The following article was written for the 1982 edition of Golden Memories. It’s a bit rough to read but it certainly speaks about a period in our history that most of us couldn’t recall.
Mr. John Wallace Conner came from Calgary in 1883. He had a contract for building a portion of the C.P.R. at Golden. In 1884, he returned to Calgary and brought his wife, who was formerly Catherine Berrault, back. They travelled on horseback down the old tote road which cut through the present Legion Cemetery, and down through the gully at the back of what was the Conner property next to the Trans-Canada and from there to the Moodie property (Golden Arms Hotel).
John Conner farmed for many years. He raised cattle to sell beef. To extend the family income, he cut wood to sell locally in town for five dollars a load. This was cut into stove lengths. He employed four or five teamsters to assist him with his wood business.
To the Conner’s were born a family of six. Mrs. Fish recalled the days when the doctor was brought from Donald in a handcar. For this trip, he charged twenty-five dollars. On one occasion, the stork managed to outwit the doctor. John Conner had summoned him from Donald to be present at the birth of his son, Tom. While the doctor was at their home, Mr. Moodie came there to call the doctor to attend his wife for the birth of Stanley Moodie, (a former sheriff in Vancouver).
Mrs. Fish remembered her father speaking of the first hospital erected close to Hospital Creek. This canvas hospital housed the sick or the injured of the early construction. During those days, too, was the smallpox epidemic. The cemetery was not too far from this hospital. In fact, it was on the site of the old slaughter house that belonged to John Conner. (The Trans-Canada passes over this site today). When John Conner was digging the foundation for this slaughter house, he unearthed an old casket. Above the Legion Cemetery was once the police barracks which was a log building. Beside this was the corral where the Mounties kept their horses. This was a very busy spot in 1893.
Mrs. Fish remembered the smelter on Hospital Creek that operated only a few hours. She recalled how one man gazed for a long time at a brick of this shining copper and said how he would like to have his coffin lined with that metal.
Mrs. Minnie Gertrude Fish (Conner) was born on May 5, 1893, and was educated in Golden. She married Wilbur Fish in 1914. She worked for the “Golden News,” a small flyer-type newspaper before the First World War and then worked at the Golden Star when it was purchased by her husband in 1920. Wilbur and Minnie had two sons, Dennie now in Calgary, and Stanley in Merritt.
Mrs. Fish was a long time member of the Catholic Women’s League in Golden. She was active in community affairs. In 1968, she moved to Hope and lived there until her death on February 20, 1980.
She is survived by two sons, Stanley of Port Hardy and Wilbur of Calgary.
Tom Conner, the second youngest son, worked on the Conner farm for years and then moved to work the farm where the Evans Mill is now located. Tom married Peggy Coburne. They had three children, Connie, Mary and John.
Jim Conner, the youngest son, enlisted in W. W. 1, at the close of which he returned to work the Conner farm. He enlisted in W. W. 2 and was killed overseas.
Other members of the John Conner family were Lou (Clarke), Fannie (Wellman), Kathie (Brown), Minnie (Fish) and Jimmy.
The Fish family will always be remembered in Golden by the old printing press that Wilbur and his son, Dennie, used in publishing the Golden Star at one time. This press is now in the Golden Museum. The printing press was purchased in 1902 from the Chicago Herald. According to history, Mr. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in Chicago, in October, 1871, starting a fire which destroyed the city. This included the Herald Building. When the newspaper resumed publication it was printed on the Hoe Press, now in the Golden Museum.