History of the William Horwill Family of

Dorreen, BC


1950's- William and Florence Horwill

William and Florence Horwill originally came from England, both immigrated to Canada. After they were married in Vancouver on July 9, 1921 they first came to a place on the C. N. Rail line called Salvas. Mr. Horwill was a lineman for the Dominion Government Telegraph, spent a couple of years at Salvas, then in 1924 they moved to Dorreen, thirty miles east of Terrace, BC on the north side of the Skeena River. At Dorreen they first lived in the old Dorreen Store, which Mr. Horwill ran. Mr. Tom McCubbin owned the store in Pacific and in Dorreen. Both of these stores were built around the time that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway was being built (before 1914). Of course McCubbin had the Dorreen store built prior to this time.

McCubbin was in Kitselas as a merchant. William Horwill bought the Dorreen store sometime in the late 1930’s and ran it until he died July 22, 1958. From here Mrs. Horwill took over with help form Mrs. Eileen Collier. The Horwills ran the Dorreen store for a total of thirty-six years. The store was then sold to a Mr. Orde, a Smithers chap. Mr. William Horwill was born on June 17, 1888 in Exeter, England and Mrs. Florence Horwill (nee Florence Dennis) was born July 1891 in Torquay, England. She died March 9, 1970 in Duncan, BC where she had been living. Her ashes were returned to Terrace to be placed with Mr. Horwill buried at the old Kitsumkalum Cemetery. While Mr. and Mrs. Horwill ran the Dorreen Store and Post Office, they also ran a farm with some cows, horses, and chickens and had a large green house (125 feet long). They used to ship bedding plants in the spring to Prince Rupert, Hazelton and Terrace, as well as shipping milk to Pacific. They grew a large garden with lots of strawberries, and most of the vegetables and strawberries were shipped by train to Prince Rupert.

Mrs. Horwill mostly looked after the store and post office. Before the Horwills in the earlier years, there were around two to three hundred people living at Dorreen, mostly men mining at Lorne Creek (Placer Mining). The men built shacks along the way. Lorne Creek many years ago was the scene of a big placer gold excitement. Lorne Creek flows into the Skeena River about 33 miles up stream from Terrace, and produced quite a lot of gold in its time. Names of a couple of men there at the time were John Watson and Alex Molloy. They built cabins and lived there with their wives. Molloy came from Halifax and was there for about ten years. Mrs. Molloy would walk the three miles every day to Dorreen to visit with Mrs. Horwill. They had no children. Alexander Molloy died April 18, 1940 and is buried at the old Kitsumkalum Cemetery. Mrs. Molloy is apparently still living back east.

John Watson (a character in his time) and his wife Ann lived at Lorne Creek for about twenty years. He later bought an old farm across the river, on the Highway side above Watson Hill (51 km from Terrace). On a nice day he would swim across the Skeena to get his mail at Dorreen.

1931- Denis and Father

Now a little information about son Denis Horwill, the only child of William and Florence Horwill. Denis was born September 24, 1924 in the Prince Rupert Hospital. When Denis started school in 1930-32 the school was then next to the store. Later the building was moved by Charles Leake and used as an extra room for his house. But prior to this time they already ran the school here.

Denis’ first teacher was Miss Hibbard from Prince Rupert. She taught at Dorreen for two years boarding at the Horwills’. She later married a chap from Prince Rupert. At the time there were seven to ten children attending-Verna Carpenter-father a farmer, Evert and Raymond Loen, their father worked on the B and B gang for the CN. Of course Loen Avenue in Terrace is named for them. There were at least a couple of the Stiennoff children. he was a section foreman, and Mary Theresa Hogan, daughter of a mining engineer. Actually her mother, Mary Theresa Monica Hogan died on February 7, 2002 at 102 years in Abbotsford, BC. They came to Dorreen in 1924.

In 1932 a new school was built. It opened September 1932. The teacher was Miss Mina Dean. Her family came from Port Simpson. She later married Wilfred Leake, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Leake. That family lived at Lorne Creek (farmed). They had six children.

Denis lived at Dorreen until he was 16. He took schooling from 1-8 with grades 7, 9 and 10 correspondence. In 1937 the school was closed for one year. When Denis left Dorreen he went to work on the survey crew on the construction that was building the Skeena River Highway in the early 1940’s. He worked there until February 1942, then joined the airforce, and went overseas from March 1944 until the war ended. He returned to Dorreen until January 1946, then went to Vancouver, completed his high school, then to UBC and took geology. In 1950 Denis received his Bachelor of Science degree and went on to work at the Nickelson Creek Mine at Usk, then back to Dorreen working at Dorreen Mines mining silver, lead, zinc metals. While Denis was attending UBC he met his wife Shirley. They were married April 12, 1949 in Vancouver and moved back to Dorreen for one year. They then moved to Hazelton, working there at the Silver Standard Mine as an engineer until 1956. They then went to Flin Flon, Manitoba working at the Hudson Bay Mine and Smelter for one and a half years, then to Esterhazy, Saskatchewan for eight years. From there Denis joined Cominco in Saskatoon and was there until he retired in 1989.

Denis and Shirley have three children-sons Richard and Dale and daughter Debra.

At the time the Horwill family lived at Doreen there were about one hundred people living there. The remote community of Dorreen is thirty miles east of Terrace on the north side of the Skeena River. Dorreen was named for the wife of a Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad surveyor before 1914.

Dorreen was busy during the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad days. Riverboats stopping to pick up cordwood, prospectors, mining, farming and it later became a retirement home for old bachelors and prospectors.

1999- Denis and his children

Doreen School, built in 1932

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For more pictures go to the pictures page and click on Denis Horwill Picture Show