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Pioneer women of West Kootenay: Kitty Hope

Updated: Feb 28

Occasionally in the world of postal history, you will come across the same name repeatedly. Case in point: a couple of postcards sold on eBay in 2021, both postmarked 1908 and mailed from Ottawa to a Miss Kitty Hope of Sandon. The messages read:

Dear Pops,
It is a shame that I have not written before this but I hope you will forgive me. Today was a holiday (Good Friday) and Cecil and I went to Britannia [an Ottawa neighbourhood]. He took some pictures and I am going to send you some if they are any good. The ice has not broken yet. I am sending a P.C. [postcard] to Ole in Sandon but as I do not know his address in Spokane, can you forward it to him. Yours, Gerty.

Sold on eBay in March 2021 for $33 Cdn.

Received your P.C. I was very pleased to get it. Surely BC is not such a bad place after all, judging by the views on postcards I’ve seen. I suppose your [sic] are having very mild weather now, it’s trying to be spring here but is just the least bit cold. Simply great for walking 8 miles a day. Margaret F.

Another card sold on eBay in August 2021, mailed to Kitty at Box 176, Sandon from Russell Ont. on Jan. 26, 1907 and arrived at its destination on Feb. 11.

Dear Kittie
I received your welcome letter and was glad to hear from you but was sorry to hear that your mother was ill and hope she is better. From your friend [illegible]. Answer soon.

Sold on eBay in August 2021 for $7.50 US.

Still another card sold on eBay in June 2022 mailed to Kitty from Ottawa by a Mrs. Hatt or Katt, which arrived at Sandon on June 13, 1908. The message read:

We are leaving here for home tonight. Will be there about the 15th. I saw your sister yesterday. She is well. Hope you will be glad to see me as I won’t be there long. We are going to Kaslo to live on the 15th July.

Sold on eBay in June 2022 by someone in Invermere for $10.50 Cdn

I have a card in my collection mailed from New Denver to Kitty at 370 Bank St. in Ottawa in 1909. The message reads:

Dear Kitty – Received your PC. This is a picture of Mr. Aylard’s orchard. Will write soon. Mary G.

Stan Sherstobitoff of Nelson kindly provided some other cards from his collection that were sent to Kitty. The first one has an interesting front as well as back. In 1907, apparently you could buy postcards with names on them the same way personalized souvenir license plates and key chains would one day be available.

May 8/07
Wish you many happy returns of the day. Molly

The other one wishes Kitty a happy 1908. It’s addressed to “Miss Kitty Maye Hope” of “Pine cottage, Cody.”

Ottawa, Dec. 28, 1907
Dear Pops
We just received your parcel today. They had called with it before but we were out.k We are all well pleased with your gifts. Molly [?] liked the cushion very much. She says you must have put a lot of work on it. Molly will write you a long letter tomorrow and tell you all the news. Hope all are well as this leaves us at present.
From yours truly, D.J.P.

Whence Kitty’s nickname Pops? We can only wonder.

Kitty Hope struck me as a quintessential old-timey name and given that all these postcards addressed to her survive (doubtless there are others out there), I wondered who she was and what she was doing in Sandon.

It’s amazing how much you can find online these days with minimal effort. A picture soon emerges of a popular and adventurous young woman.

For starters, the Arrow Lakes Historical Society has this great photo of Kitty and her brother George, ca. 1907, when she was about 16. They’re on the Kaslo and Slocan Railway track on the spur line to Cody, bearing rifles at the Dead Man Slide.

Arrow Lakes Historical Society 2018.024.161

It turns out the Silvery Slocan Historical Society also has two pictures of Kitty, taken at the same time in the same place.

Silvery Slocan Historical Society 2019.002.147

This photo actually appears on page 56 of Veronika Pellowski’s Silver, Lead & Hell: The Story of Sandon. Despite having read the book several times, this somehow eluded me. The caption erroneously refers to George as her husband, rather than her brother. It says he was “a master craftsman woodworker who was responsible for much of Sandon’s ornate architecture. Later he moved to Vancouver where, among other things, he was hired to create the fine woodwork and carving in the Orpheum Theatre, ca. 1907.”

Silvery Slocan Historical Society A006-000-0638

The above photo is on page 128 of Rita Moir’s The Third Crop.

A postcard sent to George sold on eBay in November 2023 for $20.50 Cdn. It was mailed to Cody but has a Sandon postmark from 1906. The message mentions Kitty (who, remember, is Pops).

Dear George
I received your letter this last summer and am sorry I have not answered sooner. I wrote the other day to Pops. I was sorry you and Pops could not of [sic] come home with your mother. We hope to see her before she goes home. Write soon soon. Laura C. Give my love to Pops. By. By.

A search of UBC’s digitized newspaper site turns up seven mentions of Kitty in the Slocan Mining Review.

Jan. 31, 1907: Miss Kitty Hope is visiting friends at New Denver.
July 4, 1907: George and Miss Kitty Hope left for Ottawa on a two months visit to relatives on Thursday … A very enjoyable farewell dance was given in the Opera House on Wednesday in honor of Miss Kitty Hope. The music was supplied by Geo. Hope and N. Hurlburt.
Oct. 3, 1907: Miss Kitty Hope and brother George returned Monday from a protracted visit to friends at Ottawa.
Oct. 17, 1907: Misses Jean Andrews and Kitty Hope climbed to the summit of Flagstaff hill, the highest peak in the district last Tuesday alone. This establishes a record for ladies in these parts, and they deserve great credit for their daring act. Both ladies carved their names on the flag pole there.

I don’t know where Flagstaff hill is/was. I can’t find any other references to it. The June 18, 1908 edition of the Mining Review also noted that J.G. Duck owned a mining claim called the Kitty Hope, although the exact location was not revealed. I guess it’s an honor to have a mine named after you?

Kitty went back to Ottawa, but a newspaper error resulted in some relentless teasing by mail.

Oct. 1, 1908: The many friends of Miss Kitty Hope will be pleased to hear that she has taken first prize for farm work at the Ottawa Exhibition. Miss Hope was for some time a resident of Cody but left there for Ottawa, where she now resides.
Oct. 15, 1908: In our issue of the 1st inst. we stated that Miss Kitty Hope, formerly of Cody, had taken first prize for farm work at the Ottawa exhibition. This was a mistake, as the prize was for needle work.
Oct. 22, 1908: Our error of the 1st inst. re: Miss Kitty Hope having won a prize for farm work has resulted in that lady being besieged with communications, all of a humorous character from her Sandon friends. Too bad, that darned newspaper man putting that in his paper.

After a gap of several years, Kitty’s name reappears in the Nelson Daily News.

Sept. 27, 1913: Miss Kitty Hope of Sandon was a visitor in town [New Denver] on Wednesday.
Oct. 7, 1913: Mrs. McAllister and Miss Kitty Hope of Sandon were visitors in town [New Denver] on Wednesday.
Feb. 10, 1914: J. McAllister and Miss Kitty Hope have returned from the Rossland carnival.
May 26, 1914: Mr. and Mrs. T.L. McAllister and Miss Kitty Hope left Sandon on Wednesday for their new home at the coast. A dance was given in their honor on Tuesday evening.

A family tree at fills in much basic biographical detail on Kitty and reveals Mr. and Mrs. McAllister were her mother and stepfather.

Kitty was born on May 14, 1891 in the Ontario county of Carleton, near Ottawa, the youngest of John Hope and Jane Honey’s five children. Some sources give her full name as Katherine May Topsy Hope, but others have it as Kitty Mary, Katherine Mae, or Catherine Topsy.

Her father died before she was five. Around 1902 her mother married Thomas L. McAllister and the couple, along with George and Kitty, moved to Cody where Thomas was manager of the Noble Five mine.

In 1914, Thomas, Jane, and Kitty relocated to Milner (now part of Langley) where Kitty met a farmer named Walter Reid. They married there on March 7, 1918, whereupon Kitty Hope became better known as Katherine Reid.

They briefly moved to Saskatchewan, where their first daughter, Beatrice, was born in 1919. But they soon returned to Milner, where two more daughters, Grace and Elsie, joined the family in 1921 and 1923 respectively.

After that, I haven’t learned much about Kitty’s life. Walter died in 1956, age 70, but Kitty lived another 20 years. She died in Richmond on Dec. 12, 1976, age 85. She’s buried in the Murrayville Cemetery and has a joint grave marker with her husband and stepfather.

(Her mother moved back to Ottawa in 1946 and died there the following year, age 95 or 96. She was prominent in Langley and Milner church and agricultural circles.)

Kitty’s daughters all lived long lives. Grace died in Lynnwood, Wash., in 2009, age 87 or 88; Elsie died in Surrey in 2015, age 91; and Beatrice died in Summerland in 2019, age 100. Be interesting to know if their mother ever told them about growing up in the Slocan. And was one of them responsible for preserving her postcards?

Updated on Aug. 1, 2021 to add another card to Kitty and on July 3, 2022 to add still another card. Updated on Sept. 1, 2023 to add the info from Silver Lead & Hell. Updated on Jan. 30, 2024 to add the postcard sent to George.

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Aug 04, 2021

Hi Greg, that was a really fun read - thank you! Having skied up Cody road and Sandon so many times this last winter, I can just picture Miss Kitty up there from the pictures you post - what a fascinating story - and so much detail - loved it! M


Alison McGuire
Alison McGuire
Mar 11, 2021

Looking forward to seeing more of our distant relative! Good luck with your blog!


Mar 09, 2021

Great find, Greg. I wonder if anything has been written about Kitty. Perhaps the Nelson press published a profile? So few historical accounts of women in the district. Ron

Mar 11, 2021
Replying to

Did Alison uncover anything that would tell us more about Kitty?

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