The Hucksons are a family synonymous with water in Sault Ste. Marie, well-known for the last 50 years as plumbers and now operating a diversified business at Huckson’s Water Depot.
Dan Huckson, now retired from plumbing, has enjoyed researching his family’s history long before they got into plumbing.
A Huckson ancestor, Philip Turner of England, was hired by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1770s to survey the land from Michipicoten to James Bay, one of the first British explorers to draw out that stretch of land on a map, Dan told SooToday.
“Around the 1870s, my great-grandfather Alfred Huckson came from England at the age of 12. He started in Montreal then moved to the Muskoka district and got into forestry,” Dan said.
In Muskoka, Alfred met and married a woman named Zelia Charlebois.
“It turns out Pierre Trudeau, going back five sets of grandparents, was related to the same Charlebois family, so I’m distantly related to Justin Trudeau. Cousin Justin,” Dan chuckled.
Alfred and Zelia eventually moved to the Sault and started a family.
“At one time he (Alfred) was working up in Searchmont and there was a provincial election in Ontario. The Liberal Party candidate sent a train up to grab anybody who wanted to vote Liberal. My grandfather didn’t want to vote Liberal so he walked all the way to the Sault to vote Conservative. The Conservatives won the election and he got a prominent job in the government...he was what they called a Crown timber agent, in charge of forestry management.”
The Huckson family homestead was located near what is known as Huckson’s Corners, at the corner of Great Northern Road and Northern Avenue, owning a considerable amount of property in that area.
That home was destroyed by fire in the 1950s, Dan said.
The Huckson family got into plumbing when Dan’s father William began working for a local plumber before starting his own business, W. Huckson Plumbing and Heating, in 1968.
Dan started working for his father in 1981, becoming a skilled tradesperson.
Dan and his family owned and operated Huckson Brothers Plumbing and Heating beginning in 1996, then in 2008 started working for Huckson’s Water Depot, owned by his wife Brenda Swystun.
Brenda, Huckson’s Water Depot president, previously managed the Lafarge Canada concrete plant in the Sault before launching Huckson’s Water Depot, the company currently employing 10 people.
“It was a bit of a time of turmoil in the industry in 2008, and we just decided to give the business a different role. Brenda has a huge business management background,” Dan said, Brenda expanding the enterprise from a plumbing-only business to offering water testing and water treatment solutions, bathroom and kitchen renovations as well as camp and cottage maintenance.
“The Hucksons are very proud of who they are, and I of course love my family, so I’m here to help and work for the benefit of the family,” Brenda said.
Angelo Huckson, Dan’s son, is a third generation plumber, starting as a co-op student with Huckson’s in 2008, now a fully trained skilled tradesperson.
“I never pressured him and said ‘Ang, you’re going to be a plumber,’ but he came to me and said he liked working with tools and wanted to be a plumber. Chip off the old block,” Dan grinned.
“I had a good template to follow,” said Angelo in return.
“I look at my father and he’s been a good role model for me. I’m proud to say I’m a plumber and can fix things that a lot of people can’t fix.”
Dan, now retired from the business, said he’s proud when he looks around and sees how Huckson’s has evolved and grown over the years.
“In 50 years it went from a one man shop to what we have now. Every person here has added to the business. We kept working at it and tweaking it and managing it properly, that’s where Brenda really comes in. She’s a very smart woman in a non-traditional trade.”
“I would encourage young women to get involved in plumbing and any of the trades,” Dan added.
“Helping people out as a plumber really seriously feels good.”
“You wouldn’t believe how many people I met who had a plugged sewer and were in a panic. I would calm them down and tell them everything would be fine and we did what we had to do the fix the problem...people were appreciative and I always felt good about that.”