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Slim Goodacre, a big part of Bulkley Valley history

Tom’s patience pays off with an interview with a Smithers patriarch
Slim (Clarence Jr.) and Mary Goodacre. (Contributed photo)

I have been patiently waiting all summer to get catch up with Betty and Slim Goodacre to scratch out a column on the Goodacre “empire.” Last week, it came together and I had a very enjoyable couple of hours reminiscing on how it happened.

Slim, whose given name is actually Clarence after his father Clarence Senior (“My Dad did not like that name either,” says Slim) has had quite a life and is still moving along quite well.

The children, Teri, Tom, and Betty decided two years ago to take monthly turns staying with Dad so he can remain in his own home and that program is working well.

I did not know you were born in Smithers, I mentioned.

“Yes, and this community has been very good to me,” said Slim. “My Grandfather, Tom McDonald came into this country looking for a land grant offered to veterans from WW1 military service. He acquired some land on Tyhee lake and built a log home in Telkwa that is still standing today.

“The family was originally from County Cork, Ireland.My Dad, Clarence Senior, started his working career at Watson’s Groceries and opened his own store in 1937, with the motto ‘For Good Things To Eat.’ I was able to help deliver groceries at a very young age. In those days you could get a learner’s at 14 and a licence at 15.

My kids wanted out of the small-town lifestyle as soon as they got out of school, did you have that feeling Slim, I asked.

“Well, I did live in Prince George for a year as I was completing Grade 13, I could have headed south for the big city but I made the decision right there and then I wanted to be a grocer,” said Slim. “I came back to town and settled back working for Dad.

“In the meantime, I had met this beautiful nurse from Newfoundland. Somehow as fate would have it I was sick with pneumonia in the hospital. My caretaker, Mary Ryan, had answered an ad to come out west to work. One thing led to another and we eventually got married.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to have children of our own, so we adopted four beautiful kids to complete our family, Teri, Tom, Betty and Bob.

“ I also had a desire to run a projector and got myself a part-time evening job sweeping up at the movie theatre then owned by Cecil Steele out of Vanderhoof and managed by Les Buchanan, Art’s Dad. Eventually I got trained and really enjoyed that business so much I bought into the operation.

“I received a telegram that my offer was accepted on my wedding day in 1952. We had struggled to raise the money for the down payment. I looked to borrow but things were tight. My sister suggested I talk to Mrs. Casler and without hesitation, she wrote me a cheque for $2,000. I have never forgotten that.”

In 1960 Goodacre’s store became a Super Value franchise.

“We were located on the corner of Fourth and Main and in 1966 we moved into the Bulkley Village mall where No Frills is presently operating. My father Clarence, my brother Jim and I ran the store together. Everyone in the family worked there and we became the place you wanted to work at.

“Our employees were very loyal and we had many fun Christmas and summer parties together. Kelly Douglas Wholesale also had annual conventions for franchisees and we were able to visit several global locations for these gatherings.

“Business was good and it seemed like a good time to expand. We actually opened a Super Valu in five locations, Sandspit out in Haida Gwai, Fraser Lake, Dease Lake and Burns Lake, along with the head office in Smithers.

“We had a very good relationship with Kelly Douglas the main supplier in Burnaby. It also helped to be well-connected with Bandstra here in Smithers for deliveries.

“Somehow along the way I got my pilot’s licence and even learned to downhill ski at 50. My wife and I spent several winters in Arizona at Lake Havasu. We had a very good life and we were fortunate to provide work for our family and friends.”

Thanks for this Slim, certainly your life is a big part of Bulkley Valley history.

Slim (Clarence Jr.) and Mary Goodacre (seated in centre) with their family during their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. (Contributed photo)