John Kirkup was born in Kemptville, Ontario on 13 March 1855. The 1881 census for Kemptville shows parents James Kirkup (1820-1903) and Hannah Taylor Kirkup (1826-1904) with seven children ... Annie, John, Robert, George, James, William, and Elizabeth. The oldest daughter, Catherine, is usually missed in the geneology probably because James and Hannah immigrated to Canada from England in 1853 with two daughters, Catherine and Annie, and by the time the 1881 census came around Catherine was already married to Ambrose Clothier with kids of her own, and doesn't show up on the census as a Kirkup. The significance of Catherine is that she is the link between the Kirkup and Clothier families, she is the grandmother of Robert Clothier who played Relic in The Beachcombers. She is listed as Mrs. Ambrose Clothier, a surviving child, in James' obituary of 4 June 1903. The obituary makes no mention of Robert, he died working for the CPR in 1885. There is also a gravestone in the Kemptville Public Cemetary for a Bessie Kirkup with no dates, just referred to as "infant daughter of James", presumably she died at childbirth.
The photo below shows John and Sue Kirkup with their sons Jack and Robert, and Catherine Kirkup Clothier and Ambrose Clothier on either side of John in Rossland circa 1903.
While I'm on the topic of John's siblings, I'll mention James, who was also in Rossland. The document below is an application by James for a job as police costable in Rossland on 27 April 1897, in which he states his current occupation as night watchman. Alfie Albo gave me this document. All other photos and documents posted here are from John Kirkup, the grandson of John and Sue. James is also mentioned in Greg Nesteroff's Blog as an unsuccessful applicant for the job of Nelson's first firechief in 1897. In that application he claimed to have firefighting experience in New York. And in the 1 July 1899 edition of The Cascade Record there appeared this story : "James Kirkup, brother of the gold commissioner, was camped near the lake early this week with a force of men, sent to repair the Dewdney Trail. Since then this end of the trail has been cut out and all windfalls removed in good shape, making it much more available for the large traffic now daily utilizing it. All the Rossland race horses, were brought over it this week".
John apprenticed as a carriage-maker with his father, and at the age of 21 went to Winnipeg to work construction in the housing boom, as well as operating a ferry on the Red River. The next year he went to Victoria to return to his trade, but soon joined the Victoria Police. In 1881 he joined the BC Provincial Police and went to Yale for the construction of the CPR, following it east to Savona in 1884, then Farwell (Revelstoke) in 1885. In 1890 he was sent to Sproat's Landing across from Castlegar on a temporary assignment to police the construction of CPR's Columbia and Kootenay Railway. In December 1890 he took a 3 month leave of absence and went home to Kemptville, where he married home town girl Sue Kerr (born 1866) on 1 January 1891. They visited "all the places of interest in Canada" on their honeymoon, ending with a week in Victoria before returning to Revelstoke. In the end, in Revelstoke, as was the case later in Rossland, politics was his undoing. For an excellent and very thorough account of his entire career and the politics he faced in Revelstoke and in Rossland read Ronald Shearer's Essays
On 27 February 1895 a dispute erupted in Rossland over the location of a cabin in Sourdough Alley, when Hugh McLaughlin built a cabin and James Westlake considered it much too close to his. After McLaughlin laid his foundation, Westlake, that night moved it further away. The next day on the 28th, McLaughlin moved it back and the feud was on ! Westlake, who only had one good arm at the time, either pushed or hit McLaughlin. McLaughlin hit Westlake with an axe, Westlake fought back with a board. McLaughlin then attacked with a vengeance while Westlake tried to defend himself with an axe in his left hand, since his good arm, the right, was useless at the time. He lost control of the axe, released it, and McLaughlin received a serious wound in the lower leg. Westlake was charged with "unlawful wounding with intent to maim". A few days later, while the preliminary hearing was in progress, McLaughlin died of blood poisoning, and the charge was upped to "wounding with intent to murder". The jury convicted him of manslaughter and he got 11 months. Years later the Rossland Miner, in a review of Rossland History, depicted it as a bloody and cold blooded murder, and that version stuck, but a look at the evidence given at trial shows a pretty good case for self defence. In any case this incident is often given as the reason for Kirkup being sent to Rossland, since the Order In Council was dated 1 Mar 1895, but it must have been planned weeks before that with the decision that it was time for the creation of a Mining Recorders office and a constable in Rossland, as it was fast becoming the largest mining camp in the province.
Kirkup arrived in Rossland on 19 March 1895. He was paid $110 per month, the same as he was in Revelstoke, but he was now only mining recorder and constable, no longer being the government agent overseeing public works as he had been in Revelstoke, although as the senior government official in Rossland he was still involved in day-to-day oversight. The mining claim records, originally recorded in Nelson, and then in 1891 moved to Trail Creek Landing under Colonel Topping, were so carelessly made and kept that it made court cases difficult. Kirkup was kept extremely busy putting them in order, as well as keeping up with the exploding rush of new claims. He also oversaw the day-to-day construction of the police station and lockup, opened in 1895, and the courthouse, opened in 1901 and still used today.
The photo below shows the Kirkup home in Rossland circa 1895, on the northwest corner of Leroi Ave and Davis St. The skirting around the porch is still not quite finished and the yard is all fresh dirt. Also they always had kids in their photos and there are none here. Jack was born in November 1895, and Susan looks a little heavier than other photos of her, so I think it likely that she was pregnant with Jack in this photo.
This photo shows the Kirkup home in the early 1900s
This photo below shows Kirkup taking his sons and a group of children for a sleigh ride in front of their home about 1901
As busy as he was, he still found time for his policing duties. Strict enforcement of the gambling and liquor laws was his priority, as well as expulsion of vagrants and trouble makers. His imposing size (6'3" and 300 lbs) and growing reputation with it's implied threat was usually enough to get the job done, but he could get physical if required. The one area of law that he did not enforce was prostitution ... he seems to have judged that trying to interfere with it in a mining camp full of single men would cause more law and order problems than it solved, and by just fining the prostitutes small fines the city finances would benefit and everyone would gain. In 1900, after complaints about the location of brothels on Lincoln Street, the city suggested to the brothels that they move down below town and the railway track to Kootenay Avenue along the wagon road to Trail, and this became both the Red Light district and Chinatown.
This photo was taken in 1899 or possibly even 1898 judging by the age of the kids. Note the Miners Hall in the background, it was built in 1898, and the kids are too young for the photo to have been taken after 1899.