James Pearson was born in the parish of Auchterderran, Bowhill, Scotland, near Cardenden, where he went to work in a coal mine at age eleven, half a day in school and half a day in the mine.
He learned to play the trumpet while very young and was a solo trumpeter in a band that played for royalty when he was only twenty-one. His work was coal mining but his love was music, and he dedicated himself to it wherever he went.
James married Catherine Hogg in 1907 and they had five children: James (Jimmie), William (Bill), John, Harry and Jennie. He came out to Coleman in 1922 to work in the coal mines there and of course organized a band. It was several months before he could bring his family out to join him. Jennie the youngest, was only five years old, but she remembers the Red Cross looking after all of them, as their mother was seasick for the entire crossing. Young Jimmie was fifteen at the time. It was February and still very cold but Jennie recalls her brother Harry eating an icecream cone, dressed in his short pants and bare knees. The weather was twenty below zero.
James' brother Harry had also come out from Scotland but had come directly to Kimberley earlier and James' son, Jimmie, came and stayed with his uncle for a year before his father arrived in 1927. In October, the rest of the family drove up from Coleman in an old touring car with snap-on leather curtains. Jennie remembers that long trip, travelling along the narrow gravel road high above Crowsnest Lake and how frightened she was. The car was loaded to the roof and even the cat was with them. It took from six in the morning until almost midnight to make the journey.
Their first home was near George Bentley's barn just below the station where the liquor store now stands.
Billy Young was the first band master in Kimberley and James' reputation for leading the very successful Crowsnest Pass band had preceded him, so he was asked to join as soon as he arrived. He took over as band master when Billy Young retired.
James insisted that every one of his children play an instrument of some sort and to attend band practice regularly. At one time there were seven Pearsons in the band. He taught many school children to play and the little hall next door to the McKim school was a busy place many evenings a week. He was responsible for organizing the first student High School Band. With very little support from the Community, James kept the band together. With no funds for music, he spent endless hours making fourteen copies of each piece of music from one bought sheet so each member had one. They did manage to buy navy jackets and uniform hats, and the members all purchased their own navy trousers.
They played at all public functions and at many affairs all over the East Kootenay. In 1932- 33-34 they won the cup at the East Kootenay Musical Festival, sponsored by the Cranbrook Caledonian Society, thus claiming the right to keep the cup. One man that played in the old band remembers the strict discipline he learned from Mr. Pearson. Nothing short of perfection would do. Three of his sons: Jimmie, John and Bill, were members of the Canadian Artillery Royal Horse Band at Petawawa during the war.
Jimmie married Annie Cunnliffe. Her father was Albert Cunnliffe who also worked at the Coleman and Michel mines before coming to work at the Stemwinder Mine at Kimberley in 1925. Later he worked in the Rockhouse and in 1930 became the caretaker of the cemetery. Annie's older sister moved to Trail and her younger sister Harriet married Jack Campbell and remained in Kimberley until her death in the 1940' s. Jimmie and Annie had two sons: James Al-bert and Harold. James became a mining engineer for the Company and worked for ten years at Yellowknife. He now works in Maine, U.S.A., and is married with two children: Rickie and Chris. Harold is a geological technician for the Company in Kimberley and married Sheila Garbutt. They have six children: Terry, Keith, Bruce and triplets Sandra, Christine and Scott.
Bill Pearson married Frieda Lye, the daughter of Percy Lye. Bill worked at the Concentrator before moving to Richmond and they have two sons and one daughter. John also worked at the Concentrator and married Mamie Hotchkiss, the daughter of Tommy Hotchkiss. They have one son, Robbie, and four daughters: Janet, Joanne, Maryanne and Kathie. Maryanne's twin died at birth. John is now deceased.
Harry married Mae Redding and moved to California where he owns and operates a Dinah Chicken Drive-in. They have one son, David, and one daughter, Wendy.
Jennie married Joe Moore, and they have three children: Kathie, Josie and Maureen. (The Moore family history appears elsewhere in this book). Kathie married George Beaton and they have two children: Debbie and Danny. Josie married Stan Templeton and they have two daughters: Lee Ann and Tammy. Maureen married Ken Thompson and their two children are Cathie and Kenny.
James Pearson (Father or Pop as he was affectionately called) will long be remembered in Kimberley as the "Leader of the Band".