The Leith Family
as told by John and Jessie
David Leith, Senior, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and came to Cranbrook in 1906. One other lad came at the same time, Charlie Draper. Both boys were machinists and David started work in the Hansen Garage, then for the C.P.R. in Cranbrook.
In 1914 he returned to Scotland to serve in the war effort and spent the next five years in a munitions factory making torpedoes.
During this time, he married Jessie Cumming of Glasgow, and in 1917, a son John, was born in Greenock. In 1920he brought his family back to B.C. and obtained work with the Otis Staples Lumber Co. at Wycliffe. While he was working there, three more children were born: David Jr., a daughter, Alice and James.
One day the family went picking huckleberries in the Perry Creek area and Alice got lost. She was gone all night and the Lumber Mill was closed down while every man went looking for her. She had somehow crossed the creek where no one had thought to look. Next morning she was found sleeping under a tree.
The family moved back to Cranbrook for one year in 1923where David worked in Ratcliffe and Stuarts garage. In the spring of 1924, he started work for the Company in the Mine Shop.
Their first home was a little house on Spokane Street, next door to the Soderholms. John remembers the barn with Mr. Soderholm's horses and cows and chickens. It was actually a small farm on the edge of town.
Two more children were born here, Bill and Jessie. John recalls attending school upstairs in Summers Hall for one term, while the second addition was being built to the Central School. J essie remembers the old Chinese laundry on the corner of their block which became a cafe and later, when it was torn down, the beautiful new brick Orpheum Theatre. This site is now occupied by the Bank of Montreal.
Their summers were spent at St. Marys Lake, first with the Dicksons at their camp. Mr. Leith later built his own cabin on the east side of the lake. John also has a cottage where he spends his summers.
John started work with the Company in 1933, and with the exception of one year at Trail, and three years in the Air Force, has spent his working time in the same Machine Shop in which his father worked at Kimberley, becoming the maintenance foreman there. He recently retired after forty-three years with the Company.
John married Isobel Bates, the daughter of another well-known family in Kimberley. They have two daughters, Shirley is Mrs. Robert Neil and lives in Nelson. She is a teacher and her husband works for the Fish and Wildlife Department. Joanie worked for the Credit Union for several years. She is now a social worker in Goosebay, Labrador. Isobel passed away in 1971. John's brother, David, was killed in an air crash in Cranbrook when he was 28 years old.
Alice is married to Mike O'Neill and lives in Smithers, B.C. She is the mother of two step children and they have three of their own.
Jim is a Chemical Engineer with Crown Zellerbach in Portland, Oregon.
Brother Bill took his doctorate at McGill University in Toronto and has done a great deal of travelling to different parts of the world. Now he works for the Company in Trail and has four children.
Jessie became a teacher, attending Normal School in Victoria, and her first school was at Sheep Creek. She started teaching in Marysville in September, 1949. The new school was not yet completed, so her class was held in Bird's Hall, now the empty lot between Uncle Bim's Furniture Store and the Bank. In February of 1950 they moved into the new school.
Jessie married Fred Jensen of TaTa Creek and they have three children. Louise works in a bank in Kamloops, Bill is a driller's helper for the Company and Robert is still attending school. They make their home in Marysville.
When Jessie went back to teaching, Fred's mother, Paula Jensen, came to live with them to take care of the youngest child. She still resides there and although almost ninety years old is still a very active person. She is a member of the Senior Citizens and seldom misses a meeting or a bus trip. She is the oldest woman in the East Kootenay Historical Association.
Jessie is still teaching part time in Marysville.