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Kimberley Families

The Wells Family
as told by daughter, Edythe

Mr. and Mrs. William Wells came from England in 1908 and lived in Moyie until 1913. When they moved to Kimberley, they lived in a little unpainted house at the foot of the hill , across the street from the one-room white school house, where the main Company office now stands. Mr. Wells began working for the Company as a stationary engineer in the power house located on the bank of Mark Creek, just below where the Sullivan Mine main portal was being driven and completed in 1915.

In the spring of 1916, heavy rains overflowed the creek so quickly that the dam above gave way and caused a flood. Mr. Wells was on duty in the power house at the time. A huge tree, roots and all, hit the building with such force, it was washed off its foundation and turned it around so that the creek was rushing underneath a part of it. Mr. Wells had to crawl out along the steam pipe on hands and knees to get to safe ground.

The school house across the street from their house was also used for church services on Sundays. There was no church building in Kimberley as yet, although there had been a Methodist Church earlier that had burned down in 1911. The different denominations took turns each Sunday, holding services that almost everyone attended. For a time a student Minister, Harold Panabaker, lived in the teacherage behind the school. Mrs. Wells supplied him with fresh eggs. He would bring a lard pail in which to carry them home. For a time, Mrs. Wells boarded the first ordained Minister in Kimberley. This was Rev. Stanley Redman, who came in 1919.

Always having been a loyal church worker, Mrs. Wells started the first Sunday School in her own home shortly after they arrived here. Many of the children who attended are still in the area as retired persons now. On warm summer Sundays, she would hold classes under the shade of the big poplar trees that grew behind her home. She kept chickens there, that ran free, and one day she thought she had the attention of all the class. A little boy put up his hand to ask a question and she expected it to be about the lesson. "Mrs. Wells, is that chicken going to be a rooster or not?" he asked.

During the war of 1914-15 she decided to hold a knitting class to teach the girls to knit socks and scarves for the soldiers overseas. The first day, she was greatly surprised when several boys also showed up to learn how to knit. One boy claims he still has the first square he ever knit as a keepsake. When they became quite proficient, she held a contest to see who could knit a pair of socks first, and a prize would be given. Two brothers were competing and one of them worked diligently all week, while the other one found other things to do. However on the final day he decided to get busy. He perched himself on the roof of a shed and knit all day. At the meeting that evening they found that they were at the same place in their knitting. The rest of the class were so fascinated watching the two boys, they couldn't do their own. The boys were down to their last few stitches when the boy who had worked so faithfully dropped a stitch, and his brother won. The prize was fifty cents, a goodly amount in those days.

Mr and Mrs W Wells and Edythe

Mrs. Wells was also a very competent practical nurse and acted as mid-wife at o the birth of several babies at that time. There was no doctor or hospital in town so her services were often requested. Dr. Green, Sr. would sometimes come all the way from Cranbrook, twenty miles away, by horse and buggy. One of these occasions was the birth of her own daughter, Edythe. It was a cold blustery day in March of 1915.

Following the war, the flu epidemic kept Mrs. Wells busy nursing and making pots of broth, which she delivered in person to people too ill to look after themselves. There were no baby sitters in those days, so young Edythe was instructed to stand at the window and watch for her mother's return between visits to the sick.

A Mr. Fred Ege owned one of the first cars on the Townsite. Occasionally he would pick Mrs. Wells up at the bottom of the hill and drive her to her destination. One day she heard him coming down the hill rather fast. She was sure he had forgotten to pick her up, so she stood at the side of the road waving a big white apron, but he whizzed past and drove on for a couple of blocks before coming back. He apologized that he couldn't stop, as he had forgotten how to apply the brakes!

Chu Lee was a Chinese vegetable man who came from his garden lot at the St. Eugene Mission to peddle his produce from door to door. Sometimes Mrs. Wells and Edythe would catch a ride with him to the Top Mine and visit friends for the day. Some of the people visited were the Ferrises, Evans, Eges, Caires, Wilsons, Millers and the Walter Glanvilles. To get home, they would walk down the long hill later in the day.

Amusements in those days were hiking and picnicking, and in winter, sleighriding. One wintery day remains in Edythe's memory - a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Billy Fleming in Meadowbrook. They were accompanied by Mrs. Foote and young Chris in a shiny black cutter. with red upholstery. The horse trotted along with the harness bells jingling in the crisp air. Meadowbrook seemed a long way out in the country over the winding road.

In 1919, the miners went on strike. Mr. Wells, Mr. Albin Johnson and Mr. Tommy Miller were three who became very hot under the collar about it. They were trying to help the working man, and were in sympathy with the miners, and said so. Before the company could fire Mr. Wells, he resigned. He got work in the city power house in Cranbrook but could not move his family down at that time. They were still living in Kimberley when the fire of 1919 threatened the town. They were evacuated to Marysville in someone's touring car. Just as they arrived, the veranda of the hotel caught fire due to a carelessly discarded cigarette butt. It was put out immediately but with fire all around the country it upset everyone. Edythe always referred to the forest fire as the big bon fire.

Edythe was married to a Minister and moved around Canada for over thirty years, serving both the United Church of Canada and the Presbyterian Church. When her husband passed away suddenly, she decided to visit the place of her birth and her many friends in Kimberley. She found Frank McClure, the man she had a high-school crush on, living here. They were married in October of 1972 and now reside in Marysville.

Edythe (Wells) McClure

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