Letters of Capt. Kenneth Gilbert McBride (1920-1944) of Nelson, BC and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada regiment

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With all that he accomplished, it is hard to believe Capt. Kenneth Gilbert McBride of the Seaforth Highlander Regiment was only 24 when he was killed in action September 16, 1944 near Rimini in the Allied offensive towards northeastern Italy in the Second World War.

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Ken McBride circa 1943

Ken was renowned as an athlete and sportsman, and cherished by his family as well as many friends across Canada.  Often described as the best golfer to ever come out of the Kootenay region, he was captain of the UBC Golf Team in 1940 and 1941 and won a raft of trophies as a junior and young adult before entering military service in 1942.

He was also a provincial badminton champion, star forward of the Nelson High School basketball team, and the best billiards and snooker player in Nelson. He was also exceedingly popular in his hometown of Nelson, as well as at UBC and in his regiment.  His nicknames included Wee Kenny, Romeo and The Golden-Haired Boy.

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Ken at right with brother Leigh, c. 1934

Born Jan. 20, 1920, Ken was the son of Roland Leigh McBride (1881-1959) and Winifred May Foote (1889-1960), and brother and only sibling of my father Leigh Morgan McBride 1917-1995). His father had been a founding director of the Nelson Golf and Country Club in 1919, and the whole family was extremely keen about golf.  He attended Central School, Trafalgar Junior High and the Nelson High School.  A common bond in the family was that he, Leigh, Leigh’s wife Dee Dee, and their children Ken E.L. McBride, Sam McBride and Eve McBride all had the same grade one teacher, Eileen McKenzie.

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Ken with brother Leigh at left, and father R.L. McBride, c. 1942

At UBC he studied Commerce in preparation for a business career. He completed his third year of university before enlisting in the Canadian Army in 1942.  He followed his brother Leigh in officer training for the Vancouver-based regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.  They both trained at Currie Barracks in Calgary, as well as Gordon Head on Vancouver Island, before going to Britain for further training.

Leigh was on the beaches in the Allied invasion of Sicily on July 9, 1943, and Ken arrived in Sicily a couple of weeks later.  Both were in the forefront of heavy fighting in mainland Italy, including the famous battles of Cassino and Ortona.  Both were wounded and hospitalized on at least two occasions.  In the Liri River campaign on May 23, 1944, Leigh was seriously wounded and the only survivor of a near-direct hit by a large German shell.  He lost his left eye, and had shrapnel wounds throughout his body.  He was found unconscious by German soldiers, who took him as a prisoner for treatment at a hospital in Rome and then to POW camps in Germany.  No one on the Allied side knew what had happened to him, so he was listed as Missing for three months until word came back through the Red Cross that he was alive and recovering.  His parents heard the good news on Sept. 20, 1944, but just two days later, on Sept. 22, 1944, they were notified by telegram that Ken had died a week before when his vehicle hit a mine planted by the Germans.

001The shock of Ken’s death resonated throughout Nelson, as well as UBC and in other communities in B.C. and other provinces where Ken was well-known and highly respected.  The golf club raised funds for an engraved sterling silver tray to be awarded each year to the winner of the Labour Day Open golf tournament, which was the club championship, and also recognized as the Kootenay Open championship.

His parents and then brother Leigh kept the family scrapbook through the years, as well as letters and other memorabilia.  The transcribed and annotated letters will be provided to local archives, as well as the Canadian Letters and Images Project and others interested.  The content of the letters reveals a lot about Ken and what made his special.  In addition to Ken’s letters, below are letters relating to Ken from Leigh, his friend Beattie, and his father R.L. McBride.  While some of the letters are undated, I have tried to arrange them chronologically based on content.  Also presented below is a list of the golfers who won the Ken McBride Memorial Trophy while it was offered in Labour Day Tournaments between 1945 and 1977.

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example of one of Ken’s letters home

LETTERS OF K.G. McBRIDE 1920-1944

#1 – Ken’s letter to parents August 1934

TEXT ON POSTCARD: Hotel Coeur D’Alene, Spokane Wash.  The hotel with a personality.  Rates $1.50 and up.  PHOTO OF HOTEL ON FRONT. Found in hotel envelope with stamp postmarked Aug. 23, 1934.  No date on enclosed card

Dear Dad:

Having a wonderful time.  Played Manitou1 on Tues. afternoon. Played with Doc Morehouse and Ray Stimmel, a caddy at Down River2.  He played awful and he still got 93.  He said it was the first time he went over 80 in 2 years.  Played rotten.  Played the mighty Country Club today.  Dr. Geo. Williams took us out.  Took an 8 on No. 8 the first time.  Drove into the lake!

You owe me 25 cents funny3.  Got a 48 and 45!  93 net.  It’s a wonderful course.  The boy I was playing with said it was over 200 yards.  Past the tree by about 50 yards.  Playing Down River tomorrow!  With that caddie (Ray).  Playing SHGCC on Friday.

Love

Little Mons4

1 – golf course in Spokane

2 – golf course in Spokane

3 – short form of Ken’s nickname for his dad, Funny Old Mons (Man).

4 –  Little Mons was a nickname (term of endearment, relating to the Little Man he was called in his childhood) for Ken between him and his father, along the lines of #3 above.  After Ken was killed in action in Italy in 1944 the War Graves authority gave his parents the opportunity of choosing a couple of words for his tombstone.  They chose “Little Mons”.  The parents never made it to Italy to visit Ken’s grave.  Leigh visited the grave in 1974 when he was in Italy for the 30th anniversary of “Canadian Soldiers in Italy”.  His son Ken E.L. McBride visited his uncle’s grave in about 1971, and other son Sam visited the grave in 2005.

#2 – Second postcard, Hotel Coeur D’Alene in hotel envelope with stamp postmarked Aug. 23, 1934, no date on enclosed card

Dear Dad

Yesterday Tues. afternoon went to Manitou – played terrible – got 42 on last 9.  Today at 8:15 Dr. George Williams took us out to C.C.1 – he had arranged game for us with 2 juniors – introduced to Moe and Miller – both were awfully nice.  I played about 94 in the A.M.  – one of the kid’s father a 4man took us to lunch in afternoon.  We played last nine first and I had 43 for that nine.  On the first nine I took a 47 making 90.  I took a 7 on 4 because I hooked into woods – such hopeless place that I hit it and thought it out but it came right back under a tree.  I then fanned because I could not even get to the ball – so it really was an 88 because those 2 shots did not do anything except to make conditions worse.  Friday I think we are going out again.

Moe said I had a nice swing.  All the time I have yet to hit a wood shot off tee or fairway.  @ Manitou my irons were marvellous but my woods were too awful.  Ditto putting in the last 9 @ C.C.  I got my putting touch at last.  I wish I could take a lesson from Moe in driving.  I feel ashamed of them – they are so hopeless.  On 6 I carried over the tree on the corner – got easy pars on that hole both times – took pen to Grahins and the trouble was just (END OF CARD)

1 – the Spokane Country Club Golf Course, one of the best golf courses in Spokane

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Ken’s UBC Golf Team badge

#3 Ken’s Letter to parents dated Nov. 13, 1939, when he was attending University of B.C.

4413 W 9th Ave.

Vancouver

Dearest Dad:

Thanks a million for your telegram – I got a big thrill out of getting it.  I didn’t know how you could know so soon, as I only played my match on Wed. and I received your wire on Thursday but from your letter I guess my name was on the radio – sure enough!  I also had another big thrill as Mayor N.C. Stibbs1 sent me a telegram, which I am enclosing with yours.  It was swell of him to do such a thing, so I wish you would keep these two telegrams for me.  Thanks for the paper – I received quite a write-up in the Nelson paper and please cut out the write up in to-nite’s Province (Sat.) as it is quite good.  The heading is about the Varsity golfers going to California after exams next April.  I Hope we do make the trip and I think we will as everybody thinks it a great idea.

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telegram sent by Nelson mayor Stibbs congratulating Ken on UBC tourney win.

But I must tell you about the finals.  I started very poorly – missed three drives in a row and I couldn’t quite click the first nine so I found myself three down.  Swinton had a 38 (par 36) but birdied the tenth and we halved the 11th, 12th in pars and I was stymied on the 13th so I was 3 down and on the 14th Hans had a 3 and I had a birdie so I was four down.  15th halved in one over par, 16th I won with a one over par when he missed a short putt and the same thing happened on the 17th and I won the 18th with a beautiful approach that should have dropped so I was only one down at lunch but I thought for sure I would be more down. I was hitting long drives in the second nine but my putting wasn’t as good as it should have been.

We started at the 10th after lunch because of the large crown on the 1st tee.  We halved the 10th, 11th, 12th w pars and I won the 13th with a one over par 5 and we halved the par 5 14th in birdies.  I won 15th with a par 4 to go one up for the first time but I lost two holes in a row where I had easy chances for pars – just sloppy and we halved the 18th in 3’s so I was still one down but I birdied the 1st with a four and lost the 2nd when I was very close to the green with my tee shot (par 4) and on the next 3 holes I was within 6 feet of the cup with my second shots and I didn’t can any of them – disgusting!  On the 4th hole I was still one down so I gambled and played a tremendous shot over trees on a dog-leg.  I really smacked it a terrific wallop.  I won that hole and I won the 6th with a 3 to go one up and then I muffed a short niblick but he 3 putted and I won the 35th with a par to win the tournament.  I had a 75 in the afternoon and a 78 in the morning but I didn’t sink a putt over 3 feet – they just wouldn’t drop.  I was hitting the ball further than I had ever done before so you can realize how far they were going.  The kid that refereed said he couldn’t understand how I hit them so far – he weighs about 200.  He used to be (about 2 years ago) one of the very best in Vancouver, and he told me that he had never seen anyone ever hit drives any better than I did on Wednesday.  I was the man of the hour this last week out at Varsity, so I was very proud of myself.  I’m not going to play any more golf now until after Christmas as the exams are only 3 ½ weeks away and I’ve got to dig in harder than ever.

The tux is super!  It fits very well and I look like a handsome Romeo in it but I find that a tux isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world but I liked wearing it.  I took Marg. To the Arts-Aggie Formal last Thursday – sent her a corsage too!  It sure is wonderful feeling to wear a tux the first time in one’s life – I really felt dressed up.

I have seen a lot of Mother but not quite as much as I would have liked to but I’m going to spend all to-morrow afternoon with her – she’s leaving on Monday I believe, and she’s very pleased with her new teeth and is feeling fine2.

It will be swell to get back home for Christmas and see the Funny Old Mons3 again.

Love

Ken

P.S.  I guess I have broken my 2 year jinx in golf so watch my smoke next year.

Ken

1 – Norman C. Stibbs, Mayor of Nelson, B.C. 1938-1946

2 – While getting dental work in Vancouver, Ken’s mother Winifred may have been staying with her sister Josie Rollins who lived in Vancouver.

3 – Ken’s childhood name for his father R.L. McBride

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#4 — K.G. McBride letter to parents

University of British Columbia

2594 Wallace Crescent

Vancouver, B.C.

Jan. 30, 1941

Dearest Dad and Mother

Gosh how can I ever thank you for such a wonderful 21st birthday present!  If only I could talk to you and tell you how much I think of it – your taste is perfect as I knew it would be.  I think everyone in the University has seen it.  I had lectures all day yesterday and couldn’t get home until 6:00, but did I ever run home from the bus.  Golly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited or so nervous in all my life when I was unwrapping your parcel – then I saw the Big Ben Alarm Box, I think my face fell a foot but when I saw the watch!  Gosh I wish I could have been home with you.  Thanks a million times over.  I’ve never seen a finer watch in all my life, and it’s a Bulova too – oh boy.  I set it last nite with the radio and comes over the radio – “it is now 6:15 Bulova Watch Time”.  I certainly got a thrill when he said that.

But I’m telling you the truth – it has not gained or lost a second for 24 hours.  Oh it is a beautiful watch and never fear that I shall lose it ‘cause I won’t – it means far too much to me1.  It represents the finest Father and Mother in the world and all I hope is that I can be worthy of both of you and make as much a success of my life as you have.  I really mean that!  I shall always have that watch.  I sure like the strap and the gold letters.  I’m sending you home the card that came with my watch – I want you to be sure and keep it for me or put it in the Scrap book.  Please don’t lose it.

I haven’t been able to write you for about 6 days because I had the German Measles and I was quarantined in the house and the Doctor told me to avoid allowing the germ to spread anywhere.  My internment lasted until Tuesday evening – the night before my birthday.  By the way, I did a great deal of studying while I had the measles.  The Doctor said it wouldn’t hurt my eyes as I had a very light case – my body only had a rash for 1 day.  I felt fine all the time – didn’t even have to go to bed.  I was awfully glad that I was out for my birthday.  I celebrated by drinking a few beers – very moderate though.  I saved 2.50 and bought beers with that for 5 of us (3 frat brothers and Jim).

Leigh2 sent me a very nice letter and I appreciate it immensely.  I really think he is my best friend – we get along beautifully now.  I had 3 letters inside of a week from him.  All in all it was a very wonderful birthday.  If my finances hadn’t been so low I would have phoned home to you, but I didn’t, and I didn’t want to reverse the charges.  Never have I wanted to be with you more – it was super of you.  This letter must sound very disjointed but I’m very thrilled so I guess you’ll have to forgive the bad grammar in places.

Say I got my uniform to-day and I look O.K. in it – also my first stripe.  I’m going to get one of the fellows in the house to take my picture in it soon and send it home to you.  It will save my clothes and shoes a great deal.

I move into the Phi Delt3 House to-morrow nite – it should be swell.  I shall study harder and you will note the fact by my final marks – I promise you.

Well I must close now so thanks a million Dad and Mom.  I’ve never had such a thrill in all my life and I look at it every ten seconds.  Your taste couldn’t have been better.

Thanks

I love you both.

Lots of love

Ken

ATTACHED CARD:  PRINTED TEXT: A Gift for Your Birthday.  This little gift does not come alone – with it are a host of good wishes for your birthday.  HANDWRITING: Ken with lots of love Mother and daddy.

1 – After Ken died from a road mine explosion in September 1944, his parents received a list of his possessions from army authorities.  The list included a Bulova watch (damaged).  It is possible that he was wearing the watch when he was killed, and the force of the explosion damaged the watch.

2 – his brother and only sibling, Leigh Morgan McBride (1917-1995)

3 –  his UBC fraternity, Phi Delta Theda

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#5 – Ken letter to parents

K.G. McBride, UBC

2594 Wallace Crescent

Vancouver, B.C.

April 6, 1941

Dear Mom and Dad:

I’ve got the fear of God in me!  Can’t say that I am looking forward to my exams a great deal, but I’m right in there punching.  Only 2 more weeks of studying, then exams, then a few free days, then military camp in Nanaimo, then home to Nelson.  Gosh that does sound wonderful.

I’m very sorry to hear that Clara is leaving the household.  Say good-bye to her for me and give her my very best regards.  I won’t be able to call anyone “Butch” around home anymore – that was Clara’s pet name.

I was sorry to see Trail1 lose after doing so well in the first three games against Lethbridge.  I was really pulling for Trail.  By the way, I was asked to speak on CJOR “Varsity Time” about badminton.  I declined; later I was asked to speak for golf – I declined.  I would have liked to have done it but it would mean a whole night of study gone.

Had a rather happy meeting last Thursday nite.  An R.C.A.F. flying officer phoned the Phi Delt house to say hello.  He was just in town until 7:15 and it was then 4:00 p.m.  He said he was a Phi Delt from U. of A2.  Thereupon he and I got together.  One of the fellows volunteered to get him in his car and have him out to dinner and return him to C.N.R. R.R. Station by 7:15.  He accepted the dinner invitation very readily – as it turned out, he was a very close friend of Leigh’s and Blake’s3 and knew all the lads from Nelson who attend U. of A.  He told me he would phone Leigh up as soon as he reached Edmonton.  It was very fine of him.  Also for the past couple of days we have had a couple of rowers from Oregon State College staying at our House.  They were nice boys and sort of took our rowing team into camp, but our team is not so hot.

It sure is wonderful to hear that the course4 is almost in perfect condition.  I’m itching to play.  I got a report from an alum of ΦΔΘ, Fred Dietrich, a traveller5, that Ken Andrews is practising as hard as he can.  I hear also, that he might be moving.  I certainly hope not.

Well bye for now

All my love. Ken

1 – The McBrides would normally cheer for the hockey home team Maples Leafs, but they also had strong connections with the nearby City of Trail, whose Smoke Eaters team was exception in that era, regularly competing for national and international championships, including being world champions in 1939.

2 – University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.

3 – His cousin Blake Allan (1916-2009), who was Leigh’s law partner after the war, and then a judge.

4 – The Nelson Golf Course, of which his father R.L. McBride was a founding director when it opened in July 1919.

5 – I believe the term “traveler” refers to him being someone whose work involves regularly travelling for commercial purposes, such as purchasing and sales.  R.L. McBride was listed as a “traveler” with the Wood Vallance Hardware Company early in his business career.

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#6 – Ken letter to mother

K.G. McBride

University of British Columbia

2594 Wallace Crescent

Vancouver, BC

Oct. 14, 1941

Dear Mother

Hello!  I have a clipping enclosed in this letter for your scrap book.  It is sort of humorous but I think Ormie1 is just trying to throw a scare into me.

Guess what!  I went to a beautiful dinner party on Friday evening before the Kappa Cabaret.  John Carson invited Ted McBride2 and myself.  I took a girl from Toronto who was very nice.  The dinner was all very formal – such as serving one’s own vegetables down at the main dining room of the Vancouver Hotel (Just a little too formal for me).  The party was very fine – I went with Ted. Wonder if they are related to us in any way at all – they vote same way we do, originate in the same place, same religional denomination etc, etc.  But speaking of voting – did you know that Pat Maitland – Conserv. Leader – is a Phi Delt.  I hope he gets in although I do realize that he’d be fortunate if he does win.

At noon on Saturday we had a rushing function – I had to figure out a meal for 65.  What a job.  I gave them tomato juice, meat pie, carrots and peas, ice cream and hot chocolate sauce with cake and coffee.  It all went very smoothly – we had 2 sittings and had everybody serving or washing dishes etc.  And believe it or not, I even had ordered the right amount of food including ice cream.  I was tired that night so I stayed home and read Romeo and Juliet.  And on Sunday I had my turkey dinner with Brother John Clement and his father Dean Clement of the Faculty of Agriculture (both Phi Delts).  It was a wonderful dinner and I certainly did appreciate it although I ate a horrible amount.

Well, this is just a note so, bye for now Mein darling.

All my love.

Ken

1 – his friend and fellow keen golfer Ormie Hall, who later wrote golf stories for the Vancouver Sun.

2 – Even today there is no indication that Ted McBride was a relative of the Nelson McBrides

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#7 – Ken letter to father

Phi Delta Theta letterhead

2594 Wallace Crescent

Vancouver, B.C.

Nov. 16, 1941

Dear Dad:

Hey Funny1, look at the funny writing paper.  I think I’ll buy some for myself after Christmas.  It’s very little more expensive and it does look smart.  It’s our crest.

But any how, I really want to thank you for your two letters from the east.  I was really thrilled with your letter in which you attended the Maple Leaf hockey game with a Phi Delt from McGill.  I roared around and told all my Phi Delt pals what you did and they were very impressed.  They all thought it was wonderful of you.  Boy, was I ever proud when I told them about you and how you were given the tickets.  Thanks a million, Dad and I know that the boy you took to the game was very thankful and very happy to go.

This afternoon (Sunday) I went over to Ted McBride’s for dinner, after which I coached Ted’s young brother in accounting.  The McBrides were really very nice to me.  But, I have this course in wonderful.  So far I have had two exams in it and I’ve recorded an 83 and an 85 which pleased me a great deal.  I had an exam in Eng. 9 on Shakespearian dramas but the marks have not been turned back  as yet.  Econ. 4 (Money and Banking) is really a fine course and one I am interested in.

But to get to a very sad story!  Ouch, it’s about golf and I am damn disappointed but nevertheless I can’t get the breaks all the time.  But – to have an 86 and to lose 3-2 to an 82 is horrible. I couldn’t control my putter at all – also my chip shots were always short.  I really lost the game on the green.  Can you imagine I took 4 putts – half of my total score almost.  I lost the first two holes to a par and a birdie and try as I might I could never get them back.  Actually however, I did not practise my short game at all so it was all my fault.  (Sunday nite).

Monday afternoon Jimmy lost his match to Ormie3 down on the 18th.  They were all square on the 18th tee and Jim hit his on, 20 feet from the pin, whereas Ormie was to the left about 40 feet away with a bunker to pitch over.  Ormie made a beautiful shot and laid his dead and James 3-putted.  It was a tough break for Jim as he was fighting hard – he was 2 down at the 9th, but was actually 1 up at the end of the 15th.  All that is left is Swinton, Plommer, Hall and Ford.  By the way, when I won my first round match I had a 73 but should have been under par.  I got quite a splash in the U.B.C. or losing.  One thing made me happy – Plommer and Ormie both congratulated me by saying that I should actually have won the tournament with very little trouble.

Now about a serious matter.  With your permission I think I shall join up in the Army, Dad – after school is over next May.  I could go back to school next year without being conscripted but I think it would be detrimental to me – I owe my services, however small they may be, to Canada.  I should be able to obtain a commission in the army with not too much difficulty or some other service.  But anyhow, I have a lot of time to think about it and nothing will be decided until I come home for my holidays where we can discuss it thoroughly.

I’m very anxious to see the new offices etc.  It should look smart – wonder if the Funny Old Mons is going to have his own private office1.  Well, Funny, I must get some work done now as there is a fraternity meeting to-nite.

Bye for now and loads of love

Ken

P.S.  As yet I haven’t received my 15th of month money.

1 – abbreviation of his nickname for his father “Funny Old Mons”

2 – Ken’s cousin Jimmy Allan

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scan of first page of Ken`s letter, with Phi Delta Theda letterhead

 

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#8 – Ken letter to parents

Est. early fall 1942

Cadets’ Mess, Gordon Head, B.C.

Dear Mother and Dad,

Whew!  Work and more work – it’s amazing!  On Sunday I was blood-grouped and had a couple of blood tests.  I find my blood is A group and I’m a very healthy lad.  By the way, I gave away about a test tube of blood.  Same as a blood transfusion.  It didn’t bother me!  But it’s a good idea to be blood-grouped – I am glad I volunteered.

Here is some amazing news!  If all goes well I’ll be graduating on Oct. 9th with Jim1 and all my buddies.  It is not definite as yet but there is a very good indication that it will be.  I hope so.  The reason is that they want to expand the camp to accommodate more men – thus sending all third month men to their Advanced Training Centre 1 month ahead of time.  So I hope to be going to Currie Barracks for a 2 month spell instead of one as Leigh2 is doing.  You see I’ll be taking the same amount of work and time except I’ll be going to Infantry Special Wing at Currie Barracks.  That means I must order my uniform now – and is it ever expensive – approx. $80 all told and then I need a pair of black shoes as Seaforths all wear black shoes.  I do hope we graduate this month.  In a General Current Events quiz I was 3rd in a class of 30.  It was a tough baby too.

I have to work every night this week – only wish I had twice as much time to do things in.  On Wed. night I have to give a 10 minute lecture.  More fun!  This is all part of the training one gets here.

I never received the Daily News3 concerning the golf tourney.

I must do a large-scale map now, so ‘bye for now.

Love, Ken

P.S.  I’ll let you know about my graduation – hope you have real good time in Medicine Hat4.

Tell Leigh to write me!

Ken

1 – his cousin and best friend Jimmy Allan

2 – his brother Leigh Morgan McBride

3 – the Nelson (B.C.) Daily News

4 – his aunt Gladys Foote and her husband Colin Moir lived in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where they were often visited by the McBrides

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#9 – Ken letter to his mother

K.G. McBride, UBC

Postmark Calgary Jan. 26, 1943

Letterhead Officers’ Mess, Currie Barracks, Calgary Alberta

Monday p.m.

Dearest Mom,

Hello dear – still no news as regards my draft so we are 1 day closer to my 2 weeks leave.  I might phone you to-nite just to chat but if I do it won’t be because I am on my way east.

Here are the pictures I forgot to enclose in my last letter.  I’m crazy!   I’ve spent more money on stuff I have to take overseas – it’s amazing.  My resources are going downhill fast.  But anyhow, dear, just a note to tell you there’s nothing to worry about at all.  I’ve done very little real work since I returned so I’m in fine shape.

Well there’s a show on in the mess to-night so I guess I’ll go over and rest my weary bones.

All my love

Ken

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#10 – Ken letter to parents

Postmarked Feb. 1, 1943

Officers’ Mess

A16, C.J.T.C.

Currie Barracks, Calgary

Dearest Mom and Dad

Hello!  I had a letter from Leigh and it arrived on my birthday which was rather nice – also your nice card, money order and socks and hankies.  Gee, they are fine socks ‘cause it’s hard to get good black socks as they are usually made of cotton and are no good at all.  Thanks a million.  I received 6 letters that day and 2 on Saturday so I had a real field day.  I even had a birthday card from my old gal Audrey Emery1 – it was nice of her to remember her old buddy.  I also heard from Jim, Ormie Hall, my new girl, and loads of other people.

Still no news on my draft and tomorrow is Feb. 1st so if we hold out 5 or 6 more days I’m in the clear for a 2 week visit home –- however it isn’t a cinch yet by any means so just keep your fingers crossed and hope I make it.  By the way, Leigh told me to take him a cheap 1.00 watch and gloves and a flash light with batteries.  So I’ll bring them to Calgary – thanks for saving them for me anyway Dad.  I’ll enclose his letter.

On Friday I got my draft notice to join the army – quite a laugh!  Mother forwarded it to me.  I guess I had better answer it so they don’t think I’m evading the draft.  They’ll be a mite surprised when they see it signed Lieut. KG McBride – Seaforths of Canada.  On Saturday I went through the gas chambers through chlorine gas and DM gas.  The first one is lethal so we had our respirators on, but if we hadn’t one wouldn’t even have been able to walk 15 feet before this chlorine gas would overcome me.  Thank goodness I have a good respirator!  The DM gas is a choking gas and produces a sick and morbid feeling and makes one cough like mad.  I recovered from it in about an hour – we had to take it with our respirator off so that wasn’t so sweet.  I have been transferred from B Coy2 to G Coy and I have a permanent militia man as C.O.3 and he is a heel – he is always spying on his fledgling officers which makes me furious.  I certainly hate that cad with all my might!  He does know his training however so I am learning fast by the trial and error method.

Well I have to prepare 4 lectures of 45 min. each  to give to my platoon  to-morrow so I must go now.

All my love,

Ken

P.S. I was down at Len Wright’s* on Wed nite.P.S.(2) I play basketball in the senior league here for A16 CITC on Wed nite and our team won 63-33.  I scored 5 points which surprised me after not having played for 3 or 4 years – so I guess I’m on the team now!

1 – later became Audrey Heustis, wife of Bob Heustis who was vice principal of LV Rogers High School in Nelson when I was a student there in the late 1960s.  Audrey and Bob were close friends of the Leigh McBride family for many years.

2 – Company

3 – Commanding Officer

4 – After the war, Len Wright was a founder of Wright Engineering, a prominent engineering company based in Vancouver.  My second cousin Michael Allan (son of Jimmy Allan, Ken`s best friend and cousin) worked at Wright Engineering in the 1970s.

—–

#11 – Ken letter to his father c/o Wood Vallance Store

Officers Mess, Currie Barracks, Calgary letterhead

Dearest Dad

Well I’ve put in my application for annual leave – did it today.  However, I am still no cinch for it.  I had my application pass through the Orderly Room at Currie Barracks.  From there it goes to District Depot – they can hold it back for 2 reasons. 1) we are on embarkation as we’ve had our leave; 2) there has been an order from district depot saying that no further furloughs would be granted as the railway traffic is so heavy but the K.V.1 is very slow in traffic, especially 1st class.  So my fingers are still crossed but I figure my chances are now with me 75-25.  If I do get it I figure I might go to Moscow Idaho for the 13th of Feb as Pat Jacque has written to ask me to go to the Kappa Formal.  It would be nice.

The experience I am getting with my new major is excellent as it will help a lot when I get overseas.  I am getting swell training with my men and I’m learning more about man management all the time.  It is good training for future life in many ways.

The old Russian bear is really rolling these days isn’t it?  They are doing a marvelous job, especially as regards Stalingrad.2

I just read in the paper that one of the men who lived in the fraternity house with me was presumed killed after operations.  He was a Flying Officer in the Air Force.  But I am sure it is going to blow over in a year if things keep going as they are now.

Well, all for now, Fun.

Best ever, Ken

The Funny Little Mons

Keep your fingers crossed.  I hope I get my leave for the 10th.

1 – the Kettle Valley Railroad, which operated between 1916 and 1959, connecting the BC Lower Mainland with the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

2 – The mention of the Battle of Stalingrad would date the letter to sometime after February 1943 when the Germans at Stalingrad surrendered to the Russians.

——

#12 – Ken letter from Britain to parents

Est. June 1943

Logo of Canadian YMCA.

On Active Service

Lieut. K.G. McBride

Seaforths of Can.

2nd Bn, I.C.A.R.D.

  1. Coy (C.A.O.)1

Dearest Mother and Dad

Hello – one of Leigh’s letters came here yesterday so I read it and then sent it on to his address.  In it I was glad to note that by June 15th you were receiving a fair amount of mail from me.  That’s good – then I know that you are receiving most, or all, of my mail.  I am writing as often as possible but news is fairly scarce over here as there is so much routine which is all very boring to write.  So if you find some of my letters dull and repetitive, please forgive.

Of late I have been receiving a fair amount of mail from the Funny Old Mons.  They have been very interesting and of good length.  You must have had a terrific time in Kimberley with the boys.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Alan Graham took the cup from Art Franks.  Nice of him to make a point of sending his regards to me — makes me feel good.  He’s a fine fellow.  Can’t understand what happened to J. Blackstone but guess he might have found the fairways just as narrow as last year.  Tell him to start practising up for next year.

Had a lot of fun yesterday with my platoon on sports.  We had a game with another platoon and believe me there was a lot of feeling in it.  Reminded me of some of those wild games we use to play in Nelson.  I bet 10 shillings on the outcome of the game with the other platoon officer and my team won 16-10.  I did O.K. – managed to get a couple of hits and a walk.  It was a lot of fun and the lads really went all out for a win.  I have a dandy platoon – a real bunch of fine men who are in good condition.

I was on a Quiz contest the other night.  It was a sports quiz.  I managed to tie for top place with another officer.  We were going to break the tie so the Master of Ceremonies asked the audience for one tough question to ask us.  First one was “who was the only man to make an unassisted triple play in a Worlds’ Series game.”  Neither of us could recall who it was – although I know Leigh and Mr. Sharp2 will blush for my ignorance.  So, another question came – “Two teams played a game of ball, score was 1-0 yet not a man reached first base.”  How come?  The answer – “It was a ladies softball game”!  With that we decided we would split first prize which was some Canadian cigarettes.

Another nite we had a concert of local talent in the camp and it turned out we had a wonderful show.  We had a real swing band, juggling acts, singers and impersonators.  It all turned out to be a good show except for one brave lad who attempted to play a violin solo – and there can be nothing worse than a violin played badly.  It was gruesome!

Still have not received my first cigarettes from you – they have been very slow.  I have managed to get by far but hope they get here soon as I will be out soon.  Jack Moxon3 has had 4 parcels so far and I have had one but more should be right around the corner and no doubt they’ll be here in a week or so.  Mox and I share all our parcels so we have a lot of fun.  Dad, you want to look up Mr. Moxon sometime when you are in Vancouver – he’s a fine man and Jack and I have a lot of fun together.

I had a very nice letter from Ormie Hall who is in New Brunswick training to be a Navigator.  He’s had a lot of bad breaks in the Air Force and still has 3 more months to go before he graduates.  He really wishes he could get over here in a hurry – it will be good to see him again.  He was green with envy when I told him about St. Andrews, Braid Hills, and Royal Burgess4 etc.  Oh my, I’ve had an awful lot of fun with this Canadian Army.

Well, what do you know?  The proofs just arrived for me – reason they were so slow is the fact that this bloke addressed them to me as being in the Canadian Scottish.  I’ll send them up immediately – there is a dandy of me in my kilt.  I’ll send 2 lots home so you will receive one lot – otherwise write to C. Law, Vandyk Ltd., 69 Meadway, Hampstead, London, NW 11.

Well all for now.

All my love

Ken

1 – Canadian Army Overseas

2 – Roy Sharp of Nelson, who was a close colleague of R.L. McBride at Wood Vallance Hardware Co.

3 – the Moxons in Kelowna were good friends of the Leigh and Dee Dee McBride family for many years

4 – famous British golf courses

—-

#13 – Ken letter to parents

No date.  Est. August-Sept 1943

Dearest Dad and Mother:

Here I am in the other part of the world – the island of Sicily.  The crossing was once again very nice and happily very quiet.  Our meals on ship were good and we even had a bar which wasn’t disappointing to me.  Jack1 and I are still together – no matter what happens they just can’t seem to bust in on our partnership.

It’s actually far hotter here than Africa as there is no breeze to cool us off and believe it or not, there are 5 times as many flies.  The dust isn’t as bad so far.  It didn’t break my heart to leave Africa.  We’ll be happy if we never see it again.

Seeing all these people in these old countries makes me realize what we are fighting against – extreme filth, ignorance and illiteracy and terrific class socialism.  Those things aren’t found in Canada and I hope they never will be.  I only hope that when the war is finished that it does provide for a better world for us to live in.  Here’s hope it does.

According to my guess Sicily hasn’t long until it comes into our hands – how long I can’t say but we seem to be mowing ‘em down.

Had a tough break – my mail (3 or 4) were sent here in error and they were sent out of this camp 1 hour before I left.  So this a.m. I went to the C.P.C. (Postal Corps) to catch it before it went out but bad luck beat me again – missed by 2 hours.  It might go to Leigh in error as they have no record of me here as yet.  I’ll find it somehow.

We had to march up to our camp when we landed but Jack and I missed our turn and marched miles away from our camp.  When we decided we were thoroughly lost we halted our little band and ate some of our __ rations (which tasted good).  We were right in a lemon grove so we picked ripe lemons and squeezed the juice into our water bottles and had lemonade.  Also bought grapes from the natives and found some nut trees – all told it wasn’t a bad mistake as we were so far away they sent trucks for us and we got a ride into camp.  For a while it looked like we would sleep there.

Had a swim at the shore last night and the water was perfect – not nearly as salty as North Africa.  It really takes away the sweat from one’s body anyhow.

The last nite I was in N.A. I received 15 letters which got me very excited – 2 were from Mother, 2 from Dad, 2 from Leigh and lots of others.  A lot of it was very old mail but am glad it did catch up with me.  Hope I get the watch soon.

Have now heard that Leigh is going strong – which will keep you happy.  Now and again we can hear the rumble of field artillery units and A/A guns.  They are really potent.

Well, news is very scarce now and Jack needs his pen.  So for now

All my love

Ken

P.S. Am sending you a cable to-day.

Address: Lieut, K.G. McBride

Seaforths of Can.

Can. Army Overseas

1 – Jack Moxon

——-

#14 – Ken letter to his mother

TO: Mrs. R.L. McBride.  Passed by censor.

Same address.  Jan. 1, 1944 (stamped, apparently by censor, Feb. 1 1944)

Dearest Mother

A very Happy New Year to you Mom dear and may it bring with it peace and a new era of world understanding.  As I sat trying to eat my Xmas dinner our Padre was playing a small hand organ and a few lads were singing he was playing Christmas hymns and Christmas carols.  I think everyone thought as I did – Christmas at home, peace and security etc.  It was actually beautiful and made one completely forget that ½ miles away was going on the battle for a town by hand to hand fighting.  However that is finished and all the lads are resting – and do they ever deserve it!  But Jerry can’t rest – he is being pushed back relentlessly – one of these days they are going to crack wide open.  I am sure of that, as is everyone else.  From all reports the bombing of Germany is being intensified – their effect must be terrific!

But enough of the war – that’s all you hear and that’s all I hear.  One of these days I am going to send the Phi Delts a cheque for $50 for our house building fund.  While we were at Univ. each Phi Delt pledged $100 to the house building fund (payable any time after graduation).  So, now that I am saving so much, I can afford to repay the fraternity for the friends and experiences they showed me.  I certainly did have my share of frat life while at B.C.

Guess that you and Dad spent the day pouring out drinks to all the people who dropped in to see you.  Did the liquor shortage improve any in the Christmas season?  I hope so as it was a little slim.  Have you bought a liquor license yet Mother?  I’ll bet you have!

Haven’t had any mail since Dec 1st but have been up and down the line so often that I’m sure the postal authorities are dizzy.  It ruins one’s mail getting sick, but there is nought one can do about that!  I hope I can get some of your many parcels – will be good to get them.

There are 5 Seaforth officers here and a lot of men – almost the whole battalion is down around here.  We could almost start a Seaforth mess.

The M.O. tells me I may be discharged tomorrow to a Convalescence Depot for a week’s rest – I’ll take a rest this time.  I am feeling much better – haven’t got my zip back yet, but that will all come with rest.  From recent arrivals I know that the lads in the kilt are resting and L.M.1 is okay.  It’s been by far the hardest fighting the Canadians have hit – old “Monty” was very pleased with his Canadian Division.

It is beautiful out to-day, so I intend to go out for a walk – might ever hustle around and take my night nurse for a walk late this afternoon.  Sounds like a very sound idea to me.  Before I go out this a.m. I am going to go thru the mail and extract all letters for any of the Seaforths – the boys will appreciate someone doing a bit for them (they are the boys who are winning the war for us all).

Well darling, give my love to everyone I know and lots and lots of love to you and Dad.

Ken

1 – Ken’s brother Leigh McBride

—–

#15 – Ken letter to father and mother – from Nelson Daily News, February 1944

Seaforths of Canada

C.A.O. – C.M.F.

Jan. 1st, 1944

Dearest Dad and Mother – What do you know – back at the Cdn hospital again – jaundice, but a much easier dose this time.  I tried to stay with the rgt but no go.  So here I am for a week or two – reason I am here is that I didn’t take a rest after leaving the first time (thought I was tough as nails) so I will take a rest when I get out this time.

Well, I never will spend another Xmas like my 1943 one – what a nightmare.  You may have read about it in the papers by now, but Leigh and I were in the middle of it.  I’d call it Stalingrad No. 2.*

Only time I saw Leigh was on Xmas night – his platoon took over my platoon position so we could pull out and have Christmas dinner.  We wished each other a Merry Xmas – he gave me a cigar and I gave him the dope on the enemy so he’d know where to expect the Germans in the morning.  Leigh said he got a thrill when orders were issued from D Coy. H.Q.  “McBride to relieve McBride”.

I admit it was hard on the nerves – we’d be in one room of a house but slowly and surely we pushed them out of their sniping posts.  I’ve never seen such young lads in all my life – the victims of Nazism and the German idea that they are the super race.  They didn’t look like the super race on being taken prisoner.  One of them said to me “Canadian soldati too good!”  They all know who is winning too – so it won’t be too long now.

The Christmas dinner was very good – two bottles beer, roast pork, creamed potatoes, carrots and peas and Christmas pudding.  The boys ate until they couldn’t move (hadn’t eaten in three and a half days).  I, much to my disgust, was feeling so rotten that I didn’t eat a thing.  It wasn’t too happy a Christmas.

The nurses here are wonderful – all working like niggers, but always happy.  They are doing a wonderful job and deserve a great deal of credit.  This isn’t the nicest country in the world to be a woman.

And here’s wishing my Mother and Dad a wonderful New Year, and keep your chins up – Leigh and I will look after ourselves.

Ken

* This was right after Ken and Leigh were in the thick of the fighting in the Battle of Ortona, which was arguably the toughest battle of the war for the Canadian military.  The Christmas dinner Ken refers to became one of the great Canadian stories of the war..

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Leigh McBride visited Ken’s grave in Italy in 1974, when he participated in the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Army in Italy.  This photo was taken by his good friend Borden Cameron, who was the Seaforth quartermaster who rounded up supplies for the famous Christmas 1943 dinner at Ortona in  the midst of some of the heaviest fighting of the Italian campaign.  Leigh was among the Seaforth  officers who followed tradition and served the sergeants, corporals and privates at the Christmas dinner

Other Letters relating to Ken in the family archives

Letter from Leigh in England to Ken at Currie Barracks in Calgary, dated Jan. 13, 1943

Dear Harpo1,

I hope this reaches you before you leave.  Be sure you bring heavy underwear, pajamas, flashlight and batteries, soap and gloves.  Bring me a $1 watch.  I expect to go to the field soon.  All the Seaforths are a fine bunch of fellows.  Had a short course in Norton Motorcycles.  I hope we can have a reunion in London when you get to Blighty.  This is the 7th week of no mail.  Did you forward any from Currie?  This is one hell of a cold country.  It is so damned moist all the time.  Have you heard from Jas or the Seal lately?  Pratley told me you had a big party with he and Buie.  Haven’t seen Buie yet.  Write to me c/o C.I.D.I.U.  it will be good to see you over here some day.

Regards

Leigh

1 – Leigh, Jim and Ken were all big fans of the Marx Brothers movies.

2 – Currie Barracks where both Leigh and Ken trained.  Named after Sir Arthur Currie, top Canadian general of WW1.

—–

Letter from friend “Beattie” to RL and Win McBride

RCAF Officers’ Mess

Rockcliffe, Ont.

Sept. 27, 1944

My dear friends,

Mr. and Mrs. McBride

It is with heartsick misgivings and affectionate sympathy for you that I write this letter. Fred Dietrich has just written me a distressing letter that speaks of “the heart-breaking news of Brud Mathison, Doug Pedlow and Kenny McBride, the best of fraternity brothers.”

I do not exactly know what this means, but if it is the great sacrifice, I have no words to express the feelings I share with you.  In addition I am told that Leigh is reported missing.  I sincerely pray that by now you may have had good news.  I want you both to know that I am thinking of you and sending my sincerest sympathy in days that must seem completely bewildering.  God’s blessing and His comforting assurance to you both.

Your sincere friend,

Beattie

Forgive what seems an incoherent letter.  My thoughts are all confused, and I’m distressed beyond words at the possibility of the loss of one of my dearest and most respected and admired friends, Ken.

——–

Letter from R.L. McBride to Beattie

Oct. 12, 1944

Nelson, B.C.

Beattie:

You wrote us a lovely letter, Beattie.  It meant so much to us that it was as much as we could do, to read it.

We had two happy days.  On Sept. 20th we received a cable from Ottawa saying that Leigh was a prisoner of war in Germany1.  On Sept. 22nd we received another wire from the Director of Records, saying that Dear Old Ken had been killed in action on Sept. 16th.

The distressing news almost stunned us.  We had been worrying a great deal about both boys – Leigh being missing and Ken in the thick of the fighting around Rimini2.  But during those two days we were so completely happy that we forgot, for the time being, the danger that might occur to Ken.

Two days ago we received a letter from the Padre saying that Ken was advancing near the front line in his “Carrier”3 when they struck a mine.  Ken and his driver made the Supreme Sacrifice.  The poor boys never had a chance, but the Padre told us they did not suffer.  We thank God for that.

Ken wrote us three lovely letters dated Sept. 4-6-10 which we received on the day we heard Leigh was safe.  He told us about being through two heavy weeks previously.  He was happy and told of going in swimming and the big yellow moon, and of the German night raider that kept circling overhead.  He sent us one more letter that arrived after we heard the very sad news.

Ken and Leigh never let us down.  How they wrote us as often as they did is more than we can figure out.  They were both good soldiers – and they did their part.

We received our first letter from Leigh on Sept. 23rd (written June 15th).  He was then in a German hospital but getting excellent care and was being treated by an eye specialist.  He told us his left eye was gone forever and he was wounded in both legs and left arm by shrapnel.  He wrote a very brave and cheerful letter – told us he wore a black patch over his eye – all same Lord Nelson and Long John Silver.

We received another letter from him yesterday, dated Aug. 17th.  He had been transferred to a prisoner of war camp which he said was a great improvement on the hospital.  He said he had received shoes, clothes, shaving outfit etc. from the Red Cross.  There was not a single English book at the hospital, but at Stalag XVIII he had Law Books, Shakespeare, a tennis court and many other things to make the days pass more quickly.  He told us he would soon have his new glass eye.

Today, we received word from the Red Cross telling us that “it would appear, based on past cases, that his form of injury is one that takes precedence over all others in ‘repatriation’ considerations4.  How we hope they may be right.  They did not wish to bolster our hopes too high, but passed it on as general information.

We had always thought, judging what Leigh had gone through, that Ken might be wounded and he might have a real rest.  He deserved a rest as he had fought steadily from June 1943 to Sept 1944.   But it was not to be.

The McBride boys – everyone knew they were with the Seaforths – were known and respected and loved throughout the whole country.  When the Nelson people thought of the boys who were fighting overseas in the front line they thought of our boys.  No Mother or Dad could have been prouder of their sons than we were.

The letters and wires were coming in congratulating us about Leigh, and then they stopped – and the letters and wires offered deepest sympathy for Ken.

We also received many letters when Leigh was reported missing.  I intended to answer them when we got some happy news, but I never had a chance.  The day of great joy and the day of stark tragedy were too close together.

Forgive me for typing this letter but there was too much to write.  I know I have wandered here there and everywhere, but I have done the best I could.  Ken would like to know that.

Mrs. McBride and I send our kindest regards to one – you – who meant so much to Ken.

Yours very sincerely

(from R.L. McBride, but copy not signed)

1 – brother Leigh, who was Captain in the Seaforths at the time and would later rise to Acting Major, was the only survivor of a forward unit that received a direct hit by a German shell on May 23, 1944 in the heavy action of the Liri River campaign.  He was found unconscious on the ground by German soldiers, who roused him and said “for you the war is over”.  As there were no survivors to report to headquarters, Leigh was officially listed as Missing for three months until word arrived from the Red Cross that he was alive as a POW, and received treatment at a hospital in Rome and later other hospitals in Germany.

2 – Rimini is on the Adriatic coast, about two-thirds of the way up the Italian boot.

3 – – a mini-tank vehicle

4 – Leigh returned to Canada in a repatriation arrangement in January 1945.  He travelled to neutral Switzerland and then across the Atlantic in the Swedish repatriation ship Gripsholm.  His mother Winifred met him at the rail station in Vancouver, and they travelled from there to Nelson,

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2nd Letter to the McBride parents from family friend “Beattie” after Ken’s death

Rockcliffe, Ont.

Oct. 17, 1944

Dear Mr. and Mrs. McBride,

Your letter has just arrived, and my heart is heavy and too full to write.  Even as I wrote the last time, I still held hope that the news of both Leigh and Ken would be reassuring.  One can’t help feeling that way about those we cherish with a strong affection.

I am so relieved to hear that Leigh is well.  I pray sincerely that soon he may be back with you.

I am sharing with you a great deal of the sorrow in the loss of a brother for whom I held the highest respect and admiration.  Kenny represented to me the highest ideals of our beloved fraternity1, and he always shall in my fond memory of him.  Every other brother would join with me in the same tribute.  In this he can never die.  To me, he is not dead, he lives more fully as an example of clean, courageous manhood that I shall never forget.  To him, and therefore to you, his dear parents, I am forever indebted for having been privileged to know him.  I cannot write more.  I am thinking of you both, and Leigh and Jimmy2 who were such pals and brothers.

Ever sincerely your friend,

Beattie

1 – Ken’s fraternity at UBC, the Phi Delta Theda

2 – Ken’s cousin and great friend Jimmy Allan (1920-2010)

—–



NEWS CLIPPINGS OF KEN`S DEATH IN ACTION

ken-obit

ken-killed-van

Vancouver Province report of Ken’s death

——-   

          The Ken McBride Memorial Trophy

Ken’s death in action in Italy in September 1944 was devastating news in his beloved hometown of Nelson, B.C.  His parents and the executive of the Nelson Golf and Country Club raised funds for a large, engraved sterling silver tray to be awarded each year to the winner of the annual club championship held over the Labour Day Weekend.  It replaced the Alex Leith Trophy named after a prominent Nelson businessman who was still alive.  In 1944 Reg Stone of Trail won the Leith Cup, defeating his brother Roy Stone in match play.

1946-club-pres-praises-ken

part of the report in the Nelson Daily News on Sept. 7, 1945, as Roy Stone, who often competed against Ken in Kootenay golf tournaments, won the trophy when it was offered for the first time.  The comment by the club president S.A. Maddocks that Ken “was loved by all of us“ is quite remarkable.

The trophy was given out from 1945 until 1977, when the Nelson golf club executive decided to discontinue the Ken McBride trophy and replace it by a Labatt’s trophy which would come with sponsorship money for the golf club.  I remember talking with my dad Leigh McBride about the Nelson golf club’s decision, and he said he was not much bothered about it, because most people who knew Ken had left Nelson or died, so it was not a big deal to him.  In retrospect, the club made a bad decision, because the Labatt’s trophy only lasted a couple of years, and subsequently the Labour Day Tournament became just another run-of-the-mill tournament – much different from the days when the honour of capturing the Ken McBride Trophy attracted up to 150 top golfers from the Kootenays, the Okanagan, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

The actual trophy came to a sad end in 1979 when the out-building at the Nelson Golf Course where it was stored burned down.  While the all-metal silver trophy may or may not have been damaged by the fire, it was among the contents of the building which were sent off to the garbage dump for disposal.   No one in the McBride family – which had moved to Trail in 1969 – was advised of the fire or the junking of the trophy.

The Nelson golf course underwent extensive renovation and expansion in the early 1990s, and was re-named the Granite Pointe Golf Course.

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Nelson golf club president Bernie Clarkson (left) presents the Ken McBride Memorial Trophy to Ed Clem in 1964.  Clem won the trophy 8 times over the span it was offered.  Leigh was often called upon to present the trophy.  I well remember him saying in the presentation ceremony “Well, Eddie, here we are again.”  Photo courtesy of Shawn Lamb Archives, Touchstones Nelson.

WINNERS OF THE KEN McBRIDE MEMORIAL TROPHY, LABOUR DAY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS, NELSON GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB

1945 – Roy Stone of Nelson (formerly and in future from Trail) defeated W.C. Carlson of Vancouver to win the new Ken McBride Memorial Trophy.  Roy and his brother Reg Stone were nationally renowned for their success in curling as well as golf.  I knew Roy well when he was club pro at Birchbank Golf Course near Trail in the late 1970s.

1946 – Roy Stone defeated Elgin Hill of Trail 3 and 2 in the match play final.  Stone’s toughest test was against Leigh McBride in the second round.  Leigh was one up after nine holes, but Stone won on the 17th hole.  This was the closest that Leigh came to winning the trophy named in honour of his beloved brother Ken.  The injuries he suffered in the war,including the loss of an eye, were detrimental to his golf game for the rest of his life, but he continued to be an excellent putter, winning several events at the mini-golf tournaments at Balfour.

1947 – Harry Donaldson of Trail defeated Roy Stone 7-6

1948 – Art Donaldson, Kimberley pro won.

1949 – Art Donaldson, Kimberley beat brother Harry Donaldson to claim the Ken McBride Memorial Trophy.

1950 – Buzz McGibney of Trail

1951 – Charlie Swanson of Trail

1952 – Johnny Johnston of Vancouver

1953 – Johnny Leschuk of Nelson

1954 – Jimmy Allan of Nelson (later West Vancouver) won.  As a first cousin, Jim would be the closest relative of Ken to win the trophy.  He said there was no golf tournament he would rather win, because “Ken was my buddy”.  Jim, who had won the Leith Cup as a junior in 1939, was prominent in the executive of the Capilano Golf Club for many years, including serving as President.

1955 – Art Donaldson

1956 – Arnold Sherwood of Nelson.  Arnold worked as a caddie at the Nelson golf course in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  While Leigh was President of the golf club, Arnold organized a caddies’ strike to get more money for their service.  Leigh nicknamed his “John L. Lewis” after the famous U.S. labour leader.  They became great long-term friends, and Arnold served as MC at Leigh’s funeral in August 1995.

1957 – Doug Campbell of Vancouver (formerly Nelson)

1958 – Bill Wakeham of Victoria

1959 – Arnold Sherwood defeated Bill Wakeham, 17, of Victoria, in match plan 4 and 3.

1960 – Bill Wakeham of Victoria defeated Paul Faynor of Creston, Alex Koenig, Terry Panton and Vern Miller.

1961 – Arnold Sherwood of Nelson

1962 – Bill Wakeham defeated Ed Clem, with a three-round total of 209, 7 ahead of Clem.  Ray West was third.

1963 – Arnold Sherwood of Fernie

1964 – Ed Clem of Castlegar, 18, a senior at L.V. Rogers High School, won the Ken McBride Trophy for the first time.  At the presentation ceremony, he gave full credit to his older stepbrother Arnie Sherwood for encouraging and instructing him as a golfer.

1965 – Ed Clem

1966 – Ed Clem

1967 – Ray West of Nelson posted score of 138, two lower than his competition.  Prizes were worth $800, including a 30.30 rifle.

1968 – Garnet Lineker of Kamloops

1969 – Bernie Clarkson of Nelson posted a score of 135, three strokes better than Garnet Lineker.

1970 – Garnet Lineker of Kamloops

1971 – Ed Clem

1972 – Ed Clem defeated Garnet Lineker by 6 strokes, shooting rounds of 67 and 67.  Buzz MacDonald was low net winner.

1973 – Ed Clem defeated Miles Desharnais of Vancouver, posting a two-round total of 142 to top the field of 120 entrants.

1974 – Ed Clem

1975 – Garnet Lineker of Kamloops

1976 – no info on winner

1977 – Ed Clem wins his eighth Ken McBride Trophy

mt-mcbride

Mount McBride near Fauquier, B.C. was named in Ken’s honour

Keep the West terminal of the Kootenay Lake Ferry in Balfour

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by Sam McBride

A reguular topic of discussion this summer in the West Kootenay region is the future of the Kootenay Lake Ferry.

Consulting company SNC Lavalin concluded in a study for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) that the West terminal for the ferry service at Balfour be abandoned, and replaced by a new terminal to be constructed at a greenfield site at north Queens Bay, approx. 4 kilometers north of Balfour.

The government commenced public consultation on the issue at an open house in Harrop on June 15, 2016.  The original deadline for public feedback was July 6, 2016, and this was later extended to October 6, 2016.  The government has said that no final decision on the issue has been made, but the options have been narrowed down to either stay in Balfour and make improvements there, or build a new ferry terminal at north Queens Bay.

An online poll by the Nelson Daily showed that 85% of respondents chose the Balfour option over construction of a new terminal at a greenfield site.

For the record, here is my submission to the minister, and his response.  Also below are images that illustrate the situation.

  1. LETTER TO MOTI MINISTER, SENT JUY 6, 2016

July 6, 2016

TO: the Hon. Todd Stone,

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

Government of British Columbia

Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca

Cc:  MichelleMungallMLA@leg.bc.ca

Kirk.Handrahan@gov.bc.ca

RE: proposal to move the Kootenay Lake Ferry west terminal from Balfour to Queens Bay

Dear Minister Stone:

Please include me among West Kootenay residents who are against moving the ferry from Balfour in the West Arm to a previously undisturbed site at Queens Bay.

The West Kootenay is unusual in B.C. because its population today is actually less than it was 120 years ago, when Nelson, Rossland and the Slocan Valley were beehives of mining and mineral exploration.  While the rest of the province has grown and prospered in the last couple of decades, our region has generally stagnated.  Many of our problems are transportation-related, most notably our regional airport at Castlegar which has earned the nickname Cancelgar because of the extreme unreliability of service in winter months, which is a huge barrier to economic development.

While, on one hand, we admit with embarrassment to having the country`s worst regional airport, on the other hand we take pride in the Kootenay Lake Ferry cruise – known far and wide as The Longest Free Ferry Ride in the World.    It is the jewel in the crown of our region`s tourism industry.   I have taken the ferries (Anscomb, Balfour and Osprey) hundreds of time, and never once thought the trip took too much time.   I often take the opportunity of the voyage across the breadth of the lake to point out to guests and tourists the historical landmarks such as the Pilot Bay Smelter chimney and the Pilot Bay Lighthouse.

Sorry, but a shuttle service directly across the lake to a new terminal at Queens Bay would take all of the magic out of the journey.   It would be the hum-drum equivalent of the Fauquier-Needles ferry.   One less tourist attraction for a region with an endemically fragile economy.    No place would suffer more from a ferry terminal move that the town of Balfour, which stands to lose 60 jobs.   I think we have enough ghost towns already in the West Kootenay without adding Balfour to the list.  Jobs in the north end of Kootenay Lake are few and far between as it is, which has been a key factor in the threatened closure of schools in the region due to fewer student numbers.

Something missing in the studies that have been done on the ferry issue is detailed analysis of the freakish storms experienced on the Main Lake as opposed to the much calmer West Arm.  And the West side of the lake – particularly Queens Bay which is directly exposed to lake storms – has worse storms that the East Shore.   That is why you see boathouses on the West Arm and the East Shore, but not on the West Shore.

Many people assume that a lake is a lake, but Kootenay Lake is a mountain lake very different from prairie lakes or even the Okanagan lakes.    I recently did some research at the Touchstone Archives to see why Balfour was chosen to be the west side terminal for the ferry service.  In the summer of 1944 when plans for the new ferry service were being discussed, the Nelson Daily News reported a commercial group urging Queens Bay as site for the west  ferry terminal, but some old-time residents who knew the lake intimately from sternwheeler days came forward and said weather at Queens Bay was too hazardous.  They recommended Balfour as the proverbial safe port in a storm.

With 62 years of service, the MV Balfour has lasted longer than both the Moyie and the Anscomb.   I think everyone would agree that the Balfour is on its last legs.  But I think the response to this situation is to upgrade facilities at Balfour and buy a new energy efficient second ferry to replace the Balfour, rather than a high-risk, high-consequence move to a greenfield site.

At the open house at Harrop I asked engineers about back-up to the Osprey after the Balfour is de-commissioned.  One said they were looking at getting a motorized barge at the cost of about $11 million.  Another said that they would likely use a barge used elsewhere in the province which can be disassembled and transported to Kootenay Lake for re-assembly as a barge to be pushed across the lake when the Osprey was down for maintenance.

The idea of barge service replacing the magnificent and distinctive Kootenay Lake Ferry cruise is quite worrisome.  Friends of mine in Proctor say they dread it when the Harrop ferry is down for maintenance, because the motorized barge is extremely slow and problematic.    And that is for a relatively short distance across the West Arm.   Barge trips across Kootenay Lake would be a scary proposition, as bad weather can come up very quickly.

I have kayaked extensively between Balfour and Airnsworth, and had several close calls with stormy weather, including a terrifying experience when our two-man kayak was almost swept into the rocks at McEwan Point by heavy winds and strong current from the south.   And last August I watched in amazement as our 80-pound canoe parked upside down on a beach at Queens Bay was picked up by a squall and sent about 30 metres in the air down the beach about 100 metres and about 10 metres out into the lake.   If a person or open boat had been where the canoe was, who knows what would have happened to them.

According to the booklet “Historical Shipwrecks of the West Kootenay District“ by the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, a total of 48 wreck sights have been reported or located on the lake.  They say the largest category of wrecks involves barges.  Five have been located and eight more are rumoured.   The next largest category of wrecks is barges with rail cars.

I expect MOTI will always put safety first, and not send the Osprey, or, especially, a flimsy pre-fabricated barge, if there is any threat at all of bad weather.   One consequence of this would be a dramatic reduction in reliability of service in the Main Lake ferry.   I fear we would become known for bad ferry service year-round just as we are the laughing stock of the province for bad air service at Cancelgar in the winter!

The West Kootenay has contributed greatly to the economic development of B.C. through its mines, metal  processing, forestry operations, and hydro-electric operations through the years.   We don`t deserve to be thrown under the bus due to a highly speculative and risky ferry terminal move.  Please do the required dredging of the West Arm channel, upgrade the docks in Balfour, and obtain a new second ferry we can be proud of.   A new small-scale ferry could replace the Osprey through much of the year when there are less than 25 cars in line for ferry service, and thus extend the operating life of the Osprey and reduce operating costs at the same time.

Yours truly.

Sam E. McBride

202 – 719 11 Avenue

Castlegar, B.C.  V1N 1J7

www.thebravestcanadian.wordpress.com


2. RESPONSE FROM THE MINISTER – AUG. 11, 1016

257989 – Balfour Ferry Terminal

Thank you for your correspondence concerning the ministry’s work to address challenges at the Balfour Ferry Terminal.

Our inland ferry system is an integral part of the transportation network for the region and a vital asset for Kootenay communities, and we recognize its importance to local tourism and economic interests. The safety and reliability of ferries and terminals are also key considerations in our long-term transportation strategy. There are a number of issues that impact the operation of the ferry service at the existing terminal that led the ministry to initiate a study in 2015 to assess the technical feasibility of relocating the Balfour ferry terminal to an alternate location. The feasibility study is now complete.

The ministry recently released a discussion guide and held a public information session in Nelson. The discussion guide, the information presented at the open house and an online survey are available online at http://www.gov.bc.ca/balfourterminal.

The ministry has presented two options to address the challenges. The first option involves undertaking work at the current terminal, dredging of the west arm and replacing the MV Balfour. The second option involves relocating the terminal to Queens Bay. The ministry has not made a decision and will continue to engage with the community, interested First Nations and other parties on the proposed options.

As you may be aware, the ministry has extended the deadline for public comment by three months, giving Balfour and area residents until October 6, 2016 to provide input.Once the public consultation process is complete, the results will be shared online and a report will be presented to government to help inform its decision making process.

I have relayed your feedback to the project team.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Sincerely,

 

Todd G. Stone

Minister

Copy to:          Balfour Ferry Terminal Project Team


3. IMAGES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FERRY ISSUE

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part of the north Queens Bay site under consideration for a new ferry terminal and parking lot.

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The proposed new ferry terminal would be built on a greenfield site about 4 km north of Balfour. In this scenario, the current terminal and associated facilities in Balfour would be abandoned.

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Launched in 1954 as the second ferry to the main ferry Anscomb and later the Osprey 2000, the MV Balfour is on its last legs of operation and needs to be replaced. One option under consideration by the provincial government is to move the ferry terminal to a more direct location across Kootenay Lake which supposedly would make it possible for the Osprey to provide ferry service by itself, thus avoiding the cost of buying a new second ferry.

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Sign at the north end of the proposed site of a new ferry terminal at Queens Bay.

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Site of the south end of the 500-meter section of north Queens Bay that would be severely impacted if a decision is made to move the terminal from its current site in Balfour.

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Some of the signs in Balfour protesting a potential move of the ferry away from Balfour, location of the West terminal of the Kootenay Lake Ferry since 1946.

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The Osprey 2000 ferry on a run across scenic Kootenay Lake.

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poster for a Swim-In to be held on Sunday, August 21, 2016

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Coincidence of two men in McBride Family Tree both dying the same day in WW1 a century ago on June 3, 1916

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Today, June 3, 2016 marks a sad anniversary in my family tree.  A century ago, on June 3, 1916, two of my ancestors died in action in the First World War — one on my mom`s side and one on my dad`s.

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Lt. Gerald Hamilton Peters (1894-1916)

I have long known the story of my grandmother Helen Dewdney`s brother Lt. Gerald Hamilton Peters, who was born in Charlottetown in 1894 and died June 3, 1916 in the Battle of Mount Sorrel in the Ypres Salient (the small triangle of land which was the only part of Belgium held by the Allies after the first German offensive in 1914).   Gerald joined the 24th (Montreal) battalion of the Canadian forces in early 1915 and served in trench action at Ypres until early 1916 when he was sent to England for officer training, from which he return in March 1916 as a lieutenant with the 7th (British Columbia) battalion.

I recently discovered that a second cousin (twice removed) James Santo McBride also died in action June 3, 1916 at Ypres.   Born in Calgary in 1892, he was a private serving with the 24th battalion, so it is possible that he and Gerald may have known each other (a battalion was approximately 600 men).   When war was declared in 1914 James was working at a hardware store in Calgary owned by his grandfather Alexander

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Private James Santo McBtide (1892-1916)Enter a caption

McBride, who was the youngest child of the McBride family that emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled in London, Ontario in the 1830s.   Alexander, who was mayor of Calgary in 1896, had a chain of hardware stores that included outlets in Rossland and Cranbrook.   My grandfather Roland Leigh McBride worked at the A. McBride Hardware stores in Calgary and then Rossland when he moved west from Ontario in 1900.  I don`t know much about James, but I met his younger brother Jack McBride and his wife Lillian in Calgary in the early 1990s.

Frankie Slide Piano Teacher Story Wins 2016 Provincial Newspaper Award for Historical Writing

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By Sam McBride

Receiving the Neville Shanks Memorial Award for best historical writing in the 2016 Ma Murray Awards last Saturday in Richmond, B.C. was a great honour.  I was proud to receive the trophy at the awards dinner from Tim Shoults, 2015-16 president of the BCYCNA. http://www.nelsonstar.com/news/378660761.html

bcycna 20160002These are the annual awards of the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspaper Association (BCYCNA).  Historical writing was one of 45 categories recognized in the awards program.  For more than 90 years the BCYCNA has hosted the Ma Murray Awards (formerly called the Better Newspapers Competition), celebrating the achievements of member newspapers, including the Nelson Star.  The awards cover all aspects of newspaper production, including publishing, reporting, editing, advertising, photography, community contribution and website design.

Margaret “Ma“ Murray (1888-1982) is remembered for her sharp tongue and fighting spirit as editor and publisher of the Bridgewater-Lillooet Times.  Neville Shanks (1912-1977), founder and publisher of the North Island News, had a special interest in local history which led him to do numerous articles on local pioneers.  The Neville Shanks Award is sponsored by Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.

Many thanks go to Nelson Star editor Greg Nesteroff, who submitted my story to the awards program and was thrilled when it was named a finalist, and then winner.   Greg is renowned far and wide for his excellent reporting and devotion to local history.   Without his inspiration and support, I could not have done the Marion McPhail story.

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The author with the stylish chrome trophy.

The judges` comments on my award-winning article were: “An excellent account of the Frank Slide and the baby girl who famously survived the disaster, but who later disliked her celebrity.  Lots of solid research here and an engaging narrative“.

 

My entry, a feature article on my boyhood piano teacher Marion Leitch McPhail (1900-1977), was published in the May 1, 2015 Nelson Star.   There was a special story associated with Marion, as she was the famous Frank Slide Baby.  Over the years I often asked people why the story of Marion in her Nelson years had never been told, so I decided to do it myself, as I had clear personal memories of her and extensive experience as a researcher and writer.

chrome statue bestIn effect, Marion  was twice a victim of the Frank Slide, one of the deadliest natural disasters in Canadian history.   First, the collapse of Turtle Mountain in the small community of Frank in the Crowsnest Pass at 4 am on April 29, 1903 killed her parents Alexander and Rosemary Leitch and her four brothers.   Then, for the rest of her life, Marion was plagued by myths about the slide that gave her the unwanted nickname of “Frankie Slide“.

A popular mountain ballad song “The Ballad of Frankie Slide“ and radio plays on the same subject reinforced the myth about Baby Marion being the only survivor of the Frank Slide.   This was completely wrong, as most residents of the town of Frank survived the slide, including Marion`s older sisters Jesse and May.    As Marion grew up in Cranbrook, B.C. she hated having to deal with the Frank Slide stories, particularly when people teased her by calling her Frankie Slide.   The funeral for the six members of the Leitch family was held in Cranbrook four days after the slide.  The local newspaper said it was the saddest event anyone could remember, and men who had not shed a tear in many years were openly crying.   Marion was raised in the family of her uncle Archie Leitch, and her sisters were raised with other uncles in Manitoba.

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Wording at the bottom of the trophy.

As a teen-ager Marion moved to Vancouver, where she received advanced training in piano and music, and her connection to the Frankie Slide myth was less known.   By age 24 she had settled in Nelson, B.C. as a music teacher.   She was a good friend of my parents and both sets of grandparents in Nelson, and was my piano teacher in the early 1960s.  I often thought she was in a bad mood during my lessons because of lingering anger about the Frank Slide myths.

 

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The awards night was a gala event at the River Rock Casino theatre.

The big event of the year for Marion and her fellow piano teachers was the Kootenay Music Festival, which alternated each year between the original Capitol Theatre in Nelson and the Junior High Auditorium in Trail.   Students like me were under extra pressure to perform well in the music festivals because our success (or lack thereof) was a reflection on our piano teachers.   It was very difficult for me, as a young boy with many other interests, to devote between one and two hours each day to piano practice, as ordered by Marion.

 

The full Marion Leitch McPhail in Nelson story in the Nelson Star is at http://www.nelsonstar.com/news/302000401.html

 

Nelson Star story on Frank Slide-surviving Piano Teacher is a finalist for the 2016 Ma Murray Awards

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The amazing story of Nelson piano teacher Marion Leitch McPhail, who was bothered all her life by myths associated with the disastrous Frank Slide in the Crowsnest Pass in 1903, is among three finalists for the 2016 Neville Shanks award for historical writing.

This is one of 46 categories of awards that recognize achievements of the  111 members of the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspaper Association (BCYCNA), in the Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards.

The awards, ranging from ad design and classifieds to photography, editorial and newspaper excellence, will be presented on Saturday, May 7, 2016.at River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond.

http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/371085171.html

BCYCNA 2016 Ma Murray Awards

 

Special edition Mountaineer yearbook commemorates move in 1956 in Nelson B.C. from Nelson High School to new L.V. Rogers High School

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fby Sam McBride

One of my favourite local history publications is the special edition of The Mountaineer — the annual high school yearbook in Nelson — in 1956.

It was before my time as a student at L.V. Rogers High School in the late 1960s, but there has always been a copy of the yearbook in our family home because my dad received a souvenir copy at the opening ceremony of the new high school in 1956 when he was a school trustee.  Our copy has a distinctive, sponge-like cover.  The Shawn Lamb Archives at Touchstones in Nelson has a copy of the yearbook with the special white cover, as well as more economical copies with blue paper cover.

Students from the school`s Publications Club did an amazing job in producing a 104-page publication that paid homage to the pioneers and buildings of Nelson.  They diligently researched and produced lists of students, teachers, trustees and just about everyone else connected to high school education in the time from the first Nelson High School in 1901 until March 1956, when the school moved from the old Nelson High School at Hendryx and Latimer streets to a brand new site in Upper Fairview, where the school continues to serve the students of today.

Production of the annual yearbook had been sporadic over the years.  This one was the first Mountaineer since 1948 — and they made up for lost time with an excellent product.   Below is a table of contents of the 1956 Mountaineer and scans of the pages.  My favourite part of the publications is the lists, because they include many of my relatives, including my father Leigh McBride, mother Rose Pamela “Dee Dee“ Dewdney, her brother Peter Dewdney, my dad`s brother Kenneth Gilbert McBride, their cousins Blake Allan, Jim Allan and Alex Allan, my great-aunts Isobel Foote Murphy, Lilian Foote Allan and Gladys Foote Moir, as well as a photo of their mother Edith Foote among a large group of the Pioneers Club that consisted of Nelsonites who were living in Nelson before 1900.  Admittedly, the lists are not complete, particularly as records in the early years were skimpy.  One of those missed is my paternal grandmother Winnifred Foote McBride, who grew up in Nelson and was 13 in 1901.

My article in the Nelson Star on the 1956 Mountaineer is at http://www.nelsonstar.com/news/370801101.html

Below are a Table of Contents for the publication, and then scans of the pages.

The 1956 Mountaineer

Contents

Before Man Saw It…4

To the Pioneers, to our Parents, who created the environment for our growing………6

Boyhood Days in Nelson, by 1912 NHS graduate G.V. Ferguson..13

Nelson Pioneers who lived in the city before 1900…16-17

To the Trustees, Who Have Prepared the Soil for Our Growing…..18

And Finally a Dedication to Our Teachers for Their Patience and Wisdom ……………..20

Daily Miner headlines on first day of class of Nelson High School…………………………22

Letter to Teacher Enid Etter from student in first NHS class……..24

The School`s Early History, by Ross W.G. Fleming of first class……….25

A page from the first annual Mountaineer in 1909……..28

Graduates – 1901 to 1909…..29

Graduates – 1910-1919……..30

Some Recollections, by James B. Curran………38

From the Mountaineer of 1920……39

Honour Roll – World War One…………40

Leslie Vivian Rogers 1886-1946…………42

Parliament and Prime Ministers…….44

Honour Roll – World War Two………….47

A Hundred Pages of History……48

Nelson High School students 1920-1952………..49

Congratulations, and alumni news…………………….57

Ministry of Athletics……………………….58

Ministry of Social Affairs…………………………………60

School clubs……………………….62
Publications Club…………………………………64

Radio Club………………………………………65

Members of Nelson District School Board Since 1914……66

NHS and Junior-Senior High PTA Presidents……….67
First Junior High in B.C (Trafalgar)………………………..67

Most Famous of All Graduates (Hammy Gray)……….68

Nelson and NHS scenes………………..70

Kootenay Forest Products ad………………..71

NHS Grads 1953-1955……………72

Vote Yes on the School Bylaw of November 1952…….74

To Those Who Made This Annual Possible…………75

L.V. Rogers High School – January 195………………76

List of NHS teachers since 1923…………….78

Oldest Graduate and First Major Award Winner……………79

Saying Goodbye to NHS in March 1956……………………………..80

NHS to become Hampton Gray Elementary School………….81

Other Major Award Winners 1940-1955………81

Official Opening of L.V. Rogers High School March 10, 1956 program….82

MLA, Inspector of Schools, PTA President……………83

Board of School Trustees………83

Mr. Lee`s Tribute to L.V. Rogers…………..84

Speech of Minister of Education Ray Williston…….85

Bennett and White Construction Company……..86

NHS/LVR Staff 1955-1956…………….87

Grade Ten……………………..88

Grade Eleven………..90

The Mountaineer……………….92

Senior Matric…………………..93

This Year`s Graduates When They Were in Grade 1………94

The First Graduates of L.V. Rogers High………………95

From the Graduates of Today to the Graduates of Tomorrow (List of Grads 1956-1958)…….102

Thanks from Editorial Staff………..104

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The McBride Family was prominent in London, Ontario 1830s to 1990s

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By Sam McBride

My great-great-great-grandparents Richard McBride and Elizabeth McCormick left their home in County Down,  Ireland for Canada in 1831, according to later newspaper accounts and family history notes made by their granddaughter`s husband Harry Bapty in the 1920s.

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family tree of my father Leigh McBride going back three generations. His father R.L. McBride left London, Ontario for British Columbia in 1900.

County Down is in Ulster, southeast of Belfast.  At the time of their emigration, the region was in the midst of economic strife associated with the Industrial Revolution, and strife between religions.   The McBrides were Presbyterians who migrated years before to Northern Ireland from Scotland.    They found themselves in a congested, problematic land under the thumb of the established Church of Ireland.  On the other side of society were the Roman Catholics, who rebelled against the authority of England and the Established Church.

Richard McBride was born in 1792 in County Down and died in 1850 in London, Ontario.  The exodus to Canada was a family affairs for the McBrides, as five of his younger siblings left for Canada in the same period.  These siblings (along with spouse), were William McBride and wife Agnes McIllvene, Alexander McBride and wife Jane Shields, Thomas McBride and wife Ann Oswald, Stephenson (also known as Stephen and Steney) McBride on his own, and Elizabeth McBride and husband John G. Boyd.    I will note the children and vital statistics (birth, baptism, marriage, death details, when available) in later posts.   Unfortunately, there is no information on the parents or any other ancestors of these McBride siblings going back in time in Ireland and Scotland.

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Family details of the McBrides in London, Ontario, written in the 1920s by Harry Bapty.

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13127429-504a-471d-ac3c-ed615fba24c9[1]Something new for me in genealogical research involves working from connections made through ancestry.com DNA tests to confirm the family tree details we have from documents and memories.  After submitting a saliva sample in November 2015 I received a report of my ethnic make-up as well as DNA links with others who have participated in the ancestry DNA program.   One of the newly-found distant cousins was a lady in Fort Wayne, Indiana who was a descendant of William McBride and Agnes McIllvene, who settled in Hamilton Township, Northumberland County, Ontario by the mid-1800s.   Our common ancestors would be the unknown parents of Richard and William McBride and their siblings, so we are fifth cousins, as estimated by ancestry.com to be highly likely.

In this post I will focus on the descendants of Richard McBride and Elizabeth McCormick, particularly their son (and my great-great-grandfather) Samuel McBride (1819-1905).

Samuel was just 12 years of age when he joined his parents and siblings in a horrific voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to a new life in pioneer Upper Canada.  They were among 500 passengers crammed into a 300-ton sailing ship which got off course and took an excruciating eight weeks to cross the Atlantic.  Samuel and older brother William, 14, were told by their parents to look after their younger siblings, including John, 10, and Eliza, 8.   Another sister, whose name is lost to history, died during the voyage – not surprising, as many passengers suffered from starvation and serious illness – and was buried at sea.

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William McBride, who served as Mayor of London and was active in civic affairs.

The McBrides first settled in Upper Canada at or near Kingston, then Coburg, then Niagra, then Brantford, and finally London, where the McBride name would be prominent for more than a century and a half.

It was in Coburg that the last children of the family were born.  Elizabeth had twins, of which one unnamed boy died.  The boy who survived was Alexander McBride (1833-1912), who married Lucy Munson and in 1886 would be the first of the McBride-McCormick clan to go west as they left for the future province of Alberta due to Lucy`s asma condition.   Alexander turned out to be the most successful businessman in the family, as he partnered with his brother Samuel in a retail business in London and went on to be a dominant force in the hardware store business in Alberta and British Columbia.

Brother William McBride (1817-1881), who married Charlotte Hillier, would gain renown in London as a carriage maker, as the City of London`s sixth Mayor, as the first Secretary of the Western Fair Society, and as a victim in the worst disaster in London`s history, the sinking of the ship Victoria in the Thames River in May 1881.  William and Charlotte`s great-great-grandson Bob McBride of Indian River, Ontario has done a tremendous amount of research on the McBride family over the years, and has greatly inspired me to do further research and writing of the family history.  It was Bob who made the important discovery of Elizabeth`s maiden name as McCormick, which will hopefully lead us someday to learn the names and backgrounds of the parents of the McBride children who left County Down for Canada.

Samuel McBride was also prominent in London, both as a hardy tinsmith (a trade often contracted as “tinker“), and in many capacities as a volunteer, including two decades of service as an alderman, as an officer in the Volunteer Fire Brigade, as Secretary of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Society, and with a number of church-related activities.  While still a teen-ager, he served in the militia called  up in response to the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.  Samuel was in relatively good health up until his death at 86 in 1905.  During his later years he was respected as a London pioneer, and was the subject of several feature stories by local newspapers.

Eliza also enjoyed 86 years of life.  She married Alexander Lowrie and had a son Edwin and daughter Eliza Jane.   Family historian Harry Bapty married Eliza Jane Bapty and they had five children.

 

 

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Obituary information on Samuel`s mother Elizabeth McCormick and his first wife Elizabeth Webster in the Christian Guardian publication.

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Bios of William McBride and Samuel McBride written in the 1920s by descendants.

 

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Alexander McBride (1833-1912) was born in Cobourg, Upper Canada, the only child of the original McBride-McCormick family from County Down to be born in Canada. He was the best businessman in the family, starting a hardware store with his tinsmith brother Samuel. He moved west in the 1880s and was mayor of Calgary in 1896. His Calgary-based company established hardware stores in Alberta and British Columbia, including Cranbrook where his son J.D. McBride ran the local store, and Rossland, where his nephew George Walter McBride was manager, and his great-nephew Roland Leigh McBride later worked before joining the Wood Vallance company in Nelson.

 

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In June 1994, soon after I began researching the family tree, I visited George and Jean McBride in London, Ontario. They gave me a wonderful tour of the city, including the Mt Pleasant Cemetery where more than 20 McBride descendants and extended family members are buried. George is a descendant of William McBride, who came to Canada as a 14-year-old in 1831, and his wife Charlotte Hillier. In the photo, George and Jean are beside the tombstone of William and Charlotte. Photo by Sam McBride

 

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