Clare was born in Eastend, Saskatchewan, on April 30, 1949 the blue eyed baby boy of Lewie and Edie Backman. He grew up on the Backman homestead quarter, SE 4-6-26 W 3rd just north of Vidora near Cypress Lake. His world was full with an extended family of cousins, nephews and nieces and even an old bachelor uncle, Arthur Backman that as an adult, Clare realized he tormented more than he should have.
From the start he had no time for livestock and gravitated towards the mechanical. As the baby of the family he was indulged with go carts and his first truck, a 63 Chev half ton (though he’d go on to become a Ford man). Tinkering with all these motors as a teen fuelled his ability to rebuild the bale wagon, make the 850 Versatile go one more mile and run his snow plowing business when common sense and the -40 weather was telling everyone else to call it a day.
He began his schooling in Robsart where he yearned to just once get the weekly student award from his favourite teacher Lorraine Anderson, though he never did; later, as a dear family friend and neighbour, she said she couldn’t remember why not. Later transferring to Consul for high school, he’d often have the school bus drop him off at Seifert’s garage instead. It was at school that he began to spend time with Carol Frame. He had his cousin, Eric Heglund, ask her out for him, and she became his one and only girlfriend and wife of fifty-one years.
As a teenager, with a father in his 70’s, Clare would often start his day by helping dress Lewie and carrying him to his arm chair, reversing the order in the evening. This assistance to keep his dad at home would be repaid this year by so many that helped Clare stay on the farm. Thus with an ailing father in Grade 11, Clare was absent from school all of October to help bring in the harvest. After writing his November exams, having done little of the semester’s work, he was just shy of passing so quit school and began farming full time. He never received his diploma but he felt great joy when he’d catch misspelled words and poor grammar in published material and his voracious appetite for reading kept him busy through farming’s down time.
Gifted the home quarter by his father in exchange for not getting a university education, Clare and Carol married in 1969 and settled in a small shack in the same yard as his parents. Married on June 28th, with a honeymoon road trip planned into BC, the two were home by July 1st after calling home every night, as he was too homesick to be away any longer. There they had Lynette, then Beth before building their home across the yard in 1972.
Following the new house, always a lover of babies, Clare and Carol would expand their family with Crystal, then Angela. It was in this same period that the siblings Blair, Elaine and Clare would begin to farm and ranch together; later adding their nephew Rodney Fairbrother to the mix. Then in 1978, on a dusty fall evening, Clare drove his bale wagon into the side of a train on his way to Elaine’s ranch south of Consul. Lying mangled in the wreckage of machinery, he would stay conscious to instruct rescuers on how to cut him out. Having broken most of the bones in his body, and eventually having to have his leg amputated, he would spend months away from home in Regina rehabilitating and adjusting to a prosthetic leg.
This tragedy was bookended by finally having the son it took five tries to get when Tyler was born. Despite this joy, the eighties went on to be the ultimate test of a prairie farmer. He battled and somehow won against drought, high interest rates, low grain prices and the scourge of grasshoppers. But there was always a child to turn over a five gallon bucket to sit beside him in the tractor, pour him a coffee from his thermos and listen to a lecture on the importance of straight edges and not missing any passes.
But despite the test of that decade, those years were filled with family road trips where his love of vehicles resulted in a family car trip game of “guess the make and model” of every car we passed. As no one knew any better, it appeared he could identify anything without pause. With wonder he would describe when the 1959 Buick came out and how people speculated that you might die if you fell on one of the tail fins. It was a dream realized when it was the first car he bought from Siefert’s one of those mornings he got dropped off the bus early! After he finally got Heinz to agree to his price, it took all the knowledge and enthusiasm that he and his cousin Eric were able to muster to keep it running. All of this wonder extended to farm machinery and each road trip included driving through every machinery yard we passed, with groans from everyone. The only thing more fun than kicking tires, was the coffee he’d share and the tales he’d tell to any salesman who’d listen.
As the kids started to leave home, Clare finally ventured a bit further from his little piece of heaven. This included driving his in-laws Hugh and Joyce Frame to Arizona in the winter, visiting machinery plants in Racine, Wisconsin, driving from Nova Scotia to PEI and even making it across the border into North West Territories, and the most demanding; the Three Flags Ride bike trip he took with Tyler that stretched from Canada to Mexico. But he was always anxious to get home and thankful when he was. As his mobility has decreased, he’d been content with cruising through Costco and Princess Auto and could likely challenge both for stock on hand.
In his later years, he also transitioned from Dad into Papa as he was blessed with six grandchildren. There wasn’t a man who liked a baby more. All of the pictures of him with grandkids on his knee show how pleased he always was to hold a baby. His “toy” purchases were often in hope his grandkids would be able to come and enjoy them, and he was always pleased to zip around the yard on a quad or his scooter with a grandchild holding on.
In 2003, Clare was able to expand his domain by doubling the size of his home when he had his dream garage built. What at first seemed excessive quickly became too small for all the treasures he wanted to surround himself with. But to Carol’s relief, it also became the new hub of coffee time. After 20 plus years of pouring coffee, she was ready for the break and was replaced by a Keurig machine.
In 2014 his grandson Colton Backman would come to assist with the farming. Clare last sat on a combine in 2018, but continued to oversee and describe how it should be done, as only a Backman could. Like his mother, he was the consummate host. He was thrilled to have a coffee club that attracted all ages for a funny tale, a conspiracy theory on Trudeau’s true father, and maybe even a bowl of popcorn or a rotisserie hot dog. The last year has been a challenge with two trips to the ICU which, despite all odds, he was able to bounce back from. Yet as the country has grown emptier and emptier, he was able to stay exactly where he wanted to be. We are so thankful for everyone who assisted in some way to make this happen. The amazing paramedic team who were called on so many times, Colton for taking the reins of the farm, Joe Grezaud for fixing up the house so it was safe for him to be home, Rod Fairbrother and Paul Heglund for always being just a phone call away and everyone who stopped by for a coffee and a chat.
Clare was not only a big man in size but in character and spirit. He could be the loudest voice in a room but also quietly offered his support and assistance in any way he could when he saw he could be of help. His farm was his kingdom and he loved being its king. He was quick to remind us that time only speeds up as you get older and true to his words, the end of his reign came too soon.
He leaves his wife Carol and children Lynette, Beth (Dan), Crystal (Wael), Angela and Tyler (Lana). He also leaves his six grandchildren Colton Backman, Raelle & Paige Fischer, Lewis & Elliot Backman and Noor Fayyad. As well as, his siblings and farming partners Elaine Earl & Blair (Sheila) Backman & nephew Rodney (Lisa) Fairbrother and brother-in-law Les Fairbrother. Clare is predeceased by his parents Lewis and Edie Backman, sisters Mary Lou Frame, Margaret Fairbrother and Lue Genge, brother-in-laws Ernie Earl, Glen Frame and Bob Genge and dear sister-in-law Tina Danskin.
If anyone would like to make a donation on Clare’s behalf, the family would appreciate your support of the Consul Ambulance.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Lewis "Clare" Backman, please visit our floral store.