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Kimberley Families

The Henderson Family
as told by daughter Netta

Neil Henderson was born in Kilmun Village, Scotland, in 1884. He came from a farm in that area and his first trip to Canada was to South Saskatchewan in 1913.He was in charge of a load of horses being imported for breeding purposes. He liked the country and decided to stay. However, before he could do this, the war broke out and he returned to his native land and served in the armed forces for the next four years. In 1919, under the Soldiers Settlement Agreement, he obtained land in the QU' Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan, near Swift Current.

Mrs. Henderson was born in Shotts, Scotland, and they had one daughter, Janet (Netta) McLaren Henderson. Netta was 6 years old when the family set sail for Canada in the troop ship "Matagama". The women and children were alloted bunks on the deck level, but the men had to sleep in bunks in the hold and had to wade through water to reach them.

They didn't stay on the land very long as the market for wheat dropped drastically in 1920,so Mr. Henderson began looking elsewhere for a job. He was heading for Lethbridge, having accepted a position of Irrigation Inspector when the floods that spring washed out all the irrigation ditches.

The coal mines at Michel were operating, so he got a job there. Never having worked in a mine, he was put in charge of the.horses that pulled the mine cars. But the strike 1n~ put him out of work again.

Mrs. Henderson's brother, Jock McLaren, who came to Canada shortly after they had, was also in Michel. Neil played the bagpipes and he was invited to play at a Caledonian Society event in Trail. He worked there for a while, then came back to Michel. He heard of work in Kimberley, so Mr. Henderson arranged to rent a house and take his family there. However, by the time he could get transportation for his furniture, the house had been rented to someone else and they ended up staying for a few days in rooms above the L. D. Cafe.

All they could find to live in was a two-roomed log cabin near the creek, somewhere behind the Mark Creek Store. The shortage of houses was so acute at that time they were only allowed one room while another family, the Roycrofts, rented the other. All their furniture was crowded in to this small space with barely room to move around in. On top of this, Jock McLaren could not find quarters, so for a few months the bed did double time.

Mr. and Mrs. Neil Henderson and Netta.

The long daily walk from town to the Concentrator where he worked, soon prompted Mr. Henderson to purchase property in Chapman Camp. Then with the help of Jack Hargreaves, they put up the frame work of a small 3-room dwelling, that he could finish as quickly as possible. They moved in by putting the bed in the kitchen while only the sheeting was on the roof and prayed that it wouldn't rain until they could do the shingling. The furniture was stacked under some trees in the yard, with only a tarp for protection. They enlarged the house later.

There was no school in Chapman Camp as yet, so Netta remembers the long walks up the tracks to the Central School where Watkins School was finally built. She was in grade seven by this time and Miss Bertha Shields was her teacher, and the next year, Joe Morsh, the Principal, was her teacher.

In those days, it was only necessary to attend three years of high school to matriculate and as she planned to be a teacher, she attended one year at V.B.C. before attending Normal School in Victoria. The year she graduated from Normal, there was one hundred and twenty young teachers looking for jobs. Only five got jobs and Netta wasn't one of them.

She went back to work in Wallace's Bakery, wrapping bread, but she did manage to do some substitute teaching in both Kimberley and Marysville. The next year, she began teaching in the Marysville School. This was the one-room school that is now the little Catholic Church. There were eight grades and thirty-two pupils that first year.

She continued to live at home in Chapman Camp and as there were no busses that ran that early in the morning, she had to walk to and from school. She taught there for four years. She would get up in the morning with her father who had to be at work at seven and Netta started out at the same time, walking down the track sometimes and down the road other times, winter and summer. She only missed one day, due to weather conditions. One winter it started snowing on Friday and kept it up all day Saturday and Sunday. By Monday morning, when Netta started out for Marysville, the snow was waist deep but she thought the traffic on the road would leave ruts she could walk in. By the time she got to Black Bear Bridge, there had been no traffic at all so she went home and phoned the school. They had not expected her! She remembers how good the Marysville ladies were, often calling her in for a cup of tea before the long walk back to Chapman Camp. Sometimes it was Mrs. Hodgson or Mrs. Wolstenholme or Mrs. Waites.

The Christmas concerts in the school were always the highlight of the year and much work and effort by teacher and pupils went into making them a success. Netta recalls getting a stage of sorts set up by borrowing horse blankets to make curtains, along with the pungent odor that accompanied them.

At least in winter she didn't have to come into a cold building. Mrs. Wolstenholme did the janitor work and she would also get up with her husband when he went to work and get to the school to light the heaters. After three years of walking back and forth, Netta was almost old enough to get a driver's licence to drive her Dad's car, but you had to be twenty-one in those days. She would not be twenty-one until the second day of the twelfth month, but when applying for her licence, the officer got mixed up and said it was the twelfth of the second month, which made her almost a year older than she was.

Driving the car made it easier until winter came. In those days there was no such thing as anti-freeze. If it was below freezing, you drained the radiator then filled it with hot water to help heat the motor. There were no winter tires, so if there had been a heavy snow fall, you had to get out and put on chains which usually had one broken strand that clanked against the fenders, making a frightful racket. The faster you traveled, the more noise the chains made. There were no heaters in cars then either, and being a touring car, only leather curtains to keep the wind out.

Netta then got a position in the Chapman Camp school where she taught for four years. In 1941, she married Jack Bridge, who came to work in Kimberley from Vancouver in 1934, where he was born and raised. They have one son, Neil, now married, with two children and living in Prince George.

During the war years when there was shortage of teachers, Netta went back to school for a period and finally retired after 33Y2 years in the teaching profession.

Jack and Netta lived in the house her father built. They also have a summer home on Kootenay Lake near the Harrop Ferry, sixteen miles from Nelson. Jack retired in 1976. They enjoy gardening and travelling, having just recently returned from her first visit back to Scotland where she and her parents came from.

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