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William Buck, one of the leading manufacturers in Brantford, and President of the Board of Trade of this city, dates his birth at the old town of Ancaster, August 22, 1828, his parents being Peter and Hannah (Yager) Buck. Both are still living, and they reside in Brantford, the father in his 88th year, and the mother in her 76th. Mrs. Buck, as her name would indicate, is of German pedigree. Peter Buck was a soldier in the rebellion of 1837-1838, and was wounded at the battle of Chippawa, still carrying a ball received on that occasion. Both parents of our subject are descendants of United Empire Loyalists.
In 1833 the family settled in the little village of Brantford, then containing perhaps 500 inhabitants, and here William received such mental drill as an ordinary common school could furnish. At an early age he became an apprentice to the tinsmith trade; learned it thoroughly, and worked for his old master as a journeyman, until twenty four years of age, at which time the savings of his earnings amounted to one thousand dollars. With that capital, in 1852, Mr. Buck started in the tin ware and stove business for himself; in 1856, purchased a foundry and commenced the manufacture of stoves and farming implements, since making stoves a more especial article, and enlarging his premises from time to time, until they cover about three acres of ground. He employs from 100 to 125 men, and is doing a business usually from $150,000 to $175,000 a year.
A writer in the Commercial Review, Montreal, of May 10, 1879, thus speaks of the Victoria foundry.
“Brantford has through its leading representative establishment, the Victoria foundry, William Buck, proprietor, won a reputation in the manufacture of stoves which has made the reputation of his products in this line familiar as household words from the extreme east to the far west portion of the Dominion; and for this result it is but just to give credit to his enterprise. Perfection is hard to reach, and perhaps in no direction has the struggle towards that end been more earnestly contested than that of stoves. Season after season our leading manufacturers have brought out new improvements, both in joint of convenience and in matter of artistic taste, each vying with the other for the first place; while the progress has been most creditable to many, yet none have been able to combine all these qualities which are requisite to make a perfect stove. The desired points to secure in every stove are thorough ventilation, perfect combustion by means of properly constructed flues and dampers, simplicity of construction, neatness of appearance, good heating and cooking qualities, and economy of fuel. Over 200 different styles of stoves are produced at this foundry.
Cooking, wood, parlor and hall stoves, in almost endless variety, size and style, complete the catalogue in this line. A large business is also done in the manufacture of steel plows, which are regarded by agriculturists as unsurpassed for lightness, strength, and profitable qualities for this work. These plows are a genuine standard with farmers in the west. Among the other facilities of the foundry which are availed of are the manufacture of hollow ware and castings.”
Mr. Buck is identified with a great number of enterprises, material, literary and religious, and gives hearty support to any organization tending in any respect to benefit the community. He is President of the Board of Trade and of the Philharmonic Society of Brantford; Vice-President and Director of the Young Ladies College, Brantford; a Director of the Brantford Water Works, and of the Royal Loan and Savings Society; Trustee of the Canadian Literary Institute, at Woodstock, and of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Brantford; Treasurer of the Baptist Church Edifice Society for Ontario and Quebec, and one of the heaviest contributors to the support of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, of which he is a member. He held at one time the office of President of the Ontario Baptist Convention. He is Treasurer of the Reform Association for the South Riding of Brant.
Mr. Buck has been married since October 1, 1856, his wife being Alice, daughter of Francis Foster, of Brantford, deceased, a native of Lancashire, England. She is the mother of seven children, all living but one son, him dying in infancy.
The career of Mr. Buck is a happy illustration of what can be accomplished by diligence in business and careful management. At the start his small capital was of his own creating, and all his accumulations are the result of energies well applied and funds prudently invested. Nor does he seem to accumulate for the gratification of a grasping, sordid disposition, which he does not possess; but largely, at least, for the means it affords him of giving, and the pleasure he derives from so doing. In short, he is a good specimen of the generous, highsouled Christian gentleman.