Buckley, Fred and James

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                                         FRED & JAMES BUCKLEY
                                          By Bonnie Sweeney


Javex has become a household word, but how many remember Javel?

Well, quite a few locally about 50 years ago.

In the 1940s, brothers James and Fred Buckley of Newcastle made up the cleaning solution and sold it in wine bottles. James and Fred have died, Fred just a couple of years ago. Borther Robert Buckley was only eight or nine years old at the time, but remembers working for his brothers. “They always had some sort of business going and I remember this new product they named Javel. I can still see the label today,” Robert said. They sold it as far away as Bathurst, Dalhousie and Rexton, within a hundred mile radius of Newcastle.

“This was in 1943; James and Fred were in their teens at the time. They also had a canteen business and an ice cream business, but this Javel seemed to have potential,” Robert said.

“Clifford Casey of Newcastle used to say that my two brothers could sell deep freezes to Eskimos,” laughed Robert. The two were always together, and “wherever you saw one, you saw the other and they were always on the verge of coming up with a new business,” he said.

They began mixing the solution to make Javel in the back of their father’s garage which was located where the Irving car wash is now.

Their father, Lee Buckley, owned all of the property in that area at the time.


One problem

There was a problem with the product, said Robert. “The downfall was that people didn’t know how to use it. In a lot of cases, people put clothes in the washer and poured the Javel water in. This turned a lot of people off. “They failed to put directions on the bottles. They tried it at home, and learned by trial and error before getting it right.

“It really worked well. In 1943, there was very little you could get to break down grease,” Robert said. They mixed it in 200 gallon wooden kegs. “They would buy up wine bottles from all the youngsters and, and some adults too, paying 15 cents a dozen for them. “They bought a tin-lined box and soaked the wine labels off. They had their new labels made by George McWilliams who ran the local press. “It was my job to wash and sterilize the bottles then fill them.” Looking at his hands, Robert recalls having “little holes all over my hands from the Javel.”

They stuck with Javel for three years, and in 1946, sold out to George Somara who had a store where Esson Casey’s shop is today.

After they sold this business, the two brothers went to Ontario. They both worked for the railroad. James stayed with CNR and became a supervisor in Hamilton, Ontario. Fred left CNR and went to work for General Electric as a floor foreman. He hurt his back at the General Electric and had to leave. Fred went into the used car business and became a millionaire, following in the footsteps of his father, Lee Buckley and grandfather David Buckley.

Family deserves recognition for role in area

The Buckley family contributed a great deal to the area, but got little or no recognition, says Robert Buckley. His grandfather, David Buckley and father Lee Buckley were both millionaires. They were in the lumbering business, known as Buckley’s Mill.

The only landmark left of it is the tall smoke stack at French Fort Cove. Robert would like to see it restored a little and the name Buckley’s Mill painted on it.

His grandfather David was a millionaire when he came from England and settle in Bay du Vin and built a saw mill there. He then moved it to Rogersville, and then on to French Fort Cove, where it flourished. Robert’s grandfather built the first kiln oven in the area and it still stands today in Wine River. He hired people from Rogersville and all over, giving them jobs in the hard times, grandson Robert said. His father Lee was a scaler and joined the business with his father.

There were several lumber camps in the woods and lumber from the boom in French Fort was shipped out in four mast sailing ships.

“There were 12 of us, but it was like two families. Several were older, such as James and Fred, and then there were us younger ones. We lived in a house where the liquor store is now and my father owned the car wash property.”

Everything was going fine until 1920, when Buckley’s Mill at French Fort Cove was apparently sabotaged.

His grandfather David was in the hospital dying of leukemia when it was set on fire. They lost everything. “Grandfather and father went from poor to millionaires and back to poor again,” Robert said. However, his father fought back and didn’t die poor. “Father sold property. He sold property to Ashley Colter of Car Motors and got a brand new car for it. “Years later he sold the remaining property to Irving Oil.”

“They did a great deal but never got any recognition. You hear about the Snowballs and others, but never the Buckleys,” Robert said.

Saves life

Robert Buckley of Chaplin Island Road is a maintenance supervisor at the Enclosure and has been working there for 12 years.

He was responsible for saving the life of one of the men in an airplane crash in Maple Glen in 1979. Two others died. He heard the plane going down, heard it hit and knew where it was within a quarter of a mile. “If they hadn’t gotten to him when they did he would have died. He was all broken up. If he hadn’t been there the man would have died. As it was he was broken up. “It was 10 to 6 and getting dark and the plane never broke a tree off going down. They would never have found him until it was too late. As it was, we found him just in time.”

He was told the man worked for NB Power in Fredericton. “But I never heard from anyone again,” Robert said.


Source: Miramichi Leader – May 28, 2006

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