Photos by Jodi Sware
Gordon Buchanan came to High Prairie from Manitoba in the late 1950s, looking for a better life for his family. He saw in High Prairie a small community with a big opportunity.
Gordon was a builder with a dream, and the dream he had would affect the community of High Prairie and the surrounding communities for the next 50 years. His dream was a lumber company and, using the abundant natural resources this region had, he built a company that spanned the globe.
But at the same time, her never lost sight of the community and the people who made his successes possible.
Throughout the years Buchanan Lumber was in business, his donations and support to local organizations and people was legendary. Need a truck to move a heavy load? Go see Gordon. Need a donation to support minor hockey. Go see Gordon. Need a job for the winter? Go See Gordon.
Hie impact on the lives of so many people was immense. He employed anyone who wanted to work. Colour, race, background mean nothing to Gordon. All he asked for was a good day’s labour. So many of the fathers and grandfathers of this region worked for Buchanan Lumber, either for a short time or sometimes as their only job throughout their life.
And even after he retired and moved to Edmonton, he still kept a hand in his company and his community. We remember in 2012, when lumber prices took a nosedive. Current management could see no end to the drop and took the hard decision to lay off the majority of the workers. This was devastating to the people of our town and region, dependant on their employment with Buchanan’s for their mortgages, truck payments and just day-to-day living expenses. All people could talk about was what the future would hold.
But within a week word came down. Gordon had told his management team to re-open and rehire. The company would manage the downturn somehow, but the workers would not be left hanging. That was the kind of man Gordon Buchanan was.
And when Buchanan Lumber finally changed hands, Gordon looked for another company that had his values and community spirit. He chose West Fraser Industries as that company. And for his long-term employees, over 20 years with his company, a substantial bonus was given to each of them in appreciation.
Gordon died in 2014. But even now, eight years later, his legacy lives on. He and his family established the Buchanan Family Foundation to continue supporting High Prairie organizations. Today, Oct. 15, St. Mark’s Anglican Cemetery has been the recipient of this support. I am proud today to participate in the dedication of this Columbarium, in our cemetery.
And we, the St. Mark’s Anglican Church Cemetery Committee, are grateful to the Buchanan Family Foundation for their donation for the Columbarium and the Memorial Wall.