August 28th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 35
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Looking Back - John Kinnear
Retracing the Huttons
Looking Back
courtesy of Glen Hutton
Hutton family portrait- 1905- 7 sons, 2 daughters
In March the Herald forwarded an email to me from a researcher by the name of Glen Hutton. Glen it seems has been hard at work for some time now on what is to be a self-published compilation of fabulous photos, stories, newspaper articles and any other related material he can turn up that is part of the Corbin story.

Since I have done a couple of columns on this remarkable mining camp he asked permission to use them in his book. Glen also inquired as to whether I would consider writing the forward to the book. I then asked him to fill me in on his connection to Corbin and what was motivating him. What was subsequently sent to me then was an amazing 32 page pdf that traced his family from Scotland to the Pass and eventually explained the Corbin connection.

I quickly saw what was driving him to create the “definitive’ work on this remote coal mine story. The Hutton connection to the Pass is huge and he has graciously agreed to let me share it with you the readers.

It begins with the immigration from the Dumbarton area , Scotland of no less than seven of the nine members of their family. Firstly sons John (Jack), George and Isaac travelled to Quebec aboard the Ionian of the Allen Line in 1908. It is not apparent what drew them to the Pass but perhaps other Scots had alluded to the mining opportunity. Two years later sons Hugh and David sailed in April aboard the Grampian and four months later their father and mother, John and Margaret, along with daughter Annie and son Duncan left Scotland for the Pass once again aboard the Ionian.
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In Crowsnest and Its People I found the following comment by John Hutton Sr. on getting off the train at Frank. “Oh, bonnie Scotland, have I left you to come to this.” “This” undoubtedly being the endless piles of rock of the Frank Slide. The boys lived in a shanty in Maple Leaf and all six found work at the Bellevue Mine. Imagine that. Six brothers working in the same mine. God forbid. And oh yes, John Sr., who was 63 when he arrived here, was hired as the night watchman at the mine. That has to be some kind of a record.

Of course they were there when the Bellevue Mine blew up on December 9, 1910. Their respective ages that year from oldest to youngest was 37, 36, 34, 27, 25 and 22. Isaac and Duncan (the youngest) and some other miners moved inwards after the explosion to what they thought was safer air and when they were finally located all were unconscious. Brother’s Hugh and Jack were part of the rescue team that found them and brought them to the surface. As Glen tells it: “Isaac was in serious condition; he was unconscious and his jaw was locked. Jim Cardle was certain Isaac was dying and although Isaac was a Methodist and Cardle a Catholic, Cardle performed the last rites of the Catholic Church. Isaac’s teeth were subsequently broken as nails were used to pry open his jaws. Mercifully, George and David were on a cross shift and Isaac did survive.

When the call came to defend King and Country four years later four of the Hutton brothers signed up with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. George, Hugh, Isaac and Jack. Sergeant George Hutton was reported: “wounded and missing in action” in November of 1917 in the second Battle of Passchendale. His body was never found. Hugh, Isaac and Jack were all sappers and all survived the war albeit wounded.
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According to Glen, Hugh returned home to the mines but his lungs had been terribly damaged by the high levels of carbon monoxide in those godforsaken tunnels under the trenches. Hugh passed in 1925 at the age of 41. Jack was buried in the trench tunnels but being a miner was able to help his group make it to the surface. He spent months recovering in the Colonel Belcher hospital in Calgary, which was a veteran’s hospital for many years.
I should also mention that Hugh Hutton’s wife Jenny and their son Jackie came over in 1911. Jenny passed away at the age of 37 while Hugh was overseas fighting. Jackie their son was raised by the grandparents. Jackie Hutton is listed among the Canadian war dead in World War Two as a leading aircraftman with the RCAF. The seventh Hutton son James, who had remained in Scotland, also served with the Navy there during the war on a mine sweeper. The husband of James’s sister Margaret, who had also stayed behind in Scotland, also saw service.

Isaac returned to Canada after the war with a Scottish bride and returned to the mine for a time. They had a daughter Agnes who married Alexander Lyons McDowell of Blairmore. McDowell was a squadron leader on a Lancaster bomber that was shot down over Kassel, Germany in 1943. Like the Dunlop’s of Frank it seems to me there should be a special acknowledgement of the Hutton family service to this country.

The boys all returned to the mine and found their way in the world. The Bellevue Mine database shows that five of the brothers held third class (fire boss) tickets, two held pit boss tickets as well as mine rescue certificates. My grandfather Bill McInnis worked 26 years in the Bellevue Mine and undoubtedly knew some or all of them.
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To zero in on author Glen Hutton’s leg of the family we turn to his grandfather David Telfer Hutton who was 22 when he came to Bellevue. It is interesting to note that the Huttons were deeply involved in the Methodist Church in Bellevue and were accomplished singers and piano/organ players. I mention this because the Reverend Peters at the time of the First World War felt that for David to see service was more than should be asked of the family so David and his younger brother Duncan kept the home fires burning so to speak and looked after their ageing parents.

David married Anna Celine (Lena) McIntyre in 1919 and had two sons, George and Gordon. They lived for a time at Lime City which was near the edge of the Frank Slide but in 1930, after the government recommended they move away from the hazard there, they relocated in Bellevue. You can follow the McIntyre connection further in my archives of May 16th, 2018 in part one of the Kerr story. (The Kerr Family Legacy-The Early Years).

David worked in the mines till the 1950’s and both sons went to the University of Alberta. Glen’s dad George was an engineer and married Nice Fidenato, daughter of Rina and the one and only Sesto Fidenato. Sesto was 16 when he landed at Ellis Island in 1913 with $25 in his pocket but made his way to Bellevue where his brother Luigi was running a grocery store. He and partner Tony DeCillia eventually ran the Fidenato and DeCillia (F & D) grocery store in Maple Leaf until 1971.
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So now to the Corbin connection. Glen’s maternal grandparents, whom he called affectionately Nonno and Nonni (Sesto and Rina), bought an acre of land with a cabin on it in Corbin in 1957. The cabin was in fact an old Eastern British Columbia Railway car. This was the name of the small railway that served the Corbin Mine until it closed in 1935.

I will let Glen tell you in his own words how Corbin became such a huge part of his family’s life. In his books introduction Glen says: “Today the boxcar has been demolished. My wife, Vicki, and I have built a new cabin on the property which we hope our three sons, Gregg, Brett and Alex, along with their families will continue to use for many years to come. My five sisters and I bought the adjoining cabin from Russell Montalbetti in 1997. Since 1970 our extended family gets together in Corbin over the August long weekend. Our children and our grand children are making their own memories of their time spent “at the cabin”

People often ask Glen why he is so passionate about Corbin and its history. His answer he says is easy: “ I have 62 years (and counting) of wonderful memories of my parents , grandparents, children, grandchildren, family and friends and the great time we have enjoyed together in beautiful Corbin, British Columbia.

Authors Note: Glen is in the final stages of publishing his book which seems to have taken on a life of its own. It will be a very limited printing, perhaps only thirty or more copies which puts the price of this spectacular 11inch by13 inch book with 150 plus pages, well over $100. Some will be donated to museums and schools but if your connection to Corbin is strong and important, this is the book for you. Contact me very soon if you are interested at passbrat@gmail.com or 403-563-3322. Be sure to check the on-line posting for more special pictures and a better look at the book’s layout.
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August 28th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 35
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