Beattie Family

By David J Beattie and Gloria H. (Beattie) Johnson Pg 286 More Big Hill Country

Thomas Leslie (Tom) Beattie was born in Carlisle, England on December 8, 1909, the middle son of David and Mary (Byers) Beattie. David Beattie was a shepherd who worked in the borders region of northern England and southern Scotland and their marriage certificate states that Mary worked as a confectioner’s assistant. Grandpa David died when Tom was about five and we believe Grandma Mary died a short time after. It appears that Tom’s two brothers, Robert, the oldest and John, the youngest, ended up on the west coast of Scotland, just south of Glasgow, possibly in an orphanage. For reasons unknown, it appears the Byers family, who farmed west of Carlisle, took in young Tom. Details are sketchy as Tom did not talk to his family about his childhood years. 

Under the auspices of the Salvation Army, Tom sailed to Canada in 1926 with the approval of his uncle, William Byers, whom the ship’s passenger list names as Tom’s guardian. Tom’s occupation on the ship’s list is shown as “messenger” which we learned means he delivered mail, likely on foot. These were years when Britain shipped thousands of youngsters to Canada and other parts of the Commonwealth as “British Home Children”. Canada accepted these children to increase the population but, frequently, the families who took them in treated them poorly and used them as cheap labour. By coming to Canada, Tom lost contact with his two brothers for over twenty years. Eventually, the Salvation Army helped Tom regain contact with Robert and John. They corresponded but Tom never saw either brother again. 

A farmer in the eastern townships in Ontario held Tom’s indentureship for two years until he was just past eighteen. Our research revealed he received a wage of $135 for the first year and $148 for the second. After completing his indentureship and repaying the Salvation Army for his passage to Canada, we think 

Tom ventured west to the Cochrane area in late 1928 or early 1929. He found work as a cowboy for local ranchers. David remembers him talking about McConaghies and McEwans having large ranching and farming operations. Tom was an adept horseman and put his skills at leatherwork and leather braiding to good use. Similar to American cowboys of that era, Tom carried a 44-40 lever-action rifle and a 44 Colt revolver. These both used the same ammunition making it less to carry. In 1933, the Canadian government abolished the carrying of sidearms. We do not know what became of either of Tom’s firearms. 

Tom worked for various ranchers and eventually, Kendrew’s sawmills became his employer in the mid to late 1930s. Logging and sawmills provided steady work during some of the depression years. 

Margaret Ida Kimeri (later, “Kimery”) was born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan on November 12, 1912. She was the youngest of nine children of Josef and Juliana Kimeri who had emigrated from Hungary in 1905. Margaret’s five older sisters were born in Hungary; one sister and two brothers were born in Saskatchewan. Margaret did not learn English until she started school. She grew up on the family farm west of Kennedy. Saskatchewan. She talked about the rope that connected the distant barn to the house. In the heavy blizzards or dust storms of the depression years, the rope would guide her between the two buildings to do her chores. She also talked about snaring gophers and magpies and receiving cash for their remains as part of her contribution to the family. 

Grandpa Josef died when Margaret was quite young and her brother, Louis, who had just completed his teaching certificate, died in the 1918 flu epidemic Both Grandpa and Grandma Kimeri are buried in the Bekavar Cemetery south of Kipling, Saskatchewan. Margaret left home after finishing school and lived with one of her sisters in Winnipeg where she graduated from business college. Her children remember she had beautiful handwriting and could take shorthand. 

Margaret came to Cochrane in the mid-1930s to help her older sister, Rose Watson, with her family and to find work during the depression. The family does not know how, when or where Tom and Margaret met. They were married in December 1937. 

Early in their marriage, Tom worked at the Kendrews sawmills located at Jumping Pound, Morley and northeast of what is now the Village of Waiparous. He was the steam engineer and rose very early to fire the boiler that generated steam to power all the sawmill machinery He was accomplished with an axe and saw and built several log cabins for his family and others living near

these sawmills. David remembers being quite young when Tom and he visited an old sawmill site. Tom was pleased to see that several cabins were still standing. Margaret and Tom embarked on life-long friendships at the mills with the Lathwells, Steeves and Grays, to name a few. 

Marion Margaret Beattie was born in October 1938 and spent her early years growing up around local sawmills. 

When World War II started, Tom tried to enlist but was ‘unfit for service’ because of punctured eardrums. It is possible his ears were “boxed” when he was a child. Tom would get quite upset when anyone slapped a child’s head and would remind them the child had a bottom” for disciplinary measures. 

By the early 1940s, there were German prisoner of war camps situated in the Kananaskis and Bow River valleys. The government considered the Ghost River power generating dam and station at risk from escapees and hired guards to protect operations at the dam. 

In October 1943, Andy Chapman, a Justice of the Peace, swore Tom in as a Provincial Constable. Tom received a Colt 45 revolver and began the night shift guarding the dam. Tom’s certificate, dated the same cay David Joseph was born in the General Hospital in Calgary, suggests Tom likely missed the arrival of his first son! 

The young Beattie family lived in a Calgary Power staff house below the Ghost dam and David remembers Margaret telling him she would place him outside in the baby buggy for daytime naps in the fresh air. However, one wet day she discovered bear tracks around the buggy, so David did not sleep outside again until the family moved to Cochrane in mid-1944. 

After WW II ended Tom went to work for Sam Peverell who owned the Cochrane Creamery. The Creamery bought and processed local milk and cream. The cream arrived from various farms in varying sizes of cream cans and in varying conditions. The cream quality or grade was determined by tasting it prior to pasteurizing and churning. Butter churned from the cream won several awards of excellence over the years. 

David remembers helping Tom with grading and one particular can which contained cream covered with mould. David was ready to mark an “X” for sour beside the farmer’s name. Tom said this was unacceptable and reminded David that penicillin came from the mould so he had David sample and taste the cream. It was bad and the farmer did get an “X” but Tom taught his son a lesson about doing things correctly. David still remembers some really foul-tasting cream and, even after a mouth rinse, the taste lingered on. David soon learned to take

very small samples and never to swallow any. 

There were still a few that received “X” if Tom was not supervising but David remembers the wonderful butter the Creamery shipped after the local cream was pasteurized and churned. Some cream was really sweet and Tom would bring samples of it home for whipping and accompanying hot gingerbread, cereal or garden-fresh fruit or berries. David doubts cream of that quality is available anywhere now. 

Another interesting, but sometimes dangerous, job at the Creamery was washing the milk and cream bottles. A bottle brush, mounted on the wall above the huge wash sinks, driven by an electric motor spinning at a furious speed. The operator really needed a good two-handed grip to put the glass bottles on, or pull them off, the washer. The danger was in losing one’s grip and allowing a bottle to get loose. Glass bottles did not fare well against all the steel and concrete in the Creamery. Once David was 12 years old, Tom deemed him capable of doing this job. 

One of Tom’s several duties for the Creamery was milk delivery throughout the village. Many people remember his melodic whistling as he walked from house to house. Delivering milk with Tom was a neat job but had its dangers too. Many people in Cochrane had a dog and certain dogs took real exception to the placing of milk bottles on their doorsteps. Defending oneself from dogs wanting to bite when both your hands were carrying glass bottles of milk was difficult, to say the least! A bottle of milk was a good weapon but Tom would not allow David to break a bottle over a dog’s head. The better defence came in the form of a leather quirt which Tom square braided. One end looped over the wrist and the other end featured four eight-inch cattails. Tom filled the square body of the quirt with a lead shot. If a flick with the cattails did not deter the annoying dog, then a clunk with the quirt handle did. Dogs would still growl about the milk delivery but kept their distance. 

Tom Beattie also worked at various jobs for the Town of Cochrane. Gloria remembers him changing the early street light bulbs with a long, wiggly pole which was challenging at the best of times and quite frustrating when the strong west wind was blowing. 

Another job Tom did for the Town was digging graves with Dewey Blaney. Dewey was the only “black” person in Cochrane at the time. He worked for John Boothby and was a friend to many of Cochrane’s children. However, Dewey would only dig graves until sunset, so Tom would take the night shift. David remembers Tom telling a story about one winter night at the cemetery. Dewey was digging the frozen ground 

Margaret Beattie and Family

and, just at dark, his shovel hit a coffin. Tom met Dewey racing down the hill to town at full speed. Tom laughed, saying all he could see was the whites of Dewey’s eyes as he went streaking by. The tracks in the snow at the graveyard told Tom that Dewey had jumped clear of the gravesite in one gigantic leap and had hit the ground running. 

Gloria Hazel Beattie was born in July 1945. Linda Mary Jane Beattie was born in September 1946. 

With a growing family, Margaret and Tom needed a larger house. Their small two-bedroom bungalow became a larger four-bedroom bungalow, complete with an earthen basement and a closed-in verandah or porch. Tom also built an indoor bathroom when the Town installed water and sewer facilities. The house expansions happened in stages as finances allowed. David was old enough to help with some of the additions. 

John Robert Thomas (Bob) Beattie arrived in November 1950. 

As David was now seven years old, he had several chores and responsibilities. The Beattie family’s source of heat was wood and coal. David sawed wood by hand with a hand-made crosscut saw, split kindling and wood with an axe and broke the coal into proper-sized pieces with a sledgehammer. Ashes from the kitchen stove and pot-bellied heater were spread on the garden and driveway. 

The Beatties pumped water into pails from a 45-foot hand-dug well. Tom or David transferred water to the large reservoir in the kitchen stove and, on bath days, to a round tub placed on the stove. When the water was hot, the tub was moved to the floor in front of the cook stove’s oven. Margaret’s order for bathing children would begin with Bob, followed by Gloria and Linda and then David. Older Marion had the luxury of her own bathwater. Margaret also hand-washed and rinsed all the laundry, including diapers, in tubs using a washboard which David still has. 

Margaret reprimanded David several times each winter. He could not resist convincing visiting city kids to lick the heavy frost off the cast iron water pump handle. A warm, moist tongue would always freeze to the pump handle. This seems cruel in retrospect but it was fun at the time. Margaret always came to the rescue with warm water to pour on the pump handle and free the hapless victim. The rest of the outdoor plumbing was David’s domain, as well, and involved emptying the slop pail under the sink and keeping the outdoor toilet clean. 

Water, sewer and natural gas arrived in Cochrane in the early 1950s. Like most residents, we hand-dug the ditches from the street to our house. Water and sewer lines required eight to ten feet of cover. David remembers 

being in the bottom of the ditch and filling a pail with earth and rocks. On top, Tom hoisted the pail to the surface with a rope tied to the handle. The wooden ladder was always beside David in case he needed to make a quick exit. 

Timothy Trent Beattie was born in October 1956. Hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing made life somewhat easier for Margaret especially when she became the proud owner of an electric washing machine complete with an electric wringer. And, David’s chores were reduced considerably. Margaret would still hang clothes outside to dry and, in winter, they would freeze solid. Imagine a five-foot by seven-foot bed sheet frozen solid like a sheet of plywood. Somehow, Margaret would manage to wrestle these from the clothesline outside into the kitchen and hang them on the overhead inside clothesline to dry by the heat of the stove. The smell of clothes drying in the kitchen is a very pleasant memory for the Beattie siblings.

Growing up, David remembers children made their own entertainment. Cochrane was small and closely knit. In summer, children of all ages played games in open lots or fields – scrub baseball, kick the can and run sheep run. In winter, activities included sledding, skating, tobogganing, building snow caves and tunnels in huge snowdrifts. 

Tom was an early member of the volunteer fire department when the brigade mechanized in about 1954. This crew fought many types of fires with an old Ford truck and pumping unit. 

Tom developed lung cancer in early 1958 and had surgery to remove all of one lung and part of the other. Radiation was unsuccessful and Tom Beattie passed away August 16, 1958, several months before his 48th 



birthday. It is hard to imagine the grief and stress Margaret faced with five children at home, aged two to fourteen. There was no life insurance, no salary and only a very small federal widow’s stipend with which to raise her young family. Three months later, David was diagnosed with cancer and underwent two surgeries and radiation treatment. This was very hard on Margaret and she dealt with even more stress when she learned that Tom’s younger brother, John, had also just passed away from lung cancer in Scotland. David was extremely fortunate that Dr. Robert Walker (later a renowned cardiologist) managed his surgeries and aftercare and, in time, David fully recovered. 

As the oldest, at 12, David tried to assist Margaret by assuming more responsibility for the family. He worked after school and weekends at many menial jobs in an effort to contribute financially to the family. Margaret babysat in her home and worked as a cashier at weekend movies shown in the Cochrane Community Hall. The Beatties always grew a large garden which helped feed the family. Like many prairie women of that era, Margaret surrounded her low-eaved house with delphinium beds and planted lilacs in her fence so she and her neighbours could enjoy the beautiful blooms every summer. 

Margaret volunteered at the Cochrane (later Nancy Boothby) Library for over 35 years. A voracious reader, Margaret usually ended her long day by sitting in a straight-backed chair at the kitchen table engrossed in a beloved book. Card parties in Cochrane and surrounding districts helped her stay in touch with friends and neighbours. The Beatties made occasional trips to Calgary by train and later, by Greyhound bus. It was a big event for the whole family when David bought his first vehicle in 1960, a 1957 blue Ford pickup. The five younger Beattie siblings completed grade twelve at Cochrane High School while Marion finished high school at Mount Royal College in Calgary. 

Marion had a long career with the Royal Bank and is now retired and living in British Columbia. 

David completed a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology apprenticeship as an interprovincial automotive mechanic at Cochrane Auto Service owned by Graeme Broatch. Later, during a career in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, he completed his Certified Engineering Technologist designation. He is now semi-retired and living near Cochrane. 

Gloria has had a long career with the Royal Bank and is still working and living in Cochrane. 

Linda graduated and worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse and now lives in Cochrane. 

Bob completed a SAIT apprenticeship and graduated 

as a journeyman carpenter. He is still employed in Alberta’s oil and gas industry and living in Swan Hills. 

Tim has had a long career at The Calgary Centre for Performing Arts where he is still working and lives in Calgary. 

Margaret moved from the original Beattie home on Fourth Avenue to the newer Glenbow neighbourhood in the early 1980s. For the first time, she had a newer home with central heating and an attached garage and it backed on to the Big Hill Creek. She sold this home in 1989 and moved to the Bethany Care Centre in Cochrane. In Margaret’s view, not having to do her own cooking, dishes and cleaning was okay. She suffered from dementia in her later years and passed away as a result of a stroke on January 12, 2000. Margaret was a widow for almost three times as long as she was married. She was buried beside Tom in the old section of the Cochrane Cemetery. 

Marion was married to Buster Fenton of the Bottrel area. Their children are Karen, Thomas (Tom), Laurie and Teresa. 

David is married to Ann Neilson of Cochrane. Their sons are Malcolm and Sean. 

Gloria is married to Fred Johnson of Westbrook. Their children are William (Bill) and Deborah (Deb). 

Linda was married to Vince Hoomana of Hawaii. Tanya is their daughter. 

Bob is married to Carmen Schuman of Strathmore and they have no children. 

Tim was married to Lynn Leppard of Calgary and they have no children. 

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