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

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The Mexico Ranch

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In the late 1800s, the wealthy English parents of Delaval James De la Poer Beresford sent their younger son abroad.

As a remittance man, it was occasional sums of money from homes, or "remittances" that ensured he stayed abroad.

According to Dorothy Field of Alberta Historic Site Services, the young man liked hanging out with cowboys.

He'd already been in Mexico, where he had started up a ranching operation, and where he'd met up with a black woman, popularly known as Lady Flo, who got his finances on the straight and narrow. She was apparently rather more adept at money than he.
And he gradually expanded his ranching operation, moving north, through the United States, and eventually ending-up in Alberta in about 1902.

Lord Beresford, as he was called by the locals, set up a free-range cattle operation in the Badlands along the Red Deer River. He called it the Mexico Ranch.

There weren't too many trees around the badlands, so buildings were constructed from logs that came floating down the Red Deer River in the spring.

They have dovetailed, notched corners. The roofs are made out of pine poles, with sod over top. And, apparently they were nice and cozy in the winter, but they tended to leak when it rained, which, fortunately, was not very frequently.

Unfortunately, Beresford was killed in a train crash in 1906. What happened to Lady Flo is unknown. So, Mexico Ranch ended-up in the hands of its foreman, Hansel "Happy Jack" Jackson.

As Dorothy Field wrote in Legacy Magazine, Happy Jack stayed on at the ranch until his death in 1942.

He didn't make any improvements to the facilities. He still went to the river to get his water, and hiked out into the sagebrush to use the outhouse. So it's pretty much a picture of what rough and ready ranch life was like in the early 1900s.

The Mexico Ranch can still be seen in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

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.