The Buterman Family
as told by Otto
Otto Buterman's parents sailed for Canada in 1910 from Apledrn, Holland, to take up a homestead in the Medicine Hat area. They brought with them their seven children. Otto was one of these. Three more were born in Canada.
All the homestead land around Lethbridge had been taken up before they arrived, but they managed to procure some near Medicine Hat. Otto and his fa ther and one brother built a shack for the family and dug a well. Luckily they struck water at fifteen feet. They also built a sod barn for their one cow.
In 1917 to 1919, Otto went overseas with the Canadian Forces, but on his return he took up a homestead of his own about a mile from his family. Coming from Holland where water is plentiful, they were not used to the scarcity. The crops were invariably burned up and did not produce seed, let alone food. They had never seen anything like it in their lives. He went harvesting, working for more successful farmers for a few years.
In 1924 a friend and previous neighbor, Tom Hulland, in Kimberley told him there was work in the mine. Otto had never heard of a Hollander working in a mine, but he needed work. He arrived in Cranbrook by train, then took the bus to Kimberley and got a room above the Chinese Restaurant, located on the corner where the Bank of Montreal now stands.
Tom Hulland took Otto up to the top mine to see Mr. Fortier. This was November 1, 1924, and there was still no snow. Otto remembers Tom saying "May I put in a word for my friend", the reply was "No, not one, can he come to work tomorrow morning", the next morning there was well over a foot of snow.
He purchased a miners lamp, costing one dollar, and paid four dollars and fifty cents for a pair of hobnail workboots. His pay was four dollars and Hfty cents a day with one dollar deduction for board and room at the bunkhouse. His first job was on a wheelbarrow at the Top Mine. He was then transferred to the Tunnel and his boss was Slim Dolson. He spent the next nine months on steady graveyards. A fellow worker quit saying he didn't intend to die of mine rot (silicosis) .
One day Otto approached Bill Lindsay about a change of job. Mr. Lindsay was very busy getting things in order for the visit of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) to the mine, and told Otto to talk to him when that was over.
J. J. McKay was head sampler and Otto was placed in his department, working steady day shift for a change. However in the depression of the early thirties, the sampling staff was cut back to one man, so Otto went back to mining. By 1943 he had worked up to shift boss, a position he held until his retirement in 1961, after thirty- seven years with the Company.
Otto married Stella Oakes in 1944. She passed away in 1953. Living alone after a happy marriage of nine years was too lonely for Otto. In 1956 he married Helen (Nell) Hulland, Tom Hullands sister-in-law. Nell's husband, John, had passed away in 1954. They had four children, two daughters are in Calgary and one in Lethbridge. A son, Dr. Hulland, is a veterinarian in The Guelph Agricultural College.
Otto has been a member of the Masonic Lodge for forty-nine years. His hobbies were swimming and bicycling in summer and skating in winter, until he turned seventy-five. One of his last bike trips, at seventy-five, was from Kimberley to Canal Flats to visit a friend. He is still active and keeps busy in his home on Ritchie townsite.
He has a picture of his house taken the winter of 1954 and it can barely be seen from the street for the piles of snow. The snow was very deep that year.