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Kimberley Families

The Burrin Family

as told by Mrs. Vi Burrin

Fred Burrin was one of the early garage men in Kimberley, when cars were just beginning to become a familiar sight and fast replacing the horse and buggy. He was a dealer and a salesman in Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles.

Born in Leighton, Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, he came to Canada in 1910at the tender age of seventeen. His first job was on a farm in Vernon, B.C. where his family had friends. Later he gained experience in lumbering as a scaler, and worked at Bull River, this stood him in good stead during the war. He went overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. As lumber was needed for bridges in France he was assigned to that division, which kept him behind the lines.

After the war he obtained a homestead near Wetaskiwin, Alberta, where he worked in summers but came back to Bull River in the winters.

On a visit back to England in 1922,he was in an accident, his motorcycle collided with a Rolls- Royce and caused him the loss of a leg. It was while he was in hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, that he met Vi Crozier a young nurse-in-training. They continued to see one another while he recuperated. Their families lived about six miles apart.

Fred returned to Canada, but could no longer work in the woods. A friend, Vic Paulson, took him into his garage, The Kootenay Motors in Cranbrook. In 1923,Mr. Paulson opened up a second business in Kimberley and Fred was the manager.

Vi Burrin

Vi continued her training and graduated as a State Registered nurse. She also took psychiatric training for six months. In 1926 she sailed for Canada on the Montcalm. Her marriage bans had been posted in the newly-built Anglican ) Church in Kimberley. These bans were almost the first ones to be posted in this church. On her way west, she was so nervous, thinking of all the strangers she would have to meet. She wired from Winnipeg, asking Fred to meet her in Calgary. They were married there in a quiet ceremony. Walter Slade, publisher of the Daily Bulletin in Kimberley, was their best man.

Some of the memories of those early years were the difficulties of driving cars without the roads being snowploughed. The ruts would become deep and frozen, making it impossible to travel. Vi recalls coming back from Cranbrook one day. There were certain hours set aside for traffic coming to and from Kimberley. She was coming up on the stage, driven by Mrs. Brown, when they encountered a car coming down against the time regulation. Vi had only been out from England less than a year, and had never heard a woman use profanity, Mrs. Brown could hold her own with any backwoods logger. When two vehicles met in this fashion, it entailed the use of axes to chop the icy ruts, so that one car could be driven off the road, thus allowing them to pass one another; then more chopping to get back on the road again. Most people with cars would put them up on blocks for the winter, and store the battery in a warm place until spring. Winter traffic was practically nil. In summer it was rough gravel and dust.

An accident on the old narrow front hill that ran from the Mine to the Concentrator took two lives when the car went over the edge and rolled down the steep embankment, almost onto the railway tracks below. The only way to retrieve the car was to obtain special permission from the C.P.R. to allow a wrecker to drive on the railway tracks. This had to be done from Calgary as the local authorities couldn't handle such a unique situation.

In 1931, Fred Burrin and Eric Woods opened up a garage of their own. The Kimberley Motors was situated where the Super Value parking lot is now. In 1922 they moved to larger quarters on Wallinger Ave., across from the Anglican Church. Mr. and Mrs. Burrin lived in the house next door to the garage.

In 1924 there was another fire that threatened the town. It started near the McGinty Trail. One house was destroyed. Every man in town turned out to fight it, but Fred and Mr. McDougall were put on guard duty in town as they both had wooden legs, and so were excused from the actual fire fighting.

Mr. and Mrs. Burrin raised three children; Peter, who lives in Australia with his family of three, Pat married Ernie Oakland and resides in Marysville with three children. Her husband Ernie works for the City. Fred Jr. lives on Swan Subdivision and is an electrician for the Pulp Mill at Skookumchuck. They also have three children.

When Fred retired in 1954, Mr. and Mrs. Burrin moved to Marysville where they could have a home with a garden. He passed away in 1975. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and the Royal Canadian Legion. Both Mr. and Mrs. Burrin have been active on the City Council. They remember the problems the city en- countered during the 1948 flood. That was when Fred was an alderman. Mrs. Burrin was alderwoman from 1952 to 1958. She has been active in the community for many years. During the war she worked with the Red Cross, and was active in the Anglican Church Choir Guild and the Eastern Star.

Vi was Fred's bookkeeper for all the years her husband was in business. Since 1952, she has been on the Pioneer Lodge Committee. The first section of the Lodge for the pensioners was built in 1949 with four separate apartments; then in 1952 the second one was built with eight apartments and a lounge. The third one, also with eight apartments followed shortly after. The new Lions Manor is also governed by this Committee. Mrs. Burrin gives praise and appreciation to Fabro and Company for their generous assistance in building these lodges at almost cost price, and to Cominco for aiding in landscaping the area free of charge.

Mrs. Burrin is also a member of the Hospital Auxiliary and is on the Hospital Administrative Board. Both Fred and Vi have contributed many years in working for the betterment of the commmunity.

Burrin and Woods Garage, 1924.

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