Twenty years ago the people of Golden and its surrounding area, celebrated a rather unique New Year’s Eve.
That was the year the lights went out. For many people it was an experience never before associated with a good time, but if you listen to the way that people refer to that time, you’ll always find warmth in their stories.
People gathered in each other’s homes and helped each other with light and heat as it soon become apparent that we were all in the same boat.
We joined together with other family members at our home, where we cooked supper on our wood heater with a gas lamp lighting the room.
Later the kids read at the kitchen table while the adults played a card game.
We were fortunate to have been able to turn the situation into a memorable one, not all New Years Eve’s in Golden’s past have been as happy and warm.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 1906, a trainman coming into Palliser found a woman walking down the tracks with two small children.
Mrs. White was carrying an eleven month old child in her arms and was leading a small boy by the hand.
On this day that came to be known as the coldest recorded that year, none of them were wearing coats.
Mrs. White herself was dressed only in a day dress with inside shoes.
The little boy was dressed only in pants and a shirt and had no shoes on his feet.
The baby that Mrs. White held clutched to her chest wore only a tee shirt and diaper.
When the trainman found them Mrs. White was having delusions about being chased by the devil, whom she thought was trying to steal her children.
The trainman led Mrs. White and the children back to the small settlement of Palliser where her husband was called in from the lumber camp and the Sheriff was notified.
It seems that this wasn’t the first time that Mrs. White had suffered from this delusion but never before had it placed her family in jeopardy.
Mrs. White and the children were taken to Golden where they were examined by the doctor. The baby, although scarcely dressed, suffered the least from the cold and was released to the care of a family in Golden.
The small boy was not as fortunate. He spent the next 23 days in the Golden Hospital suffering from frost-bite to both of his feet.
Mr. White, at the advice of the Doctor and Sheriff, took his wife to New Westminster where she was admitted to a hospital for the insane.
Upon his return to Golden Mr. White, who was unable to care for the children himself, sent the boy to live with a relative at the coast The baby was believed to have been given into the care of a family in Golden called the Townsends.
Mrs. White lived out the rest of her life in the hospital; the family was never together again.
Seems kind of an unhappy story really but after so many years, Mrs. White’s great-grandson returned to Golden to try and find out information about his grandfather’s brother, and the baby that was in Mrs. White’s arms.
After a great deal of research at the Golden Museum, her great-grandson came across the information in the old hospital records, that eventually led to the family being reunited.
It turned out that the baby Mrs. White gave birth to was a boy, not a girl as the family had always thought. Armed with this information the family set about their search once again and soon found the part of their family that had been missing all these years.
It was a thrill for me when the Tippings came back to the Museum to share the news of their reunion with us, and although the story is a sad one, the family has finally been happily reunited.
May the start of this new year give you the opportunity to grow with your family! Happy New Year.