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Kimberley Families

The Shea Family

as told by daughter, Jennie

Mr. and Mrs. Archibald (Archie) Shea was born in Ontario at a place called Wyoming. They had five children born there before they left to come west to Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, in 1919. Their children were Janet (Jennie), Edith, Margaret, Jim and Cliff.

In 1926, Archie and his eldest daughter, Jennie, came to Kimberley in January and he got work with Fabro's Transfer, while Jennie went to work at the Chapman Camp cookhouse, as a waitress. She was a shy girl with flaming red hair and freckles. The greeting she received that first day was "Look at the red headed woodpecker". She soon realized that the men were only kidding and accepted their friendly banter. Some of the boys were Smoky Adams, Jack Evans, Art Burrows and the Patterson brothers. Coming from a farm where the hired men came to dinner in their work clothes, she was surprised that first day when all the men arrived cleaned up and ready for the evening, but of course they didn't have farm chores to do after.

Shortly after, Jennie was transferred to the Top Mine cookhouse, and besides waiting on tables she was put in charge of lunch buckets. For three years she made sandwiches and packed lunch buckets. Some of those she worked with were Sam Veneer the dish washer, Sam Derby the cook, and Tom Baxter, the best pastry baker Jennie ever knew. The other waitresses were Elizabeth Johnson, Lily Hotchkiss, Isobel Cameron and May Doran, now May Slade.

Jennie remembers the good times they had and commented on the respect that all the men gave the girls. At Christmas time they would be showered with gifts and chocolates galore. She has memories of the few trips from Tom Mine to town on a swede sleigh, where you sat on a chair with narrow runners while one of the boys stood on the back to steer and control the brakes. Too much speed and you landed in a snow bank. Luckily there was very little traffic in winter and a five minute ride from top to bottom resulted in two and a half miles of thrills, chills and spills.

Mr. Shea worked for a time on the clean-up operations at the North Star Mine. He delivered groceries for Lloyd Crowe and in later years he became the caretaker at the cemetery. Their home was on Wallinger Avenue next to the hill back of the Canadian Hotel.

Jennie married Ted McVicar in 1930.He was an assayer for the Company at the Concentrator for almost forty years. They had three children: Margaret, Donald and LaVerne. Margaret married Eddie Flagel and they had four children. They were divorced and she married Don Robinson and they had one son. She now lives in the Chilcotin country and often acts as a cook for big-game hunting parties. Donald married Anna Manning, an Ontario girl that came to Kimberley to nurse in the hospital. They had three children. Donald is now a widower and lives in Langley. LaVerne married Margaret Bird of Ft. Smith. They live in Saskatoon and he is the proud father of four sons, three of them triplets.

Edith married Jimmie Livingstone, and their story appears elsewhere in this book. Edith passed away in 1973.

Margaret married Sam Crewe and they had three children: Sharon, Donna and Jimmy. Sharon married Joe Allison of Cranbrook where they still reside. They have seven sons. Donna married Arnold Mattson, also of Cranbrook, and they have one son and five daughters. Jimmie is a construction worker and moves around a lot. He is married but they have no children. Margaret used to work at the Super Valu for Chris Sorenson. She was also a meter reader for a time. Sam passed away and she is now married to Ross Jackson. She lives just a half a block from their old house on Wallinger Avenue.

Jim and Cliff were both killed in accidents. Jim was in the car that injured Johnny Wirth in 1938and Cliff was involved in an accident in the rockhouse (crushing plant) at the Mine in 1948.

Mrs. Shea died in the early 1950's and Archie passed away ten years later.

When Jennie's husband, Ted, retired in 1969, they contemplated moving to Nanaimo, but when Jennie pointed out that his hunting, fishing and bowling friends were all still in Kimberley he said he had never heard happier news. Ted McVicar passed away in 1973 and Jennie still lives in their home in Chapman Camp.

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