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Kimberley Families

The Wirth Family
as told by Annie

John William Wirth was born in Buffalo, New York. He was trained as a carpenter and a glass blower. He came west to Fort Steele when it was in its heyday. He met Sarah Hallinan whose parents had come out from Glasgow, Scotland, to Fernie and she came to Fort Steele to work at the Imperial Hotel for Ben Werden.

They were married in 1903 and they had four children, all born in Fort Steele: Annie, Helen, Ursula (Bunny) and a son, Johnny. When Mr. Wirth became ill and was unable to work, Mrs. Wirth and Annie came to Kimberley in the spring of 1924 and opened a boarding house. It was situated where the Sylvia Motel is now, and the Sash and Door lumber yard was next door where Harry Booth was manager.

Mr. Wirth and the other three children came in June after school closed for the summer. Shortly after Mrs. Wirth gave up the boarding house and got a job as housekeeper for the nurses home on the Townsite near the hospital. She walked to and from her work four days a week for thirty-one years.

Mr. Wirth was ill with what the doctors thought was rheumatoid arthritis in those days, but it proved to be creeping paralysis and he passed away in 1928.

Annie went to work as a waitress at the Top Mine cookhouse with Delia Calgren, Annie Houle, Alice Allen and Helen Johnson. They lived in the rooms above the cookhouse and worked seven days a week. It was here she met Alan Bond.

Alan Kennard Bond was born in Bridport, Dorset, England. He left school during the First World War to work on a farm. After the War, Canada was advertising for farm workers. He had an aunt in Toronto so he sailed in 1920. He was just eighteen and very young in appearance and his passport had his occupation as farmer. The immigration officer gave him a quizzical look and said "Farmer? I'll believe it but thousands wouldn't." That was Alan's introduction to Canadian humor. He didn't think it funny at the time but has had many a laugh over it since.

Centre Front is Annie (Wirth) Bond with Freddie Mayberry, Sam 
Derby, W. Houle, Alice Allen and Annie McRobb

After a short stay with his aunt he came west to work on a farm in the Kettle Valley for a few months. His next job was in a coal mine in Dodd, Alberta, near Camrose. He came to Kimberley to work at the Top Mine in 1921. He once frac- tured his hand and remembers being treated by Dr. Hannington in his small hospital at the foot of the hill from the Top Mine. That fall he went harvesting on the prairies but returned that winter. Alan was one of the first to own a camera and he has a few old pictures that he treasures. One is of Indian Pete as he was leaving to go home to the Mission with his horse loaded with his monthy supplies, including a slab of un- wrapped bacon tied to the back of his saddle, and his hand outstretched demanding fifty cents for the privilege of taking his picture.

Alan married Annie Wirth in 1925 and they continued to live at the top Mine for the next eight years. They had four children: Alan Jr., Donald, Helen and Gerald.

Helen Wirth married Edward (Casey) Jones and their story appears elsewhere in this book.

Ursula (Bunny) married Tom Sweeney, a safety officer at the Mine. He was transferred to Riondel as Safety Officer, where they have lived for the past twenty-five years. He retired in 1965. They had two daughers, Anne, now Mrs. Reimer in Penticton, and Frances, now Mrs. Sutherland living in Nelson.

Johnny Wirth was working at the Company office in 1939 when he was seriously injured in a car accident. Both Burton MacLeod and Jimmy Shea were killed. Johnny was left badly crippled. He took an accounting course at Spokane and returned to work in the Company office. He also became a sports writer for the Canadian Press and other newspapers. He died in 1969. There is often a little humor even in the saddest of situations. Johnny's funeral wasa big one. The hearse ran out of gas and had to be pushed down the hill from the Catholic Church to the service station. Annie remarked that it was enough to make Johnny turn over in his coffin.

Mrs. Wirth passed away in 1974 at the age of 93. Her last few years were spent in a nursing home in Vernon.

Annie's and Alan's son, Alan Jr., studied to be a doctor at the University of Toronto and attended medical college in Ottawa. He is a sur- geon in Cranbrook and has six children of his own: Susan, Alan, Mary Ellen, Johnny, Sarah and Kevin. Johnny was killed in 1978 while work- ing at the Fertilizer Plant. Mr. and Mrs. Alan Bond Senior's second son, Donald, was killed in a car accident in 1972. He had worked at the Company office in the ac- counting department for twenty-five years. went through for a teacher and taught at Courtenay for two years and Cranbrook for four before returning to teach in Kimberley. She married Herbert Cross, who is a miner for the Company, and they still reside here. They have three children: Judy, Thomas and Heather. Judy is now Mrs. Vandermataan,and Thomas and Heather are still in school. Gerald took a millwright course with the Company and has worked at the Concentrator, the Fertilizer and the Mine. He married Janice Cox of Marysville and they have two children, Marcie and Daniel (Danny).

Annie and Alan have a summer home on beautiful White Swan Lake where they spend their summers. Alan enjoys fishing and used to hunt. Working underground for forty-three years, he would head for the wide open spaces as soon as he came out of the Mine. He retired in 1964 and they still reside in their home on Rotary Drive where they have lived since they moved from the Top Mine in 1933.

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