Saturday August 13, 1994
To the best of knowledge this booklet was first printed shortly before or shortly after the death of Billy McIntyre in November of 1947. My father completed the purchase of the ranch from Billy's estate on or about December 22, 1948. Over the years we have handed out copies of this booklet to friends and visitors to the point where a few years ago we had only a handful of booklets left. These we have guarded jealously ever since!
On the occasion of our celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ranch we thought it appropriate to commission a second printing of this booklet so that we might again be able to hand them out to friends and visitors.
As the ranch has now been in the hands of my family for almost half of its existence I recognize the appropriateness of now bringing the historical record up to current date and have started that process. Hopefully before too much time goes by we will have a new booklet that incorporates this one, elaborates on some of the other activities in which Billy was involved in this region, and then brings the record up to the end of this 100th year. In the meantime I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do.
Ralph A. Thrall Jr.
It is a bit odd but for the life of me I cannot remember the first time I visited the McIntyre Ranch. It seems now as if I had always known Billy, and had accepted the ranch as causally and easily as I accepted him. He was so unassuming and generous, and from the moment I met him more than twenty years ago he and I were friends. It was like staying with my own people to visit them - Billy and Miriam and Phoebe, and, of course, wise, resourceful Tom Stephenson.
The last letter I had from Billy was dated June 8th, 1947, and he and the family were just leaving Salt Lake City for the ranch. I shall always remember one line towards the end: "We often think of you all and would surely love to have another reunion or two before we make our last stand".
We shall never have that reunion now. But Billy will always live on for me - and for all those who had the good fortune to have been within the aura of his gentle friendship.
I imagine Billy had about as much formal religion as I have. But I am sure of his immortality. He will remain green and enduring in the hearts of all those who knew and loved him. The kindly things he did; his smile and warm chuckle; his sense of justice and fairness; his deep, quiet friendship; these will never die. And they and their influence shall pass on from one generation to another. Like the sun and rain they have helped mark life and time.
And that is immortality.
I have been asked at various times and by various people to write a history of the McIntyre Ranch at Magrath, Alberta, but have never been able to make myself sit down and really put the story in written form. This time I will really try to do the job, so here goes.
I cannot very well give a complete story of the McIntyre Ranch from the beginning without starting with a short life history of its founder, who was my father, the late William H McIntyre of Salt Lake City, Utah. He was born in Grimes County, Texas, about 40 miles north of the present city of Houston, Texas, in the year 1848. his father was William McIntyre of Scotch-Irish descent. And who never left a photograph of himself or an account of his parentage. Father often remarked that he would give a lot to have a picture of his father. He was a farmer who owned Negro slaves and was an active land trader. When the United States-Mexican War broke out, he enlisted in the United States Army as a soldier and fought during the war with the Texas units. At the close of the Mexican War, soldiers were given script which entitled them to take up land. He used all of his script for acquiring land and also traded horses and mules to other soldiers for their script, so that at his death, which was one year after my father was born, he had a large tract of fine fertile land north of Houston.
William McIntyre left three sons - the eldest being Robert, the second Samuel Houston, and the third William Howell. Shortly after his death his widow married again, her second jusband being a musician named Moody. Mr. Moody became converted to Mormonism and moved his newly acquired family to Salt Lake City, Utah, which city was then in its infancy. The three boys received a very meagre education in the Salt Lake City schools and then went to work cutting logs out of the mountains on contract for the United States Government for use at Camp Douglas, which later became Fort Douglas at Salt Lake City. They also worked driving scrapers for moving dirt for the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. Mr. Moody and his family were then sent to St. George, Utah, by Brigham Young on what was known as the Cotton Mission, the purpose of which was to grow cotton in the semi-tropical climate of southern Utah. After settling in St. George, Utah, the oldest brother, Robert, went to work for a rancher named Whitemore. One winter while they were gathering cattle in the northern part of Arizona, Navajo Indians surrounded them, killing both Whitemore and Robert McIntyre and taking the cattle. The remaining brothers, William H. and Samuel H., then took up freighting with mule teams from California into Salt Lake City and occasionally northwards into the booming mining town of Virginia City, Montana. In the winter of 1919, my father, William H. McIntyre, and my mother were spending the winter at the Virginia Hotel at Long Beach, California. During their stay there I visited them for about a week and while there my father endeavoured to show me the approximate spot where he used to turn his mules out for pasture during his early freighting days.
Along about 1870, William H. and his brother Samuel went back to Texas for the purpose of selling the land which their father had left them. An uncle, Robert McIntyre, had kept the taxes on this land paid, hoping that his nephews would some day come back and live on it. During this time the Civil War had been fought and all the Negro slaves have been greed. One old ex-slave hearing that "his boys' had come back to Texas, walked a distance of 50 miles in order to see them. William and Samuel sold the tract of land and were paid for it in gold coins of many different countries - Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican, U. S. and perhaps those of several other countries. The purchase of this land had been saving his money for many years in a big raw-hide trunk and so it took considerable counting and figuring before the deal was finally completed. After the sale of this land, the two brothers, William and Samuel, started buying cattle in Texas.
The cattle buying began in the month of October, and by April of the following year they had together between 6,000 and 7,000 Mexican longhorns which they headed for Utah over the ling trail, which was the general route of the Chisholm Trail. When they started from Texas during the month of April, many of their cattle were so poor that they had to tail them up each morning to begin the drive. The drive was really a grazing process, letting the cattle graze slowly across the plains eating the grass as they went. At this time there were many Indians and buffalo along the route going through the Panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. The cattle were grazed during the daytime and night-herded at night. Very often bands of Indians would hold them up and demand a number of their cattle; sometimes their demands were made in very war-like tones. The McIntyres stood their ground and would compromise by giving them two or three in place of the 50 or 100 head which they demanded. Even though the Indians were a constant danger, the McIntyres considered the buffalo an even greater danger. One bunch of buffalo would start running and in their course pick up other buffalo, and soon a herd of them was on the run. It was almost impossible to change the direction of the buffalo stampede, and so there was a constant fear that the buffalo stampede would run through their herd of cattle and take a big part of it with them.
The two brothers arrived in Utah some eight months after their start from Texas with most of their cattle fat. They took up land in the Tintic district, some 100 miles south of Salt Lake City. They wintered their cattle there the first winter and sold them the following spring at $24.00 per head. These cattle had cost them $3.75 per head in Texas. After selling this bunch they went back to where Omaha is now and bought other cattle and moved them to Utah. Thus began their ranching business. They operated as partners until sometime in the '80's.
During the '80's they traded cattle for an undeveloped mining property known as the Mammoth Mine a Mammoth, Utah. They developed this mining property which produced a lot of rich ore and is still an operating mine at the present time. During the '80's they divided their partnership and then carried on individually. The year 1886 was very dry, and as a consequence grass and water were inadequate for wintering cattle in Utah. William H McIntyre removed a large part of his cattle south to south-eastern Wyoming where feed was more abundant, and took the chance of wintering in Wyoming. That winter of 1886 and 1887 was very sever and he lost practically all of his cattle which he had just moved there. He had as many skinned as it was possible to do, and so, by the time spring came, about all he had left of his venture was a large bunch of hides.
At the time referred to above, sheep had moved into Utah in great numbers and what had been a good cow range was rabidly being "barked" by the sheep and spoiled for cattle. My father began thinking about greener pastures. A friend and business associate of his, W. W. Riter of Salt Lake City, had spent about a year's time in the Cardston district of Alberta mainly in the hope of bettering his health, and he told my father about the big open country with hardly anyone in it and worlds of grass. The description of Alberta given by Mr. Riter persuaded my father to go up and have a look at this country. The Name Canada immediately conjured up thoughts of long, cold winters in his imagination, and consequently he determined to give Canada a long look before making any permanent move towards locating in that country.
William H. McIntyre was a man of unusual type, of powerful physique, straight and erect in his carriage, standing about six feet three inches in height and weighing about 225 pounds. He wore a small goatee beard and mustache and was an ideal Southern Colonel stamp, but unlike a Southern Colonel, he was reserved and quiet in his manner. Hee could run an irrigation ditch with his eye, knew how to do a real job of building, had a keen eye for sizing up a cow or a horse, and had a remarkable sense of values. He often told me that one life was not long enough in which to get things done, saying that a man has to be 45 or 50 years old before he really knows just what he wants to do and from then on there is not time enough left in which to do it. He died at Salt Lake City in 1926 at the age of 78 years. While during his long life he had no church affiliation, he always maintained a high moral standard. When 30 years old my father had married Phoebe Ogden Chase. Her grandfather, Isaac Chase, was the first flour miller in Utah, and his old mill stands as a pioneer relic in Liberty Park at Salt Lake City. What is now Liberty Park was his farm, later passing to Brigham Young. There is a caretaker's house standing in this park which used to be the home of Isaac Chase. My mother was born in this house.
My father had known William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) in the early days before Buffalo Bill became the showman. Also, the late George Lane, of Bar U fame, had worked for him as a cowpuncher in Utah for about two years, before coming to Alberta.
Along about 1891 father went to Cardston, which was then a small Mormon village, and employed one of the early settlers there, the late C. T. Marsden, to drive him around that part of the country. He made numerous visits during the next three or four years and looked at the country in the spring, summer, fall and the winter, and also to see how the few cattle and horses which belonged to the early settlers had come through the winter and how fat they were the following fall. After about three years of such inspection and deliberation he decided to make his bet int the Milk River Ridge country some 25 miles east of Cardston. This land at that time belonged to the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company and they were anxious for settlers to come in and purchase the land which they owned.
Mr. Charles A. Magrath, who was a Dominion land surveyor and in charge of land sales for the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company, sold the first tract of land to my father in 1894. My father placed a great deal of confidence in Mr. Magrath and often spoke of him as being a second George Washington, which was the best compliment he could possibly give anyone, because George Washington occupied first place among all of the great men of whom he had heard. Mr. Magrath became the first Mayor of Lethbridge, Speaker of the North West Territories Legislature at Regina, Member of the Dominion Parliament, Chairman of the Canadian Section International Joint Commission, and Chairman of the Ontario Hydro Electric Commission. He now resides at Victoria, B. C.
The location of the home ranch site was made by my father at the very foot of the Milk River Ridge on a fairly level and smooth spot between the two branches of the Pot Hole Creek - West Pot Hole and East Pot Hole. At this location there was a nice spring of water which rose at an elevation sufficiently high to permit its being piped to ranch buildings. Also, coal indications were seen in the burrowings of gophers and badgers, and as a consequence of this, a few years later, a tunnel was driven into the side of Milk River Ridge and a one man coal mine began operations. The Pot Hole Creek flowed a considerable stream of water during the spring freshet season, coming from melting snow, and also after periods of heavy rainfall, but much of the year it was a dry creek bed in which numerous rather deep holes held water for much of the year. Because of these numerous holes in the creek bed it got its name of Pot Hole Creek.
Logs were hauled from the mountains about 60 miles west of the ranch site and a couple of two-roomed log ranch houses, a one-roomed log bunk house, a small log horse barn and a pole corral were erected. The two-roomed ranch house was added to room by room as the years went by until it finally became an eight-room house - each room having an outside door, with tree rooms being heated by small stoves and the other rooms having no heat. A small herd of purebred, black Galloway cattle and some Shorthorn cows and bulls were shipped in by rail from Utah. Horses were trailed overland from Utah and some purebred Shire mares and several stallions were shipped in from Utah by rail. Dogie cattle were shipped in from Manitoba and Oregon under contract, and, if my memory serves me rightly, the late Lester Ironsides of Winnipeg had a big hand in supplying the dogie cattle. Mr. A. C. Cunningham of Salt Lake City made an agreement with my father to run cattle with my father on this newly acquired property, and had made a start at doing so by sending a small bunch of cattle and a few horses to the ranch. After the experience of a couple of winters, he decided that he did not want any more of it and sold his interests to my father and then acquired a ranch in Old Mexico, which was later taken away from him by the Bandit Leader, Pancho Villa.
My father's cattle brand in Utah had been on the left ribs. For horses it was on the right shoulder. Shortly after starting ranch operations in Alberta he found that for cattle was already owned by a small ranch west of Cardston. The brand IHL for cattle, for any part of the body, was given to him by the Registrar of Brands at Regina, North-West Territories. The on the right shoulder was registered in his name, thus allowing the horse brand to be in constant use by one family for about sixty-five or seventy years. Many people have asked me what the brand IHL stands for. I have to tell them that I think it stands for "I HAVE LOST," for I do not know of any other significance.
The first land purchase was one township or about 23,000 acres. Two other purchases were subsequently made so that the final holding of deeded land consisted of some 64,000 acres, in one block. Fencing began, the first fence enclosing a horse pasture of about 500 acres and subsequently other fields were fenced so that land could be broken and farming operations commenced for the purpose of providing feed for the cattle and horses. I remember that for the first few years the horses have us considerable difficulty because the Utah horses were always trying to hit the trail back for Utah. Fence corners were marked by piling up buffalo skulls which were scattered over the prairie in abundance. They were easily picked up and piled, and because they were white, they make excellent markers. A stone-walled cattle shed was erected and the lime for making mortar for this rock walled shed was burned in a home-made kiln dug in a hillside, and glacial lime boulders were gathered from the prairie and burned in this home-made kiln. Wolves were plentiful and took a continual toll of cattle and colts. Prairie fire burned the country each fall but most of the fires occurred east of the narrow gauge railway from Coutts to Lethbridge, and generally burned for several weeks until they reached some trail or natural barrier before they stopped burning.
Lethbridge was the nearest railroad point and was some 35 miles north of the ranch. The trip to Lethbridge was a rare event and was generally made in a wagon for the purpose of bringing back lumber or ranch supplies. It took a matter of four or five days to complete the wagon trip, and the driver would take his bed roll, a grub box and some oats for the horses and camp for a couple of nights on the way back to the ranch with his load. Most men at the ranch got busy writing letters or thinking what they needed from town whenever such a trip was made. The teamster making the trip had a busy time in town filling their orders for tobacco, socks, shoes, gloves, shirts, underwear and numerous other things which many wanted. Our foreman during this time was the late Mr. Edward Kenny of Calgary, Alberta, who had worked for my father as a very young man on his ranch in Utah. He was a good cattleman and a good one to plan his work. He stayed as ranch foreman until the year 1901 when he formed a partnership with a man named Sheets and located his own ranching operations in the Rosebud Creek east of Calgary.
It was the summer of 1898 when I first went to the ranch with my father and cousin, Owen Dix, was taken along with me. We both wore knee britches and our imaginations ran wild with thoughts of what Canada was going to be like. Beginning with the summer of 1898 I came to the ranch nearly every summer during vacation periods from school. This continued until the year 1908 when I had finished school and from then on I worked on the ranch for about nine or ten months of each year. This continued until 1930 when, because of my father's death, I have had to spend about seven months of each year in Utah, looking after family interests there. My brother, Robert Bradford McIntyre, who was four years younger than I, followed the same pattern until his death at the ranch in the 'flu epidemic of October 1918. He was 27 years old wheen he died. He was over six feet in height and became a real cow hand, a fine roper, as well as a good mechanic. He was taking a correspondence course Electrical Engineering at the time of his death.
After the death of my brother, Bob, my father said that he never wanted to see the ranch again, and would not visit it until my marriage in the year 1920 to Miriam Elizabeth Stoltze, of Lethbridge, only daughter of the late Frank A. Stoltze, a lumberman who came west from Wisconsin. My father and mother came to Lethbridge for my wedding and then back to the ranch for another look at it. This visit softened the bitterness caused by Bob's death, and father became a regular visitor for the rest of his life. Four married daughters and I survived him.
I remember that my father had shipped a buckboard from Salt Lake to Lethbridge. When we arrived at Lethbridge, the buckboard was already in the railway freight shed and my father had to clear it through the Canadian Customs. There was one rate of duty for a utility wagon and a much higher rate of duty imposed upon a pleasure vehicle. The customs officers insisted that the buckboard was a pleasure vehicle and my father contended that it was a utility wagon, that he could haul almost a ton on it, and that if he wanted to use the wagon for pleasure he would not be driving it over the open prairies of Alberta. After a long argument the buckboard had to be classed as a pleasure wagon. That was my first introduction to the Customs and the same arguments and difficulties have persisted all through the years up to the present time. Canada is not the only offender. Your get it in the neck going both ways. After putting the buckboard together my father rented a livery team from Curly Whitney who ran the livery stable at that time, and we started in the late afternoon for the ranch. The trail we followed was an old hay trail that was used in hauling hay from the Milk River Ridge to Lethbridge. It took some eight hours to make the trip of 35 mile and all the way we did not see a fence, a house or a person until we arrived at the ranch about ten o'clock that evening. The towns of Raymond and Magrath had not been started.
Lethbridge being the nearest railway point, all shipments of beef had to be loaded there. It took about three days and three nights to make the drive which usually came in October or November. Cattle had to be night-herded, and several times had to be held around Lethbridge waiting the arrival of cars. Three and four-year-old steers brought the usual price of $45.00 per head and were shipped to Montreal for export to England. Cows were consumed in Canada and brought from $25.00 to $30.00 per head.
With a big open country - unfenced - round-ups were in constant progress and were the only way of keeping track of our cattle and gathering them. The spring round-up generally started in May, working to the outside limits of where we could find any of our cattle, pushing them back into our own ranch territory and branding calves. Corrals were not used for corralling cattle for calf branding, but bunches of cows and calves were held by riders on the open prairie while a good roper roped the calves and dragged them up to the branding fire. I remember the late Lee Austin of Cardston who could keep three calves on the ground and one on the rope with scarcely any delays.
Generally in the latter part of September of each year the fall round-up started when the fall branding was done and beef gathered for sale. This generally lasted three to four weeks. "Reps" from other cow outfits would follow our round-up, gathering their cattle, either staying with us during the entire round-up period or until such time as the round-up had covered the territory in which they expected to find their cattle. The fee of $1.00 per day was recognized as the legitimate charge for board for each "rep." However, "reps" did a large part of the round-up work and so we never did charge any of them the $1.00 per day fee. We also kept "reps" with other round-up outfits in Montana during the spring, summer and fall season gathering any of our stragglers that they could locate. I well remember the F - outfit owned by the Floweree family of Great Falls, Montana. Their ranch was located on the Sun River, some distance west of Great Falls. They were a large outfit with cattle ranging over that part of Montana east of the Rocky Mountains and down into the Great Falls country. Their outfit used to work over into the Pot Hole country. They never shipped anything under four years old and often had steers weighing up to one ton. I remember the late Mr. W. K. Floweree of Great Falls telling me that my father was the man who ran him out of the Pot Hole country.
Prior to 1905 the present day Province of Alberta had not become a Province but was part of the North West Territories. There were Royal Mounted Police barracks on the St. Mary's River north-west of our ranch, and on the north branch of the Milk River south of our ranch. Also at Writing-on-Stone. The Mounted Police made very regular patrols and generally stopped at the ranch to have our foreman sign their patrol reports. There were a lon of fine fellows on the police force in those days, many of them coming from well-to-do English families. A few early ranchers had come into our territory ahead of my father. They had squatted down in spots which appealed to them, some of them homesteading on Government land and others just squatted down. They thought it foolish to but land when they could use all they wanted for nothing. I remember the two Wayne brothers, Bob and Ted, who were bachelors and had dug a cellar shelter in the bank of a coulee which became known as Wayne's coulee and which empties into the north branch of the Milk River. They were Englishmen and personal comfort meant nothing to them. On cold, raw days they would be riding with a ragged old coat out at the elbows, and rumor had it that they generally depended upon a flask of whiskey to provide inside warmth. Their dish-washing generally took place about every four or five days.
The late Bill Kirkaldy, who died in Swift Current just a few weeks ago, was another one who I remember settled on a coulee which is called Kirkaldy coulee and which also empties into the north branch of the Milk River. The present Kirkaldy Ranch belonging to the Knight Sugar Company, and which Company is now owned by the McIntyre Ranching Company, was named after Bill Kirkaldy. He also was a bachelor at that time and a very good neighbor, although his small ranch was located about 20 miles from our ranch. Charles McCarthy was our nearest neighbor, his ranch being about 11 miles west of ours. His brand was D-K on the left ribs. One of his sons, Wilson McCarthy, grew up on this ranch and was a good early time cowboy. He is now President of the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad Company, with homes in Salt Lake City and Denver, Colorado. Occasionally I meet with him and we always enjoy talking over old times.
The late Walter Ross, who had come to our part of Alberta some considerable time before my father did, had established the Brown Ranch on the St. Mary River. He was a real Scotchman with two small sons, George Graham and John Alexander. His wife had died shortly after the birth of the younger son, John, or "Jack" as he was called. Mr. Ross was a remarkable character who had many friends and I do not believe that he had many enemies. He disposed of the Brown Ranch and then acquired about 11,000 acres of land immediately to the south of us around the year 1900 and built a big, square stone house, with walls about two feet thick, on a hilltop overlooking a large lake, which is now known as Ross Lake. Through the years, from 1900 until about 1923, he passed by our place many times on his way from his ranch to Lethbridge and return, occasionally staying overnight with us. He became the principal owner in the J. H. Wallace & Company ranching business. The younger son Jack, who had graduated from a Military College in Ontario, became a Major in the Canadian Army during the first World War and was killed in action overseas. George, who spent a great deal of time, after completing his schooling in Ontario, with the J. H. Wallace & Company ranches, became a member of the Canadian Air Force during the First World War. After the end of the war he disposed of his ranch south of our place and became our "Flying Rancher," with ranches some seventy miles east of us acquired through the liquidation of J. H. Wallace & Company. Through the years we have had many common interests and have done a lot of "fence post" figuring together. He is an original thinker and always figures out the cost of things in terms of cows, and is a cow man all the way through.
Our first grain crops were planted in 1900 - Rye and Oats being the first crops grown. It was considered to be too far north, and the growing season too short, to raise spring wheat. A few years later fall wheat became an important crop. Timothy was planted on some of the meadow along about this time. I well remember the early-time threshing outfits which came in the fall of the year to thresh our first corps. About ten horses supplied the power that pulled a whim and walked around in a circle. The halter rope of one horse was tied to the whipple tree of the horse in front. They walked around in a circle and the driver stood on a platform in the centre of the ring and continually cracked his whip. Bundles were pushed into the machine by hand and the bundle twine had to be cut on each bundle. The grain measurer was an important member of each outfit. He measured the grain as it came from the machine in a bushel measure and it was then poured into a sack. The straw coming from the machine had to be stacked by hand and I remember how I hated the job of trying to keep straw away from the end of the straw conveyor. The threshing bill was not paid in cash but a toll in bushels was taken from each day's operation by the threshing crew. When the first steam threshing outfit pulled in to thresh us, I was overjoyed because it blew the straw into a pile and did not require hand-stacking.
Our first foreman, Edward Kenny, left us in the year 1901. He was succeeded for a short time by Peter Stephenson of Holden, Utah, who had worked as a foreman for my father in the Utah days. He was a person whom my father thought a lot of, and he was an uncle of Thomas Stephenson who became foreman in 1911. He remained in Canada for only about two years and then was succeeded by the late Mr. John Kenny, also of Holden, Utah, and who had worked for my father as a young man in the Utah ranching days. John Kenny remained as foreman until the year 1911. He was full of energy, very impatient and a real goer. Anyone who worked for him did not sit at the dinner table very long. He did not tolerate deliberation at meal time and so it became a continual race between the men to see who could bolt his meal th fastest and get out of the house first. I also remember John Kenny cursing because daylight did not come sooner so that he could get going with his work. He was really conscientious and one who was always remembered by anyone who had worked for him or with him.
It was either 1899 or 1900 that the late Jesse Knight of Provo, Utah, acquired a township and a half of land immediately west of our holding and started the -K2 ranch. The ranch took its name from the brand -K2 on the right ribs. His son, J. William Knight, now of Provo, Utah, was in charge of the -K2 ranch at its beginning. Shortly after this, Mr. Jesses Knight made a contract with the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company for the purchase of a large block of land immediately east of our ranch, and in this contract he agreed to build and operate aa sugar factory on this land. As I remember, this land contract covered the purchase of some 250,000 acres. Mr. Knight founded a town on this land and named this town Raymond, in honor of his eldest son, O. Raymond Knight. He built a sugar factory at Raymond and operated it for a number of years. It seems as though there were not enough people in the country at this time to grow sufficient sugar beets for the operation of a sugar beet factory, and its inception was too premature to make its operation really successful. It was later sold and dismantled and shipped to either Utah or Idaho for rebuilding. It was through the influence of Mr. Jesse Knight that settlers came from Utah and Idaho and purchased land in the Raymond district. The Knights carried on large ranching operations on their large acreage, bring in Dogie cattle from Manitoba. These were farm-raised cattle and every storm started them trailing along fences and piling up in muddy coulees. It took them a couple of years to get over their homesickness and to get acclimated. The late Kick Kinsey came from Utah and was their foreman from the ranch beginning until his death in 1918 during the 'flu epidemic.
The years between 1895 and 1902 contained both wet and dry years. The Mormon settlers around Cardston during one of these dry years began praying for rain. The rain came in due course and kept on falling until they prayed for it to stop, which it finally did. Big grass was everywhere and bunch grass, when headed out during the month of July, would reach a rider's stirrups. In May 1902 it rained continuously. Pot Hole Creek became a real river and the roaring water coursing down it could be heard for a two-mile distance. Lakes and sloughs were full and running over. Thousands of gophers were drowned and the whole country squashed under horses' feet like an irrigated hay meadow. Mosquitoes were so thick that nearly everyone wore mosquito netting and it was hared to breath without getting them in your mouth and nose.
In the late summer of 1902 my father went to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and purchased some 500 head of Hereford cows and heifers and also some bulls. These cattle were all purebred Herefords but registration papers had not been kept up. They wore the Mallet brand on the left ribs and hip, and as I remember, a Mr. Gibson made the sale to my father. They were shipped into a railroad siding near Cutbank, Montana, called Baltic. After unloading them at Baltic, we drove them a distance of some 65 miles to the ranch. A big, mammoth Jack, for raising mules, and a Clydesdale stallion were also included in the shipment. A pasture comprising half a township was set aside for these Hereford cows and from that time onward we raised Hereford bulls both for our own use and for sale to other ranchers. The pasture used for these cows was called the White-face pasture and part of it still continues under that name. My father went to Sparks, Nevada, and purchased a carload of Hereford bulls from the then Governor Sparks of Nevada for use un this herd of Hereford cows. These bulls were all sired by HESOID II. Shorthorn bulls were gotten rid of and our ranch from that time n used only Hereford and Black Galloway bulls which were turned loose together in the range herd. The Galloway-Hereford cross produced a lot of very good, polled, black, bald-faced cattle.
In 1905 my father purchased a carload of Hereford bulls from Overton Harris of Harris, Missouri, for use in his Hereford breeding herd, and this bunch grew into very large, smooth bulls and left a real mark in our cattle. They were largely from a bull named SHAMROCK and were bred by John G. Thomas, Harris, Missouri, and had been purchased from Mr. Thomas by Mr. Harris for re-sale. However, a few of them were sired by old BEAU DONALD 5th, one of the Harris sires at that time. From that time onward we have imported numerous Hereford bulls from the United States for the purpose of raising our own herd sires and for supplying other ranchers and farmers with bulls. In those days bull sales were made in bunches ranging up to 50 head. Nowadays, the usual demand is from one to five bulls.
The Galloway herd was disposed of in 1916 because we did not have sufficient pastures to maintain two purebred herds. In 1917 registered Hereford heifers were purchased from A. B. Cook of Townsend, Montana, Frank Collicutt of Crossfield, Alberta, and later from the W. H. Curtice herd at Sheppard, Alberta. This registered hered has been maintained and kept at a size of 250 head of females.
A big country lying between the United States Boundary and the north branch of the Milk River and comprising some 80,000 acres had been leased by the Knight Sugar Company from the Dominion Government along about 1902. They subsequently re-leased it to my father, and this range, now known as the Del Bonita and Twin River country, became our summer range. All of our cattle, with the exception of the Galloway herd and the Hereford herd, were turned onto this country in May of each year and brought back to our home ranch during the latter part of November of each year for wintering. This lease continued until 1912 when it was thrown open for homesteads entry and settlers came in taking up homesteads and pre-emptions and broke up a good part of the land for wheat farming. Some settlers started out with only a wagon and a shovel. They spaded up a little potato patch with the shovel and erected a small sod shack. A few of these shovel settlers stuck it out for sometime while others quit. Their holdings passed on to other settlers and now the whole district is fairly prosperous.
The fall of 1906 saw the beginning of the real hard winter of 1906-07. It followed a dry summer. Winter began about the middle of November that year and snow piled up all during that winter, pausing only for a brief Chinook which thawed the snow just enough to allow it to crust good and hard. It remained very cold and cows would hungrily eat any buck-brush tops or small willows that showed up above the snow. Their legs became raw and bloody from breaking crusted snow and also their noses got sore. We had only about 300 to 400 tons of hay for about 9,000 cattle and so it is a great wonder that any of them pulled through. In February of 1907 the winter broke, and the break came just in time to save a complete loss. At this time mange was prevalent all over the country and it is my thought that the wet, sweaty mange was a greater factor in the winter death loss than was the cold, severe winter. During the summer of 1906 we had sold 1,000 head of cows and calves to the Knight Sugar Company at $25.00 per head for the cows with the calves thrown in. This seemed like a poor price at the time of sale. After the winter was over it turned out to be a good sale for us and a very poor buy for the Knight Sugar Company.
During the year 1909, still remembering the hard winter of 1906-07, my father took active steps to raise more feed and consequently contracted for the breaking of about 4,000 acres across the north end of his ranch. This land was rented to various farmers on a crop-share basis, retaining for the ranch all straw and stubble pasture. In 1911 approximately 120,000 bushels of wheat were threshed from this land and also some oats were stacked for feed that we never threshed. Ever since then, grain farming has gone hand in hand with cattle raising. 1910-11 was another hard winter and our grain farming operation helped us pull through this one.
In the year 1911 Mr. John Kenny who had been our foreman from the year 1903, left our employ to work for Mr. Preston Nutter, running his cattle outfit in north-western Arizona. Mr. Thomas Stephenson, or Tom as he has always been known, took charge of the ranch as foreman and remained with us until his retirement due to ill-health in 1944. He gave us 33 years of loyal and faithful service and took as much interest in the ranch as if it had been his own. He was a real hero, and is now taking it easy, residing in Lethbridge with his wife, and occasionally visits his married daughters; one, Mrs. Blair, lives on a farm at Granum, and a younger one, Mrs. Jessop, resides on their farm southeast of Raymond. Tom originally came from Holden, Utah, as so many of our early-time ranch people did. My brother and I came to think of him as a family member and he had a fine influence over us.
Until the year 1914 cattle did not have access to the United States market without being charged and ad valorem customs duty based on the value. Some ranchers, such as J. H. Wallace & Company, had been paying the duty and had shipped their steers and cows to Chicago apparently finding it profitable to do so. Also, speculators had begun buying Alberta cattle for shipment to Chicago and this market was gaining more and more prominence. At the beginning of the first World War, cattle were entered into the United States free of duty, and because of this fact, and also because of being short of range due to the cancellation of our Government grazing lease in what is now the Del Bonita country, we place some 1,500 head of steers and dry cows on the east end of the Blackfoot Indian reservation in Montana, hoping to ship them to the Chicago market in the fall of that year. These cattle were too homesick the first year to get fat on the good grass of the reservation and consequently we wintered them there on the reservation during the winter of 1914-15. In the fall of the year 1915, they were really fat and so we shipped them all off in four train loads to the Chicago market. Steers brought us about $8.50 per cwt. In Chicago and the cows about $6.50 per cwt. This was considered a very good price at that time. By the time the year 1918 had arrived, fat grass steers sold in Chicago at $18.00 per cwt. One bunch belonging to the late Senator Patrick Burns brought that price in Chicago during that year.
By the time the year 1914 arrived, I had made up my mind that if I were to continue living on the ranch, I wanted a home of my own, and if I could not have such a home, I wanted to leave the ranch and start doing something elsewhere. Our old ranch buildings, which had been crudely built and which were not worth remodelling or repairing and had not been place on permanent foundations were wearing out. My father decided that he would let me build a home of my own and consequently we contracted with Mr. Thomas Stubbs of Lethbridge to build a fine modern home of twelve rooms and a full basement, immediately west of the old ranch site. Plans for this house I had procured in Salt Lake City, Utah. The house was finished in October of 1914, but due to the war conditions I was not able to move into it until the year 1917 when my brother and I got a Japanese couple to keep house for us and moved into it. In the year 1915 a big horse barn was built and from then on one building after another has been added both at the ranch and farm, until we have a number of good barns, houses, machine storage sheds and a 45,000 bushel granary. A lot of money has been spent for building, some of it rather needlessly, but most of them we are glad to have and we can still see how we nee a few more of them. Also, three water storage reservoirs have been built to catch run off water for use in irrigating hay ground.
In the year 1918 we sold 27 sections of ground comprising a strip nine by three miles from the north end of our ranch and which was fine fertile land, to three Hutterite colonies who had come in from South Dakota seeking land in this country because they had been unable to obtain military exemption in the United States. This land had become too high in price to justify retaining it as a cow range, although some of it had been broken up and farmed under a renter's system for some seven or eight years. After selling this land our cattle operations had to be reduced and so we sold about 3,000 head of cattle to Ray Knight and his partner Jim Watson in the summer of the year 1919. 1918 and 1919 had both been extremely dry years with very little rain, and very little snow in the winter. We sold these cattle at high prices and then thought that we were fairly safe in going through the coming winter with some 2,400 head of cattle which we wanted to retain as a breeding herd.
The winter of 1919-20 began in October and continued until the middle of May, 1920. Lots of snow fell and everyone was short of feed. We had contracted for 600 tons of baled hay in the Coaldale district at $30.00 per ton and had also contracted the hauling of this hay from Magrath to the ranch at $3.00 per ton. Owing to the bad roads and to the tremendous demand for hay, all of our hay was not delivered to us and our needs kept getting more urgent. By the time the end of winter came, we were paying $60.00 per ton for hay shipped in from Quebec and were paying $20.00 per ton to haul it from Magrath to the ranch. We used anything we could get for feed and paid any price that was asked for it. We were able to carry our cattle through with scarcely any loss, but had paid more than their worth in the cost of the feed which we purchased for their maintenance. Other ranchers had spent a lot of money for feed and had then lost a big part of their cattle. Some shipped cattle down to Texas and Nebraska for wintering and also others to the State of Washington. By the summer of 1920, the cattle market had collapsed, and so many ranchers found themselves broke because of the high cost of wintering and the collapse of the cattle market.
Cattle prices picked up again gradually after 1921 so that when the year 1928 came along, we were able to sell weaned calves for $45 a head and cows and steers were again bringing a good price. However, about the time 1932 had arrived, we sold fat two-year-old heifers to the packers at 2 1/2c per lb. And guaranteed a 54% dressing; cows were down to 1 1/2c per lb. for the best ones, 1/2c for common ones. Good, fat, big steers brought around 3 1/4c and packers really considered it a favor to take our cattle off our hands. Also, the years 1932, 1933 and 1934 had not been years of plentiful precipitation, and consequently feed was not plentiful and neither were the winters any too easy.
The U. S. Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act had been passed by the United States Senate calling for 3c per lb. live weight tariff on Canadian cattle shipped into the United States. Cattle and hogs were being slaughtered in the United States merely to get rid of them under government direction and compensation. Canadian producers, shut out of the United States market, were desperate and were willing to try anything that promised to relieve their sorry plight. Shipments of live cattle were made to England and Scotland both for killers and feeders. Boat space was scarce and was tied up by speculators. We made one shipment of yearling steers to Scotland, and after getting the big settlement sheets in terms of pounds, shillings and pence all figured out in terms of dollars, found that we would have been as well off by accepting the ruinous prevailing prices at home. The normal British market for cattle has not been any good to us for many years, and it is my thought that it never will be.
Where the East Pot Hole Creek cuts through the Milk River Ridge, there is a big, wide canyon. On the west bank of this canyon there are several high, steep banks, or cliffs. At the foot of one of these cliffs, and buried under several feet of earth is a big bed of buffalo bones. There is a legend that Indians used to mill herds of buffalo at the edge of this cliff and any that were crowded over the cliff were easy meat for the Indians. Another legend tells how Indians used to stamped herds of buffalo over this cliff and then kill the injured ones for their hides and meat supply. In late years, Indians from the Blood Indian Reservation have dug some of these bones out of the ground and hauled then to nearby towns for sale. My father disputed these two legends contending, firstly, that you cannot mill buffalo, and secondly, that buffalo run in a straight line and it would only be mere accident that Indians could point a running herd straight to the cliff one hundred yards in width. He believed that buffalo drifted into this place in bad winters for shelter and that poor, thin ones died there. This went on over hundreds or even thousands of years and the bed of bones is the result of this long and continued natural death of buffalo. The earth covering the bones has come from land slides from the cliff.
The Knight Watson Ranching company of Lethbridge, owned by the late Ray Knight and J. D. (Jim) Watson, and who had operated in this country in a big way during the World War I days, had brought a young blonde fellow named Ralph A. Thrall out from Minneapolis to act as Secretary and Office Manager of their Company. He was of likeable personality, clean character, and very intelligent. I liked him from the start and formed an immediate friendship with him. After the Knight-Watson Ranching Company dissolved in the year 1921, Ralph had nothing to do, so he opened an insurance and rental business of his own and also became the American Consular Agent at Lethbridge. I had used him as best man at my wedding in 1920. I gradually found more and still more need for his services, until he gave up his insurance and consular business and took over the management of our office work and became Secretary and Treasurer of the McIntyre Ranching Company Limited. After the death of my brother in 1918, I greatly felt the need of another one, and so have just about adopted him to fill the empty place. He has give invaluable service in carrying on the Company's business. Even though he now has business interests of his own, he is still a great, big part of our organization. Coming from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Minnehaha, Minnetonka and so many other names begin with Minnie, he was very partial to any place, person or thing, whose name began with Minnie. In Lethbridge he married Minnie Hazell, and after twenty-odd years he still likes the name Minnie.
In 1936 the control of the Knight Sugar Company had passed into banker's hands and so I made a deal with the controlling banks and with some minority stock holders to acquire their holdings of the Knight Sugar Company, thereby making the McIntyre Ranching Company the owner of some 87% of the Knight Sugar Company (my father had incorporated the ranch holdings into the McIntyre Ranching Company Limited in 1918). From 1937 onward the McIntyre Ranching Company has operated the Knight Sugar Company as a subsidiary company, finally acquiring the remaining minority 13% interest, and has made its operation a joint one with that of the McIntyre Ranching Company so that our combined holdings of land at the present time comprise about 160,000 acres. Six sets of ranch and farm buildings are maintained to carry on this operation. We brand approximately 2,000 head of calves per year and annually market about that number of cattle. We market our steers at three years of age, mostly off the grass and will continue to do so as long a the market demand for large steers continues. Each year we sell about half of our two year old heifers off the grass to packers for slaughter. The remaining half of two year old heifers are put back into our breeding herd to take the place of dry cows which we market each year.
The late Ray Knight used to say "What we have had in the past we will have again in the future," meaning that wet years, dry years, severe winters, and mild winters will keep on coming in cycles. Consequently, it has been our aim to gradually work towards water conservation both for stock watering and for some irrigation in dry periods, also to work towards storage of feed in years of ample production to tide us over the lean periods. Having this objective in mind, we are beginning a program of storing cut hay in large sheds which will act as self feeders in the winter time. Also, we are baling hay and plan to store large quantities of it in large sheds. By doing this we believe that we can preserve any surplus for the years of scant production and urgent need. In planning a program for feed storage and conservation, we cannot forget our native grass. It is the foundation upon which every successful livestock program must rest. Our grass must be given periods of rest and light usage just as land for grain crops must be summer fallowed. With large bunches of cattle to be carried through our winters, it often becomes impossible to get enough men who can, and who will, haul out big loads of hay to feed hungry cattle. We have reached the age where teamsters just do not exist. There are plenty of tractor and truck men, but no horse men - and trucks and wheel tractor cannot be used to haul hay through snowdrifts and across coulees in the winter time. It is then that we begin to realize just how much we must depend upon our fields covered with grass. Even though it is covered with snow it is there to be used when uncovered by the wind, chinook, or snow plow. Also, well cared for grass will develop big, fat cows, with a strong constitution to withstand the rigors of winter. A keen realization of the value of grass surely must come to any person who hopes to make livestock raising his life work.
Somewhere back in the 1890's, John J. Ingalls, who was either a State Senator of Kansas or a member of the United States Senate from that state, wrote the following:
"Lying in the sunshine among the buttercups and dandelions in May, scarcely higher in intelligence than the minute tenants of that mimic wilderness,our earliest recollections are of grass; and when the fitful fever is ended and the foolish wrangle of the market and forum is closed, grass heals over the scar which our descent into the bosom of the earth has made, and the carpet of the infant becomes the blanket of the dead. Grass is the forgiveness of nature, her constant benediction. Fields trampled with battle, saturated with blood, torn with the ruts of cannon, grow green with grass, and carnage is forgotten. Streets abandoned by traffic become grass grown like rural lanes and are obliterated. Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal. Beleaguered by the sullen hosts of Winter it withdraws into the impregnable fortress of it subterranean vitality and emerges upon the first solicitation of Spring. Sown by the winds, by wandering birds, propagated by the subtle agriculture of the elements which are its ministers and servants, it softens the outline of the world. It bears no blazonry of bloom to charm the senses with fragrance or splendor, but its homely hue is more enchanting than the lily or the rose. It yields no fruit in earth, or air, and yet, should its harvest fail for a single year, famine would depopulate the world."
During the fifty-odd years of our operations, many people have worked for us or with us. There are many names and faces that come to my mind and who I will always remember with admiration and with a feeling that I was fortunate to have known them or to have worked with them. Fearing that if I undertake to name them some deserving names may be temporarily overlooked, consequently, I refrain from mentioning any of them.
There have been periods of pleasures and satisfaction in carrying on with a large ranching operation. There have also been times when I would have sold the whole thing for a nickel if a buyer had been present at the right moment. It has not been a bed of roses, and yet, if you once get the fever of live stock raising in your blood you never get rid of it. Bonds, and other securities, are merely pieces of paper which you lick up in a bank box. Land, with growing live stock upon it, is something tangible to work with and devolop and which can respond to your efforts and hopes; the more you put yourself into it, the more you get out of it. Also, it is my belief, gained through years of experience, that there is a fine lot of people who, in one way or another, are engaged in the live stock business. The mere fact that they have this common interest makes them friends, even though they meet infrequently and live many miles apart.
Our present general ranch foreman is J. W. (Jack) Morton of Warner, Alberta. He is in his early thirties and is in the middle of his second year with us. He has just come through one winter of a high record snowfall. It is my hope that he, and those around him are building themselves into the ranch history from here on, which my successors can record later.
The story of the earlier years of Southern Alberta is the story of ranching. It could not be told better than Billy McIntyre has recorded it in the pages of this brochure, and it is fortunate that, just a few months before his untimely death in November, 1947, he took the time to write and thus preserve for posterity, the story of the ranch his father had founded over half a century earlier. The Lethbridge Herald through the years has sought to preserve the early history of the Southern part of Alberta and has encouraged those who had the material to put it in print. This my good friend did in the articles he wrote on the McIntyre Ranch.
There is no better known ranch in all of Western Canada. Its name is as familiar to the people of Southern Alberta as our rivers, our highways and our settled communities. The McIntyre Ranch gave the ranching industry in Southern Alberta distinction all over the continent and even beyond. It was more than a ranch . . it was a demonstration station, with an irrigation system that made the home surroundings a beauty spot, with livestock of outstanding quality . . . and grain farming in no small way also.
At the head of it all was the vibrating personality of Billy McIntyre, a worthy son of the pioneer founder of the Ranch. There were no finer hosts than the McIntyres and those who knew Billy intimately, as I did, miss him greatly.
W. A. Buchanan