Richard's North American Odyssey 2003

10 March 2003 - Winnipeg MB to Calgary, AB (km 3,898)




Yea I know all these pictures are boring.  Now you get just a taste of what it is like to drive across the Prairies.  Yes, it really is that flat.  Very slow undulations help to break up the landscape but that's about it.  Of course after looking at it for 10 hours I started to notice the subtle changes that occur.  At first all you see is colours ranging from snow white, to egg shell, but after a while I could pick out the wheat fields where the straw stubble stuck up from under the snow, like an unshaved cheek.  The blues and purples reflected from a changing sky.  The intricate patterns of grays, browns, and taupes mixing together in the frozen vegetation.  Who am I kidding, it's still boring mile after mile after mile after mile after mile after mile after mile....
The only thing that helped to break the monotony was watching the trains go buy.  Because of the level landscape some of these trains were very long indeed.  This one was sitting on the siding waiting for an opposing train to pass so I got to measure it.  According to my odometer this one was just short of 2 km long.
This is, yet another, train going past the former location of Lister-Kaye Enterprises.  In 1884, Sir John Pepys Lister-Kaye, a Yorkshire baronet, arrived in the northwest from California, bought 7,000 acres of land near Balconie, and started a farm.  In 1886, Lister-Kaye became interested in the Swift Current area.  He bought ten blocks of land, of 10,000 acres each, between Swift Current and Calgary.  Each block was set up as a separate farm, and together they made up the "76" Ranch.  The ranch took its name from the brand used by the Powder River Ranch in Wyoming.  When Sir John bought the ranch's entire herd of cattle for his land development, he kept the brand and took the "76."  In the back ground you see the site of the Crane Lake Farm, one of the ten established as part of the "76" Ranch.  Each farm had a two storey house, a bunk house, stable and machine shed, granary and windmill, blacksmith shop, harness room, cattle shed, sheep shed, and piggery.

In 1888, he formed the Canadian Agriculture, Coal, and Colonization Company (CACCC) and received financial backing in England.  Under Lister-Kaye's management, the company became one of the largest agricultural ventures in Canada.

Sun Set
The sever winter of 1890 killed cattle and reduced feed stocks.  Lister-Kaye's "unorthodox efforts" to cover these losses failed completely.  Which shows two things: that the family farm is not the only farming tradition in the Prairies, and that things like the Enron fiasco have been happening for many years (one can only imagine what the "unorthodox efforts" were that he tried to use to cover the losses).  The financially pressed CACCC reorganized and Lister-Kay resigned as manager.  The company continued to operate until 1909 but never achieved the level of prosperity envisioned by Lister-Kay

The "76" survived the winter of 1906-07, but lost two thirds of its cattle.  Its british owners sold it to Gorgon, Ironsides and Fares in 1909.  In 1921, the "76" Ranch was permanently broken up.  The brand passed through a number of owners before returning to the Swift Current area in 1945.

This is a Prairie sunset.  Yes folks it really is that flat.  I arrived in Calgary at around 8 pm so managed to get a good night sleep.  Today I drove through Regina which means that I have now visited every Canadian Provincial capital at least once.  Maybe my next road trip will take me to the three Territorial capitals?  Although I'm not sure if there is a ferry to Baffin Island that will allow me to drive to Iqaluit.

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