The following history of the Grace and Bill Buck family appeared in the Jan. 15, 1975 issue of the Clearwater Times. According to the local history book, “Upper North Thompson Reflections,” Grace (nee Merchant) Buck was born near London, England in 1909. William Buck was born in 1902, also in England. They were married in Okanagan, Washington in 1931.
As told to Ruth Phillips by Grace Buck
It was in July of the year 1944 that Grace and Bill Buck first came to Clearwater.
The children were out of school for the summer and Bill had always wanted to get up into the Mad River country. They got as far as Clearwater, where they bought the old Glover place on Candle Creek Road. At that time it was owned by a Mr. Jones. They never made it as far as Mad River.
One year later, on Nov. 9, they moved here from Oliver. There was already snow on the ground as Bill arrived a day ahead of the others with a truckload of farm equipment, chickens, and a pig. Bill’s truck got stuck in the driveway and that is where it stayed until Grace, her two children and a friend arrived a day later at 2 o’clock in the morning.
It was quite a job getting the truck unstuck but they finally made it and it took two or three days to rest up from the ordeal.
After that, Bill and friend Karl Krause went back to Oliver to get the rest of their things.
Grace recalls a lot of snow during that first winter. She remembers the temperature dropping to 18 below zero in March of ’46.
The Bucks made some very good friends, especially their neighbours, the Chris Radmachers. It would have been very lonely up there on the hill without good friends, Grace admits.
Bill and Grace got things going up there. They bought some cows and put in strawberries, but found the weather too hot and dry that first summer for growing strawberries successfully. The price of strawberries was not enough for all the hard work that went into growing them. The Bucks also had a few sheep but bears were always after them.
Bill Buck worked in the bush and at Camp 2 at different times but the Bucks’ main source of income was from their land. Before long they had 14 dairy cows and they shipped cream for a few years. They raised pigs and sold them as weaners at around $5 each.
When first they came to Clearwater, the Buck children were quite young. Donna was five years old, Lorne was 12 and Edwin was 14. They grew up on the farm, helping to feed the pigs, chickens and stock. They also had two horses. When Edwin first went out to work, he had a job with Irene and Bill Long at their small grocery store. The Longs were to sell their place to Norm and Polly Pratt, who made the store what it is today.
Grace has seen all the children grown up, marry, have children and even become grandparents. She has seen friends leave Clearwater and then return, having found no place that they like better.
Grace says they always had a big garden up at the farm, and she canned meat, vegetables, and fruit. Also she made jellies, jams and pickles. All in all, they had a good life, though it was hard going at times. But they came through okay.
Her two sons live here in Clearwater with their families. Her daughter and family live in Fort. St. John, B.C.
Many times Grace rode horseback to Clearwater; one time time to pick up a box of baby chicks in April before all the snow had gone.
Many times in the winters of the early years when the Bucks were living on their ranch, 15 to 20 moose could be seen feeding in the fields on the brush, some of them 300 feet from the house. Every now and then the odd one or two moose would sleep in the woodshed. Grace took dozens of snapshots of deer and moose over the years.
When Bill became ill, Grace sold all the stock and the farm to Mrs. Cliff Cooley and moved into a suite belonging to her son, Ed.
Work was begun on a new house in Sunshine Valley, having bought the land from the Anderson brothers. In December of 1968 Bill passed away and so, with the help of her sons, her daughter, her son-in-law, and also friends and neighbours, Grace was able to make her place liveable by July of 1969.
Grace says that she still has not finished the house but has hopes of finishing it this year, if all goes well and she has her health. She has seen Clearwater grow from a small village into a fair-sized place. She saw some very nice winters – lots of snow but not too much really cold weather. She says they had their hard times and good.
Grace says, “I sure hope to live for another 20 years and see the changes that take place in Clearwater. I like working with the public. I’m working at the Sportsplex right now, waiting for Stedmans to put in their coffee bar.”
Also according to “Upper North Thompson Reflections,” Grace Buck lived in Sunshine Valley until the 1980s, when she moved to Dawson Creek for four years.
She then lived in Little Fort for 15 months, returned to Dawson Creek for a few more years, then came back to Clearwater to be closer to her family. She passed away in 1996.
Of their children, Ed passed away in 2010 and Lorne in 2013. A number of Bill and Grace’s descendants still live in the Clearwater area.
Inset photo: The Bucks’ log house near Candle Creek Road in the winter.
Below: Donna Buck (l) and Lorne Buck in the late 1950s pose for a photo with a brown bear that their father shot. Times file photos