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Buckle, Walter C. (1886–1955)

Walter Clutterbuck Buckle, Minister of Agriculture in the Co-operative government of J.T.M. Anderson from 1929 to 1934, was born in Gloucester, England in 1886. Following his Education at Sir Thomas Rich’s School and Brentford College, he immigrated to Canada in 1905 and settled in the Tisdale area five years later, homesteading and later operating a farm implement business. Buckle became mayor of Tisdale in 1921, a position he held until his election to the Legislature in 1925. As one of only three Conservatives elected that year, he served as his party’s agriculture critic and became Minister of Agriculture after the defeat of the Gardiner government in 1929. His career as Minister followed a pattern common to most of his colleagues in the Anderson Cabinet: first, attempts to discover and halt corrupt practices in his Department inherited from the previous Liberal regime; then, introduction of legislation designed to improve the lot of Saskatchewan’s farmers; and finally, frustration as the Depression deepened and the understanding grew that no money would be available for anything other than keeping people alive on their farms and safe from foreclosure. Thus in 1930 Buckle initiated an audit of the Farm Loan Board which showed misappropriation of funds and political interference with the Board’s operations under the Liberals, and these he stopped. The same year he also announced a series of measures aimed at increasing farm revenues, ranging from fruit growing to moisture Conservation. Within two years, however, further investigation of the Liberals seemed pointless and new programs proved unaffordable as the government tried to cope with the appalling effects of Drought, pestilence, and declining revenues both private and public. Saskatchewan simply did not have the means to withstand the catastrophe, and departments such as Agriculture gave way to new non-partisan institutions such as the Relief Commission and the Debt Adjustment Board. The length and severity of the Depression altered the expected course of the Anderson government completely, and left it in a vulnerable position from which to campaign for re-election. In fact, not a single supporter of the Co-operative government won a seat in 1934. Buckle went down to defeat in Tisdale and never made it back to the Legislature as a Member. In 1946 he retired from business and moved to Victoria, where he lived until his death in 1955.

Patrick Kyba

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