1915 – 2008
‘Ike’ Buchanan was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick and demonstrated exceptional athletic talents throughout his early years. He had the honour of once pitching against the great Babe Ruth. Ike, and the rest of his St. Croix baseball team, were inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1971.
Ike attended RMC from 1934 to 1939 where he again excelled athletically and inter-personally. He graduated as a Lieutenant in the Artillery, serving initially at the Partridge Island Battery in Saint John, New Brunswick from 1939 to 1940 before being shipped overseas to join the war effort.
During WWII, in a period of just sixteen months, Ike distinguished himself in battle in three distinct theatres of war.
Seconded to the British 1st Army in 1940, Ike served in North Africa from 1942 to 1943 and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for actions in Thala, Tunisia on 22 February 1943. By continuously endeavouring to consolidate troops, lead patrols and defeat enemy Observation Posts (OP), he was an inspiration to all his men.
On 7 October 1943, while serving in Sicily and Italy as Troop Commander, "F" Troop, 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA), 1st Canadian Division, he was awarded a bar to his MC at Gambatesa, Italy. As a Forward Observation Officer (FOO) with the Carleton and York Regiment, Ike commanded the leading troop of the forward battery. Despite sustaining injuries while under heavy machine gun fire, he maintained vital communication with his battery, ensuring persistent artillery fire and enabling his troop to hold their ground and evacuate wounded personnel.
With 14th Field Regiment, 3rd Canadian Division for the D-Day invasion of France in June 1944, Ike was awarded a second bar to his MC for actions in Normandy in the first few days of the invasion. Operating as FOO with a reserve company of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, Ike again demonstrated “coolness, drive and utter disrespect for his own safety as an example to all…”, holding an OP for four days while he engaged the enemy with artillery and heavy small arms fire.
Ike was presented the Military Cross with Two Bars by King George VI. Only 23 Commonwealth Officers have achieved the distinction of being awarded three MCs and he is the sole RMC graduate, as well as the only Canadian Artillery Officer in World War II, to do so.
In 1944, Major Buchanan married Janetta and, shortly after the war, they re-entered civilian life in St. Stephen. Compelled to enter the political arena, Ike was elected MLA for Charlotte County, New Brunswick from 1952 to 1960 and appointed Minister of Lands and Forests where he championed industrial growth, economic development and the creation of employment opportunities. He led initiatives for airport modernization, mine development, provincial CBC TV coverage and forest industry growth to benefit veterans and the provincial economy. He was also instrumental in bringing the Flakeboard Company to St. Stephen where it became a major employer.
A successful businessman, Ike continued to run the family furniture retail business until 1982 and, with partner Donald MacLeod at St. Stephen Woodworking, invented fiberglass hockey sticks which were sought after across Canada and became the favoured sticks of the NHL.
Ike felt it his civic duty to serve in the Militia and became the Commanding Officer of the Carleton and York Regiment as a Lieutenant-Colonel. He motivated and inspired his troops, assisting them with post-traumatic stress issues, supporting their families and continuing his trademark qualities of exceptional leadership and selfless service.
Ike died in 2008 at the age of 92. He is survived by daughters, Janice and Gale and son Bruce.
One of Ike’s inspirational sayings was:
“Good, better, best; never let it rest
until your good is better, and your better best.”
Soldier, Politician, Businessman, Athlete