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Kimberley Families

The Summers Family

as told by son Tommy

Tom Summers came from Placentia, Newfoundland at a time when a lot of Newfoundlanders were moving west. The train stopped in Winnipeg for several hours where the group caused such a commotion that all were ordered out of the city for good. Tom eventually arrived in Moyie and went to work in the mine.

The young woman that was to become Tom's wife, Elizabeth Forna, was from Glace Bay, N.S. She came to Rossland to visit relatives and they were married in Moyle. Young Tommy was born there.

They moved to Kimberley in 1910, first living in a small dwelling near the railway tracks back of the present post office. Mr. Summers became the Post Master but, unfortunately, the building burned and all their possessions were lost. They barely escaped with their lives. They lived in a tent for a time and then moved to the Ontario Hotel where they stayed for a year. In those days postmasters were determined by what political party was in power, so, when the vote swung the other way, Mr. Summers was replaced by Jack Fisher.

Their first store was where Fields is now and they sold groceries, hay and feed for stock, etc. Later they bought the I.W.W. hall that was situated where Oakley's Service Station stands. It was moved the half block up Spokane Street a foot at a time by way of winch and skids. John Anderson was the driver of the one horse that did the hauling. From here they operated a general store, getting orders and delivering them to the families at the Top Mine. The upstairs was used as a hall by the Moose Lodge for years and many dances were held there. It was used as a school room for part of one year, while the Central school was being enlarged. They closed the store in 1931 when the depression was so bad.

Tommy Summers.

They owned property on Howard Street behind the store and lived there in one of three houses next door to the old liquor vendors. The first Scared Heart Catholic Church was built on the corner and this later became the Presbyterian Church. The property was donated to the church by Mr. Summers.

Mr. and Mrs. Summers had two more children born in Kimberley; a son, Lorne and a daughter, Isobel.

Mr. Summers was the first chairman of the School Board and remained an active member for over twenty years. Miss Jessie Kennedy was young Tom's first teacher. She married Bill Lindsay, the Mine Superintendent.

When the school was where the Company offices are now located proved too small to accommodate all the children, a class room was equipped in the Ontario Hotel and Tommy attended there when Miss Diebolt and Miss Fox were two of the teachers. When Mrs. Summers was very ill and had to spend time in Vancouver, Tom attended a Catholic school there for two years.

During the construction of the Concentrator in 1922 and 1923, Tommy can recall seven rooming houses in the downtown area. Many bunkhouses were erected at the same time in both Chapman Camp and McDougall townsite. Other memories of those early days were Emil Louis, who lived in the same block and worked at Wycliffe for the Otis Stapes sawmill. He used to bicycle to and from work. He remembers Alex Gough was a real estate and insurance agent that owned several shacks along the creek. He rented these shacks.

Tommy worked in the Mine for awhile but after prohibition, when the liquor laws were changed, many hotels opened bars and he remembers the Kimberley Hotel being built. Tom began working as a clerk in the Government Liquor Vendor where he remained until his retirement.

Sports have always been a great part of Kimberley. Hockey was the main one. Every boy played for one or another of the many leagues. In season, it was soccer, baseball, or softball. Tommy remembers the celebrations that took place July 1st with games of all kinds, hose reel contests and tug-o-war, greasy pole climb and numerous others.

In the days before the Catholic church was built, Father Bessette would hold Mass in the Summer home every two weeks. Father Bessette was a baseball enthusiast. Father Ehmann who came later was a hockey fan and a player. It was Father Hartman who saw the new church built on the hill overlooking the business section of Kimberley. Another memory was the grizzly cub that Harry Drew, the proprietor of the North Star Hotel, kept in a cage in the yard. As it grew older it became dangerous and had to be shot. Goidle Hodgson of Marysville attended to the job. The Hotel had three stories and boasted an elevator which some of the boys delighted in operating un-til they were thrown out.

Many of the boys got together and sand-bagged the creek above the dairy and this made a nice swimming pool. Tommy almost drowned in it one day and two weeks later he broke an arm.

Lorne operated the Globe Hotel in Kimberley for a number of years. He married Inez Schoupe and they operated a grocery store in Marysville until 1972 when they moved to Vancouver and managed two apartment houses until his recent retirement. They had one son Patrick, now a lawyer in Fernie and married to a nurse.

Isobel married Joe Provenzano of Cranbrook. He was in partnership with Tony Muraca in Kimberley for a number of years. Joe is now a real estate agent in Cranbrook and they have two daughters; Marian and Joan.

Marian married Jim Corrigan a metallurgic engineer who worked for the Company for a time. They are now living in the Dominican Republic in Central America and they have four children.

Joan trained as a nurse and married John Poweska, an electircal contractor in Cranbrook. They have two children.

Tommy is retired now and living in Pioneer Lodge, which is situated on the hill overlooking the old Taylor Mill site.

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