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Revisiting the Mac Annable story
Twenty-first in a series on West Kootenay/Boundary place names
Our installment on the Warfield suburb of Annable brought an interesting call from Castlegar resident Betty Jane McLeod, whose father Andrew Carlson worked for its namesake, George Malcolm (Mac) Annable (1858-1938), from about 1913 to 1918.
“My father said he had an uproarious, unforgettable laugh,” McLeod says. (Indeed, Annable’s biography was entitled The Laugh That Shook the West!)
McLeod, 86, recounts that Annable sold a horse to someone, which soon died. When the purchaser complained, Annable replied “That’s funny — he never died before!’”
Annable came to BC in 1899 from Moose Jaw, where he was a cattle rancher, land speculator, and politician, serving in the Assiniboia assembly as Alberta and Saskatchewan entered confederation.
On a 5,000 acre property near Trail, he established a ranch and sawmill. He also acquired 800 acres between Castlegar and Blueberry, which he cleared and planted apple trees and other fruit.
“That’s where my father worked for him first,” McLeod says. The Annables were also logging around Violin Lake. “Father was very innovative and had a flume built to bring logs down to the mill. Apparently Mr. Annable was very impressed.”
One day McLeod’s father was in the barnyard when Mac’s wife Berdie said their daughter-in-law was in labour and had to get to the hospital in Rossland.
“My father harnessed up a horse and sleigh and started out, but before they got there it became apparent they were not going to beat the stork,” McLeod says. “They came galloping around the corner and the sleigh went up on one edge and threw them both out into the snow. My father took off his coat and delivered the baby then and there. They eventually arrived safely at the hospital.”
McLeod’s mother’s family, the Killoughs, also became well acquainted with the Annables in Saskatchewan, where her grandfather had a farm outside Regina. He borrowed money from Annable, but was unable to make his payments and lost the farm to foreclosure.
“Mr. Annable didn’t want to turn this Irishman and his nine children out on the Prairie with nothing, so he said ‘I’ve acquired 800 acres in BC and you can live there and buy the place from me if you can manage it.’”
The family arrived in April 1913 in what became Kinnaird. They tried “everything imaginable” to make a living, from growing strawberries to beekeeping, but fate dealt a series of unfortunate blows, including the loss of a son in World War I.
George Annable himself eventually got out of cattle ranching because the Trail smelter polluted his grasslands and pastures. He moved to Vancouver in the late 1920s and spent his last days on Valdes Island.
His younger brother Jack, meanwhile, served as mayor of Nelson and built the Annable block, which is marking its centennial this year.
Previous installments in this series