Wednesday, 26 July 2017 07:00

The Bar U Ranch celebrates Canada this year with new events

Written by  Demi Knight
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The Ranch offers fun and educational activities such as learning to rope. The Ranch offers fun and educational activities such as learning to rope. Photo courtesy Bar U Ranch National Historic Site

Parks Canada is celebrating the country’s 150th anniversary in a special way at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site.

This season, the Bar U Ranch is opening its gates to a whole new bunch of activities, in celebration of not only Canada’s 150th anniversary, but also the centennial of Canada’s national historic sites.
Michael McLean, special projects officer at Bar U Ranch, says they’re excited to show people what the historic site has to offer.
“We’re really excited to offer free admission this year to celebrate Canada’s anniversary and connect members of the public to the story of ranching and how it really helped develop our province,” he adds. “It’ll be a chance for visitors to reconnect with land and learn about our unique place within the country for being the only historic site related to ranching.”
The Bar U Ranch is featured this year as one of Parks Canada’s ‘hidden gems’ and visitors can get the full experience this summer thanks to the annual free admission to all of Canada parks for the 150th anniversary.
With the country’s celebrations in mind, the Bar U ranch is holding a number of exciting activities for people to enjoy throughout the season.
“The activities that we’re really excited to roll out this year are all hands-on fun and ranch-based activities. We have the ‘Crafty Cow Ears’ event that offers people the opportunity to work with lather and help repair saddles, and harnesses. We also have the ‘Horsemanship 101’ event where guests get to learn all about horses from haltering a horse, to grooming, saddling, blanket and bridling the big animals. There’s also a photo opportunity offered at the end of the day for them to take home with them as a memory,” says McLean of some of the special events.
Branding 101 is the last of the special events connected this year to the 150th celebrations and that allows people to learn about the history and reasons of livestock branding. Participants are also offered the opportunity to apply their own personalized brand to a piece of board to take home as a token of their day.
Besides these new activities, the Ranch also has a full agenda of returning events such as an outdoor concert on Pekisko on Aug. 19 and the Old Time Ranch Rodeo the following day on Aug. 20 where cowboys from working ranches compete in everyday skill events such as riding and roping.
McLean says they’re happy to be connecting the concert to the Ranch Rodeo this year for the public to enjoy.
“We are really excited this year as well about our Pekisko concert. We did a small pilot last year, and everyone had a really good time and thought we should carry on with it. So, this year, we’re offering the concert on the same weekend as our Ranch Rodeo, which is probably our most attended event of the year.”
However, there’s more offered at the Bar U Ranch than these festivities.
This season is also home to a Round-up Camp where participants are able to take a walk over the Pekisko Creek and experience what life was like before today’s technological advances. Participants sip on cowboy coffee and settle into the night listening to tales of how the Canadian west was won.
Visitors can also enjoy the delights of a horse-drawn wagon ride through the historic site whilst having the opportunity to learn about the Bar U Ranch’s history of being the largest renowned Percheron breeding operation in the world in the early 1900s.
“Attendance has been higher this year, and weather has been good. I think we’re seeing the effects of the free admission,” says McLean of the season so far.
The Bar U Ranch is special to Canada as it is the only national park within the country that commemorates the importance of ranching. It was founded in 1882 and was one of the first and most enduring large corporate ranches established within southern Alberta.
This historic site is home to one of the largest collections of original buildings within the country and offers many exciting amenities to the public including a blacksmith shop, a harness repair shop roundup camp and saddlehorse barn, and all upon the doorstep of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

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