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Kimberley Families

The Leech Family
as told by Lelah

George Smith Leech was born in Cumberland, Whitehaven, England in 1895. He had completed a seven-year apprenticeship as a blacksmith before he came to Canada. He knew people in Michel and came there in 1922 and they advised him to try for work at Kimberley. He got a job in the Blacksmith shop at the Mine and stayed in the Townsite bunkhouse and ate his meals at the cookhouse where Mark Beduz worked.

Lelah Doige was born in Plymouth, Devonshire, England. During the 1914-1918 war, Lelah's mother was involved in volunteer work, caring for wounded soldiers, that kept her away from home a lot, leaving Lelah alone. Lelah was just a teenager at the time so she would spend hours knitting for the Red Cross, often working well into the night, with very poor lighting. As a result she almost went blind. In 1926, a Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bray of Kimberley were visiting in England and offered to look after her if she returned to Canada with them. Her sight was still very bad and her doctor felt a change of climate might help. Today at seventy-six she doesn't even wear glasses except to read.

Lelah and George Leech were married in 1927. Their first home was a log cabin in Morrison subdivision, built by Charles Carlson. George built a small house on the property, and as his family grew, he tore that one down and built a larger one. They raised five children there: Shirley, Beverley, Warren, Myrna and Sheila. They lived on that property for over forty years.

When their only son, Warren, was ten years old, he got rheumatic fever and again at twelve. In order to help out the finances, Lelah went to work cooking in the Yale Cafe. Young Bev helped out by dropping in after school to wash dishes. George continued to work at the Blacksmith shop and he also owned a sawing machine and cut and sold cord wood during the lean years.

Shirley married Eddie Pearson, son of Alex Pearson, and they have three children: Deanna, Jim and Tanis. Eddie works for the Company at the Fertilizer plant where his son Jim also works. Jim married Colleen Verdiel, a school teacher from Victoria, who came to teach in Marysville.

Lelah and George Leech

Beverley trained as a nurse in St. Joseph's Hospital in Victoria. She specialized in pediatrics for three years before returning to Kimberley to work in the local hospital. She then went to work in the Fernie Hospital for four years. She married Harry Corrigan. It was discovered that Harry's mother and Bev's father, George Leech, grew up on the same street in Cumberland. When Harry went to work at Bralorne, Bev spent three years working in the hospital there. In 1966they moved to Kimberley and Bev went back working at the hospital part time. Harry is an operator at the Concentrator. They have two children: Tracy and Michael. Tracy is taking a course in practical nursing in Cranbrook and she has one son, Danny. Michael will graduate in 1979.

Warren married Louise King from Crawford Bay, and they have six children: Evelyn, Tonya, David, Heather, Lisa and Wade. Warren began working for the Company as an underground first aid attendant. Recently they moved to the coast. Myrna married Robert Wood whose folks lived at Meadowbrook. Robert works for the Kaiser Coal Company and they reside in Sparwood. The have three children: Garth, Kara and Craig. Sheila married David Glover of Fernie. David is a millwright for the lumber company at Elko. They have two children: Debbie and Shane.

George passed away in 1970 and Lelah sold the property in Morrison Subdivison and moved to the Kimbrook apartments for a short time. For the past few years she has lived in the Senior Citizens' Villa in Sparwood, where she is close to Myrna. She still likes Kimberley and often comes back and stays in Marysville with her daughter Bev. so she can spend time with her grandchildren and visit her many friends.

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