Dear Editor:

Regarding a picture on page 6 of the February 11th issue of The Columbia Valley Pioneer of Nan feeding two cows:

In 1912, my grandparents, Norman and Constance Marples, decided to leave England and immigrate to Canada. My grandfather arrived first, acquiring farm land on the east side of Lake Lillian and selecting a home site on a hill with a beautiful view over the lake up the Toby Creek valley to Mt. Nelson. He started construction of a house and then returned to England to accompany his family on the long journey to Invermere. They left England in early October, 1912 and were able to move into their partially completed house in early winter. The family included sons Ken and Vivien, and a three-year-old daughter, Mollie (my mother).

They were also accompanied by Nan Mathews, who had been engaged as a nurse (or nanny) following the birth of my mother. When the decision was made to move to Canada, Nan insisted on accompanying the family for a period of two years. According to my mother, Nan said that there was no way she would let that child [my mother] go to Canada without her.

My grandmother often spoke of Nan and said that she didnt know how she would have managed without her help. Apparently Nan was a very practical person. She was taught how to make bread by a cook in a nearby road camp. She also learned how to milk Jessie, the cow that appears in the picture with Nan during that first winter. At one point, a calf was born in the middle of winter and Nan and my grandmother took turns sitting in the kitchen with the calf on their lap in front of the oven door to keep it warm.

Nan was very strict and administered the only spanking that my mother remembers receiving. She was also a great comfort to my grandmother when her youngest son, Vivien, was drowned with the two neighbouring boys, George and Clement Young, when they fell through the ice on a nearby pond in November, 1913. Nan returned to England in 1914, having completed her two year commitment to my grandparents. However, she remained in close touch with the family, sending books to my mother, including a copy book which helped her learn to write.

Most of this information was drawn from a book on the Marples life in Invermere written by my mother around 1992 entitled The Things I Do Remember. I believe the book may be available from the Invermere Historical Society.

Sandy Laird