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Kimberley Families

The Riddell Family

as told by Jimmy

Robert Riddell was born in Cumberland, England. He was married with four children: Margaret, James (Jimmy), Charlie and Harry, before he came to Canada to homestead in Alberta in 1912. His homestead was sixty-five miles northeast of Bassano.

In March of 1914, his wife and family came to join him. They had to stay in Bassano for a month until the ice went off the Red Deer River so the ferries could run. Jimmie was thirteen years old at the time, but he went working for neighbors.

In the winter of 1918, Jimmy got a job with his own team and sleigh, driving the mail from Sunnynook to Faver, a distance of twenty-five miles. He can remember the flu epidemic of that winter, when not one soul in Sunnynook was able to be up and around. Everything was closed and the school was turned into a hospital. The driver that covered the mail-run of twenty-five miles in the opposite direction to Westdale also took sick and for two days Jimmy had to cover the entire fifty miles, as well as help the very ill in Sunnynook.

The next summer he worked for different farmers and finally rented a place near Make Peace. It was here he met and married Gladys McNainey, whose folks were from Cook Durham, England, and lived on the next• homestead.

This was in 1922, and by harvest time of 1923 they had acquired a good sized farm with a crop and chickens, pigs, cows and horses. They had one daughter, Irene. One day when Jimmy had left for town and Gladys was alone with the infant, a fire in the barn destroyed everything, including equipment and harness for sixteen horses. That Christmas they came to visit friends in Kimberley and with nothing much left on the farm, they were persuaded to stay.

By early February, Jimmy got work in the Mine, beginning, as all newcomers did, shoveling ore. He was on transportation for thirteen years and a dispatcher underground.

After working steady graveyard (night shift) for a year, he changed jobs and went mining for two years and then barman for two years. He became a shift boss underground and was Mine foreman when he retired in 1964 after forty years.

They had a son, Jimmy Jr. born in Cranbrook (due to the lack of hospital facilities in Kimberley at the time). The two children received all their schooling in Kimberley and Irene worked at the Kimberley Trading Company for awhile. She went to Vancouver and worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia where she met Trevor Parfitt during the war years. They came back to Kimberley and Trevor is now a Carpenter Foreman in Central Shops for the Company. They have two children: Darlene and Maryln. Darlene is now married to Bob Bryant who works underground on the new method of trackless mining. Maryln married Dennis Stedile of Nelson and they now reside in Cranbrook.

Jimmy Jr., began working at the Concentrator and worked up to Chief Operator. When one crew was taken off, at the Concentrator, he took an apprenticeship in the Electrical Shop and is now an Electrical Foreman. He married Shirley Moore and they live in Happy Valley.

Jimmy Sr. still had the urge to do a bit of farming, so in the early 1940's he purchased two hundred acres in Meadowbrook where he had a few cows and horses. He grew a garden and a hay crop for about six years as well as working at the Mine. When his job demanded that he be on a Company phone, they moved back to town and sold the property. In 1969 they bought it back again for a few years, but they are now living in Lower Blarchmont. Their daughter, Irene resides on part of the Meadowbrook property.

Jimmy's brother, Harry also came to Kimberley. He married Doris (Dakin) Logan and he was a big game and hunting guide and owned a string of pack horses for out-fitting hunting parties until his death in 1969. Jimmy can remember that both he and Harry signed up and rode in a rodeo that was held at Wasa in 1930. When he was young, he rode in the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in 1918 to 1920, when Calgary was little more than a cow town.

During the war years in 1940's, Jimmy was asked to put on some rodeo's in Kimberley and for four years they had some successful ones. He was nicknamed Cowboy Riddell.

Jimmy has always enjoyed curling, fishing and hunting. His property in Meadowbrook boasted a set of horns on almost every post of the corral.

One of his curling teams consisted of Andy Orr, Walter Gelling, Alf Watkins and himself. Gladys also enjoyed curling. For a number of years she was involved in making costumes for the Annual Skating Carnivals. Her daughter, Irene, was the Snow Fiesta Queen in 1941. Other Snow Fiesta Queens before Irene were, Iris Carlson, Pauline Crowe, Helga Thorleifson, Hazel Simpson, Ethel Loraas, Ruth Smith and Svea Persson. Ester Olson and Brownewen Preston were two that followed her. The Snow Fiesta faded out and has recently been brought back as "Winterfest".

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