in 1918. That was the winter of the influenza epidemic and he remembers the Allen Hotel there was opened up as an emergency hospital. Bill worked in the shipyards in Seattle for a few months and attended night classes, where he took an electrical course. On his return to Canada, he went on to the electrical department at Trail where Fred Hopkins was chief electrical engineer. In 1922, a 75-horsepower steam powered generator was shipped from Trail to Chapman Camp to provide electricity for the cookhouse and bunkhouses. Bill came with the generator to install and operate it.

Fred Hopkin's brother Bert ran the boiler which at that time used cord wood as fuel. The generator was shut down at 10 p.m. each night, so a ten minute warning was given by flipping the main switch, alerting everyone to either go to bed or light a lamp.

Bill purchased a small cabin in Chapman Camp, belonging to Harry Llewellyn, who was moving away. He paid $150 for the cabin, complete with stove and dishes, etc., but he still ate most of his meals at the cookhouse.

The Concentrator went into operation in August of 1923. Mr. A. E. (Sleepy) MacDonald was the chief electrician until 1925 and Bill took his place when he left. Bill held this position until February 1945. He then became electrical supervisor for Kimberley Operations until his retirement in 1967.

There were many problems in those early years. A power failure would cause untold complications and these were frequent. Improvements over the years have greatly eliminated the early day dilemmas.

Bill married Eva Moir of Cranbrook on August 7th, 1929, in a double wedding with Annie Moir and John Noble. They have one son, Arthur, now married and living in Ottawa and working in the Air Force Electronics Department. Arthur was only four when his mother passed away. A couple of years later, Bill married Sylvia Valance. They have two daughters, Evelyn lives in Kamloops and Athlyn in Calgary.

Now retired, the Binnies' still reside in their house in Chapman Camp. Bill enjoys curling in winter and gardening in the summer.

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