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Kimberley Families

The Niven Family

as told by Bob J.

John (Jack) Niven was born in Nova Scotia. He and three of his brothers all trained to be machinists and came west to Lethbridge before World War 1 and opened up the Niven Bros. Machine Shop.

He married Hughena McLean and a son, Robert, was born and raised in Lethbridge and married Helen Miron whose father owned a butcher shop there. Robert became a machinist like his father.

John sold out his share in the Lethbridge machine shop and came to Kimberley in 1922 and began working in the Machine shop at the Mine. His son Robert tried working for the coal mine in Bankhead, Alberta for a short time, where a son Robert John (Bob J.) was born. When the boy was only fourteen months old, Robert came to Kimberley and worked in the Company garage on the Townsite from 1923 to 1928. The Company was doing a lot of exploration in the north around this time and needed experienced mechanics for the small aircraft they used, so Robert was sent to Hartfort, Connecticut, to study airplane mechanics and maintenance. He did a lot of flying in the northern part of the four western provinces and the territories when A. Archibald of Trail was the Superintendent of explorations, followed later by Bill Jewett. It was his job to fly in men and materials or fly them out as the case might be, and attend to the maintenance of the aircraft.

A second son, Lloyd and a daughter, Merle were born in The Pas, Manitoba. Bob, Lloyd and Merle received their education in Kimberley and Bob took an apprenticeship in automotive maintainence in the mine work shop where his grandfather John had worked. John passed away in 1945 and his wife, Hughena, in 1954.

While they were growing up, Bob remembers living in a two-story house near the Kavanaghs at the foot of the old hill down from Townsite.

Both Bob and his brother Lloyd were in the services. Bob was a mechanic in the Air Force stationed in Winnipeg from 1942 to 1946. Lloyd joined the Army and saw action in France and Germany. Bob married Annie Cameron whose father was Angus Cameron, a blacksmith at the Concentrator. Annie worked in the Mark Creek Store where her uncle, Bob Macleod was manager.

Bob worked as a machinist for a time and when the 3700 level haulage tunnel was being driven, he worked for Northern Construction.

Bob and Annie had two sons, Robert Angus and Brian. Young Bob is now an automotive mechanic at present working at the Texaco Service Station in Lower Blarchmont, making four generations of mechanically inclined Nivens that have worked in Kimberley. Brian is married and living in Calgary, working for Alberta Government Telephones.

Bob's brother Lloyd, is a millwright at the Concentrator. He married Jessie Munro, the daughter of Jock Munro. She trained as a nurse and worked in the Kimberley hospital. They have two children, David and Helen. David is married with two children and is living in Port Coquitlam where he is with the R.C.M.P. He is on special duty as a dog master, handling the trained dogs used on police work. Helen is married to Glynn Young who works at the Concentrator and they have two children.

Bob's sister Merle, worked for the Company in the generaloffice before her marriage to Jack Beaton, a pipe fitter for Stone and Webster when they were constructing the Fertilizer Plant. Jack passed away in 1963 and Merle is now working in Vancouver for Internal Revenue. They had one son Greg.

Bob was transferred from the Mine machine shop to the Fertilizer Plant in 1954. He is now General Maintainence foreman for the Fertilizer operations. He enjoys golf in summer and when asked about his retirement and does he plan to move elsewhere, the answer is "NO WAY"!

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