Banner Ad




Kimberley Families

The Tams Family

as told by Jack

John (Jack) Tams was born on a farm near Innisfail, Alberta in 1899. His parents came from England to homestead there. When he was sixteen, he was big for his age so when his older brother Charlie came home for a visit from his job as cook in a mining camp in the West Kootenay, he told Jack he could get him a job as a flunky in the cookhouse where he worked. It was there that Jack was taught to cook.

Several years later he returned to Innisfail and tried farming on his own. He married Hannah Jane Fraser, known to all as Jean. Crop failures forced him to abandon farming. Hearing of a boom in construction work in Kimberley, he came and got a job as a carpenter's helper building houses on McDougall Townsite. He had worked there only a month when Bill Greene, the cook at the Top Mine, needed help. Bill was acquainted with Charlie Tams and knew Jack could cook so he was pressured into being a cook again. His wife, Jean, went to work as a waitress in the dining room. When the Top Mine closed down, Jack transferred to the Townsite Cookhouse and they lived in a small dwelling nearby.

Jack much preferred the outdoor life, so when the Company offered him a chance to cook for one of their exploration camps he took the job. This was in 1926. A group of Company men were prospecting near Fernie. His wife and infant daughter moved to Fernie where he could visit them once every two weeks. Supplies for the camp were brought in by team and wagon, but when there was no road, which was more often the case, they were brought in by pack horses. Jack learned how to pack and in 1927, when the Company took an option on the Estella mine, Jack became the cook and assistant packer to John Hart for three years. John was responsible for getting all the equipment and supplies up the steep five mile trail from Tracy Town on pack horses.

In the spring of 1933 the Company sent four men into Lake Aikins to prospect for copper. The mining engineer was Bunny Brunland and, along with Jay Colthorpe, Oran McGraw and Jack Tams as cook, they were flown in for the entire summer. Ken Dewar was the pilot and Bobby Niven the mechanic. Supplies were brought in weekly by the small float-plane. They spent the summer living in tents and just before leaving they decided to build a cabin on the lakeshore for the next season. An early snow storm and dense fog prevented the plane from landing and the extremely cold weather froze the lake. They had very little food left and the weather continued to worsen, so they decided to snowshoe out to the nearest Hudson Bay post ninety miles to the south. The engineer had a pair of skiis, but the terrain was so rough that he fell and fractured an arm. Jack used up most of his dish towels as bandages and a sling. They managed to reach the railway at Dawson Creek with the assistance of the odd ride from scattered homesteaders. The temperature had dropped to forty-five below zero and at every stop the train made the wheels would freeze to the rails and they lost a lot of time. as it took a great deal of shunting back and forth to get them moving again. They arrived in Edmonton on Christmas Eve. Jack's brother Charlie was living there so he stayed a few days before boarding the train home, arriving in Kimberley on New Year's morning.

They were living in a house on the Houle property in Meadowbrook at the time. In 1934 they moved to Morrison Subdivision for four years, then Jack moved the family to Marysville onto the Lundeen property that he had purchased and upgraded. He was working underground as a timberman, and this is the job he remained at until his retirement in 1964.

Jack and Jean had five children: Dorothy, Audrey, Marjorie, Howard and Lorne. Dorothy was born in Calgary and the other four in Kimberley. Dorothy worked for the Trading Company before her marriage to Geoffrey (Geof) Barnard, who worked as a miner. They have two daughters Cheryl and Judy. Cheryl worked for the Credit Union prior to her marriage to Gordon Olsen. They have three daughters; Jennifer, Marci and Raylene, and reside in Marysville. Judy worked for a dentist, Dr. Fergie, in Cranbrook until she married Donald Walker who works at Safeway. They have two daughters Tracy and Haley. Geof Barnard passed away in 1963.

Audrey Tams married Herbie Eckert and moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. She took a course in upholstering and now owns and operates her own shop. They had four children; Wayne, Linda, Milo and Myrna. Herbie passed away in 1978.

Marjorie married Ed Puffer and moved to Coquitlam, they have six children; David, Sandra, Barry, Ronnie, Gail and Penny. Ed works for the school board there and Marjie manages a cafeteria in Port Moody.

Howard married Pauline Cervello and they had three children; Carol, Kenneth and Ellen. Howard was working at the Concentrator unloading ore cars when he was killed. Pauline moved to Nakusp and married again.

Lorne worked as a faller for a logging outfit and married June Roberts from Marysville. They had three daughters; Betty Jean, Karen and Joanne. Lorne passed away in 1970.

Jean died in 1972 and Jack still resides in Marysville, and recalls the many changes that have taken place over the years.

Cherry Creek fishing trip: Ed Jamison, Chas. Barr, Jock Tams, Lorne Tams, Wilf Houle

Twitter Facebook Google+


Banner Ad