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Kimberley Families

The Lukas Family

as told by John

John Lukas was born in Fernie in 1907. His father was a coal miner at Coal creek. Although he was too young to remember the Fernie fire of 1908 that completely destroyed the town, he was told that he and his mother were evacuated to Cranbrook in a C.P.R. box car.

John grew up in Fernie and received his education right through high school there. In 1926, he got a summer job helping to take up the Great Northern Railway tracks at Hosmer. This was heavy manual labour, so he decided that was not for him. His parents managed to send him to Normal School in Victoria. That first summer following Normal, he sent out fifty applications to school boards all over the province. Teaching positions were hard to get. He taught at Alice Siding for three years and one year at Yahk. About this time the saw mill at Yahk was moved to Canal Flats. This prompted him to look for a more challenging position. By mid August, he was in doubt if he could find a new school, when Mr. V. Z. Manning, the school inspector, told him of the need in Kimberley. That was the summer of 1931 and he reluctantly accepted, thinking one year and he would move on.

However, he soon became interested and involved in sports and community affairs. He played baseball and basketball and once considered making baseball his career but a knee injury put an end to that idea.

John Lukas

He became active on the executive of the Kimberley Amateur Athletic Association, which included all sports. He coached several teams in basketball, although hockey was his main interest.

In the mean time, he studied. In order to obtain his B.A. he took correspondence courses all winter and attended summer school during vacations for a number of years.

When the Community Chest was first organized in 1946, he was one of the directors and served a term as president. He has remained on the executive since that time. It was changed to the United Way a few years ago, but he is still involved. John was also an alderman on the City Council for two years of 1967 and 1968. He was one of the original directors of Minor Hockey from 1933 to 1977, and served as Secretary-Treasurer for over thirty-six years.

Mr. Harold Stafford was the Principal of the Kimberley school until he moved up to School Inspector in 1938. Mr. Frank Levirs became principal and John was promoted to Vice-Principal. In those days, a principal was responsible for all elementary schools in the area, this included Marysville, Central, Blarchmont and Chapman Camp. In 1949, growth in school attendance necessitated some changes and each school had its own principal. John then became the Principal of Watkins Elementary (formerly Central), where he remained until his retirement in 1972.

John married Margaret Honeyman in 1936. They have one daughter who also became a teacher. She is now Mrs. Gary Vause, living in Calgary and they have two sons.

Although John was not impressed with Kimberley when he first came, he has grown to love the place, perhaps because of his many years of total involvement with its growth. On July 1st of 1967, he was awarded a Centennial Medal by the Secretary of the State of the Dominion of Canada for outstanding service to the Nation. In 1972, he was named Citizen of the Year for Kimberley. He has been presented with a plaque commemorating twenty-five years of sevice to the Community Chest. In 1959 he was the recipient of the Diamond Stick, awarded to him for his work with Minor Hockey by the B.C.A.H.A.

John started a hobby of collecting labeled beer bottles in 1954 and now has over seven hundred plus other memorabilia in his den which is a bottle collectors dream. Some of his other hobbies are golfing and curling.

All in all, John has given much time and talent to the development and growth of the children of Kimberley, not only in school but in sports and affairs of all natures. Since his retirement he has remained active in Community work. His wife Margaret is also an ardent Com- munity worker.

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