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Kimberley Families

The John Morrison Family
as told by sons, Don and Jack

John Morrison came to Canada from Invernesshire, Scotland, in 1898. A blacksmith by trade, he began working in lumber camps, first in Manitoba and then at Dore, B.C., near Newgate. He returned to Scotland in 1905 and married Georgina Morrison, (same name, but no relation) also of Invernesshire. He came back and worked at Dore where Georgina joined him a year later. In 1908, a son, Donald, was born in Cranbrook. The next five years were spent in Calgary where several of Georgina's family had come to live, at the turn of the century. They delivered coal in the city. A daughter, Florence was born there.

In 1913, John got work as the blacksmith for Taylors Mill in Kimberley. He purchased a quarter section of land in the little valley that Kimberley Creek flows through, and built a log cabin. In 1915, when the main tunnel to the Mine was opened, be obtained work there. In 1923 he built a frame house on the property. They called the homestead, Sunny Grove. They kept 2 cows' and a horse called Nellie that town kids loved to ride.

In 1926, Mr. Morrison sub-divided his land and sold lots. The Henry Pearson family was the first to buy and build. Some other families that bought lots at that time were: Walter England, Alen Rae, The Blackwells, Harry Radke, Charlie Carlson, Jim Douglas, Vic Cond, Bert Johnson, Jim Robinson, Harry and Ira Taite, Bert John- son, Walter Woolsey, Gus Masi, John Masich, John McKenzie, George Leech and Wallace Hall. This part of Kimberley is still referred to as Morrison Subdivision.

Three more children were born in Kimberley: Margaret, Iris and Jack, as well as an infant that died in 1927.

Don Morrison

Georgina's brother, Charlie, owned the first furniture store in Kimberley, and operated it for many years. He lived until 1978 and passed away in Calgary, the last of 17 children. His wife predeceased him in 1972. They had four children: Melba, Ken, Beth and Georgina. Melba and Beth have passed away.

Don and Jack have many memories of grow- ing up in Kimberley. Don, being the eldest, recalls, there weren't many children of school age in 1913, and Miss Kennedy, the teacher, had to have a certain number of pupils in order to keep the school open, so she recruited a couple of five year olds to make up the quota. Don was one of them, but being a bit younger, he didn't realize the importance of education at that age and would often play hooky in the afternoon by hiding under one of the many small bridges that spanned the creek. He recalls the Handleys and the Mellors from Marysville, moving to Kimberley in 1916. Mellors opened a dry goods store and Paul Handley started up a livery stable that later became the first picture show. The first theatre in Kimberley was built by a Mr. Johnson from Fernie and Tom Bailey was the projectionist. Don took two years apprenticeship with him to learn to be a projectionist, but found that working late every evening, after all day in the steel shop at the Mine, too confining. He was missing out on dates with girls, so he gave it up.

His memory of the big fire of 1919, was how worried his mother was about losing her brand new sewing machine. A deep pit was dug in the yard and the precious machine along with other valuables, were buried while they went to stay with the Foster family that owned a farm on St. Marys Prairie. They took their horse and democrat and two cows along with them.

During the long winter of the strike of 1919- 1920, Mr. Morrison and another blacksmith, Jock Ferguson, cut firewood along the McGinty Trail. Young Don had a bob-sled and with the horse named Nellie, he hauled the wood into town and sold it at $5.00 a cord.

During the building of the trestle that joins the Mine to the Concentrator, Don was the water boy. With two beer kegs fastened to a pack- saddle on the horse. He was paid $1.00 a day, but Nellie got $2.00!

As young men often do, they move around a lot, trying out different phases of life, and Don was the same. He tried harvesting on the prairies one summer; tried washing dishes in the Townsite cookhouse, and even cooked for awhile. He worked in the assay office at the Concen- trator for fwo years and spent some time up north at Great Bear Lake, sharpening hand steel with another young fellow, Warren Keer, finally he came back to Kimberley to settle down, in 1934, the year his father died. He worked in the Mine steel shop, both underground and in the surface shops and was with the Company for a total of forty-three years.

Don was a member of the junior hockey team In 1925, sponsored by the Elks Club. The coach was Charles Gough, and the players were school mates. The team was made up of: Earl Mellor, G. Handley, J. Morton, A. Gough, Tommy Summers, T. Mason, Sterbo and Don. Mason and Sterbo were just out of school, one was working as a delivery boy for Burns' Meat Market and the other worked in Kapern's Butcher Shop. They played competition hockey with Cranbrook and Fernie teams, and they once travelled to Portland, Oregon, where they had their first ex- perience on artificial ice. The rinks at that time in Kimberley, were all open air, not even a roof. The first arena was built in 1931 by an enter- prising group that sold stocks to the townspeople to raise the money. Many folks, including Don, hold those worthless stocks today, as the rink didn't pay enough to make them worthwhile. That rink has now been torn down and Centennial House was built on the site.

The Kimberley Credit Union was begun in 1944, and Don became a member in 1950. He has been an active member of the Governing Board for the past twenty years.

In 1926, a curling club was formed with two sheets of ice on the McDougall Townsite, later there were five. All the labor was volunteer, no wages were paid, but one of the bosses liked to curl, so he would get Don and Ab Lilley to flood the ice by letting them do it on Company time, so it would be frozen after work. Don has been a member of the Curling Club for over forty years.

Don married Dolly Grant, who was born in Cranbrook and came to Kimberley to work for Mrs. Caldwell, who ran a dress shop. They have two daughters, Donna, now in Prince George and Sandra in Toronto. Don is retired now and he and Dolly are living in the North Star Apartment. They are very comfortable and have no inten- tions of ever moving anywhere else.

Florence married Johnny McGillvray, a Company electrician at the Mine. He was transferred to Riondel in 1948 where the family lived for many years. Johnny retired in 1965 and he and Florence moved to Edmonton. They had four children, Myra, Alleyne, Isabel and a son John. Myra married Bill Faurquar, a millwright at the Concentrator and she still resides in Kimberley. Alleyne, Isabel and John Jr. live in Edmon ton. Johnny was very active in First Aid for many years. He passed away a few years ago.

Margaret trained as a nurse in Calgary and worked in the Kimberley hospital for a time. she married Gordon Wilson, a hockey player for the Dynamiters and an electrician for the Company. They had two daughters, Eleanor and Brenda. Margaret and Gordon retired to Victoria in 1976.

Iris married Bill Neeve and they had four children: Ron, Fred, Marnie, and George. Ron and Fred are both in the Permanent Army, stationed on Vancouver Island. Marnie married Johnny Dean, and George is an R.C.M.P. stationed in Manitoba. After Bill died, Iris married Lovell Scott and they still reside in Kimberley.

Jack was a pal of Charlie Lee, whose parents owned the Ritz Cafe, where Jack first worked. He helped peddle milk for Pighins Dairy. Jack spent four years in the Navy in the Shipwright Branch. He met a WREN, Jean Reid, while sta- tioned at Prince Rupert and they were married in Halifax in 1945. Jack works in the steel shop at the Mine. They have two sons: Jack Jr. is now a teacher at McKenzie, B.C. and Barrie, who at- tended the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and received a degree in Outdoor Recreation. He worked at Manning Park for awhile, but is now in Calgary as Outdoor Recreation Director.

Jack was baptised in the Methodist Church the day it was dedicated in 1922. It became the United Church in 1925. He recalls his first Sunday School teacher, Cathrine Garbutt. Jack is on the Board of Trustees for the United Church and Jean is an elder. They have a summer home at Was a Lake and Jack likes to ski. They still reside in the family home that was built in 1923. in Morrison Sub.

John Morrison quit work due to ill health and passed away in 1934. Georgina lived until 1971 and became a familiar figure as she walked dai- ly from her home in Morrison Sub, into town. She became known to all as "Grannie". She was a widow for almost forty years.

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