Triplets of West Kootenay

The clipping below from the Rossland Miner of Oct. 11, 1938 is about the Knudsgaard brothers, Einer, Erik, and Frankie. They were not the first triplets born in West Kootenay, but were probably the first to all survive into adulthood.

They were born on Feb. 12, 1938. This item appeared in the Rossland Miner that month:

Interest in Triplets is Wide-Spread, Progress Good, Sister’s Hospital
Three little babies in Mater Misericordia hospital, sons of Mr. And Mrs. Hans Knutsgaard [sic], are causing more concern and interest in the golden city and over the entire province than some chronic international situations. And all because they made their entry into the world at one time — Rossland’s first triplets.
Day by day their progress is being watched with anxious eyes by the entire community, and metropolitan papers in all the big surrounding centres have wired for stories on their progress.
A medical report informed this office that all three are thriving “and doing as well as can be expected.” Mrs. Knutsgaard is also gaining strength each day.

All three triplets have died in recent years. Frankie was the first, on Sept. 10, 2010 in Trail. His obituary said he was “well known for his ticket selling, his friendly smile, and happy outlook on life.”


Erik was a member of the Sons of Norway. He passed away in Kananaskis on Feb. 5, 2016, where he was participating in the annual Ski for Light event, which pairs blind cross-country skiers with sighted guides. On the day he died, he guided his competitor to a gold medal. He was survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren. MLA Katrine Conroy spoke about him in the BC Legislature.


Einer served in the Canadian army from 1958-62, as a signalman with the United Nations in Canada and the Middle East. At Cominco he was a labourer and journeyman painter until his retirement in 1994. Later he was a job coach with the Trail Association for Community Living. He was also involved a long list of volunteer organizations and service clubs. He died on Aug. 31, 2017, survived by his wife, two children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.


Einer’s obituary noted that “As one of the first surviving triplets in British Columbia they received much notoriety being followed in newspapers and bequeathed with gifts to assist with their care.”


• Rossland had at least one other set of triplets. In 2005, Erin, Jessica and Nicole Fulcher graduated from Rossland secondary. Erin was in the news last year for winning a scholarship from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. She’s completing a Bachelor of Science at Vancouver Island University.


• The first triplets in West Kootenay I’m aware of were in the Slocan. According to the Sandon Paystreak of Sept. 25, 1897: “Triplets were born to Mr. and Mrs. Brown of the Idaho Mines concentrator last Wednesday.” The Kaslo British Columbia News of Oct. 8, 1897 also noted: “Triplets were recently born to Mr. and Mrs. Brown at the Alamo-Idaho concentrator near Three Forks.”


Their gender was not revealed, the births were not registered, and despite my best efforts, I could not find any follow-up items or otherwise identify them. They likely died in infancy.


The 1898 civic directory listed G. Noel Brown as assistant manager of Queen Bess Proprietary Ltd. of Alamo. Gerald Noel Brown died at Corra Linn in 1959, age 86. His death registration was signed by his daughter Daisy. She and husband Maitland Harrison were well known in the Lardeau. She was born in England in June 1898, so she wasn’t one of the triplets. The BC Archives has an audio interview with her and her husband, but the synopsis doesn't mention anything about Daisy having triplet siblings.


• Trail of Memories, p. 298-99 quotes from a Trail Daily Times article of Sept. 4, 1971, in which Annie (Ford) Leduc reminisced about her family’s arrival in Trail in 1914. Her parents were Eli and Alice Ann Ford: “Her father added on another tent to the one he had already built to provide for Annie and her two brothers. ‘It was in that tent my mother had triplets and had to have a midwife. They did not survive and are buried about where Sunningdale is now.’” There is no record of the deaths or the precise location of the graves.


• Triplets were born in Trail in February of 1953 to Hiram and Janet Hosford. Terry died in a car accident in 1974 but surviving brothers Patrick and Allan live in Alberta.


• A Kaslo couple had triplets on Jan. 21, 2000. As reported in the Nelson Daily News on May 10 of that year, Raena Fenton and Todd Minich’s daughters Jaden, Ashton, and Brooklyn were actually born at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital, which was better equipped to handle high-risk births. They spent their first two months there before returning to Kaslo. Fenton said she knew of one other set of triplets in Castlegar, but I don’t know who they are.


— With thanks to Peggy Motishaw

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