Darlene Foster's Blog

A Day at The Bar U Ranch

Posted on: July 24, 2013


I spent a day with a good friend at the Bar U Ranch outside of Calgary during my recent visit to Alberta. This now National Historic site was one of the first large corporate ranches  in Canada and has been well-preserved.  Nestled in the foothills with Pekisko Creek running through  it and the Rocky Mountains in the background; time stands still here.


The Bar U brand


The Bar U Ranch is home to the famous Percheron draft horse. We were lucky to go for a horse drawn wagon ride with Smudge & Licorice and driver Ross, who shared interesting stories about the ranch.


A visit to the Post Office was well worth it.  There we met Post Mistress Sherrine who provided us with much information. Apparently some interesting individuals have visited the ranch over the years including Edward, Prince of Wales and The Sundance Kid!




Next stop was the Cookhouse which doubled as a bunkhouse upstairs. The cook was busy making cookies, which she offered to us as they came fresh out of the oven. Yummy.




The pantry was well stocked including fresh produce from the well kept garden.

Coming out the back door of the cookhouse

Coming out the back door of the cookhouse



The dining room with two large lazy susans to feed the hungry ranch hands


The ranch hand’s sleeping quarters.


The cowboys read books to entertain themselves. No TV at that time.



We stopped at the Roundup Camp chuckwagon where we were served a cup of tea made over the campfire, by Shane, a friendly ranch hand. We enjoyed our tea and had a great chat around the fire just like they did in the old days of the cattle drives.

Ranch hand Shane

Friendly ranch hand Shane

Cowgirl Francis

Friendly cowgirl Francis

We were also shown around the barns by Cowgirl Francis who tried to teach us how to rope a calf. I failed miserably.

Everyone we met at the ranch was incredibly friendly. From the moment we entered we were greeted warmly at reception,  by the girls at the lunch counter and by  the gift store manager. I learned something from everyone we met.  It was well worth the time spent and I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area. It is a realistic look into ranch life 100 years ago.


 The log cabin, built in 1919, housed the foreman and his family

There is always something happening at the ranch.  Cook-offs, rodeos, trail rides, and chore horse competitions. You can watch a saddle maker at his craft or a blacksmith at work, sit around the campfire by Pekisko Creek and learn about the people, cattle and horses that occupied the ranch over the years or pretend to be a cowboy or cowgirl for a day.

Learn more by visiting The Friends of the Bar U Ranch or visit on  Facebook 

I do believe Amanda Ross will be visiting this ranch in her next adventure, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone.

35 Responses to "A Day at The Bar U Ranch"

I’m glad Amanda got to go with you! 🙂 What a lovely setting. So you tried to rope a calf? Please let there be video of that adventure! Glad you had a great time.

The embarrassing thing is that it was not even a real calf, just a stationary pretend calf. No video, thank heaven.

I was just planning on asking if Amanda would be visiting the ranch when you answered the question. I wonder if she will rope a calf. What fun. Thank you for sharing your ‘photos Darlene

This ranch will be in the next book for sure. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Such detail in every photo! I can imagine you surround yourself in these pictures! Fun research! Wow! $6,500 was a lot of money back then for a bounty. He was really WANTED. Oh my!

It was a lot of fun doing this research. The Sundance Kid was really wanted for sure.

Nice! 😀

You would love it there! I’m sure you would do a better job at calf roping.

I’m horrible with lasso-ing, which I think is the same as roping (but roping is the action 😉 ).

Loved your post! That was only 100 years ago. Magnificently kept. What a treat to visit and take Amanda with you.

It has been very well kept. There had been a flood a week earlier and it was mostly cleaned up when we got there. The staff take much pride in their work.

It looks like a wonderful adventure!

A great adventure indeed.

The Bar U is a well kept secret nestled in the Foothills of the Rockies.

Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful place.

OMG! I’d do anything to have that stove in my kitchen. I’ve always dreamt of having one of them. Someday. I’d love to live in a place like this (with a solar panel to run my computer). It’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

This is your kind of place for sure Diane. So pleased you enjoyed the post.

What a beautiful location for a ranch. Sounds like your visit was a lot of fun!

It was a lot of fun as was your visit to a draft horse ranch!

What a great day out! It looks really interesting and very nicely kept. I bet Amanda will get up to some adventures there. 🙂

I was impressed at how nicely the ranch has been kept. (And they had just experienced a huge flood a week before) I think Amanda could have an adventure here.

You did a great job of telling the story and illustrating it with your photos. I very much enjoyed visiting the ranch along with you.

Have you been? Having a good summer? Between this and Spain and your family, you’ve certainly had some nice travels!


I have had such a wonderful summer so far. It was so good to visit Paul’s folks in Spain and my family in Alberta. I managed it all without breaking any bones too! So pleased you enjoyed the visit to the ranch. Watch for a few other special places I visited while in Alberta in upcoming blogs. Hope you are enjoying your summer as well Nancy.

I am enjoying it. It’s been quiet since we came back from Maine, which is okay also. I’m not even doing local trips like I did last year but we’re also getting a lot done around the house. Thanks for asking!

Its good to get stuff done around the house too. Always greta to hear from you.

Lovely place – looks like a lot of fun. I always think its wonderful when something like this is preserved so well.

We tend to not save places here in North America so it is nice to see a piece of our history being well preserved. It was a lot of fun to visit for a day.

The photographs were great. Enjoyed reading and looking over your blog.

Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

What a fantastic place! I love taking a walk through History and this is a wonderful way to do it. My husband really wants to go to Canada and Alaska and I think he’d love a visit to the Ranch. Thanks for sharing.

I do hope you make it to Canada and Alaska. You will love it. There is so much to see and do but I would recommend a visit to the ranch as one of your stops.

beautiful scenery – i love all the antiques – looked like so much fun, thanks for sharing.

Glad you enjoyed this post. You would love it there!

This is great Darlene. We didn’t get a chance to explore the ranch as you have done here. It looks to me like next summer we need to pay Bar U another visit!

You will love it. The staff are so friendly and informative. My Calgary girlfriend goes every year at least once.

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