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Three cowboys in Calgary, Alberta. L-R: Guy Weadick; Ora de Mille; Mr. Nimmons. In many ways southern Alberta has come to be defined by its ranches. Places like the Bar U Ranch and the Cochrane Ranche serve to evoke images of the "Wild West" for many - an era made (in)famous in movies, novels and television programs of the twentieth century. However, ranching in Alberta developed generally much later than its American counterpart and lasted for only a very brief period, following the depletion of the prairie buffalo herd and diminishing with the opening of the West to settlement and a succession of harsh winters.

While most of the technology and methods for ranching were adopted from the American cowboy experience, the ranch-hands on these early Alberta ranches were just as likely to be the sons of the British upper middle classes as they were the rough and tumble American cowboy. Here we would like to share with you the stories of some of the bigger ranches as well as some of the smaller operations, their development and demise as well as a look into the life of a cowboy during the ranching era (1880-1908) in the Province.

[back] [Farming and Homesteading]

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††††††††††† For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peelís Prairie Provinces.