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BC Cowboy Hall of Fame 2024 inductee: Earl Buck — Pioneer

The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is home to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame
Earl Buck (Photo submitted)

Earl Arzeno Buck was born in Allegan, Michigan in 1905. The family moved briefly to Nebraska before heading to Abbey, Saskatchewan in the Sandhills, where Earl and his siblings would grow up. Earl and his brother Elton moved to Fort St. James in 1923, finding employment at the Cassiar Ranch, where they had to do major repairs to the roof of the old cabin roof to make it through the first winter. Earl spent several years travelling back to Saskatchewan to help on the family farm with seeding and harvest. While there he would compete in rodeos and perform as a trick rider. On one of these trips home, he met Claire Schaver, whom he would marry in 1930.

Earl and Claire settled in Fort St. James on the banks of the Nak’azdli River, laying the foundations for what would become the Necoslie River Ranch. With the exception of some road building and horse freighting contracts, Earl was devoted to developing the ranch and raising cattle and horses. He rode his saddle horse working cattle until he was 76 years old. Earl and Claire built the ranch from scratch, literally cutting it out of the wilderness by hand and with a team of horses and plow. Earl and Claire would have four children, Doreen, Ronald, Sharon and Aaron.

Earl started competing in rodeo in B.C in 1927 at the Vanderhoof Diamond Jubilee, where he took five first prizes in western events. With the fun of the event over, he and Justa Sam headed back to Cassiar to put up 70 acres of oats with only a team and mower. Earls love of rodeo never wavered and he competed in many rodeos as far west as Prince Rupert. He was also an avid promoter of the sport and supplied some of the rough stock for the events. The annual Kispiox Rodeo still holds a Cowhide race in his memory. All of Earl’s children went on to become rodeo competitors.

Through the 1930s and early 1940s Earl drove freight wagons usually with a team of six to the more northern communities of Manson, Germansen and Slate Creek, going up over Baldy Mountain, which often involved shovelling snow for miles. Claire would often drive a smaller wagon while looking after Doreen. Through the 1940s Earl would pack freight with his team to the mines at Sowchea Creek, Pioneer and up to the lookout on Mt. Pope.

Earl promoted rodeos in both Ft. St. James and Vanderhoof. In 1945 it was Earl, Justa Sam and Duncan Sam who built the chutes, corrals and laid the groundwork for the stampede on the Rancheree flats. Horse races were also held with both Earl and his daughter Doreen competing.

In 1956 Earl founded the Sinkut Mountain Cattlemen’s Association, which is still going strong. Earl also wrote several articles about cattle ranching that were published in The Canadian Cattleman’s magazine. Earl was a writer and a poet, keeping a winter journal most of his life, with several published poems to his credit.

In his later years Earl took up draught horse pulling as a hobby. He and his team were well known in the area. The Necoslie River Ranch is still in the family and is now a century ranch. Earl passed away in Fort St. James Feb. 25, 1986.

The BC Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees will be honoured just prior to Sunday’s rodeo performance at the Indoor Spring Classic Rodeo in Williams Lake April 21.

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