Bertram Neville Brockhouse was born on 15 July 1918 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. His grandfather was a miner who emigrated to North America from England. He became active in a strike to unionize the mines and to protest against the poor working conditions; as a result he had to leave mining. He then, with his son, Israel Bertram Brockhouse, went homesteading in Southern Alberta with a small farm and domestic animals, where his son married Mabel Emily Brockhouse (née Neville), who had grown up in Illinois and belonged to a family of English Americans. They had a family of four, the eldest of whom was Bertram Neville, known to his friends and family as Bert. He had a sister, Alice, and two younger brothers, Robert, who died in infancy, and Gordon, who became a civil engineer for the railroad. The homestead was on the Milk River close to the Canada–USA border and the local school was a one–room elementary school a couple of miles from the farm. Bert was a nominal attendee at this school but did not remember learning to read or to do simple arithmetic there.
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