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Kimberley Families

The Houle Family

as told by Wilfred

Euclid (Ed) Houle was born in Three Rivers, Quebec, in 1875. He was a river driver and an ax-man. He came west when he was still a young man. He met a young waitress working in the cookhouse at Wattsburg (Lumberton), and Maude Tams and Ed Houle were married at Port Hill in 1906. Ed went into the logging business for awhile and when Wilfred was born, his mother was staying with her sister, Rose, in Spokane. Wilf was born in a nursing home that is still operating in that City. A few years ago, he was able to obtain his proof of birth date from their records.

The family left Port Hill in 1909, and Ed started working at the Mine in Moyie along side another chap named S. G. Blaylock. A daughter, Alma, was born while they lived in Moyle. Ed started working at the Top Mine in Kimberley in 1911 as a timberman. They lived in a small log cabin there until 1914. A daughter, Lena, was born while they lived there and Thelma, Leon and Louis were all born in Kimberley. Wilf remembers walking from the Top Mine into town to attend school. His first teacher was Miss Kennedy who later married Bill Lindsay.

In the spring of 1914, Ed Houle bought property at Meadowbrook. Only two other families lived in that area at the time; the Flemings and the Connivers.Wilf rode a horse to school in town. A year later, a one room log school was built in Meadowbrook, and Miss Newman was the first teacher.

Ed Houle was timber boss for the Company when the sites for the Concentrator and the McDougall Townsite were being cleared. They moved off the property at Meadowbrook into a log shack just back of the Company barn on the Townsite where he was closer to his work.

Will started working for the Company in the summer of 1920, at a small sawmill across Mark Creek from the Power House just below the Por-tal. Two of his work mates were Frank and John McMahon. They loaded lumber on a push car that was horse drawn. It had no brakes for the down hill grade so they used a two by four on the wheel for a brake. Wilf made $5,85 a shift. He had so much money he didn't know what to do with it, as there was no place to spend it.

Wilfred Houle, Townsite Cookhouse.

He waited on tables at the Townsite Cookhouse with six girls. Wilf remembers the two MacLeod girls, Gerry and Lil and Jennie Shea. A girl called Jennie Yerbury got his job. She later married Pat Holland. Wilf helped Charlie Cook and Sam Baxter and, by 1923, he was cooking in a logging camp by himself. In 1924, he was cooking for sixteen men, who were diamond drilling up the mountain behind the Top Mine. He also helped the drillers. For a few years Wilf went diamond drilling and working up north at Stewart, B.C.

In 1926, Wilf married Annie McRobb, a waitress at the Top Mine cookhouse. Her folks had come out to Nelson from Scotland in 1908.

Wilf's sister, Alma, married Joe DeBriske and moved to Trail. Lena became Mrs. Carl Moore and now resides near Nelson. Thelma married Eric Patterson, a bus driver. Leon now lives in Penticton and Louis lived in Vancouver until his death.

Wilfred and Annie rented a place at Meadow-brook, but lost everything when it burned in December of 1926. They rented another small place from a Mr. Canfield.

They have two daughters, Helen and Winnie. Helen married Ted Smith, a policeman in Kimberley and he is now a Government Liquor Inspector living at Union Bay, Vancouver Island. They have a son, Ronald, and a daughter, Gail.

Winnie married Neil McClenagahan, a Nelson hockey player who worked at the Bonnington Dam. They have four children, three boys and a girl, and they live in Nelson.

During the depression, when the company put the men on half time rather than lay some off and keep others, Wilf decided to improve the Meadowbrook property by fencing eighty acres of land, and start a dairy. A good milk cow could be bought for $55.00 and hay was about $14.00 a ton. This developed into a very good business, but a very demanding one for Annie and their two daughters. They milked from twenty to thirty cows, twice a day by hand, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and delivered about four hundred quarts of milk every day for ten cents a quart. Their slogan was: "you can whip our cream, but you can't beat our milk". They sold the business in 1946 and moved to Canyon in the Creston area where they again started a dairy. They sold out in 1966 and retired. They live in the Erickson Antique Trailer Court, where they spend very little time, as they love to travel. They often return to Kimberley to visit with friends.

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