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Kimberley Families

The Chatson Family
as told by son Ken

Lawrence Herbert Chatson came to the mountains to die. He was working as a fireman for the C. N. Railway when an accident crushed his chest very badly. The doctor figured he could never work again and would probably only live a few months.

Lawrence was born and raised in Denbigh, Ontario, and married Gertrude Johnson also born in Ontario. A son, Ken, was born in Calgary and he was just five years old when the accident happened. Mr. Chatson decided to spend the winter of his last few months in Vanderhoof, B.C. and took his son Ken to be with him. By spring he began feeling much better so he opened up a small store in Drumheller. After a few months he opened another store in Hanna for a short time. Ken doesn't recall what prompted his father to come to Kimberley, but in 1923 he accompanied him here where they first got a room above the Yale Cafe, and where they ate their meals. The place was run by a Chinaman, named Ying Kwan, and Ken can still remember the taste of the delicious banana cream pies served him by Ying.

Mr. Chatson rented the corner store which Mr. Fisher, the Post Master, owned. Later he purchased the entire corner and opened up a confectionary business. This was on the corner of Deer Park Avenue and Spokane Street right in the center of town. It became the hub of Kimberley's social center, much as a favorite coffee shop does today.

Later that same year, Mrs. Chatson arrived with their two daughters Marie and Jean. A third daughter, Cody, was born in Kimberley. Mrs. Chatson's introduction to Kimberley was a shooting in the immediate vicinity and she wondered just what kind of a place she had come to.

Lawrence Chatson

Ken was seven years old at this time and entered school in the second grade. He was confirmed in the Anglican Church that stood near the central school. Reverend Crick was the minister and Ken acted as an altar boy. This included the tiring job of pumping the organ manually.

Ken helped his parents in the store after school, a job he disliked. Later he went to work for Tony Muraca in his store until he got work with the Company.

Mr. Chatson liked hunting and it wasn't unusual in those days to walk into the bush nearby and come home with a few willow grouse that made a special meal.

They operated the store until Mr. Chatson passed away in 1941, more than twenty years after the doctor had predicted. Mrs. Chatson sold the store to Johnny Achzener in 1942 and went to live in Calgary with her daughter Cody. When Cody moved to Edmonton she accompanied her. She lived to be 82 and passed away in 1963.

Ken has been active in Boy Scouts as leader along with Red Foster for many years. He started working for the Company at the mine in 1935, beginning, as all others, on the mucking gang. He spent a year in Trail and then back to the mine on transportation and nipping (carrying steel bits to the drillers). Finally he went mining and in 1950 was made a shift boss, working underground for twenty-six years.

He married Hazel Stewart of Cranbrook in 1940. He entered the air force in 1941and was one of twelve pilots chosen to be trained by the American Air Force and was stationed in the Aleutians for a year and a half. He was also on Ferry Command on the east coast, returning home in 1945.

Ken and Hazel have four children; Lorraine, Brock, Marie and Janice. Lorraine married Cecil Ross and lives in Calgary. Brock is with the National Research Council in Saskatoon. Marie married Mike McCauley who drives logging trucks and resides in Chapman Camp. Janice also resides in Kimberley and works at the Royal Bank.

Ken's sister Marie married Bill Burnett, a hockey player, and they live in Winnipeg. Jean married Jim Fraser and they reside in Prince George. Cody married Jim Murphy who works for Imperial Oil and they have lived in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto and are back in Calgary at present.

Ken retired in 1976 and he and Hazel live on Rotary Drive. They spent their summers travelling.

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