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Kimberley Families

The Watson Family

as told by by son, Mac

Alfred Watson was a tall, distinguished looking person and a familiar figure in Kimberley for many years.

Born in Newton-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, in 1899, he received some of his education from Dukes school for boys from 1901 to 1905. (Last year, 1977, when Mac and his wife visited the school, the Headmaster took out the records for those years where his father had graduated as an honor student.)

Mac does not know what prompted his father to come to Canada, but he did start working for the C.P.R. as a surveyor. In 1913, at New Denver, in the Slocan area, he married Marion McInnis, a Halifax girl. He worked in several small gypo mines. He purchased a ten acre plot of land near New Denver. Three children were born there; John, Florence and George (Mac). Mac was only two years old when his mother died.

When Alf Watson came to Kimberley in 1925 to work as an operator in the Concentrator, the three children spent a year in Vancouver with an aunt and came to Chapman Camp in 1926. Alf had married again to a Miss Morag Urquahart, who was born in the Isle of Skye, and a second family started to arrive; Chris, Ian, Don, Malcolm, Iona and Sheila.

Alf became very active in the community, especially with young people. He helped design the Chapman Camp Pool in 1927. He was the Scout Master when, in 1927, a group of boys were taken over the Rose Pass to Crawford Bay. At that time the Chapman Camp Boy Scouts were the best equipped unit in the area.

Mac Watson

He was a member of the Orpheus Choir and became secretary for several organizations. He was interested in and helped with the Horticultural Shows that Harold Abbott instigated.

They moved from Chapman Camp to Kimberley proper in the depression years of the thirties. Later they purchased property in Marysville where they raised chickens on what was called the Ponderosa Egg Farm. They bred dogs and raised goats. Alf was employed with the Company and was the Assistant Branch Accountant when he retired.

Mr. and Mrs. Watson retired to Kaslo where he took over as School Board Secretary. He passed away in December, 1960.

Mac has spent most of his life in Kimberley, starting school in Chapman Camp, with Miss Forrest his first teacher. When they moved to Kimberley he recalls having Betty Oliver, Ruth Soderholm and Marg Garden as teachers and he was in grade six when John Lukas came to Kimberley to teach.

As most boys did during the depression, he left school at sixteen and joined the work force of the Company as a boy labourer at $2.00 per day. In summer he worked on the streets in Chapman Camp, raking the coarse rocks off the roads.

His first job in the Concentrator was commonly known as the "dope" job. Actually it was collecting up-to-date information from the lead floor and zinc floor by taking hourly samples for the assay office. His two partners on this job were Eddie Benson and Jack Gillespie. The boys all did a man's job for little pay. By age 18 they were making $3.85 per day.

In 1936 Mac's sister, Florence left for England to train as a nurse at the Royal Infirmary in Sunderland. She boarded with the Rankin family.

In 1938 Mac joined the 108th Battery (N.P.M.) and was called to active service September, 1939. He was trained in Lethbridge and Shilo, Manitoba in the Anti-tank division and landed in England Sept., 1940. He was later transferred to the 25th Field Battery for service on Continental Europe to the end of the war.

On his return to Kimberley, Mac, like his father, became very involved in Community affairs. He spent twenty two years on the Fire Dept., working with Joe Harris, Fire Chief for the Concentrator. He drove the Ambulance and helped draw up the Constitution when the Kimberley Ambulance Society was first formed.

Mac has two sons; David and John. When they first started playing hockey he acted as time-keeper for the games and working in any organization they took part in. He was also Shop Steward for the Steel Workers Union.

His wife, Ena, has also been very active in community work. She is a member of two lodges, and Life Member of the Hospital Aux., and has worked one day a week for twenty-two years in the Library, and still does all the book reviews.

Mac, near retirement, plans to stay in Kimberley. He is still interested in all aspects of sport. His son, David, is married with one daughter born in Kimberley. They live in Kimberley and he works on construction. John works in Cranbrook, is also married and has a son and daughter.

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