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Kimberley Families

The Eckersley Family
as told by son Jack

Ralph Eckersley came to Canada from Wiggin, England, where he began working in the colliery at age twelve.

Sarah Wilson worked in a dye factory in Ad- dington. She married Ralph Eckersley in 1910. Ralph was a widower with a small daughter, Alice. A son, Jack, was born in Addington in 1912.

During the First World War, they moved to Sutton Manor, and Sarah opened a small store where she sold home baking. Ralph had been seriously injured in the mine and when his health did not improve, the doctor advised him to try Canada for a change of climate. They sailed on the Malita in December of 1921 and spent four- teen days at sea, and another week on the train, arriving at Fernie on Christmas Eve. Jack was six years old and dressed in the English fashion of short pants, Eton cap and tie. Ralph's brother Jack had a farm in Cedar Valley, about two and a half miles from Fernie. Young Jack remembers his uncle meeting them at the train in a horse-drawn cutter.

Ralph got work at the mine in Coal Creek and when part of that mine closed down he transferred to Michel in 1924.

Jack started working in the coal mine in Michel at the age of fourteen by lying about his age. He was a big boy for his age and got away with it. He drove a horse underground and worked on the hoist and at a job called rope riding which entailed moving coal cars un- derground.

Coal mining was such a dangerous occupation that in 1929 they moved to Kimberley. Ralph went to work at the Top Mine and Jack got a job at the Company Dairy in Marysville. Angus Hay was the manager and Con Kervin was the foreman. Following this job he worked a short time for Wallace's Bakery when bread was delivered in a horse and cart. In 1930 Jack went to Trail but was laid off in 1932. He tried riding the rails to Vancouver, but during those depres- sion years all so-called hobos were turned back at Kelowna.

Jack Eckersley with his parents, Sarah and Ralph Eckersley

In 1933, Jack got back on with the Company in Trail. He married Eva Spinks in 1935 and con- tinued to work at Trail until 1936 when an emergency in Kimberley brought him home to his mother. His father had gone downtown to get the evening paper and had not returned. One month later he was recognized by some Kimberley people when hunting in Alberta. He was walking along the highway near Brooks and had completely lost his memory.

In 1947 Mrs. Eckersley became ill and they moved to Vancouver. Ralph got work as a janitor in the Marine Building. He died suddenly in 1956. Mrs. Eckersly passed away in 1963. Jack worked underground as a "drill doctor" repairing drills and the machines that operate them.

Jack and Eva had two sons, Emerson and Jack Jr. Emerson joined the Navy for a time. He married Margaret Johanson and they have three children, Joanne, Marty and Leonard. Joanne married Gordon Vogel who works on heavy equipment for the Company at Elkford. Marty works for Dixie Lee in Kimberley, and Leonard works at the Fertilizer Plant where his father Emerson has worked since he came out of the Navy.

Jack Jr. is a millwright at the Concentrator. His wife Bette was an X-ray technician. They have a son Mike and a daughter Tanis.

Jack and Eva moved to Marysville in 1952 and Jack retired in 1969 due to ill health. Eva passed away in 1975. Jack still resides at his home in Marysville. He has been involved in community work for many years. He has been the President of the Ratepayers Association and he once ran for council but was defeated by only three votes. He has been a member of the Parks Board, has worked with the Boy Scouts and was the President of the Air Cadets for awhile. He has been a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge for over thirty-five years. He is a member of the Board of the Laura Keer Church in Marysville and when his health permits he enjoys visiting those shut- ins less fortunate than himself.

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