Community Papers

Cariboo Observer's first carrier

Harold Buvyers, right, with brother Bob in 1954, the year he began delivering the Cariboo Observer - Contributed photo
Harold Buvyers, right, with brother Bob in 1954, the year he began delivering the Cariboo Observer
— image credit: Contributed photo

Quesnel in the 1950s was a small community of about 4,000 with little to keep youth busy.

However, Harold Buvyer found employment at the tender age of 12.

“I used to clear sidewalks back then, but when Yvonne and Doug Findley asked if I wanted to deliver papers, I said yes,” Buvyer said.

“I don’t know how they got my name but I was the first one they asked.”

On the appointed day, Buvyer, along with about six other boys showed up and were put to work delivering the Cariboo Observer.

“I was the first one asked so I got the premier route,” he said.

“Carson Avenue to St. Laurent, Front Street to McLean Street.”

His downtown route had 75 papers to be delivered and Harold said he received 5 cents a paper.

“The paper only cost 10 cents back then,” he said.

Harold said all the paper boys received brand new bags with the Observer logo on it and they were impressed.

“We delivered on foot,” he said.

On his route, Harold said there were still private homes in the downtown area, but he also delivered to stores such as Willis Harper, Owens Department Store and Spencer Dickie Drugs.

He remembers delivering after school, he thought it was on a Thursday, but said it only took him a couple of hours.

At the time Harold said his family lived on McLean Street in an older home about a half a block from the paper, which was on Reid Street then.

Lou Griffiths was the owner and he remembers Scotty Laidlaw was in sales and Ralph Scoullar was the pressman.

Harold added he delivered papers for about two years.

Life in Quesnel was slow and Harold said in the winter, he would ski on the old ski hill in Johnson Sub.

“I believe Mac Grady built that ski hill,” he said.

Other than a little skiing, Harold said as kids, they rode their bikes, played Monopoly and built forts in the bush.

“There wasn’t a lot to do in Quesnel,” he said.

“Dad would take us to Stromme’s Café on Reid Street for dinner about once a month.”

Harold said his dad, a Second World War vet, was a jack of all trades including bartender at the Legion. He also ran a Meteor, Mercury, Lincoln dealership right beside the post office on Reid Street in 1955-56.

“When we first moved to Quesnel in 1953, my dad’s first job was a salesman at Beath Motors on the corner of Reid Street and Carson Avenue.”

As a young man, Harold found himself once again in the employment of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

“I was about 17 or 18 years old and was the photographer for the paper,” he said.

“I loved the photography. We used a Speed Graflex camera with a 10-pound power pack for the strobe light flash. That was standard equipment for newspaper photographers in the 1940s and 1950s.

“I took lots of pictures of Alex Fraser, he always had his eyes closed. One time Marty Robbins came through, before he was famous. We got to go back stage, Nita Nicole interviewed him and I took his picture.”

Harold remembers allowing Gerry Funn, who worked for the Quesnel Advertiser, to have a tour of the Observer’s dark room and got in trouble with Doug Findley for allowing the competition in the building.

Harold quit the job he loved because management couldn’t see their way clear to giving him a raise. He made $25 a week.

“I then went to work as a delivery man for Aikens Food Mart on Two Mile Flat for $50 a week,” Harold said.

“But I loved the photography job.”

Harold also worked at Quesnel Machinery, Jack Nelson was sales and Harold was a delivery truck driver.

Jo Buvyer, Harold’s mother, was the first female real estate agent in the Cariboo, working for Harvey Agencies on Carson Avenue.

“She went on to become the top realtor for Realty World in the Northwest, including B.C. and Washington state,” Harold said.

The family stayed in the Quesnel area for about 15 years.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.