Children of the Kootenays

Memories of Mining Towns

By (author): Shirley Stainton
ISBN 9781772031850
Softcover | Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Book Dimensions: 8 in x 10 in
320 Pages

About the Book

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(s)

Shirley D. Stainton (1927-2018) was born on a farm near Spooner, Saskatchewan. Shortly after her birth, her family relocated to the Slocan Valley area of British Columbia, where she was raised in the gold mining camps of Sandon, Beaton, Camborne, and Sheep Creek, 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 and spent their senior years in Balfour, BC, close to their roots, in a house on the lake built by Fred.


"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." —Sylvia Crooks, 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
"The author's voice moves seamlessly between personal experiences and local history in this elegant book. Children of the Kootenaysprovides a glimpse into childhood and family experiences in the 1930s and 1940s and is the ideal companion to books and other research on mining in the West Kootenays."—British Columbia History
"Stainton’s detailed prose offers great insight into the forces that shaped all the communities of the Kootenays."— Luanne Armstrong, The Tyee
“Stainton’s memories portray life and work in West Kootenay communities as the hard rock mining era was coming to an end during the 1930s and 1940s. She recalls communities made up of families and single men of Canadian and northern European background, of close friendships with the children of neighbour families and with her brother, of houses with few pieces of furniture and with no indoor plumbing, siding or insulation, and of her enjoyment of her few toys, gifts, books, and the pieces of stylish clothing made for her by her mother.” — BC Studies