The Bar-U Ranch became a historical site on December 31, 1991 to preserve the history of the ranching industry and its contribution to the development of Canada. The site is 148.43 hectares / 367 acres.
Located in the foothills of southern Alberta near Longview (SW of Calgary) the Bar-U Ranch was established in 1882, one of a small group of very large corporate ranches in western Canada. Others included the Cochrane, the Oxley, the Walrond and the Quorn. This ranch was one of the best managed of the large ranches through several owners and served as a training ground for many cattlemen.
[2- Harry Longabaugh (Sundance Kid) and Etta Place just before they headed to South America]
Through its history many “colourful characters” are associated with the ranch such as John Ware, the Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh) in 1891 at 25 years old was a working ranch hand [photo], H.R.H. Edward Prince of Wales and two of four who founded the first ever Calgary Exhibition and Stampede: George Lane [photo] and Patrick Burns.
[3- a sculpture, donated to the Friends of the Bar U Historic Ranch Association and Parks Canada by Mr. Bert Sheppard, is a representation of an incident in the life of George Lane as depicted in a 1914 watercolour "George Lane Attacked by Wolves" by Charles M. Russell]
From 1881 to 1902, Fred Stinson and the North West Cattle Company practiced open range ranching. Initially a few buildings were confined to one area, and gradually Stinson added more buildings, corrals and fences. During 1902 to 1925, the Bar-U achieved international repute for breeding quality cattle and purebred Percheron horses.
[4- Range set-up]
During the Burns era (1927-50), the Bar U was part of a multi-ranch cattle operation. An experienced and resilient owner, Burns piloted his ranches through the depression, cutting back operating expenditures and investing in long-term improvements. Much of the ranch's infrastructure became redundant as he scaled down the Percheron operation. Several buildings were adapted to store grain, which was grown in huge quantities during the Second World War. The Bar U remained one of the largest ranches in the country until 1950, after which date the executors of the Burns estate sold land to other ranchers.*
[5- Chuckwagon where the ranch cook made meals and doctored injured cowboys]
While most of the large ranches of the 1880s went out of business in the early 20th century, the Bar U has survived to the present day.