Sept. 11, 1940 – Feb. 27, 2022
James Gordon Buckingham died peacefully on February 27 with his family by his side. He is survived by his wife, Mary, daughters Laura and Ali, sons-in-law Adam and Allan, grandchildren Devon, Julie, and Michelle, sister Joan, brother-in-law Norval, and a wide circle of friends who were his chosen family.
Bucky was born in Saskatoon, grew up in Winnipeg, and lived most of his life in Banff. He married Mary and brought her to Banff in 1974 where they spent many happy years together. He was exceptionally proud of his two daughters. He liked to talk about their professional accomplishments, but he liked to talk even more about their skiing and paddling abilities.
Bucky studied geology at the University of Manitoba, receiving his MSc in 1968. During his university years, he spent summers working for the Geological Survey of Canada, hiking and climbing through Alberta and BC. Soon afterwards, while working as a geology instructor in Edmonton, he came to Banff every weekend to work as a ski instructor at Sunshine and volunteer ski patroller at Lake Louise. Starting in 1971, he made skiing his career. He started as a ski instructor with Jerry Johnston’s Ski School at Sunshine. Over the years, he became patrol foreman, then lift foreman, and finally mountain manager at Sunshine. The gondola opened in his last year at Sunshine and he oversaw the reclamation work that turned the upper road into the ski out. After leaving Sunshine in 1982, he worked briefly at Lake Louise before becoming mountain manager at Norquay. He finished his time at Norquay by designing the runs for Spirit and Mystic Chairs, which opened in the winter of 1990-91. After leaving Norquay he continued to work as a consultant for ski areas from BC to Ontario. He helped develop or improve many ski hills on the prairies, making great skiing accessible to people who live far from the mountains. He was also a school board trustee from 1990-1996.
Bucky was always happiest outdoors. He loved skiing in the winter, paddling in the summer, and hiking whenever he could fit it in. He especially loved teaching the whitewater canoe course every spring. He started the canoe course in 1975 and kept it going every year. Over the years, he taught hundreds of people and mentored the instructors who continue to teach the canoe course now. He also enjoyed taking students from the Bow Valley schools paddling and skiing for many years. Bucky loved to teach. He took many people out for their first experience of paddling or ski touring. His love of outdoor activity was contagious and inspired many. For Bucky, it was always the “Best Day Ever”.
His family would like to thank the many healthcare workers who cared for him during his life and in his final days. Special thanks to everyone working in the Emergency unit of Mineral Springs Hospital over the years, who fixed him up countless times.
The best way to show your appreciation for Bucky’s life is to do something outside. Ski a few turns in his memory, or better yet, introduce someone to the joy of the outdoors.
A memorial service will be held in the spring.