Turning Back the Pages: The Barr family contributed to make Golden what it is today

By Colleen Palumbo

Well, here it is Monday morning, and I’m still trying to figure out what to write for the column this week.

So, I went back to one of the files that I’ve had sitting on my desk for awhile and said “why not?”

So here is the information that I have researched about Golden’s own Barr family in 1978. There was a really great nostalgia piece done on the Barr family, but the following is based on more recent research.

John Barr, born in Ontario of Irish origin, married Emma June Puffer in Ontario in about 1871.

John was a farmer, who soon took up lumbering at the mill in Fenelon Falls, Ontario, where the first of their children was born.

Henry Washington Barr was born in July of 1871, and he would be the direct line to the Columbia Valley Barr’s.

When Henry (Harry) was about 11 years old, his mother died and his father took on the role of raising his children.

Those days in Fenelon Falls were quite busy as the mill was booming but that was soon to come to an end, and the young Barr men, Henry, Tom, and Ed, headed west to find work in sawmills in B.C.

They were soon followed by their father John, who, by the year 1893, was the foreman of the newly formed Columbia River Lumber Company in Beaver, B.C.

He held this position for a number of years before my research loses him altogether.

An interesting story about John Barr involves him getting into an altercation with the constable in Donald. A fellow named Harold Redgrave (Harold Redgrave was the son of Sheriff Stephen Redgrave). It seems they were having a discussion about the merits of being an Irish Canadian over that of being an English Canadian.

They stepped outside to settle the matter and John Barr was shot in the head.

He was brought into the Golden Hospital where the records show he only stayed for a couple of days. In a separate incident, Redgrave was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life.

By the end of the century we lose track of two of the three brothers as well as their father John, but I will continue to search for them all.

The oldest of the brothers Henry Washington Barr, I’ve managed to stick to and have the following information about his descendants.

After leaving his home in Fenelon Falls at the ripe old age of 16 to head for the greener pastures of the last great frontier, Henry found a number of jobs to keep him busy and soon realized what he was missing in his life was a home and family.

On October 11, 1898, in Fort Steele, Henry married Flora Constance Arnold, a young woman of 21 from Lymington, England.

Henry and Flora’s first two children, Frederick Washington Barr, and George Edward Barr, were born in Fort Steele.

From my research it appears that Ethel was the first of the children to be born on the farm they had purchased in Wasa. I have found the names of eight of the 13 children born to the couple.

One of their children, Gordon Elgin Barr, was born in Cranbrook in 1907 and was raised on the family farm in Wasa.

As a young man he worked in the logging industry, an industry that he devoted a great part of his working history to.

Gordon, with his wife Astrid, moved around a bit, finally settling in Golden in 1951 with their two children Bob and Merle.

Community volunteers hold nothing on Gordon Barr who was (quite literally) a driving force behind the creation of the Lions Swimming Pool, the school track and field grounds, the first ski hill, the snowmobile track, the rodeo ground, and Keith King Memorial Park ball diamonds.

Gordon and Astrid died within a short time of each other in 1987 and 1989 but their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are still able to use the facilities that their great-grandparents helped to create.

Gotta love a small town.

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