pg 554 More Big Hill Country 2009
The youngest of five children born to Roy and Iris Buckler, I was born on April 27, 1956, in Calgary, Alberta. Our family lived on a farm in the Bottrel area, fifteen miles north of Cochrane, until the summer of 1957. At that time we moved into the village of Cochrane. Being ten years younger than my next sibling, Pat, I was the only one at home by 1963. My schooling took place in Cochrane Elementary, grade six in the old Cochrane brick school, and grades seven to twelve in the Cochrane High School. From November 1971 to May 1974 I worked part-time at Mount Saint Francis Retreat House. During the summer of 1974, I helped Dad and Mildred (my eldest sister) build her and her husband Jack’s home in Exshaw. In September of 1974, I started working for Calgary Power Ltd. in the Purchasing Department in the Calgary office.
For my first paid vacation my parents, niece Jacquie, and I went to Reno, Nevada to visit my Aunt Jessie and Uncle Vern Troxell. This was Mom’s first trip to the U.S. to see her family since she was married. This was Jacquie’s first time in the U.S. and we had to have special permission to take her from school as she was only fourteen. For me, this trip started a life-long passion for travel. In the spring of 1976 one of my school friends, Heather Robinson, and I decided to try our hand at some “real” traveling. In September-October of that year, we spent some time traveling in the United Kingdom. We spent two weeks using the Brit Rail system in England and Scotland before crossing the English Channel to Holland and staying with a family friend, Marcel Cox. Marcel was at home to see his sister Frances, who graciously invited us into her home and toured us around Holland. At one time we had our picture taken with Heather, Frances and I standing together but each of us was in a different country.
In April of 1977, I left Calgary Power, and, after a quick trip to see my Aunt Jessie and Uncle Vern, I started working for Domtar Chemicals Ltd. in Cochrane. In April of 1978 Heather and I quit our jobs and May 1st found us on our way to England. We spent May and June traveling the U.K. and several Western European countries. Marcel Cox was on a one-year sabbatical at this time and living with his sister Frances in Holland. Again they took us in and we toured the countryside before they delivered us to meet up with our tour bus. We made many life-long friends on that tour. We were to spend five days in London, but at the last minute scrapped that idea to meet up with new friends from Australia in Ireland. They had adopted us during the first tour and were able to convince Heather it was safe to travel to southern Ireland. Pat McCarthy was Irish and was going home with his wife Therese to visit his parents in the Cork area. After a fast-moving three days. with many mishaps, we managed to catch the ship back to England with minutes to spare. We spent another ten days on an organized tour of England, Scotland and Wales.
Arriving home on June 28th, 1978, I just had time to unpack and repack immediately in order to attend the First International Balderson Reunion in Spokane. Washington with my Mom and Dad.
Once we returned home from Washington, I looked into going to Australia on a working holiday with the International Agricultural Exchange Association. By September 15, 1978, I was accepted to work in Tasmania, Australia on a sheep station as a house help. Before leaving I worked with Dad at the Retreat House remodeling their garage, building a greenhouse, putting a roof over the back deck as well as other small jobs to help pay for my ticket to Australia. On November 11, 1978, I boarded a DC-8 bound for Sydney. After spending a week at one of Melbourne’s colleges, everyone was shipped out to their Host families. I spent four months at “Red Rock” a farm owned by Don and Vivienne McShane. There was also a German trainee assigned to “Red Rock”, a chap called Jorg. As long as we stuck to English the family and I understood each other, but if they spoke Australian or I spoke Canadian all was lost. At one point Viv told me to wash my “duna cover”, so I washed the bedspread. I later found out that a “duna” is a quilt and the quilts had removable covers. Also, I had a hard time getting used to the sun being high in the north. In “Down Under” the clothes don’t dry as well if they are hung on the south side of the trees. I was very fortunate to be placed in Tasmania, as it is very similar to the Cochrane area. Lots of trees, rolling hills, a river at the bottom end of the farm, and mountains in the distance. Two things that I found very strange were to be pod- ding fresh garden peas for Christmas dinner and to have an outdoor picnic on Boxing Day. Once the job portion of the trip was over, I traveled from
Melbourne to Cairns and back down the east coast to Sydney sightseeing and visiting people I had met on the European tours. I spent two weeks in Sydney with the McCarthy family. When I arrived home in Canada one of the first questions asked was “Did you see a Tasmanian Devil?” The Tasmanian Devil is a most unusual animal found only on the Island State of Tasmania, a part of Australia. They are very ferocious animals, but will not attack unless cornered and, although carnivorous, only attack weak and sick animals that can’t defend themselves. Not at all like the famous one on Bugs Bunny.
I returned to Canada on April 28, 1979, and because of the time difference and crossing the International Date Line, I landed in Vancouver ten minutes before I left Sydney. I also managed two birthdays in one year; one for twenty-four hours in Sydney and one for four or five hours over the Pacific Ocean.
Shortly after returning home, I returned to construction with Dad. We worked on adding the back porch to Dolly and Allister Moore’s home, using bricks from the Simpson house that Allister and I retrieved and cleaned. While helping to finish building the garage and pour the cement walkways and driveway I received a call from Ray Whittle asking if I was looking for a job. I started to work for Whittle Agencies Ltd. on August 20, 1979, working full-time until January 1991 and part-time until Ray sold the business. Then I worked part-time with the new owners, Hi-Alta, based in High River. Finally, in 2000 I retired to look after Dad full-time. During this time my parents and I took several trips including England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in 1982. In 1986 we went to Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii on a five-week holiday and my nephew Clinton went with us. We returned home on May 12, and on May 14th, Dad’s 71st birthday, we were snowbound as over two feet of wet snow closed down the highways. August 1992 Mom, Dad, and I drove the Alaskan Highway, going up and back in fifteen days, just getting through the mountain passes before they were closed with snow storms.
In July of 1986 our neighbour, Bill Laidlaw, passed on. Bill’s lot was left for Dad to buy or at least right of first refusal. Dad purchased the lot and in November he and I started to tear the buildings down. We found that the original building was a granary on skids, with a second shack added on plus the newer kitchen that Bill had added in the 1980s. In April 1987 the basement hole was increased and we started to build my new house. Dad was not one to waste, but my brother David informed me that unless Dad had me invest in some new nails David would not help in the construction. Dad straightened old ones to put the frames for the cement footings together. I bought new nails. I was very fortunate to have my own contractor. I would design whatever I wanted to be built and he would build it. The design of my house is completely mine. The family would come by on weekends when the walls were to be lifted and the rafters to be raised. Mainly it was Dad, David, and I hammering nails until Moe (Maurice) came on the scene to help. He arrived with a new “french” hammer and by the end of the day, its claws had broken off. David joked that he had never worked with anyone so confident that he wouldn’t need to pull any nails that he would use a clawless hammer. Moe (Maurice) Gerald Klotz was a family friend who had been coming around from time to time. That spring he and I started dating and by October we were married. We stayed with Mom and Dad until November when we moved into our own home. Moe is fond of telling people that our courtship was building the house. I think we actually went to two movies that summer but decided if we were going to sleep through them, it was a waste. I was in charge of staging a Balderson family reunion at Grainger, Alberta, for my mother’s 15 brothers and sisters that summer, and Moe was introduced to our very large family. In 1989 Moe discovered the Buckler Family has reunions every five years. He had to deal with another large group of relatives, as I organized this event as well. Being so close to Calgary, we have had the opportunity to have lots of company come to stay with us. In 1989, my host mother from Australia, Vivienne, and her cousin Peg came and spent a week with us. It was great to be able to return a little of the hospitality, showing them Alberta and through British Columbia to Vancouver to connect with their flight home.
Moe (Maurice) was born on March 26, 1945, in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was raised on the family farm near Vibank, Saskatchewan. He took grades one to eight in the Tache School near the farm, then grades nine and ten in Elsas High School in Vibank. For grades eleven and twelve Moe attended Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. After graduation he went to work for MacDonalds Consolidated in Regina. Later he worked for Associated Groceries in Alberta, before working at MacDonalds Consolidated again. He spent some time in Edmonton, Lumsden and Cochrane, taking courses and looking into Franciscan life.
It was during this time in 1973 that Moe and I met at Mount Saint Francis Retreat House. Then he went to work for Safeway Canada Ltd. in Calgary and Airdrie. In 1987 we were married and built our home in Cochrane. We both worked in the community. Moe started his own small business that he has continued as a sideline after joining the maintenance staff of the local gas extraction plant. Moe and I enjoy traveling. We have made several short trips to the States, toured the Maritimes, and made short trips around the western provinces. We’re looking forward to more traveling once he retires. In the meantime, I spend a lot of time with CHAPS, looking to preserve the history of Cochrane. I enjoy helping to plan the spring and fall fundraising dinners as well as working on several ongoing projects.