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category: Biography & Autobiography
published: April 2018
publisher: Heritage House Publishing

Children of the Kootenays

Memories of Mining Towns

by Shirley Stainton

tagged: personal memoirs, social history, post-confederation (1867-)

A warm-hearted memoir of a childhood spent living in various mining towns in the Kootenays throughout the 1930s and ’40s.

When young Shirley Doris Hall and her family moved to BC’s West Kootenay region in 1927, the area was a hub of mining activity. Shirley’s father, a cook, had no problem finding work at the mining camps, and the family dutifully followed him from town to town as his services were sought after. For Shirley and her brother, Ray—described as both her confidant and her nemesis—mining camps were the backdrop of their youth. The instant close-knit communities that formed around them; the freedom of barely tamed wilderness; and the struggles of the Depression years and the war that followed created an unlikely environment for a happy childhood. Yet Shirley’s memories reveal that it was indeed a magical time and place in which to grow up. Children of the Kootenays paints a lively portrait of this forgotten period in BC history—of mining towns that are now ghost towns—told from the unique perspective of a young girl.

About the Author

Shirley Stainton

Shirley D. Stainton (née Hall) was born in February 1927 on a farm near Spooner, Saskatchewan. Shortly after her birth, her family relocated to the Slocan Valley in British Columbia. While growing up, Shirley lived in many mining communities throughout the region, many of which are ghost towns today. After the Second World War, Shirley married a returned soldier named Fred, and they went on to raise three children. They retired in Balfour, BC, close to their roots. Shirley still lives there, in the house on the lake that Fred built for her.

Editorial Reviews

Appendices provide a family tree that helps to identify the myriad aunts, uncles, and cousins who appear throughout the book. Of interest to historians is an appended handwritten letter from Stainton’s father describing the history of the mines and mining camps where he had worked. A bibliography of books and articles, archives and organizations consulted is helpful. . . Written with humour and enthusiasm, Children of the Kootenays: Memories of Mining Towns is a gift from the author to her 'grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their children’s children,' as she intended. It is also a valuable contribution to B.C. social history.

— Ormsby Review

Shirley D. Stainton shares her experiences growing up as part of the Hall family, pioneers in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. Her father worked in mining camps, usually as a camp cook; this resulted in childhood memories of frequent moves and new adventures. She describes her daily life through those times, portraying the years vividly through the eyes of a child, so the stories, details, and emotions may well resonate with today’s children. Elementary teachers may find the photographs and excerpts of this book useful for Social Studies lessons.

— BC Books for BC Schools

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