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Kimberley Families

The Walter MacKenzie Family
as told by daughter, Doris

Four generations of MacKenzies and MacDonalds were born in Rose Valley, Prince Edward Island. They were farmers. Walter MacKenzie and Catherine MacDonald were married and had five children before they came west to Kimberley in 1926: Ann, Doris, Duncan, Ian and Gordon. Catherine's brother Neil had come to Kimberley in 1925 to work at the construction of the Concentrator and this encouraged Walter to make the break from Prince Edward Island. They travelled out by train.

They rented a small house in town for less than a month, then bought one in Morrison Subdivision. Walter got work as a labourer at the Stemwinder Mine. He was there less than a year when he went to work at the Sullivan Mine.

In those days, everyone had to get their water from the creek, which was a fair walk from the house. Many families dug a shallow well near their back door, until two year old Ian fell in and drowned. Realizing the danger to other small children, people filled them in. The creek itself was danger enough in the spring and many children did fall in, but only one drowned.

Three more children were born to the MacKenzies in Kimberley: Ruth, Verna and John. John was the only one to be born in a hospital. When Ruth and Verna were born, Mrs. Gough was the mid-wife and Doris remembers the delicious doughboys she used to make. The kids all loved them.

During the hungry thirties, Walter had a large garden and lots of chickens, that had to be tended. The kids would gather armfuls of grass to feed to them. One man that lived near by had so many chickens, he was nicknamed "Chicken Bill" .

One incident that happened when Catherine took ill, was Walter's attempt to bake a batch of bread. The fire got low and the bread was slow to rise, so he set it on top of the stove to hurry it along and of course the bottom scorched. When Walter kneaded the bread into loaves, he mixed it all up and Doris and Gordon remember eating lumpy bread. Doris recalls her own first attempt to bake some bread. She had seen her mother put the yeast in the warming oven, but the fire was too hot and killed the yeast. The dough did not rise but she baked the bread anyway. The whole batch had to be buried, with orders from Walter "Not in my garden!"

Mr. and Mrs. Walter MacKenzie

Walter went to work underground and his job was a nipper, (carrying the steel drill rods to the drillers). During the war he was a guard at the Mine gateway and he retired in 1947. Catherine passed away in 1963 and Walter lived until 1976.

The children received all their schooling in Kimberley and Ann went to work at the Mark Creek Store, first in the candy department with Gus Nord and then in the dry goods with Dave McGregor. She married Stacey English, a diamond driller for the Company. They now reside at the Meadows, Fairmont Hot Springs. They have five children: Joan, now in Cochrane, Alberta, Alan, in Calgary, Vernon in Edmonton, Brian was killed at the Fertilizer Plant, and Brenda lives in Cranbrook.

Doris worked at the Townsite Cookhouse with Mark Beduz and at the Concentrator as a sampler during the war. She married Dick Molander, a shift boss, who has worked at both the Mine and the Iron Plant. He retired as Foreman of the outside crew at the Mine., They have three children: Cherylynn now in Nelson, Leiana and Larry both in Calgary.

Duncan was killed in the Mine when he was only nineteen. He was the third casualty in one week with Lenny Heistad and Oiva Saatela.

Gordon started with the Company at seventeen. His first job was on the junior bull gang cutting brush in 1943.He was at the Concentrator for a short time before going on heavy equipment, working on the back fill and later in the open pit. He was a driller and a miner underground for a few years and is now a shift boss. He married Connie Garneau and they have four children: Tami, Neil, Vicki and Darcy.

Ruth took a business course in Calgary and worked in the Associated Clinic there as a receptionist. She married John Alexander and they live in Port Coquitlam and they have four daughters. Verna trained as a nurse in Calgary and married a teacher, Henry Farynuk. They have two sons and a daughter and reside in Vernon.

John first started with the Company at the Mine and later at the Fertilizer. When shift work interfered with his love of curling, he changed to a steady day job working for the City Parks Board. He married Marilyn Kozak and they have one son, Paul.

Some of Doris' recollections of those early days were the rivalry that existed between the different sections of town. Morrison Subdivision was a separate entity and the kids from the Townsite and Town would often try to keep them from going into town. They had to "run the gauntlet" and fight their way through.

Many of the neighbors at that time were the Masich family, Leech, Kotush, Douglas, Conroy, Streich, Cond, Manarin, McLelland, Petrotti, Blackwell, Waldie, Vicker, Anderson, Shannon and McWhirter. On the other bench were the Pearson, Thorleifson, Delbert and Lundberg families.

They had no car in those days but occasionally the McKinnons from the Canadian Hotel or Charlie Bernard would treat the kids to a ride to St. Marys Lake or to the Herb McClure farm for a day's outing.

Several members of the family have belonged to the Knights of Pythias and the Pythian Sisters for many years.

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