Banner Ad




Kimberley Families

The McNicholas Family

as told by daughter Joyce

James Michael McNicholas was born on September 30, 1883, in Patrington, Yorkshire, England. He went to school there and then worked on a farm until he sailed for Canada in 1906.

The same year he went to Fernie and joined the Fernie fire department. He was with the fire department when the disastrous fire of 1908 destroyed most of Fernie.

He married Isobel Hamilton of Fernie and they had two children: a son, Eddie, and a daughter, Dorothy (Doris). Mrs. Isobel McNicholas died in 1916.

Mr. McNicholas made several trips back to England and on one of them married Mary Murray of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1920. Later, Mr. and Mrs. McNicholas, Doris and Eddie, and their new daughter, Joyce, moved to Kimberley. Mrs. McNicholas had some difficulty adapting herself to a small house and, of all things, an outside privy. She scrubbed and cleaned the house for a week before she was satisfied it was fit to live in. She was also quite deflated in having to lift the lid of the wood-burning stove. This reminded her of the difference to the fireplace in her home in England.

Jim started with the Company in Kimberley in 1926. He had worked with the Fernie Fire Department for seventeen years and was a "natural" to take over the Mine Fire Department. In the early days before Kimberley was incorporated, the Mine Fire Department was also responsible for the fire protection of the town of Kimberley.

During his twenty-two years as Fire Chief in Kimberley, nobody can remember a fire without Jim "McNick" being there. During the day, or in the dead of night, when the fire horn blew, the fire truck would hammer up the road from the Mine to Jim's apartment on the Townsite. He would be waiting, probably still buttoning up his coat and with his omnipresent lighted cigar, ready to swing up into his seat with the driver. One of Jim's fastest drivers was Charlie Garossino, and in his humorous way, Jim had to remind him that while speed was important, it was more important to get there. "Slow down, Charlie", he used to say, "Any fire that's worth anything will still be burning when we get there".

Jim's work and responsibility as Fire Chief pretty well kept him on a twenty-four hour call but he usually found some time for lawn bowling and curling. Jim had served in France during World War I with the 2nd. C.M.R. Regiment, and while in Kimberley was an active member of Canadian Legion Branch No. 67.

Jim retired in 1948, and he and Mrs. McNicholas moved to the Grandview district in Vancouver. Mrs. McNicholas passed away in 1961 and Jim in 1965.

Eddie was born in Sunderland, England, and came with his parents to Kimberley in 1926. At age sixteen he worked for Wallace the "Baker" for a short time. He then joined the Mark Creek Store, and later opted to stay with the Company when the "Bay" took over. He worked for the Company in Tulsequah, Yellowknife, and Trail. Eddie enlisted in Kimberley when World War II broke out on September 12, 1939 and served overseas with the 108th Anti-Tank Battery until 1945.

Eddie was gifted with a fine baritone voice and sang in the Orpheus Choir, Choral and Operatic Society, East Kootenay Musical Festivals and the United Church Choir. He married Annaliese Friz in 1965 and they had one son, Jimmy. Eddie took his pension in 1976 and retired at Fruitvale, B.C. He died in 1978 after a short illness.

Doris was born in Fernie and also came to Kimberley with her parents. She graduated from Kimberley High School and was active in the United Church in the Junior Choir and later as a Sunday School teacher. She married John Dicken in Medicine Hat in 1935, and they have one son, Jack. John worked in the Mine, he played baseball and in 1931 played hockey with the Kimberley Dynamiters. The family moved to White Rock in 1948 where they now reside.

Joyce was born in Sunderland, England, but received all her schooling in Kimberley. She attended Herb Stanton's gym classes at McDougall Hall for many years, and also played basketball and badminton there. She was active in the United Church, and was a member of the C.G.I.T., a Sunday School Teacher, and sang in the Choir.

She attended the Provincial Normal School for teacher training and taught schools at Springbrook, Wycliffe, Wardner and Cranbrook. In 1948 Joyce went to U.B.C. and received her B.A. degree in 1950. She joined the Sperry Univac Corporation and worked in the computer marketing department for twenty-seven years. Joyce remained single and lives in Vancouver.

James McNicholas, Fire Chief of Kimberley.

Twitter Facebook Google+


Banner Ad