The Ross Family
as told by daughter, Katie
In the early days the Village Blacksmith shop was the focal point for casual gatherings while a horse was being shod or a wheel repaired.
George McLean Ross was born in 1885 in Currie Hill, Glengarry County, Ontario, and brought up in Dunvegan, where he took an apprenticeship to be a blacksmith. At age twentyone he started slowly working his way west. He did a bit of harvesting in the Kenora area and was kept busy tending the needs of the horses.
He obtained work with the C.P.R. bridge crew in the Crowsnest Pass, from Michel to Cranbrook. Finally he bought a blacksmith shop in Elko. Here he met and married Florence Sharadon in 1915. They had two daughters: Catherine (Katie) and Edith. When business began to slow down in that area, George heard that Kimberley was an up-and-coming community and could use the services of a blacksmith. In July of 1925he came to Kimberley and bought property owned by a Chinaman at the east end of Spokane Street, where a little creek ran by, and he opened up a shop.
His family remained in Elko until February of 1926 when he purchased a house from Claude Nord. In the mean time he boarded with the Wirth family.
With the creek running along-side the building, he could easily heat the iron tires of wagon or buggy wheels and place them in the cold water to shrink them into place. The house was nearby, so the girls were frequent visitors in the shop, occasionally pumping the bellows for their dad, but mostly to coax a nickel for candy. He most always had an audience of kids and he would take time to explain to them what he was doing.
George knew his trade well and was able to make his own special tools and dies. He often went out to the many sawmills in the district, such as Wasa and St. Marys Lake, to do all the shoeing of the horses. July 1st was always his busiest day of the year, as the Indians coming in from the Mission for the celebrations would use the trip as an opportunity to get their horses shod.
He could speak and understand Gaelic, and often he would have a visit from Rev. McKinley or Jim Scott, as they loved to converse in their native tongue.
In 1940, he bought an electric welding machine as there were fewer horses now, so he repaired lawn mowers and other small equipment. He made ornamental wrought iron railings, and many can still be seen around town. He was a staunch supporter and an elder of the Presbyterian Church. He was a Charter Member of the Moose Lodge when it first started up in Kimberley in 1927, and he was also a member of the Independent Order of Oddfellows. He was a sports fan and enjoyed hockey and football.
Mrs. Ross passed away in 1937 and George lived to be eighty-six. He spent his last few years in a nursing home in Cranbrook. His shop had been closed for several years and as the property was needed by the city, it was sold in 1970, just before he died in 1971. At that time it still contained many relics of by-gone days.
Katie married Bob Brown from Michel, who came to work as an electrician for the Company. He was the trainer for the Dynamiters Hockey team for ten years. They have two children: Florence and Robert (Bobby). Florence is a secretary working in the office at the Skookumchuck Pulp Mill. She married Roy West who works for Crestbrook Industries in the bush, handling logs, and they live at TaTa Creek. They have one daughter, Darcy Lynn.
Bobby is a heavy duty mechanic for Detroit Diesel in the Industrial Park in Cranbrook. He lives in Kimberley and drives back and forth to work. He married Irma Jean Fisher and they have three children: Robbie, Karen and Jeri Nadine.
Edith worked for Tony Muraca in the gorcery store and for a short time, she also worked for Mae Slade in the Bulletin office. For several years she was manager of Eaton's order office in Kimberley. She married Frank Butula, theirs was the last marriage performed in the old Presbyterian Church. They live in Fernie where Frank is the City clerk. They have two children: Debbie and Brian.
Bob Brown retired in 1976 after forty-one years with the Company.