The Parnell Family
as told by Gladys
William (Bill) Parnell came to Canada from Plymouth, England, after he had completed his apprenticeship as a plasterer. He heard of employment in Calgary, and being a young man he took the chance. That first winter was very cold, the coldest weather he had ever experienced. No matter how many blankets he piled on his bed he nearly froze to death, not realizing that if he had put half of them underneath he would have been warmer.
He built a house at Flagstone near the U.S. Border and married Alice Phillips, the daughter of the well-known Michael Phillips who discovered coal in the Fernie valley. They had four daughters: Phyllis, Edna, Winnifred and Daisy.
Bill's work took him away from home a great deal, as he did plastering and stuccoing on many houses in Fernie, Cranbrook and Kimberley as well as other districts. He bought a house in Cranbrook and also one in Kimberley to bring the family to, but Alice preferred to live in Flagstone and would always move back leaving Bill to batch. He was working in Kimberley most of the time when Alice sent the three youngest girls to live with him so they could attend school. Daisy was just seven. At work all day and sometimes out of town, Bill needed someone to look after the children, so he asked a girl he had met in Cranbrook a few years before if she could help him out. Gladys Hall took care of the children.
Gladys was from Oaksdale, Washington, where she was born just one month after her father and one sister had died of typhoid fever. They lived on a farm and Gladys has many memories of growing up there.
Following school, she took a hairdressing course in Spokane where she worked for ten years. She then came to Cranbrook to work in Mrs. Rae's Beauty Shop, In 1931, Gladys bought Mickey McGuire's shop in Kimberley and went into business for herself. This shop was next door to Leggett's shoe shop, which was right behind Martin's Real Estate office. The new part of the Royal Bank is there now.
Bill was an active member of the Elks lodge that used to meet in the Fergeson building on the corner of Howard Street and Deer Park Avenue. This is the building known today as the Parnell Block. Gladys moved her beauty shop upstairs in this building until the Elks moved to a place across the street, where the medical clinic now stands. She then moved the shop downstairs and had an apartment behind. This was when she had Bill's children, as the school was nearby. In 1937 the children went back to Alice.
Beginning in the mid twenties, Bill did much of the plastering and stucco work for the Company when they were building the houses on McDougall Townsite and Chapman Camp. Later he worked on the Ritchie Townsite and Lois Creek houses.
Bill was an ardent gymnast and an expert on the parallel bars and working with Indian clubs. He held boys classes in his own building as well as assisting Herb Stanton at the McDougall Hall.
In 1939, Gladys sold her hairdressing business and she and Bill obtained acreage in Meadowbrook where they raised chickens, rabbits and had an excellent garden, with bushes and fruit trees as well. They continued to carry the option on the building in town and rented the rooms and apartments. They also rented office and store space.
They moved back into town in 1946 and Gladys cleared the title on the building and had the mortgage paid off by 1956.That was the year Bill passed away, but she has carried on living in one of the apartments and renting the rest.
Gladys is a member of the Royal Purple and she was president of the Soroptimists for three years. She has worked for the Senior Citizens in Pioneer Lodge when it first opened. She assisted the Snow Fiesta Committee for six years by acting as a chaperone for Queen Candidates. She is a member of the hospital auxillary and headed the membership drive for six years.
Gladys has found Kimberley a friendly town and plans to spend her remaining years here.