Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1] Continue reading

Introducing the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch Historical Centre

In late 2016, the Calgary Stampede Foundation hosted the first tour of the OH Ranch Historical Centre, which illuminates the long and storied history of the OH Ranch. The Historical Centre is located in the basement of the OH Ranch Cookhouse.

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Previously, cowboys used the basement of the cookhouse as a bunkhouse. The room was complete with 60s era shag carpet and a few old couches. Now, thanks to the Foundation and generous donors, the basement has been revitalized into an inviting educational space.

Students of the OH Ranch Educational Program and visitors to events at the ranch can learn about past and present owners, like Bill Siebens who donated the OH Ranch to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012. They can also see a bison coat and learn about the role of the North West Mounted Police police in western Canada, and come face to face with a bison head and learn about the original inhabitants of the land—First Nations peoples.

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Students can try on cowboy clothing and learn about the jobs of ranch hands who have lived and worked at OH Ranch.

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Or, follow a timeline that traces the OH from its origins into the future.

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Today, the Calgary Stampede is the steward of the OH Ranch, which is protected as a Heritage Rangeland with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The rich history and tradition that are lived every day on the ranch is now preserved and shared in the OH Ranch Interpretive Centre.

The Artist Ranch Project: incredible art inspired by the western way of life

Each year the Stampede funds a small group of selected contemporary artists to spend a weekend in Longview to experience the western way of life on an authentic working ranch. The artists will then create a body of artwork inspired by their ranch experience, culminating in a unique exhibition and sale of work in the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase art show.

This program is called the Artist Ranch Project.

2016 Artist Ranch Project by Michelle Atkinson

Glass piece by Michelle Atkinson, inspired by the red barn at the OH Ranch

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Stampede Ranches Busy with Babies

Life is always interesting at the Stampede Ranch, but springtime is something special.

“It’s my favourite time of the year,” says Calgary Stampede ranch manager Tyler Kraft. “After a long winter, spring comes and the grass starts to turn green. But the best part is the babies.”

The little ones started to make their arrivals on the Stampede’s 22,000 acre property near Hanna, Alberta mid-April. Still in full baby-mode, Kraft and ranch hand Charlie McKinnon are busy watching over the new moms and pregnant mares, which have been brought up close to the ranch buildings for the season. While hands-on with the mares if they need to be, the men know the horses would sooner just be left alone to give birth. And it’s never long before the foals are up, active and – hopefully – hungry.

Newly born foal with mom at the Stampede Ranch

Newly born foal with mom at the Stampede Ranch

“The most crucial thing early on is making sure they are up on their feet and getting the essential first nutrients from their mother’s milk,” says Kraft, adding “they’ll stay with their mothers for about eight months before they are weaned.”

With bucking in their blood, these wobbly-legged foals hold the promise of one day becoming powerful rodeo competitors. Part of the Born to Buck program, they will eventually be introduced into the herd of more than 600 horses at the Stampede Ranch.

Nearly two dozen babies have been born so far, with dramatic weather swings adding a unique twist to the already busy time. Temperatures in the high twenties one week turned into three straight days of snow the next. But despite a foot and a half of snow, Kraft says the temperatures didn’t drop enough to cause problems. In fact, the snow was welcomed.

“It’s much needed moisture. With the warm weather, this spring has been very dry. This snow will give the grass a good start.”

Mom and foal enjoying the moisture the snow brought to the Stampede Ranch

Mom and foal enjoying the moisture the snow brought to the Stampede Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Calgary Stampede’s historic OH Ranch, just down the road from Longview, Alberta, the weather is also proving beneficial. The mild spring is making things much easier for ranch manager Ken Pigeon and his team during calving season this year.

“It’s been great. It’s a lot easier to check on them and we aren’t finding them shaking and shivering right after being born.” says Pigeon, adding “we also haven’t had to bring any of them indoors to warm them up.”

Right now Pigeon is constantly on the go. Every three to four hours he heads out to check on the more than two hundred cows and the calves that have already been born. The heifers – first time moms – are watched even more closely. A much smaller group of 17, they are in a pasture close to the ranch buildings to make sure they get help quickly if they need it.

Calves enjoying fresh milk from their moms

Calves enjoying fresh milk from their moms at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch

All that care and attention is paying off. More than 150 little ones have now been born, with a few extra surprises along the way.

“We have two sets of twins,” says Pigeon, with a smile. “They’re doing great!”  Under the ranch manager’s watchful eye, those twins and all of the newborn calves will continue to flourish and grow on land that has supported cattle for generations and will continue to do so for years to come.

Calves twins means there's always someone to play with!

Calves twins means there’s always someone to play with!

 

Highlights from the 2016 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

Positivity and progress were reoccurring themes at the Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shareholders gathered at Stampede Park to vote for the board of directors, receive financial and shareholder updates, and hear from president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray, and chief executive officer, Warren Connell.

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

Gray spoke of the milestones celebrated in 2015, including the Stampede’s new partnership with the Calgary Opera to create a new opera space on Stampede Park, and of the achievements of the Stampede’s many youth education and development programs. “When I started as the Stampede’s president & chairman of the board, I knew that our organization, on a year-round basis, was very committed to youth education.  What I did not appreciate was the breadth and extent of our involvement in those programs,” he said. Continue reading

School is back in session at the OH Ranch

The Calgary Stampede OH Ranch Grade Five Education Program began its second year of programming last week, welcoming classes from Altadore School in Calgary as our first visitors of the 2015/2016 academic year. At the OH Ranch, 9 km west of Longview, students, teachers and parent chaperones enjoy a fun-filled, interactive day of experiential learning “on the range”.

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During the ridge hike, students gain an understanding of the geography of the land, and how the land contributes to our agricultural practices in Southwestern Alberta.

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Here, Grade Five students contemplate the sights and sounds of the OH Ranch during a quiet reflection activity aimed at encouraging mindfulness.

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Returning from the ridge hike, learners enjoy an exceptional view of our “outdoor classroom” and Steer Flats.

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OH Ranch surpassed guests’ expectations during Alberta Open Farm Days

Breathtaking views and perfect late summer weather greeted nearly 500 guests at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch during this August’s Open Farm Days. For the first time since the historic property was gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012, the OH Ranch opened its doors to the public for this unique event.

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Guests learn about the North-West Mounted Police outpost at the OH Ranch

“I wanted to see it in the worst way” said Calgary Stampede volunteer alumnus Kevin Doyle, after taking the tour. “This country is one and a quarter steps from heaven. It really is special.” Those sentiments were echoed by many who took the opportunity to stop in for a visit. Some, like Doyle, have ties to the Calgary Stampede as volunteers or employees. Others curious about the OH Ranch came from as close by as Longview, Alberta to as far away as the Netherlands to see it for themselves. Continue reading

OH Ranch Welcomes Hundreds During Alberta Open Farm Days

Fascinating. Beautiful. Incredible.

Those are just a few of the words visitors used to describe their experience at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch for Alberta Open Farm Days! The Calgary Stampede is proud to have welcomed more than 500 people on Sunday, August 23. This is the first time, since the historic property was gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012, that the OH Ranch has opened its gates to the public.

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Pictured: guests listening to OH Ranch manager, Ken Pigeon

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The OH Ranch opens its gates for a special one-day event on Sunday, August 23!

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The Calgary Stampede is excited to share our passion for ranching, animal care and heritage values with the community. Please join us on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch, as we open our gates to the public for the first time ever! Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity as the OH Ranch is not open to visitors year-round. Continue reading

Calving season is upon us again at the OH Ranch

Another calving season is coming to a close at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch. This year went really smooth, so far we have only had to assist two animals and of course mother-nature has given us good weather throughout.

May 2015 - OH Ranch Herd pic 1 credit Hudyma Photography

Cows and calves grazing
Photo credit: Hudyma Photography

This year we started the season with 194 mature cows and 25 heifers (first time mothers). To date, 170 of our mature cows have calved and 21 of the heifers leaving us a total of 28 more to calve. A regular day starts between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. with a check of both the heifers and cows and we continue the checks approximately every 4 hours. After the morning check it’s time to feed the herd. About every second day we pair out which means we saddle up and move cow calf pairs out of the east side of Steer Flats into the west side.

  May 2015 - OH Ranch Herd pic 3 credit Hudyma Photography
Cows and calves getting used to one of their new areas
Photo credit: Hudyma Photography

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