Monday, June 26, 2017

Going back six decades

Yesterday I had the chance to revisit some of my very early history at Kimberley, BC, where I lived for four years until 1951. When I was just six months old my father took a job as a mining engineer at the Sullivan Mine in Kimberley.  He was just 26 years old, recently graduated from UBC and released from the army after WWII, newly married with a wife and a baby, (me).  

My sister was born in Kimberly in 1948 and our little family lived there at 80 Howard Street until a stupid and tragic accident at the mine took my father's life in March of 1949.  My widowed mother lived in Kimberly with Jan and me until 1951, at which time we left Kimberley and moved to Vancouver.

I have some memories of the house on Howard Street and some photos of my sister and me in front of the house. So I was pretty excited to see if I could find the house and perhaps even recognize it. Well it turns out that the house has been torn down and a small hotel built there. It's actually really close to the centre of town, probably prime real estate now. But, although there are some new buildings, there are still lots of really tiny houses that date from the period when I lived there. These are modest houses with one bathroom and two bedrooms on small lots, built probably in the 1920s or the 1930s.

The house across the street came the closest to my memory of the house I lived in. It has a lot of stairs going up and a porch along the front. This one has the added roof to keep the snow off the stairs. It's not a house we'd care to live in now, although you could probably buy it for about $100,000.

Yesterday afternoon we took a train ride into the old Sullivan Mine. I wanted to see where my dad had worked and where he lost his life. I've never been in a mine before and I have to say that it wasn't a wonderful experience: cold, dark and noisy. On the left you can see the train heading into the opening to the mine. And on the right our tour guide, who was miner for decades, explaining how the blasted the ore out and loaded it into cars.

These photos are of the powerhouse for the mine, where power was generated for all the mining activities. 

This belt ran the compressors and it was operated by water for many years. it still functions. The belt is made from continuous strands of hemp rope.

The Sullivan Mine continued operating for decades; it closed down permanently in 2001 and since then Kimberley has reinvented itself as a recreational centre featuring festivals, a theatre company,  and a faux Bavarian ambience. It has a nice family ski hill, miles of paved bike paths, and lots of kayaking and camping and canoeing. It's actually a really beautiful area, the second highest town in Canada at 3700 feet and the air is gorgeous. This is one of the covered bridges built across the creek in the centre of town.

We spent two nights at the Trickle Creek Lodge at the bottom of one of the Alpine ski hills. It was a great place to stay and we enjoyed dinner there last night.  Here's Harry enjoying ribs and a salad at the bottom of one of the ski lifts as the sun sets.

We spent the evening fantasizing about what it would be like to move to Kimberley. This often happens to us when we travel; we think about selling up and moving. Once we get home, reality surfaces though. We liked a lot of things about Kimberley: the fresh air, the cute little downtown, the Alpine meadows. But I think it would always remind me of the losses from my early years.


  1. Lovely trip but what a sad memory.
    I think you live in a most beautiful place I love your home.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

  2. Given the loss, it would weigh heavily on you. It seems the town has managed to carry on well even with the mine closing.

  3. Very nice your blog and article. I like this blog thank for sharing.



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