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Kimberley Families

The McLeish Family

as told by Lily

Peter McLeish came from Watford, Ontario, to Irvine, Alberta, where he worked on such projects as digging irrigation ditches and building railroad beds. These jobs were accomplished by horse power in those days, and Peter had about fifteen horses to manage. In 1913 he married Lily Hepper, whose family had moved into Alberta from Harvey, North Dakota, when she was ten years old. She was one of a family of ten children.

While they were in Irvine, two sons were born: Allen in 1915 and Roy in 1917. They had friends in Fort Steele, so in 1923 they moved there and Peter got work with a Mr. Drayton, who operated a hydraulic plant for extracting gold from Wild Horse Creek. By this time, nearly all the gold was gone and Peter again moved, this time to Kimberley in August of 1925 and went to work as a miner for the Company.

In October he was put on steady afternoon shift for a time, so during the morning hours he built a small house on Fourth Avenue on the Townsite. He stated at the time that there was no need to build anything big as it was only a mining town and they wouldn't be here long. There were others building at the same time in the immediate area. They were the Christie's, Mcpherson's, Keegan's and Pat Johnson. Mel O'Brien was his boss and Peter procured the lumber from the Company and it was paid for by monthly deductions from his salary. The family moved in to the small dwelling in December of 1925.

The only other buildings around were the cookhouse and bunkhouses and the first two short streets of houses on McDougall Townsite. Quite a piece away were the few homes of Nesbitts, Pearsons and Clarricoates. This area was referred to as Happy Valley.

Lily McLeish.

Lily has lived in this little house for over fifty years and she has watched the building of the entire area. She has seen the growth of McDougall Townsite, Ritchie Townsite and the Lois Creek Subdivision. She admired the beautiful McDougall Hall that was the center of social activities for many years and she felt a great loss when it was torn down. She watched the old hospital grow until it became obsolete and was replaced by the new one in 1960.

Lily recalls the early days when an open-air skating rink was nearby and they watched hockey games by standing on the piles of snow outside the fence. There were no benches to sit on. There was also a curling rink, and the Company barns were a short distance away where Mr. Amos was in charge of the horses and equipment. This property is now the Company Garage and equipment yard.

It was a long walk down town for groceries and as the area was expanding rapidly, a store was needed in the vicinity, so the McLeishes opened a small grocery store in their own home in 1945. Peter passed away in 1946 and Lily carried on the business until 1963.

Allen and Roy received all their schooling in Kimberley, until they attended U.B.C., coming home to work for the Company during vacations. Allen married Marie Sweeney and they have six children, four boys and two girls. Allen is a mining engineer and was property manager of a mine at Murdockville, Quebec, on the Gaspe Peninsula, and is now the property manager of Terria Mine in the N.W.T.

Roy married Mabel McKay, the daughter of Charles and Sadie McKay. Charlie was a plumber for the Company for many years. They have two sons. Roy worked for the Company and was mine foreman at the H.B. Mine at Salmo when he retired.

Five years ago Mrs. McLeish's sister, Mrs. Klepp, came to live with her after her husband passed away. They have two brothers, Emil and Henry Hepper, living in nearby Marysville.

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