JONES, Kenneth Francis Harris (Casey)

From "A Time to Remember- A History of Mortlach and District" 1983

(The following is taken from the above listed book, which can be found in the Mortlach Library The book was created for the village's Centennial celebration and is brimming with the stories of the people and events that formed this area into how it is today.)

submitted by Bernie Forbes

Born in Mortlake, Surrey, England, Kenneth came to Canada in 1910 as an an apprentice carpenter joiner. He started work with the Bridge and Building Department of the CPR at Moose Jaw. It was somewhere along the line that he acquired the name "Casey", probably due to the popularity of the railroad song, "Casey Jones" during that era. After short periods of employment in British Columbia and Swift Current, he settled in Mortlach and plied his carpentry trade. Casey" assisted in the construction of the local school, Doc Cliff's house, and  the Khamis Michael Block, in addition to numerous houses and barns in the district. He also built the Old Wives School and the first store in Coderre.

Following a stint in the army, Casey returned to Mortlach in 1918, whereupon he acquired an interest in collecting Indian artifacts, a hobby that was to gain him international recognition over the following 50 years. (Please note the reference elsewhere in this book under "Mortlach, An Archaelogical Landmark"). Casey's silhouette, engulfed in swirling sandstorms, became a familiar sight to many of the local farmers north of Mortlach during the thirties. His shack, its walls framed with artifacts, becomes a local attraction for visitors. Casey Jones' collection of "Paleo-Indian Artifacts" placed Mortlach in the history books of North America.

With his retirement from carpentry in 1950, Casey began to devote more time to pursuing his artistic talents. Many of his canvasses depicting Indian life and portraits were acquired by the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History.

As an individual Casey was one of the town's most popular characters. A vivid imagination, coupled with a sense of humour, he was a natural storyteller. Whether he was captivating a group of youngsters on the street corner, entertaining the city elite or competing with his bachelor buddies in front of the hardware, he had few peers.

Casey was a great admirer of the Royal family, claiming also a family tree which traced back 600 years to King James ll and Rudyard Kipling.

As a result of an earlier injury, Casey's right leg was amputated in 1956. This brought his ramblings across the prairies to a close and he devoted himself to painting full time. His collections of artifacts were sold to the Glenbow Foundation of Calgary at the time.

Casey died in Moose Jaw hospital in March, 1968, at the age of 83.

May 31, 2016 | Village Office