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Kimberley Families

The Burdett Family

as told by daughter Winnifred

Both the Mine and the Community of Kimberley were developed and enlarged by the efforts of such men as Mr. Norman Burdett.

Married in England, their native land, Mr. and Mrs. Burdett first came out to Trail in 1905. Mr. Burdett became accountant at the Smelter Office. From there he was moved to the St. Eugene Mine at Moyie in 1907. Two daughters were born while they lived there. Then in 1917 he was stationed at the Top Mine at Kimberley.

Their first home in this area was in Marysville. The family have happy memories of their years spent there. The house was near the beautiful Mark Creek Falls and boasted spacious lawns and a tennis court. Many of the engineers from the mine would spend their off time playing tennis or enjoying picnics. Mrs. Marsden, wife of the manager of the Mark Creek Store, was a very good tennis player and she taught the Burdett girls the Wimbleton method, later on, when they came to Kimberley. A son, Norman, was born while they resided in Marysville. The nearest hospital was in Cranbrook.

When the little school house on Howard Street was moved up a block, the Company General Offices were built on that property. Several houses were also moved from Moyie to accommodate the different officials that were needed to manage the ever-growing mine operations. It was in one of these homes that the Burdett's lived. It was directly across the street from Dr. Hannington's small hospital on the road leading down from the Top Mine. This is now a shady walking path into town and goes by the beautiful Cominco Gardens and the Special Care Borne for the elderly.

In the early days, are from the Top Mine was brought down in buckets on an overhead tramway, dumped into a storage bin and loaded in railway cars about one mile north of the town. The Mark Creek runs between the North Star Mountain, the site of the North Star Mine, and the Sullivan Hill where the fabulous Sullivan Mine is located. A short distance above the Portal, at the narrowing of the valley, a dam was built to create a reservoir for the City Water Supply. In 1948, the year of the real big flood, it was feared the dam would break and really flood the town. As it was, over one hundred dwellings were washed off their foundations and badly damaged.

Norman Burdett

In the early years when Mr. Burdett worked at the Top Mine, he walked the two and a half miles up the long hill to work, but in the winter he used a horse and cutter.

Winnifred remembers one Christmas when the family drove up to the North Star Mine to have dinner with friends. It seemed to take ages to get there by horse and cutter, but coming home later in the bright moonlight, they appeared to fly down in no time.

As a civic minded man, Mr. Burdett was influential in both business and sport ventures. He was an accountant for the Company and finance was his profession. Many of his ideas were used, the location of the cemetery being one. Along with Mr. Pete Murphy, Mr. Bill Lindsay and a Mr. Williams, he was a partner in the first hardware store managed by Mr. W. Lloyd and later by Mr. Crisford. He was a member of the School Board and President of the Golf Club and assisted in establishing three tennis courts, one on the site of the old Taylor Mill, one at Chapman Camp and later one on the McDougall Townsite. He was chairman of the Hospital Board and Grand Past Master of the Masons. He owned the building where he financed the first drug store, managed by a Mr. Robertson, followed by Mr. Tenant. This was the Rexall store where Mr. J. J. O'Neill started as a druggist, and in one corner was the Bank of Montreal.

Mrs. Burdett was a very gracious lady, beloved by all who knew her, and she was an ardent United Church worker. Winnifred and her sister, Mildred, attended high school in Cranbrook since there was still no grades beyond eight at that time in Kimberley. They boarded with Mrs. Wells, a former Sunday School teacher from Kimberley. They went on to U.B.C. and came back to teach here. Winnifred taught grades seven and eight and Mildred taught French in the newly built McKim High School.

When boarding in Cranbrook, the girls would come home for weekends, returning to Cranbrook with anyone they knew going down. One very cold March day, after a big thaw, the roads were in such a deplorable, muddy condition, making them impassable that no one could drive. There was still the railroad, but no train running so Mr. G. Musser and Mr. W. Lindsay offered to take them down on a C.P.R. speeder. There was no protective windshield in those days and the girls nearly froze on that twenty mile ride.

Norman Jr. married Muryl Ford in England where he was stationed as a navigator during the war. He was killed overseas before he could return home.

Mildred married Jack Hall of Nelson, a mining engineer and he was sent to Johannesberg, South Africa, where the family still live. They have one daughter who is married with two children and who reside in Petermaritsberg, S.A. Jack is now deceased.

Raymond went to U.B.C. in Vancouver and did not return to live in Kimberley. He is married with two boys and is employed by the Federal Government in Consumer and Corporate Affairs.

Winnifred married James R. Buchanan who came to Kimberley in 1934 as a Ventilation Engineer at the mine. They were married in 1937.After living in one of the Company houses on McDougall townsite for several years, they built a lovely big home among the pine trees near by, where they still reside.

They have three children, a daughter, Daphne, now a teacher and librarian in Vancouver, a son, Bill, a geologist in Sudbury, Ontario, and their youngest son, Neil, still lives at home and works for the Kimberley Overwaitea.

Mr. Burdett passed away at the age of seventy-six, but Mrs. Burdett lived to be ninetyfour.

Winnifred recalls an underground manager, Harry Gamble, whose beautiful little daughter, Lois, died in the influenza epidemic of 1918.Lois Lake and Lois Creek as well as one of the newer sections of Kimberley, Lois Creek Subdivision, have been named after her.

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