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James Clutterbuck
1873 - 1954

Based on an account written in 2000 by his grand-daughter-in-law Edna (Sloan) Clutterbuck

James “Jim” Clutterbuck was born October 5, 1873 in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England.  A “Barr Colonist” he came out from England in April 1903 on the S. S. Lake Manitoba.  Jim was a skilled tradesman  in England in wood and stone carving, a draftsman and a modeller. He was advised by his London doctor to go to a drier climate as he had a cough caused by the stone dust on his lungs from working on old abbeys in England.  

      Jim and his travelling companion, an engineer named R. J. Cowell, were among those who picked their homestead land while on shipboard. The area later became known as the Durness district. In 1903, the railroad came only as far as Saskatoon and Clutterbuck joined forces with three other fellows.  They bought four oxen, a wagon, ploughs and other supplies before setting out for their homesteads in mid April.  The trip over the bald prairie, was really tough going, avoiding sloughs and fording the Battle River.  However the four oxen handled it better than many horse outfits.  

     When they arrived, they joined others at the “Headquarters Camp” [just north of the present exhibition grounds] and pitched their tents.  Within a few days their group set out with a guide to find their various homesteads.  Clutterbuck’s homestead proved to be nine miles northwest of the meridian.  They lived in tents until Jim built a log house with a sod roof.  This was to be the shelter for the group for the first winter.  In the summer of 1903, Jim and his friend and neighbour R. J. Cowell, turned their first furrow.  


In the winter of 1903-04, Jim went to Winnipeg where he cut and dressed stone while working for Gillis Quarries Ltd., a firm that supplied Tyndall Stone for many of the large buildings in Winnipeg, including the Union Station. In the spring, he returned to his homestead, and more colonists were flooding in. In 1905, the railroad arrived in Lloydminster, making it easier for supplies to come in.  In 1908, a rural school was built in Clutterbuck’s area under the leadership of John Campbell.  The school was called Durness, after Durness, Scotland and the name came to be applied to the district around it.

In the spring of 1909, Jim Clutterbuck received a message delivered by horseback from the Superintendent of Buildings for the province of Alberta.  The Alberta Legislative Buildings were being built and they had written to England seeking a carver, a modeller and a draftsman. They were informed that a man by the name of James Clutterbuck was one of their best apprentices and had all those qualifications and he had moved to Canada. They had traced him through Immigration. So in 1910, James Clutterbuck joined those working on the construction of the provincial parliament buildings. He sketched many of the ornamental caps on the pillars and did all the carvings over the doorways, including the Provincial Coat of Arms over both main entrances.

In 1910, James had married Isabel Campbell, a neighbour girl.  His work in Edmonton was full-time so he leased his homestead to Cowell allowing him to complete the finishing touches to the elaborate building.  One of his last jobs there was the carving of the Coat of Arms which still stands above the Speaker’s Chair in the Legislature.  

When the great work was done, James returned to his homestead to resumed farming.  James and Isabel had two children, Mary, born on the farm in 1913, and Thomas, born in the Lloydminster Hospital in 1914. James Clutterbuck, and his neighbour and fellow Barr Colonist, Stanley Inge, who lived three miles away, died on the same day, July 1st, 1954.   

R. J. Cowell (left) and Jim Clutterbuck with their oxen, ploughing the first furrows in the summer of 1903 - north of Lloydminster.

(l-r) R. J. Cowell, James Clutterbuck and two others with the oxen and supplies they purchased in Saskatoon in April 1903 - on their way to their homestead lands north of Lloydminster.