Bar U Historical Ranch

Located just off of Highway 22 south of Longview, Alberta the Bar U Historical Ranch serves to display the history of ranches in the  Foot Hills of the Canadian Rockies. It is quite impossible to miss this towering cowboy on the corner where you turn west.

My 2016 Alberta visit found me purchasing two books co-written by Hank Pallister. He was raised in Turner Valley on the Lineham Ranch and spent 42 years in service to the Providence of Alberta duties which I will sum up as a brand inspector. Smoke from the Branding Fire and Bulls, Brands and B.S. are full of stories painting a picture of life in the early ranch life of Western Canada.

Early life at the Bar U ranch is described in Hank Pallister’s book Smoke from the Branding Fire.

The buildings that make up the ranch site display what life used to be like for the Western Canadian Cowboy.

I visited the Bar U when attending the Historical Ranch Rodeo.  We entered through a museum complete with a gift shop and concessions.  The gravel road leads down into a valley. This bridge ….

takes you over this creek.

The dirt road leads to other barns and the rodeo arena.

A well constructed wooden alley guides stock into a chute.

A closer look at the chute used to doctor cattle, horses or perhaps brand?  Any thoughts on this?  Please share in the comments if you have insights.  I was fascinated with the pulley system.

Another place to add to my bucket list cause I did not get to explore the stud barn or the foaling shed the day of the rodeo.

Guess I am going to have to start making plans to visit Alberta again!!

As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites check out these books on the history of Alberta Ranches available from Amazon

Kananaskis Country

The beginning of our day trip in August 2017 to Banff National Park lead us through the beautiful Kananaskis County.   Highway 40 guided us north winding through the Canadian Rockies.

A few times we stopped to stretch our legs and take pictures.

Around each bend a new sight awaited.




There are various parks within Kananaskis Country.  In Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, we pulled into a parking lot, a rest area we thought.

Instead, we learned of a day hike into a mountain meadow.  We discussed how wonderful that would be.

My mom wasn’t up for it. We did have our destination planned to Banff National Park specifically to see Lake Louise.

Bighorn sheep were moving along the highway after we left the trail head and parking lot.

Isn’t this baby adorable?

Driving through Kananskis Country I knew I wanted to return and explore, hike, camp and ride horses.  My bucket list seems to be growing with every new place I visit.  Have you ever visited Kananaskis Country?  Would you like to?


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Waldhaus Pub

Our day trip to Banff National Park included a stop in the town of Banff. Travel along for a visit to the Waldhaus and enjoy a meal on the Pub patio. We found our way to a parking spot down along the Bow River after driving through town.

My heart called me to hike up a path leading to a restaurant located on the side of a hill.  I am not sure I have the words describing the beauty but it smelled of sage and the distinct smells one only finds higher up in the mountains.  I took a deep breath and felt the excitement brought by exploring new places.

The trail led up through a wooded hillside coming out about halfway between the back side of the Fairmont Hotel and above the Bow river.  It opened to a view of the Waldhaus restaurant.

Following the side-walk and stairs I continued on my short hike, downward now toward a meadow and a shallow mountain river.

I hiked along a tributary to the Bow river that ran near the base of the Waldhaus, soaking in the smell and sounds of flowing water.  Peace filled my soul.

Meeting up with my Mom and sister back at the parking lot I found a growing desire to eat on the deck of the Waldhaus Pub.  A decision I have NOT regretted for a minute!!!!

We strolled along a paved road upwards all the way.

A local golf course tees off the 15th hole half way between the patio and the river.

Many new to us items listed on the menu had us delightfully considering our options.   Rosemary spatzle and pretzels with beer mustard and bacon butter…..Delicious!!!!

Enhanced by our by the beautiful views and smell of sage and pine,

we decided on a sweet treat.

Of course coffee served in huge pub style cups complimented the sweetness.

Take a moment to relax and enjoy.  Sounds of the river running over the rocks below play a background melody.


Our view across the patio showed the back side of the Fairmont Hotel up on the hill.

A different direction


The next treat came in the form of a visitor on the meadow below

A close up as this beautiful creature decided to bed down for a nap.

We could not leave without exploring the inside of Waldhaus Pub.  Wow! The view from one of the windows was frame worthy in itself.  (My Mom’s artistic eye)

One final look down the valley

Our hike back to the car led to the discovery of a trail leading straight upwards to an out cropping with a bench sitting on it.  I could not be denied the challenge.  Up I scrambled to a most beautiful view of Bow falls.  With both my sister and I exclaiming over the sight, my mom was not about to left out!!  .

I watched in disbelief, awe, and a bit of concern as my 75 yr old mother worked her way up the vertical trail.  Now how was she planning to make it back down?  I love my Moms spirit and spunk!!!  A quick hike back towards the Waldhaus found a slightly safer and shorter way to lower ground.  It was still rather steep.  Taking baby steps sideways with my Mom in between us, all three of us held hands and carefully worked our way down. I couldn’t resist a quick wave and grin towards the windows of the Waldhaus.  What a funny picture the three of us must have been, inching our way down the hill. Memories that bring a smile to my face.

I must say a huge ‘thank you’ for my sisters guidance at this stop in our journey. Did you enjoy the visit to the Waldhaus Pub as much as we did?

Bar U Historical Ranch Rodeo – Part 2

During the intermission I enjoyed the display of talent by local Canadian artists.  The air had a bit of a chill in it.  No sun to warm us with an overcast sky.  The distinct smell of horse and cow manure mixed with dirt floated on the breezes as the arena was worked for the next events.  To some that may be distasteful, but to me I took a deep breath soaking it all in!

Hand braided cinches, photography, bosels, hand crafted leather, and stunning one of a kind bits and spurs were some of the wares on display.   I met Kim Taylor, of Sliding U Photography.  Her mission: Promote and educate others of a dying breed.  I am proud to be using her 2018 planner featuring Canadian artists and stunning photographs of Alberta ranch life.

The first half began with group B of Team Sorting.  I will be honest.  I skipped out to enjoy a wonderful conversation with a local Canadian who was assisting at Kim Taylors table.  I enjoyed hearing her story.  We share common ground in our love of adventure.

Wild Cow Milking

Do I need to say more?  The cows were of the true wild variety!!!

Cows were turned loose.

Teams were again given a specific cow to rope and milk.

Milk went into a bottle and was transported to the west end of the arena to be dumped.  ‘Must be enough to dump out’ was the rule.


Broke Horse Race

Members from 4 different ranch teams entered the arena riding or leading horses that were saddled and bridled.  One rider from each team removed the saddle and bridle from their horse and handed it off to be led to the opposite end of the arena.  Here a team member held the horse loosely with no halter or bridle.

Back with the saddle and bridle on the ground, the jockey(s) stand waiting.  Here another mounted member waits for the horse to be released.  This riders job is to rope the horse and return it to the jockey to be saddled and bridled.

Horses are turned loose on the opposite end of the arena from the ‘jockey’.

The horse is roped by another member of the team and delivered to the ‘jockey’.

The rider bridles….

and saddles the horse before racing it back to the other end of the arena.

One’s definition of broke often varies…Some of these horses found themselves as excited as the humans…

Expressed by bucking en route to the finish line….

These are broke horses!  What could possible go wrong?

??????     Broke Horse Race    ??????

That, readers, completes the competition section of the Bar U Historical Ranch Rodeo.

Steel’s Scouts

 Next was a reenactment display of Steel’s Scouts (late 1880’s).

This army troup sometimes called the Buckskin Calvary, Ranch Calvary, Cowboy Calvary and Steel Calvary formed to fight against Indians in the Northwest Canada.  They were a tough lot made up of ranchers and cowboys.

While researching online, I came across a great book on Steel’s Scouts telling the story of how they shaped a part of Canadian History.  Check it out by clicking here.

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Have you enjoyed the rodeo? Comment with your favorite event.  I have enjoyed it twice and then some.  Once in person and multiple times as I have created this post.  I am going to leave you with a personal favorite picture of mine from the rodeo.  Puts a smile on my face every time.  Might be cause these little feet belong to my niece.


Bar U Historical Ranch Rodeo – Part 1

Bar U Historical Ranch, located near Longview, Alberta (Canada), put on an old time ranch rodeo August 20, 2017.  Ranch Rodeos differ from other rodeos as points are awarded to teams representing specific ranches instead of individuals.  While the events vary, the common thread provides representation of action that would take place on a working cattle ranch. When my sister explained the event, months earlier, I realized I was not completely new to this type of rodeo.  We are blessed in my hometown to have a ranch rodeo put on by a local family.  Here teams, made up of friends give a rare glimpse into a competition most commonly found in the western states of the USA.

Arriving, we were given the option for a horse drawn wagon ride to the rodeo arena which sat down in a little valley.  I was excited for the opportunity to attend and see the action Canadian style.  Five classes or events allowed teams to accumulate points for the winning title.  Other awards went to the one voted top hand of the day and top horse.

Note: Be sure to click the pictures for an enlarged view

It was not stop action and the comradery between teams was evident. They sat on horseback and cheered, laughed and hung out around the arena.  Much the same as one would find at any rodeo, a sport all its own.

Team Branding

A group of numbered cattle were turned into the area.  As the team of 4 representing a Canadian ranch entered the arena, they were given a number specifying which was theirs to ‘brand’.  One roped the head, another the heels and one dismounted to ‘brand’.

In this case it was mark on the hip instead of an actual branding iron.   They had the option to carry more than one rope and any one of their team could attempt to rope.

Team Sorting

Teams were given a number determining the first cow to sort from the ‘herd’.  Once that cow was across the predetermined line it needed to stay there as the team members worked to sort the next highest number cow.  The cow or steer, of course, desired to rejoin the group of cattle on the other end of the arena.

The challenge was to sort as many cows as possible in the correct numbered order, while keeping the sorted cattle across the line within the allotted time frame.  These four membered teams stayed busy and we all enjoyed the action.

Team Doctoring

This event represents how cowboys might go about caring for sick or injured cattle out on pasture when no head gate, corral or barn are available to restrain for treatment.

Rules:   1. Rope the cow’s head and heel(s) if need be  2. Mark the forehead with the marking stick 3) turn the cow loose.  Fastest time wins.

As I stood along the arena fence I was privileged to enjoy some cowboy humor.

Announcer:  "Teams remember to mark the forehead for the doctoring mark."

Cowboy competitor:  "Is that where we usually administer the drugs?"  (back over his shoulder)

(For the record:It is not.)

Have you enjoyed the first half of the rodeo? (Common question from the announcer)  We are going to break for an intermission.  Come back by clicking here for the second half including my favorite events: the wild cow milking and the broke horse race.

Lake Louise

“Lake of the Little Fishes” as the Stoney Indians called it, was named Emerald Lake by Tom Wilson.  His job as horse packer for the Canadian Pacific Railway lead to Edwin Hunter, a Stoney Indian, taking him to see it in August of 1882.  Tom was the first non Indian person to see it.  Two years later, in 1884, Queen Victoria named it Lake Louise after her fourth daughter Princess Louise Caroline Alberta.  The lake is fed from the run off of Victoria Glacier.

“You have to visit Lake Louise at least once in your life, see it in person,” stated my Mother.  With that she broke into a line of the song Blue Canadian Rockies.  I trust her eye for beauty and have heard her say how beautiful Lake Louise is.   Having been there in her past she has shared her desire to return.  Honoring her wishes, we added a stop at Lake Louise as a part of our day trip to Banff.

In 2017 Canada celebrated 100 years by offering free admission to all National and Provincial Parks.  Folks from around the world were navigating Banff National Park to view the beauty. We traveled through Kananaskis Country on 40 to Trans-Canada Highway also known as #1.  I do not recall ever being completely immersed in the mountains as I was that day.

View from our parking spot of a different glacier (not Victoria Glacier)

I found the crowded atmosphere overwhelming and questioned why we picked this location as we drove around trying to find a place to park.  The first available had a two hour limit and we would need to ride a bus up to Lake Louise itself.  Arriving, after a short bus ride and walk to the lake, found the edge of the lake lined with crowds.  A long line for rentals extinguished my desire to canoe on Lake Louise as an escape from the masses.

These feet have been in Lake Louise

Alas, we found our way to an available spot on the rocky shore.  Forgetting the correct words of the Blue Canadian Rockies my mom had inserted her own… “my feet in the waters, of the beautiful Lake Louise.” That sounded nice, so after sitting on the rocks off came my shoes and socks.  My sister and mother followed suite.  Suddenly, I realized a new feeling had overcome me.  As I sat barefooted on the rocks a sense of complete peace had overcome me.  I felt a connection to the earth and creator, the crowds of people were no longer visible to my spirit.

My sister and I took turns sitting on an island rock.  Peaceful, relaxing laughter and conversation danced between the three of us.  We all braved the cold waters of the Emerald Lake dangling our feet from the banks of Lake Louise.

Our time and Mom’s mobility was limited, but there is a trail leading from Lake Louise to a tea house high in the mountains that I am adding to my bucket list.  Now, I too, have a desire to return to Lake Louise. Do you?

The Red Barn

Iowa Welcome Center

A one of a kind place to stop and refresh from travel along 35 in Iowa.  Located near mile marker 214.

Learn a bit of Iowa history while strolling on cement paths.

Or find a quiet spot to sit and refresh ones soul.

Reminisce of days gone by viewing the red barn from the outside.  Inside you will find restrooms and vending machines on the first floor.  Walk upstairs from 9am to 5pm to buy gifts and souvenirs in the Barn Boutique or buy a popcorn and other food at The Cow, a coffee shop.  You will also find info about the state of Iowa on the second floor.

Looks inviting, doesn’t it?