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Kimberley Families

The Holland Family

as told by daughter, Isabel

Mr. John S. Holland (Jack) was born in East Baltic, Prince Edward Island, in 1882. He was the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Holland, pioneers of that area.

He left school in his early teens and crossed the border to work in the woods in Maine, return-ing home to operate his own saw mill for a time. In 1910, Jack came west with some harvesters and worked in the grain fields in Saskatchewan. He travelled further west that same year and arrived in Kimberley when it was just a mining camp. He got work in the rockhouse at the Top Mine where he stayed until 1912. That was the year the Company first used ore cars. In March Jack hauled the first train out through the nar-row winding 4600 level tunnel. Previous to that time there was no tunnel, the ore was hoisted through the old shaft in a little one-ton skip car shaped like a "V". The train consisted of four one-ton cars tied together with rope. Arriving at the bins the ropes were untied, the box )swung crossways to dump, and the ropes retied. After a few days, four two-ton cars with side doors and draw bars arrived. Only three could be used as there was a bad grade to climb coming out.

In the fall of 1912, Jack went back to P.E.I. but returned in 1913 and spent six months at the St. Eugene mine at Moyle. On his return to Kimberley he built his first home at the Top Mine. In November of 1916 he married Mary Isabel MacDonald of Priest Pond, P.E.I., whom he had known since childhood. She spent the last ten years in Boston. On their fiftieth wedding an-niversary, Billy Barr reminded them of his trip to Cranbrook with a horse and cutter to pick up the bride from Boston.

Mr. and Mrs. J. Holland in their first home at the Top Mine.

Three children were born in the St. Eugene hospital in Cranbrook while they lived at the Top Mine, as there was no hospital in Kimberley at that time. In 1921, Mary and the three children; Jack Jr., Isabel, and Frances spent six months in P.E.I. while Jack built a new house on Howard Street almost directly across from the Company Office.

Mr. Holland worked for the Company underground, as hoistman, then as a shift boss in the rock house and the Machine shop at the portal. He retired in 1948.

He was an active member of the Sacred Heart Parish, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and for several years he was on the school board. He was also Secretary of the Western Federation of Miners. His hobby was carpentry and he built a number of houses in the vicinity of his own home.

Jack was one of four brothers that came to Kimberley at about the same time; Pat, George and Charlie all worked in this area for awhile. Pat was a telegrapher in the Company office, George died of pneumonia in 1931, and Charlie went farming near Calgary.

Jack Jr. attended elementary school in Kimberley but went to Vancouver High School and studied geology at the University of Moscow, Idaho. As a geologist he did a great deal of travelling and once spent six months in the jungles of Brazil where they had to hack their way out. He married Pauline Bulkley of Boise, Idaho, and he continues to live in the States.

Isabel began working for the Bank of Montreal and she also spent six years in the Company library before her marriage to Art Jeffery. They had four children; Faith, Cavan, Patrick (Pat) and Paul. Art died very suddenly in 1971. Isabel went back to work at the Post Office. Faith married Gordon Mathews and now lives in the house her grandfather built in 1921. Cavan is with the R.C.M.P., presently stationed at Campbell River. Pat works in Cranbrook, and Paul graduated from high school in 1978.

Frances took a business course and worked in the Company office for six years or so and married Reider Sortome, who studied to be a dentist, practicing in Kimberley for eighteen years before moving to Vancouver. They have one daughter, Anita.

Isabel recalls many incidents that took place while she was growing up in Kimberley. She says the changes are hard to realize. Her father owned one of the first cars in town, purchased from Dezall's Garage in Cranbrook in 1919. He was only given a few minutes instructions on how to drive it and was taken around the block and shown the gear shifts. Then, by himself, he left for the Top Mine over the then very narrow winding road, twenty-two miles from Cranbrook. They once drove to Golden and, leaving the car there, they took the train to Calgary to attend the stampede. In those days, Calgary was little more than a cow town. She remembers the day-long trips to Fairmont Hot Springs four hours up and the same back if they were lucky enough not to be held up, fixing flat tires. (Now the trip takes less than an hour. )

She remembers Clarence Myrene and Mel O'Brien bringing them down from the Top Mine on a bob-sleigh in winter, then the long haul back up the hill. They purchased their first electric washing machine from Lloyd's Hardware when it first opened in the building where Woogmans now stands. Many other memories come to mind too numerous to mention.

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