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Kimberley Families

The Norton Family

as told by May

Stanley (Stan) Norton was born at sea, of Scottish parents. His father was the Captain of a Clipper ship. Stan was twelve years old before he lived on land to attend boarding school.

His elder brother, Clarence Norton, was with Col. Steele in the early days and saw action in the Boer War. One sister lived on a huge ranch in Argentina, where Stan spent a year.

He came to Fernie in 1911. He was an accountant by trade and was also the Magistrate there until 1914 when he entered the service and went back to England with a Canadian regiment for four years. He was Secretary to General MacDonnell.

May Medhurst was a true Cockney, born in the centre of London, within the sound of Bow Bells. She was the daughter of a naval officer and was brought up in the manner of the English tradition.

Stan and May were married in January of 1918 and Stan returned to B.C. May came later to Minnedosa near Winnipeg and it was snowing when she arrived. It was the longest and coldest winter May had ever experienced and her only thought was to go home. The snow lay on the ground until well into the following May. A daughter Elaine was born there.

After the war, the once flourishing lumber business was failing and Stan was sent by the bank he worked for to a lumber camp near Roosville, south of Elko. He was to do the bookkeeping as well as order all the supplies for the camp. May joined him later, little realizing the primitive conditions she would have to endure in the confined area of an isolated lumber camp, in the middle of a wild west forest.

She was driven through Elk Canyon with a forest fire raging not far away. Arriving alone with a small baby, her first encounter was with an Indian with long black plaited hair, something she had never seen before. The only other woman in camp was the Manager's wife, Mrs. Brolie, and she was away at the time. There were many Hindus that were employed to pile lumber and the cook was Chinese.

Picture, if you can, a young mother, born and bred in England and used to servants and the gentle way of life, living in these conditions. Water was carried from the creek nearby. She learned to bake her own bread and, as everyone was stuck in camp for three months at a time, she couldn't get fresh milk until a cow was bought, which she never learned to milk. She was dumbfounded at the amounts of food consumed by the lumberjacks; steak and potatoes for breakfast was unheard of in England. May says they were a hard working, tough breed of men.

A second daughter, Vivian, was born here and May kept wanting to go home. This she did in 1923.

In 1925, Stan came to Kimberley to do ac- counting and bookkeeping for Lloyd Crowe, when he ran the store. In 1926, May returned, but she left her two children in England where they could attend boarding school. They first lived in an apartment above the store in the pioneer block. Their next move was to a small house on Wallinger Avenue near the skating rink. That Christmas Eve when May had everything prepared for the festivities, a big piece of the plastered ceiling came down, covering everything in dust. When the landlord kept postponing the repairs, she looked for another house, finding one up the hill at the south end of Spokane Street.

When Lloyd Crowe moved to Trail, Stan opened a Real Estate and Insurance office in the Pioneer block facing Howard Street. May acted as Stan's secretary and worked in the office for many years. Stan did the auditing of the books for many of the businesses and for some organizations, often without remuneration. He was involved in the Chamber of Commerce and was responsible for the first City Council's finances. He audited the books for the School Board for many years and he was a member of the Rotary Club.

May brought her two daughters from England to be with her and they attended public school here but it was so different from English boarding schools that they found it hard to ad- just. A third daughter Rhea was born in Kimberley.

Elaine married Dr. Stan Miller of Vancouver and they moved to Hangarai near Auckland, New Zealand and they had three sons. Dr. Miller died and Elaine is now remarried.

Vivian lives in Merritt, she married Edgar Cornford and they had one son and two daugh- ters.

Rhea married Alan Howard of Fort Steele and they have four daughters, Joyce, Terri, Gladys and Kelly. They reside at Wasa next door to May. Stan was ill for the last few years of his life, but continued to work most of the time. He passed away in March of 1952. He served Kimberley as alderman from the City's inception un- til his death.

May handled the office until Benny Redisky took over the business. Stan and May purchased one of the first one room cottages at Wasa Lake long before it became a popular summer resort. It was on the hill above the point on the south side. This cottage was once the one room school there. After Stan's death, May moved out to Wasa but now lives in a comfortable house further to the south.

For years May was a church worker and during the second World War she worked for the Red Cross. She was also on the Pioneer Lodge Com- mittee while it was in the planning stage and be- ing built. Her favorite pastime is playing bridge and she enjoys entertaining.

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