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Kimberley Families

The Swan Family

as told by Cliff

Peter Swan was born in 1866 in Loughbro Township, County Frontenac, Ontario. He came west in the early 1890's and worked for the Dunsmuir Goal Company at Wellington on Vancouver Island. He returned to Ontario to marry Eleanor Williamson at Harrowsmith, Ontario, in April 1893. They returned to Wellington, where their first son, Walter, was born in 1895. The mining boom in Slocan City, B.C. attracted them and they moved there in 1897. Clifford was born there in 1899 and a third son, Harold, was born in 1904.

Cliff lived in Slocan until he finished public school, but as there was no high school in Slocan, he went to Kaslo. After leaving school, Cliff took up carpentry and worked on many construction jobs around the Province. He spent a couple of years in Vancouver and returned to Slocan where he heard about a building boom in Kimberley and decided to go there and look things over. He arrived in Kimberley in March of 1926, and stayed at the Olympic Hotel on the corner of Deer Park and Wallinger Avenues for $60 per month for room and board.

He worked at various jobs in the town and during this time he bought a lot in Upper Blarchmont and built a house that was one of the first three houses in that area. During the same year, he returned to Slocan and married Elsie Rogers on June 28th, 1926, and brought his bride back to Kimberley. Cliff started work with the Company later in 1926, and his first job was on the high level trestle over Mark Creek about a quarter of a mile north of the Mine portal.

In the 1920's, Kimberley was an unorganized community with dirt roads, septic tank seepage running on the surface of the business areas, garbage was dumped into Mark Creek. There were very few sidewalks and a generally loose building code.

During th 1930's the Board of Trade was the only organization trying to do something about the situation. Cliff being community-minded, decided to take a more active part in local affairs and joined the group. Conditions in the community steadily grew worse. Kimberley had a health problem and something had to be done. On February 22, 1943, the Board of Trade called a meeting of representatives from all parts of the community. It was a good meeting, with every one favouring incorporation. However, when it came to the election of officers, no one was willing to act as chairman. Having been on previous committees, Cliff was persuaded to be the chairman, and Mr. "Mac" McIntosh agreed to act as secretary. Through the efforts of the Board of Trade, Kimberley was incorporated as a City on March 29th, 1944, by a special act of Parliament.

The new City of Kimberley now came alive and a great deal of interest was shown in the coming aldermanic election. Cliff felt that he had done his part for the community and thought that others should carry on. However, many people thought that Cliff had done an excellent job in bringing incorporation to Kimberley and pressed him into letting his name stand for the office of Mayor. An election was held on April 20th, 1944, and Cliff Swan was elected Mayor and Wallace Lloyd, Stan Norton, Frank Levirs, Murry Garden, Bruno Fabro and Len Bonnell as aldermen.

Cliff held the office of Mayor for the years 1944 to 1959 and 1962 to 1965, a total of twenty years and was largely responsible for changing Kimberley from a shack town to a very desirable community in which to live.

He was made Freeman of the City on August 6th, 1966, for his outstanding service to the City of Kimberley. Cliff retired from the Company in 1964 and moved to Victoria in 1966.

Cliff and Elsie had three daughters and one son, Eleanor, Hazeldine (Dean), Joyce and Gordon. All were born and educated in Kimberley.

Eleanor's first job was part-time in Lloyds Hardware, while she still attended high school. Following graduation she worked at the Kimberley News for Ernie Moss, along with Hal Brown and Hiliard Simpson. Mr. Moss was owner, manager and editor and anything else the paper required. Eleanor went to Vancouver for eight years and returned to keep house for her father when her mother passed away in 1956. She married Louis Schnurr who was engaged in construction work at the time. He is now at H.M.C. Dockyard in Victoria, testing and repairing lifesaving equipment. They have one son, Blair.

Dean worked for a short time for J. C. Adams, the jeweler, then in the dry goods department of the Mark Creek Store. She married Barney Ralph, a safety instructor for the Company. He was very active in teaching First Aid and participated in numerous competitions. Dean and Barney had four children: Coryl, Terry, Lori, and Cindy. Coryl is now a teacher in Thunder Bay, Terry is part owner of a construction company in Edmonton. Lori is in Calgary, studying to be a public health nurse. Cindy still resides in Kimberley and works at the Credit Union. She did clerical work for the City of Calgary for a year. They were all active in High School Band during their school years. Dean passed away in 1962.

Joyce worked for Stedmans for a time then trained as a key punch operator for the Company. She married John Young who was an employee of Fabro for twenty-eight years. A few years ago he took an apprenticeship with the Company in sign painting and is now a journeyman sign painter for the Company. They have three daughters: Denice, Susan and Dayle. All three have been very active in sports, especially swimming and skating. They were members of the Seahorse Club at Chapman Camp and competed in the B.C. Finals in Vancouver at one time. Denice became an instructor in figure skating for several years and taught at Pine Point as well as Kimberley and Marysville. She married John Loutit and they have a daughter, Gillian, and a son, John. Denice worked for the Portal Newspaper for awhile and now manages the ski hill lounge. Susan worked for the Bank of Montreal and at the Credit Union. She spent some time in Hay River and Slave Lake and now works in Edmonton. Dayle lives in Calgary. She was employed by the Skookumchuck Pulp Mill for a time. Joyce and John reside in the home that her father built on Wallinger Avenue in 1926.

Gordon Swan is now a resident of Glendale Lodge in Victoria where Eleanor and her father can visit him often.

Elsie Swan will be well remembered in musical circles. She was an accomplished pianist and played in several orchestras. She was the official pianist for the Canadian Legion and was active in the St. Andrews Caledonian Society. She was organist for the Presbyterian Church, alternating with Alex Archibald. She led the Junior and Senior Choir for a time. Mr. Swan was Chairman of the Board of Managers for the Presbyterian Church for many years and it was he and Davey Gold that were responsible for designing and building the new Presbyterian Church. Dean and Barney's wedding was one of the last wedding ceremonies held in the old church before it was torn down.

Cliff's brother, Harold, was also an employee of the Company for some years. He married Emma Stelliga from Fernie. Harold was killed in the mine in the early 1940's.

In 1973 Cliff was married again. His bride was a former Kimberley pioneer, Mrs. Hazel Holden, and they now reside in Victoria.

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