ARTHUR PEACHEY; SUFFOLK TO BRITISH COLUMBIA

A GLOBAL TALE WITH EAST ANGLIAN ROOTS

MOY is a Norfolk surname with a long history. In the year of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815, a John Moy of Great Yarmouth had a son. This son was also called John. John junior grew up in the town and at the age of 24 he married Mary Ann Kirk, the daughter of a butcher in Row 109. She was about two years younger than him. The wedding was held in the town church of St Nicholas in 1839. Within a year the young couple were living in Southwark, London, where John had embarked on a career with the Metropolitan Police, then established for a decade. Their eldest son, John William, was born in 1843 and by the time he was a teenager he was a seaman in the Merchant Navy. By this time his father had advanced to the rank of Police Inspector in the Met. John William married Lucy McKenzie in his late twenties, when she was only 16. It sounds as if they met on his travels as a sailor, because she was born in Sarawak in 1852. This part of the Island of Borneo was a hotbed of piracy at the time. This was being ruthlessly suppressed by Rajah Brooke, the Briton who had been granted sovereignty of the country by a grateful Sheik. Doubtless Lucy’s father was assisting Brooke in his task of ridding the land of  pirates.

Once married John William Moy did not remain in the Merchant Marine for long. After a brief spell as railway labourer he got a job as lock keeper on the river Thames. By 1875 he was the keeper of the famous Boulter’s Lock in Cookham where the elegant and fashionable would pass their summer afternoons in rowing boats. (Click Here to view the painting by EDWARD JOHN GREGORY of Boulter’s Lock.) Kenneth Graham was inspired to write Wind in the Willows by his childhood by the lock, and later (but still during John William Moy’s time as lock keeper) the artist Stanley Spencer took great inspiration as a child from the Thames here. In 1876 John William Moy’s daughter Edith had been born and she grew up on the river as the lock keeper’s daughter. Was it on the lock that she met young Arthur Peachey? He was neither elegant nor fashionable. Arthur had moved from his birthplace in Lakenheath in Suffolk to Greenwich, where he had found a job in domestic service. Edith and Arthur were married in 1906 in Woodstock in Oxfordshire, but obviously Arthur was dissatisfied by his life in this country, and in 1907 the young family emigrated to Halifax, Nov Scotia. My great-great-uncle Arthur Peachey was the first member of my family to settle in Canada, but by no means the last. Besides Arthur’s brother Jesse there was a brother of my grandmother (Nanny) called Wilfred, who went there in the early years of the 20th century. I have a sister, two nephews, a great-niece and two great-nephews living in Western Canada.

ARTHUR PEACHEY

ARTHUR PEACHY

Arthur Peachey and his twin brother Jesse were the two youngest children of Robert Peachey and his wife Amelia. The two boys were born in 1880 and their elder brother Phipp Peachey was 22 years older than the twins. They all grew up in Lakenheath in north-west Suffolk where the family had been warrenrs (rabbit catchers) for  generations. I was a race that was also followed by Phipp Peachey, my great-grandfather. The boys must have been acquainted with Emily, my grandmother. After Arthur and Edith emigrated Jesse and his wife Louisa followed them to Canada two years later in 1909. Jesse did not move west but settled in Perth, Ontario. There he was working mixing concrete when the First World War broke out and aged 35 he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force to France in 1915. He did not remain in Canada, returning to England after the war.

From Liverpool Arthur and Edith had taken the liner Victorian to Halifax. After spending a short time in North Carolina (USA) they made their way back to Canada. Arthur found a job in Moyie in the Kootenay region of British Columbia, where the lead and silver ore galena had been found in the 1890s.  Arthur worked  underground in the Eugene Mine as a “mucker”. I think the close identity of the place-name Moyie with Edith’s maiden name Moy must have had some bearing on the couple’s choice.  It wasn’t a long-term option as a residence because by 1911 the mine had closed and Moyie was rapidly becoming a ghost town. This once bustling community with its own railway station on the CPR now has virtually no houses. Only the fire station remains to remind the passer-by of its history. There are no employment opportunities and it is a very small settlement for holiday makers and retired folk. It is 20 km south from Cranbrook on the road to the American border. But in 1911 the Peacheys had moved west to Slocan lake.

Arthur and Edith moved to Silverton with their children Fred (b. 1907 in England) and Gladys (b. 1908 in the USA).  There a similar type of ore had been discovered 1891. The town on Lake Slocan was undergoing a mining boom similar to that at Moyie, only in Silverton it was rather longer lasting. But even so, like many of these boom towns, its period of rapid expansion was relatively brief, and boom was followed by the inevitable bust. Siverton too is a small community today, though not so small as Moyie.

In Silverton boxcars were loaded with ore; they were taken there in barges on the lake from the railhead at Roseberry. There a standard gauge line ran north-west to Nakusp on Arrow Lake. [CLICK HERE to view an article about Roseberry – the accompanying photographs date from 1989, shortly after the closure of the line to Nakusp.] At Nakusp the boxcars were again loaded onto barges and taken up Arrow Lake to the CPR mainline at Revelstoke. In 1927 a rail connection was completed from Slocan city  to the Nelson line at Castlegar. This line too has been closed, but a freight line to the city of Nelson remains.

In Silverton ore milling was providing an alternative employment to working underground, but shovelling the concentrate into boxcars was still back-breaking work. A cable driven tramway went from the Standard Mill to the wharf on the lake where the ore concentrate was transferred into barges. Lead and silver ore were smelted locally at Trail in British Columbia, or across the border in the USA. Zinc ore, for which there was not much demand in North America, was shipped to Swansea in South Wales. The lakes provided essential transport links for this raw material; for passengers the stern wheeler S.S. Slocan made regular voyages along the lake from New Denver to the CPR wharf at Silverton, and then on to Slocan city. The river to the south of Slocan lake was not navigable and the parts for the paddle steamer were made in Victoria and taken for assembly to Roseberry.

In 1914 another child, Rolly, had been born to the Peacheys and a year later Doreen arrived, followed in 1917  by their last daughter Viva Enid Moy.  Their mother Edith died in 1926 and Annie (a neighbour on Lake Slocan) had lost her husband two years earlier. In 1930 Arthur and Annie were married. Annie’s maiden name had been Davies and she was born in Wales. Like Arthur Peachey she had emigrated to Canada in 1907. She and her husband Jarrett Evans left the UK shortly after their marriage at Pontypridd, when Annie was 26.  Among her several children was Trevor, born in 1907, and he married his step-sister Viva Peachey before the Second World War. Arthur’s widow Annie ended her days in 1973 in Nelson BC. By then the New Age had dawned in Nelson, brought there by Vietnam  draft-dodgers from across the border in the USA.

My first cousin twice removed Viva (known to her friends as ‘Babe’) lived until 2006. Viva ended her days in Invermere BC on Lake Windermere, a popular destination for second homeowners from Calgary. During the summer months its population grow ten fold. She had two children by her first husband Trevor Evans. Trevor had died in 1958 and in 1960 she married a 46 year-old carpenter Adolph Urban. He had been born Urbanowicz in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914. He had emigrated with his parents to the USA after the First World War and crossed into Canada as a teenager.

Arthur Peachey spent the last forty years of his life in the town of Silverton. This one-time ‘gold rush’ town once had a telegraph office, a newspaper (The Silvertonian), a school and a number of hotels. A trade directory of 1898 lists a druggist, blacksmith, grocery and naturally an assay office among its businesses. The laundry was taken over by a Chinese Mr Sing. Silverton still retains the position of a municipality although is population is now under 200. When he arrived on Lake Slocan Arthur Peachey had decided that he no longer wished to work down a mine or shovelling ore, and was looking around for other business opportunities. He opened an ice cream parlour on Turner Street, backing onto the lake. The wharf wasn’t far away and that was a busy place of hot and thirsty workers. The close proximity of Arthur Peachey and his ice cream parlour made him a popular figure in the town. Ice cream sodas provided his income during the summer months, and to pass away the long winter evenings there was a hall with a number of pool tables. This looked afar his winter income. Their living accommodation was on the first floor, abovee the pool tables.  A wood burner kept the property warm enough, but there was no bathroom. With the lake just yards away swimming was no problem in the summer, but during the winter the kitchen sink was kept busy by the washing requirements of a family of seven.

Now, over a hundred years after Arthur opened his ice cream parlour, the site on Turner Street has been reclaimed by trees and scrub. There are still a few houses along the street but the sense of  bustling community life has deserted the town; the butcher’s shop, silent movie picture house and automobile garage have all gone. Instead Silverton now hosts more sedate activities; a summer school for young classical musicians, and a three-day fair at Christmas.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

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