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


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.

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.


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.


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


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, River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond.

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

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

The 1956 Mountaineer


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

cover of 1956 Mountaineer yearbook

deluxe cover of souvenir Mountaineer


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back cover

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


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.


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.


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




13127429-504a-471d-ac3c-ed615fba24c9[1]Something new for me in genealogical research involves working from connections made through 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 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.


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.




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


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



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.



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


Boyhood memories of London, Ontario in the 1860s and 1870s by Walter Clement Morgan

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by Sam McBride

Later in life, my paternal great-grandmother Fanny Morgan McBride`s brother Walter Clement Morgan (1861-1940) wrote an excellent seven-page story of his memories growing up in London, Ontario.   Based on correspondence with his niece Edith McBride Munroe, it appears he wrote down his memories in response to her request.   Edith (1884-1965) was the younger sister of my grandfather Roland Leigh McBride (1881-1959), as well as brother George Everett McBride (1877-1954) and sister Fanny Josephine McBride Rollins (1883-1965).

Walter Morgan was born December 14, 1861 in London, Ont., and died in 1940 in Buffalo, New York.  He was the youngest child of the Morgan family.  His eldest sibling, sister Fanny (born in Monmouthshire in 1848, died in London, Ont. in 1919) was a dressmaker and an outstanding soprano who sang as a professional before marrying Richard McBride, and then for many years in London churches.  The other siblings were Fred (born in 1851), Alice (born 1858), Bessie (born 1858) and Margaret (born in 1850 and died young).   They are mentioned in Walter`s memoirs, along with Fred Lashbrook, whose wife Ella McBride was a cousin of Fanny`s husband Richard McBride (1843-1921).   Walter worked as a railroad clerk and moved to the United States in 1881.

Walter`s parents — farmer James Morgan (1823-1907) and wife Margaret Hanbury (1818-1896) — emigrated with baby Fanny from Monmouthshire to Canada in 1849 and settled in London, Ontario, where the McBride family from County Down in Ulster had settled nine years earlier.   James Morgan was the son of James Morgan Sr. (1800-1843) and Anne Constance (1800-1845.  Margaret Hanbury was the daughter of Clement Hanbury (1778-1858) and Mary White (1798-?).   The documentation is not solid, but we believe Clement Hanbury was the son of Thomas Hanbury (1745-1819) and Mary Hetherton (1750-1813), connecting to a line of aristocratic Hanburys going back to the 1100s.

Here is Walter Morgan`s story about Life in London.

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Walter Morgan also wrote a letter to his niece Edith which mentions his memories of growing up in London, Ontario.


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page 1 of Walt Morgan letter to Edith McBride Munroe

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page 2 of Walt Morgan letter to Edith McBride Munroe



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Fanny Morgan as a young lady.  Family collection


At the 1917 marriage in London, Ontario of Edith McBride and Garfield Munroe, her parents Richard McBride and Fanny Morgan pose with the young couple.  Family Collection.


Fanny Morgan concert poster, 1868


obituary of Fanny McBride in 1919.


Edith with McBrides in Nelson

c. 1956, from left: Winnifred Foote McBride, grandson Sam McBride, Roland Leigh McBride, Edith McBride Munroe, and Dee Dee Dewdney McBride. Photo taken at Nelson, B.C. house with Central School in background. Family collection.






Dewdney Trail timeline since completion in 1865

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Here is a timeline of significant events and circumstances with the Dewdney Trail since its completion in the fall of 1865.

1865-1898 – Dewdney Trail was the main east-west link between Kettle Valley and Columbia Valley.

nov11 2015 0301905 – West Kootenay Power and Light built a transmission line west of Rossland, using parts of the Dewdney Trail for their access road and right-of-way.

Early 1920s – Cascade Highway built between Christina Lake and Rossland.  The new road crossed the Dewdney Trail many times, but did not follow it for any distance.  Dewdney Trail continued to be used by local ranchers and farmers for moving their cattle and as a horse trail, while the Cascade Highway became important for larger conveyances.

1949 – Completion of Hope-Princeton Highway

1962 – Highway between Christina Lake and Castlegar completed.

Oct. 13, 1963—Ribbon-cutting for Salmo-Creston Highway.

1972 – B.C. Parks Branch did a reconnaissance of the Christina Lake to Patterson portion of the trail and found that 70% of the original trail was still intact.

1972-1975 – Parks Branch in cooperation with the Forest Service works to restore Dewdney Trail section between Christina Lake and Paterson, including interviews with old-timers.

Mid-1970s – archaeological study done on portion of the Dewdney Trail between Grand Forks and Christina Lake by M. Friesinger.

Late 1970s – B.C. Highway installed lines parallel to the West Kootenay Power line, but on a grander scale.

96plan00011985 – A forest fire burned over the 2 km section of the Dewdney Trail along the Wild Horse River, which was the best-preserved section of the trail in the East Kootenays.

1989 – Corridor Plan for the Dewdney Trail produced under the Recreation Corridors program.

April 10, 1991 – Portions of the Dewdney Trail were designated as a Historic Site by provincial Order-In-Council.  Designated portions on Crown Land along the Wild Horse River; near the headwaters of Summit Creek and down to the Kootenay River; and from the Rossland Summit (Record Ridge – Mount Sophia Pass) to Christina Creek.

May 24, 1995 – Memorandum of Agreement on Heritage Trail was signed by the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture.  The trail has also been designated as a forest recreation trail under the Forest Practices Code of B.C., and as an Archealogical Site under the Heritage Conservation Act.

March 1996 – Dewdney Trail Management Plan for Trail Portions on Public Forest Lands in the Nelson Forest Region published and distributed.  The Dewdney Trail Corridor is considered to be 100 meters on either side of the trail centerline.

October 1996 – In line with the Management Plan, the Ministry of Forests commences a procedure of Alteration Permits established under the Heritage Conservation Act, including rehabilitation measures for disturbed parts of the trail.

September 1998 – Mapping and assessment conducted by Champion Contracting for the Forest Service on sections of the Dewdney Trail, including the Santa Rosa Summit, Santa Rosa Creek, Big Sheep Creek to Corral Creek, Corral Creek to Cascade Summit, Cascade Highway Summit, Lost Creek,

closeup of installing dew trail sign1999 – Location of the trail is plotted using a GPS unit.  The GPS plot corresponds to the location found by B.C. Parks in 1972.

September 2015 – incorporation of the Dewdney Trail Heritage Society, focusing on protection and preservation of the section of the Dewdney Trail between Christina Lake and Rossland.

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