By Sam McBride

I have long been curious about a possible family connection between my uncle John Archibald “Jack” Fingland (1907-1997) and the historic Fingland Cabin in Silverton, which is just south of New Denver, and about 20km from the mining ghost town of Sandon where Jack was born. 

The information I have from family files is that Jack’s father John James Fingland (who was also known as Jack, as well as JJ, born in Hawick, Roxburgh, Scotland  in 1878 and died in Trail, BC in 1945) came from Scotland with wife Ethel Andrew (1880-1962) and young daughter Dorothy (born in Spain where her father was working in July 1902) to Sandon in 1906, where he established an assaying business.  The family was in Sandon for a short while before moving to Kaslo, and then to Trail in 1917 where JJ Fingland worked for the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (abbreviated as CM&S, later known as Cominco and now Teck), rising in the company to be superintendent of refineries. 

In the early 1920s, the father John Fingland built a house for his family at 102 Ritchie Avenue in Tadanac, which was later the home for many years of Eve’s brother Peter Dewdney and his wife Maxine and family.

obituary in the Trail Times newspaper of February 5, 1945

In the 1920s son Jack studied mining engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was captain of the Bears hockey team.  After returning to the Kootenays for mining work Jack met my mother’s older sister Evelyn Mary Lawrence “Eve“  Dewdney (1913-2002).  They married in Nelson in 1933, and settled in Kimberley where Jack worked for CM&S.

Eve was born in Vernon in 1913, and moved with her family to Greenwood, New Denver, Rossland, Trail and then Nelson as her father E.E.L. “Ted” Dewdney (nephew of the trail-builder Edgar Dewdney) was transferred by his employer, the Bank of Montreal.  Her mother was Mary Helen Peters (born in Charlottetown, PEI in 1887 and died in Trail, BC in 1976) who was a daughter of Frederick Peters (1852-1919) and Bertha Hamilton Susan Gray (1862-1946).  The family lived in quarters above the BMO bank in New Denver when Ted was branch manager there between 1916 and 1920.  In May, 1917 son Frederic Hamilton Bruce “Peter“ Dewdney was born in New Denver.  Then in Rossland in June 1924 the third and last child, my mother Rose Pamela “Dee Dee“ Dewdney was born. 

John James Fingland, assayer in Sandon and Kaslo and later Cominco executive in Trail. Family photo.

After retiring from CM&S JJ Fingland moved to Victoria, where he died at age 67 in 1945.  In the early 1950s my uncle Jack, aunt Eve and their children Suzanne, Jim and Diane moved to California where Jack established a construction contracting business. 

In the 1980s Suzanne and husband Buzz Feldman bought a summer cottage at Woodbury.  Among their guests over the years was her father Jack, who remembered growing up in nearby Kaslo, where photos were taken of he and sister Dorothy tobogganing.  He did not know of any family connection to the pioneer Fingland Cabin in Silverton, but enjoyed at least one visit to it and was quite interested in the story described in signs at the cabin and in tourist literature.

JJ Fingland and wife Ethel, about 1925. Family photo

From my own visits to the Fingland Cabin as well as online searches, the cabin got its name from longtime resident Alfred “Fred” Raymond Fingland, who was born in Ontario in 1865 and died in Vancouver in 1952.  Fred Fingland’s father William Fingland (1832-1906) was born in Ontario, son of George Fingland, who was born in the small community of Dumfries in southwest Scotland in about 1800. 

Jack and Eve Fingland on California coast, about 1980. Family photo
Eve and Jack Fingland beside their longtime home in Moraga, California

JJ Fingland’s father Samuel Fingland and grandfather Walter Fingland are also listed as being born in Dumfries, Scotland, which suggests there was likely a family connection between the two Fingland families years ago. Hopefully, a genealogist with expertise in Scottish ancestry will someday investigate this question. 

Fingland Cabin at Silverton is a tourist attraction.
Fingland cabin at Silverton
A.R,. Fingland obituary in Vancouver Province, October 24, 1952