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Kimberley Families

The Wright Family
as told by sons Albert and Jack

Walter Alvin Wright came to Raymore, Saskatchewan from Chipewa Falls, Wisconsin. In a short time he took up a homestead just north of Punnichy. He married a girl from nearby Raymore who had been born in Hamberg, Ger- many.

Three sons, Albert (AD), John (Jack) and Robert (Bob) were born in Raymore. When Al was only ten years old, his mother died and his grandparents in Raymore looked after him for awhile.

In the spring of 1924, an uncle, Jack Campbell, encouraged Walter to seek work in Kimberley. He and his two eldest sons, Al and Jack, only thirteen and nine, along with James Black and Bill Kelly, started out in a Model T. Ford. It took eight days. Just as they were cross- ing the bridge at Marysville they experienced two flat tires, only two of many. The tires were badly worn so they just kept driving and limped into Kimberley on the rims.

There being no houses available, they camped for three weeks by Mark Creek among the bushes, just below the newly built bridge on Wallinger Avenue.

James Black got work on the pipe gang and Walter went to the Mine. The grandparents and young Bob followed in the fall of that same year and grandfather Robert Wright, with the help of the two boys, set about building a two story house near the creek where they had camped.

The boys attended school and Miss Jerome was their first teacher. There was only one building at that time - on the site where Watkins School now stands.

The McDougall Hall was newly built and Al used to set pins at the bowling alley and do some janitor work for spending money. Bert Colthorp was the manager. At fourteen Al quit school and went to work at the L. D. Ranch at Wycliffe in 1925. Two years later he worked for Pete Woods at the Cherry Creek Ranch.

In 1931, Al and Bill Kelly had a memorable experience. George Brennan had a wood business in the Perry Creek area, where the boys worked for awhile. When he decided to move to Newton, near Vancouver, he asked the boys to drive his team and wagon with the drag saw, so the boys took up the challenge. They started out in July. They had no tent, just a canvas ground sheet and a blanket. If it rained they slept under the wagon, if not, a big tree would do. Going over the Cascades they got lost across the border but managed to get back into Canada. There were no customs or immigration on that back road.

When they reached Osooyos they had to spend the day soaking the wheels in the lake to tighten them up, and at Merritt they had the horses reshod. They carried plenty of grease to keep the wheels turning. This they softened up in a lard pail over an open fire. It took six weeks and one day to make the trip. Sometimes they only covered five miles a day in the steep passes. Al recalls how kind and helpful the Doukabours were, at times feeding them and their horse. Their return trip was made in a Model T Ford for which they paid $10, but it broke down before it got to Kimberley.

During the depression in 1934, Al and his brother, Bob, worked for Jess Miller cutting cord wood up Perry Creek. With one horse and a cross cut saw, they cut twelve cords a day. A cord sold for two dollars delivered in town. One summer Al tried placer mining for gold up Nigger Creek, back of Lumberton. By 1936 he got work at the Mine on transportation. Jack McConnichie was his boss.

In 1942, Al married a widow, Elsie Bouck, who had one daughter, Olive. Elsie came from Cremona, Alberta. Elsie and her former husband, Percy Bouck, used to live at Billy Meacham's place up above St. Marys Lake. Percy was a logger and a trapper. Elsie can remember how Olive, just three years old at the time would visit with old Mr. Meacham who was over ninety. They moved from Mr. Meacham's place after Percy built a little house in Marysville. When Percy passed away, Elsie continued to live there. She did ironing for a living and sometimes spent thirty hours a week at that tedious task.

Al worked in the Mine on such jobs as diamond drilling and development. He retired in 1971.

His brother, Jack, worked in a coal mine at Cumberland and at a gold mine at Surf Inlet before getting employment with the Company at Pinchi Lake in 1942. This mine was rich in mercury, needed for the war effort. Jack says the roasting plant there burned one hundred and seventy-five cords of wood a day.

In 1943, Jack married Regina Hutmacher whom he met at Pinchi Lake. When the mine closed down in 1944 they came back to Kimberley where Jack went underground on transportation and diamond drilling. He was then transferred to the Concentrator and worked in the Steam Plant, the tailings pond, and the lubrication crew. He worked in the electrical department at the Fertilizer Plant until he retired in 1973. Jack and Regina have one adopted son, Walter, now living in Toronto. Walter is married with one daughter and one step-daughter.

Bob worked at the Mine until he went overseas. On his return he went to Nelson and got work on the ferry and later with the West Kootenay Forest Products. He married a Cranbrook girl, Queenie Kemball, and they have three children: Peggy is in Vancouver, Patsy is still in Nelson and Robbie lives in Kelowna and plays hockey for the Packers. Bob passed away in 1966.

Al and Elsie's daughter, Olive, married Ed Mufford. At present he is a millwright at the Concentrator. They have three children: Keith, Lorraine and Carol. Keith is a welder for the Company at Elkford.

Al and Jack have many fond memories of growing up in Kimberley. They both love the outdoors, fishing and hunting. Al recalls once walking out to Cherry Creek with a friend and catching a creel full of fish. They decided to spend the night under the stars, so to keep the fish fresh they dug a hole near the creek. This hole filled up with water and in this they dumped the fish. In the morning not one fish was left. A bear had enjoyed a sumptuous meal only a few feet away from the sleeping boys.

Al and Elsie still enjoy fishing and bowling but he no longer hunts as he gave his rifle to his grandson. Both couples still reside in Marysville.

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