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Kimberley Families

The McWhirter Family

as told by Otis

Mr. McWhirter is a young-looking man of eighty-five and has been retired from the Company for over twenty years. He was born in New Richmond, Quebec, the youngest of nine boys. His mother died when he was just three, and his father married again and they had two boys and two girls.

Mrs. McWhirter comes from Black Capes, Quebec, near New Richmond, and was one of seven girls. There was also one boy in the family.

Otis' father was a veterinarian and he tells of literally being brought up under horses hooves. He claims his father could handle even the wildest of western broncos. He lived to within two months of his flinty-ninth birthday.

Otis McWhirter also has a certificate from the Veterinarian Assoication, which, sixty years ago, would have qualified him to practice.

Like most young men, he tried all sorts of jobs; in saw-mills, on farms, and learned the mine drilling technique, just by watching, then getting in and doing the job. He worked for the MacIntyre Company and recalls being at the Orlando Mine in Quebec when it was only ten feet deep.

Messrs. Blaylock, Lindsay and Montgomery all came from Quebec and Otis knew Ed Montgomery personally. On a holiday trip west, he got talking to Mr. Montgomery, who told him about the hard rock mining at Kimberley and how difficult it was to drill. Mr. McWhirter told him he could drill any type of rock. After he returned home, he received a wire from Mr. Montgomery, telling him there was a job at the Sullivan mine for a good driller.

Otis McWhirter.

On his visit west, he had been impressed with the country, so he accepted the offer. This was in 1925. He was employed by the T. Connors Diamond Drilling Company. His first four years took him not only to Kimberley but to the Yukon and also Benson Lake on the Island.

Returning to Quebec for a visit in 1929, he married a girl whom he had known for years. He remembers paying $90 for his return ticket on the train.

They purchased property in Morrison Subdivision and cleared the land. They lived there for sixteen years, but it entailed a good walk to town for groceries, so they bought the Holt place on Wallinger Avenue, near the center of town. Mrs. McWhirter ran a boarding house there for twenty-five years, until 1971.

The railway from the Mine to the Concentrator ran through town before the ore-haulage tunnel was built. There were sixteen trips a day, right past the house, but as Mrs. McWhirter says, "You get use to it after awhile". When the 3700 haulage tunnel was put into use, the trains quit running through and the tracks were removed.

Around 1945, they obtained property at Wasa Lake where a few summer cottages were built. In recent years it has become a beautiful retirement place, although many people live there that still work in Kimberley, seventeen miles to the west. There is a regular town there now. This is where Mr. and Mrs. McWhirter retired six years ago. Mr. McWhirter has been retired from the Company for over twenty years. They enlarged the little sunmer cottage and have a comfortable home with a beautiful view of the lake and mountains.

They raised three boys; Donald is in Renton, Washington, a designer for Boeing Air Craft, and has worked on such projects as space vehicles; Bill studied to be a mechanical engineer, but joined the R.C.M.P. and is a Sergeant in Richmond, B.C.; Barrie is in Ottawa, working with radar and computer equipment. There are eight grandchildren.

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