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The Heritage Trails are presented courtesy of CKUA Radio Network and Cheryl Croucher

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Sheridan Lawrence Ranch

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It was 1887 when Henry Lawrence journeyed north to Fort Vermilion. At the time, only Natives and fur traders inhabited this remote region along the Peace River. And Henry was there to help build a mission for the Anglican Church.

According to historian Dorothy Field, Henry was so taken by the wilderness, he decided to stay, and he took up ranching on the banks of the Peace River.

It was significant, in that it was established at a very early date. The Peace River country was really not opened up for settlement, and people didn't really arrive in any great numbers, until after the railroad came through in 1916.
So this was a good 30 years before that.

Henry worked hard, and the ranch soon grew into a thriving operation.

Well, at its peak, it was about a thousand acres, and there were at least 35 buildings on the property. So it was quite an operation. There was livestock and farming done on the ranch.
Henry, and then Sheridan, Lawrence, also operated a trading post on the property, and they had two steamboat landings where supplies could be brought in and dropped off.

In later years, Henry's son Sheridan took over the ranch. In addition to ranching, he also operated a gristmill, sawmill, and thresher. He even got into schooling.

Sheridan Lawrence had a very big family by anyone's standards. He and his wife Julia had 15 children, and, for the first few children, they sent them off to school. But, as the family grew, they were able to establish a school district, and with the addition of neighbour children boarding with them, they could support a teacher just for their own family and those extra children.

In 1938, the family left the Sheridan Ranch. The land changed hands several times in subsequent years. But, in 1978, the ranch was designated an historic site, but a few years later, the original farm buildings were mysteriously demolished and burned.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.