The Lilley Family
as told by Rose
Ab Lilley was born in Belgonia, Saskatchewan. His parents came from England to homestead on the prairies. Ab came to Kimberley in 1918and first worked on the tipple that ran from the Top Mine to Mark Creek. He then went into the blacksmith shop.
In 1925he married Rose Slawter and they had two children, Ethel and Les.
In the late 1930's, Ab developed a very unusual throat problem that would not allow food to enter the stomach properly. He was sent to a specialist in Vancouver who would not attempt to operate and Ab came back home thinking all he could do was make the best of it. However, the Company Doctors made arrangements for Ab to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where he spent six months and underwent seventeen operations before the problem was corrected.
On his return he was advised not to go back to work in the shops so went to work in the Company gardens with Gus Nelson. Gus was nearing retirement and Ab took over. He expanded the gardens over the years and built all the original rock walls around the place.
Actually it was his wife, Rose, that got him started in gardening. They had a small greenhouse in their yard. She loved flowers and the very first dahlias were brought in from Spokane in her purse for her own garden.
It was under Ab's supervision that the gardens eventually became a real show place. Each year saw improvements and more visitors. Today it is still being improved and is now world famous. It is now under the supervision of Ted Duivenvoorden who took over after Ab retired in 1964. Ab died in 1973.
Their daughter, Ethel, trained as a nurse in St. Lukes Hospital, Spokane, and she now resides in Pasco, Washington. She married Frank Tolar and they have four children: Gary, Randy, Rich and Lori.
Their son, Les, married Carol Cotnoir whose father worked in the Mark Creek Store for many years. They have three children: Jay, Marc and a daughter, Robyn. Jay now works underground on trackless mining.
Les received his schooling in Kimberley to grade ten and began making a name for himself in hockey. He started with the midgets in Kimberley and in order to further his education, he attended Father Murray's Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Sask. while playing for their team, the Notre Dame Hounds, whose coach was Frank Germann. He returned to Kimberley and played one year for his home team, the Dynamiters. He went on to playa couple of years for the Montreal Canadians then spent a year in England playing for the Harringay Racers. From there he has played hockey for the Vancouver Canucks, and the Brandon Regals, where he won the title of Western Canadian Champion. He also played for the Buffalo Bisons, Saskatchewan Quakers, Spokane Flyers, Greensborough Generals and Long Island Ducks. He finally came back to Kimberley and again played for the Kimberley Dynamiters, and then was their coach for two years. He also coached a minor team.
He kept in shape in summer by playing and coaching senior baseball for ten years. He has been President of the Company Staff Union and a member of the Elks Club. He is now retired from hockey and curls in winter and golfs in summer. He works for the Company in the engineering office.
Les and Carol operated a greenhouse for five years at their home in Lower Blarchmont, but found it too demanding. Mrs. Lilley had sold them the big house after Ab passed away and she acquired a smaller one near by where she still resides. She keeps busy knitting and crocheting : for the members of her family.