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History of Early Kimberley Schools

Early Kimberley

The future settlement of Kimberley began in the summer 1892 with Joe Bourgeois’ discovery of galena ore on North Star Mountain. His discovery brought many prospectors to the area and by the time Walter Burchett, Ed Smith, John Cleaver and Pat Sullivan arrived after a journey of over a month from Kaslo via the St. Mary Valley, North Star Mountain was entirely staked. They decided to cross Mark creek and prospect on a mountain later known as Sullivan Mountain. There they would find the deposit that led to one of Canada’s longest operating and richest mines – the Sullivan Mine.

The North Star mine was quick to develop under a Spokane based syndicate. The ore was transported over the McGinty Trail to a landing on the Kootenay River. This became known as North Star Landing and was across the river from Bummers Flats just north of Fort Steele. The ore would be taken by paddle wheeler to Jennings, Montana and then by rail to smelters in Montana and Idaho.

Kimberley in these days was referred to as Mark Creek Crossing. It was like many frontier mining towns full of young single men, hotels, and saloons. In 1896, a Spokane syndicate called the Sullivan Group which included investors in the Le Roi mine in Rossland purchased the claim from Burchett, Smith, and Cleaver. Pat Sullivan had been killed in a mining accident in Idaho. The prospectors split the money four ways sending Sullivan’s share to his family in Ireland.

Colonel William Ridpath was the president and general manager of the syndicate. He is credited in naming the town Kimberley in reference to the diamond mining town in South Africa. He is best known today for building the Ridpath Hotel in Spokane. The first written records referring to Kimberley come in 1897.

Discoverers of the Sullivan Mine
L-R: Ed Smith, John Cleaver, Pat Sullivan, Frank Burchett
North Star Hotel
North Star Hotel, built 1898, Kimberley, BC
Kimberley B.C. c.1915
Kimberley B.C. "Birds eye view" Circa 1915
Sullivan Mine
Sullivan Mine in the Mark Creek valley - 3900 tunnel workings, Kimberley, BC.