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Kimberley Families

The Selby Family

as told by son Bill

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Selby left the southern part of England and arrived in Cranbrook in April of 1910. Their son, Bill, had just passed his third birthday and his brother Cyril was ap-proaching his sixth.

Mr. Selby obtained a job with the Cranbrook Sash and Door and they established a home in the Slaterville district near-by.

In 1915 he went to work for the Company at the Top Mine in Kimberley. During the Easter holidays of 1916 they moved to a small house belonging to the Taylor Sawmill complex, on the outskirts of Kimberley. Their furniture was loaded on a large wagon and hauled to Kimberley by a team of horses. Cyril accompanied the furniture in company with the teamster. Mr. and Mrs. Selby and young Bill travelled in a cutter.

The snowfall of the winter of 1915-16 established a record. Bill remembers the great depth of packed snow on the flat in the area now known as the Mill Pond.

By 1915, Taylor's Mill had ceased operations. All machinery had been removed, but the superstructure remained. There was also a number of houses, most of which were still occupied. Their house was one in a row of four, on the west side of the railway track, near where the Rotary Park is now situated. Sullivan Creek, now Kimberley Creek, flowed past the back door and Mark Creek was about a hundred yards away, the two streams were separated by large cottonwoods and dense underbrush. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Glanville lived next door.

Wash water was obtained from Kimberley Creek and drinking water was carried from a small spring on the east bank of the railway, just below the present Kimberley cemetery. It was the job of Cyril and Bill to keep the house supplied.

Bill Selby

Closer to town was a large house and a couple of barns, the house was occupied by Thomas Miller and family and later by the Blayney family.

There was a fair-sized stream flowing out of the mill pond. It crossed under the track and flowed south for some considerable distance before joining Mark Creek. The mill pond was full of blood suckers as the boys soon found out when they tried wading in it.

Fishing in Mark Creek and Kimberley Creek was good, although so badly overgrown it was difficult to navigate. The boys would go down to the old pig pens (Marsden Avenue today), where a small clearing had been made, and they would fish down stream to Black Bear bridge. There were good log jams below the bridge but only rarely were they allowed to go that far.

The only buildings on Spokane Street that Bill can remember at that time were Fisher's store, which included the Post Office, and is now Weir's Flower Shop. There were, also, Summer's General Store and the North Star Hotel. There was another hotel on Deer Park Avenue, the Ontario, and Foote's Clothing Store, located on Howard Street. There were a number of homes scattered throughout the area.

The one roomed school house was located on the site presently occupied by the Company General Office. Bill's first teacher was Miss Jessie Kennedy of Cranbrook. She boarded at one of the homes at Taylors Mill. She was being courted by Bill Lindsay, who lived at the Top Mine. The distance was no obstacle however, as Mr. Lindsay owned a motor bike. His courtship was successful and the school lost a teacher during the summer of 1916.

Two other teachers that Bill remembers, one young and the other one older. The main event in connection with the young one was the day he borrowed Tom Summer's delivery rig and took the boys out to Cherry Creek fishing. It was the 24th of May, the water was high and the fishing was poor, but on the way home they stopped on the McGinty Trail hill above the mill pond and watched a total eclipse of the sun.

The older teacher was a grey haired man named Mr. Slater. One noon, Elmer Myrene and Bill went looking for four-leaf clovers and had phenominal success; so much so, they were fifteen minutes late for school, and that resulted in getting the strap.

Elmer Myrene and his brother Clarence, along with four other companions, lived at the Top Mine. In winter they rode to school on a bobsleigh but in summer they had to walk both ways.

It was during this period that the two younger McMahon boys also attended the little school house. Their mother was part owner of the North Star Hotel.

The flood of 1916 washed out the C.P.R. tracks, from the tipple at the Tunnel to the edge of town. In those days the Trail smelter depended on the ore from the Mine to keep it operating. Paddy Cram was the Superintendent and he had a narrow gauge rail built from the Tunnel to the end of the usable C.P.R. track. From there, the ore was hand trammed and dumped into cars from a high tipple. This operation was handled by a crew of Italians, so the short line was known as the Macaroni Central.

After the C.P.R. track was rebuilt, this narrow gauge line lay idle. However, some kind soul left a flat car at the lower end. The kids soon found that by pushing this car up the grade and by using a two-by-four as a brake they could have a fine ride back down to the tipple. This was noon-hour entertainment until some bigger boys pushed the car further up than usual. The boy who was to be brakeman threw the two-by-four away so they went faster and faster. They all managed to scramble off, suffering scrapes and bruises, before the car went over the end of the tipple and plopped down on the rails below. That was the end of that game.

On Sunday the school was used as a church by everyone, as no churches had been built as yet. Mrs. Wells, who lived across the street from the school, conducted a non-denominational Sunday School in her home. As this was war time, she also had them knitting socks for the Red Cross - both boys and girls.

On at least two occasions, an Evangelistic Group came into town, with a large tent which they set up on the flat now occupied by the Watkins School. They would stay for several days and of course every family attended.

There was an annual celebration where races were held along the main street for the kids. The winner got a silver dollar, the second, fifty cents and all the rest got twenty-five cents. There were horse races and a tug-of-war. The feature was the hand-drilling competitions, which took place on a flat rock beside the North Star Mine bridge, at the north end of Spokane Street.

By the summer of 1918, Cyril was getting close in high school age so they moved back to the old home in Cranbrook. Mr. Selby continued to work in Kimberley. Every two weeks, on his days off, he would bicycle the twenty miles to Cranbrook to be with his family.

Cyril came back to work as an assayer for the Company when he completed high school. He worked first at the Top Mine and then at the Tunnel, finally being transferred to Trail. He is now retired and living in Abbotsford.

Bill attended V.B.C., working for the Company during the summer holidays. After completing his education as a mining engineer, he was sent out on exploration at such places as Big Missouri for four years, two years at Anyox. Nine years was spent at Rossland and four at Kimberley to stay.

Bill married Lylian Jackson of Cranbrook, a teacher. They have two sons. Joe became a teacher at the Community College in Cranbrook. Jack is production superintendent for a chemical company at Squamish.

Lylian taught school in both Cranbrook and Kimberley, working with the handicapped for three years, then teaching a class of slow learners for two years. She spent four years at McKim Junior High and later became girls' councellor at Selkirk Senior High.

Bill is retired now and living in the same home he has occupied since coming back to Kimberley.

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