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Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada

PO Box 168, Longview, Alberta, T0L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/11/17

View of Bar U Ranch, showing the layout of the site in functionally grouped building complexes, 1993.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, M. Robinson, 1993.
View of buildings
View of Bar U Ranch, showing the simple massing, modest proportions and medium-pitched roofs of the buildings, 1993.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, J.P. Jérôme, 1993.
General view
View of Bar U Ranch, showing the structures and spaces associated with a particular livestock or livestock support management activity, 1993.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, J.P. Jérôme, 1993.
General view

Other Name(s)

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada
Bar U Ranch
Ranch Bar U
The Ranching Industry and the Bar U Ranch
L'industrie de l'élevage et le ranch Bar U

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1883/01/01 to 1950/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada comprises 148.43 hectares of rangeland that constitute the original headquarters site of an Alberta cattle ranch established in the 1880s. Located in a shallow east-west valley along the banks of Pekisko Creek in southern Alberta’s foothills, the ranch includes rolling uplands, level flats, covered creek bottoms and a variety of wooden ranch buildings. The designation refers both to the landscape and the built elements of the site.

Heritage Value

The Bar U Ranch was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1989 because of:
- its important role in the ranching industry in Canada.

The heritage value of Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada lies in the integrity of its cultural landscape as a representation of Alberta ranching in the 1880-1950 period. It is embodied in the enduring rural character of the landscape, in its continued use for cattle raising, and in the traditional elements of the ranch landscape associated with foothills cattle country, both natural and man-made.

The Bar U Ranch was established in 1882, under the federal government’s grazing lease policy by the North-West Cattle Company, a firm of investors led by Québec resident Fred Stimson. In 1902 it was acquired by George Lane, a cowboy and former Bar-U foreman who had become a major cattleman. He sold it to Patrick Burns in 1927, and it operated as part of Burns’ cattle conglomerate until 1949. The Bar U Ranch was in continuous operation as a cattle ranch from 1883 until 1991. Since that time, ranch activity has been guided by interpretive priorities rather than those of the cattle industry.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1989; Commemorative Integrity Statement, November 2000.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- the completeness of the cultural landscape in its natural and man-made morphology and its native and evolved plant material such as native fescue grass and cottonwood;
- the traditional organization of the property including the maintenance of large unenclosed spaces and the clustering of built features in three zones within the coulee along Pekisko Creek bottom ringed about by steep hillsides;
- the surviving identity of the three general activity zones: Zone 1 on the south side of Pekisko Creek which contains four houses and an assortment of small outbuildings, Zone 2 stretching east along the south side of the creek consisting of 15 buildings including barns, sheds, and bunkhouses, and Zone 3 situated on the north side of the creek containing 10 operational structures including stables, barns sheds and an abattoir;
- the modest profile, dispersed changeable siting and continued presence of ranch buildings from the 1883-1949 period with their simple massing, modest proportions and medium-pitched roofs, evidence of original interior layout, wood construction and cladding materials, their varied techniques of horizontal log construction and the vernacular construction techniques in the frame buildings;
- the layout of the site in functionally grouped building complexes such as that of the cookhouse, storage buildings, root cellar, and their dedicated exterior spaces such as corrals, gardens and storage areas for wagons and hay racks;
- the functional grouping of buildings, structures and spaces associated with a particular livestock or livestock support management activity;
- the visual cohesiveness of the scale, materials, functional design and stout construction of the man-made structures in the traditional ranch landscape, including the fences and corrals, feeders and shelters;
- the visible physical evidence of use, wear marks and patterns on all ranch structures;
- the traditional pattern of transportation, communication and utility avenues such as original roadways, the main bridge site, primary and secondary pathways, utility poles, irrigation works, and fencelines;
- the continuous patterns of planted vegetation, gardens, shrubs and trees, cattleguards;
- the continued presence of natural vegetation on the ranch, including the prairie wool, large grasslands, cottonwood creek and gulch borders;
- the natural contours of the ranch land, the rolling uplands, flat grasslands and creek beds;
- the integration of enduring spatial and functional relationships between natural, built and vestigial landscape features on the present ranch site;
- archaeological evidence of pre-1882 occupation as well as ranch use of the headquarters site;
- the viewscapes between natural and built features, from the ranch to the surrounding grass and scrub-covered escarpment, from locations on the present ranch to severed Bar U lands, and of the Rocky Mountains.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1989/11/17

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1882/01/01 to 1950/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type

Current

Food Supply
Farm or Ranch

Historic

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

40

Status

Published

Related Places

General view

Hay Shed

The Hay Shed at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building No. 2, is a simple function-driven, open design, one room structure with a weathered…

Side View

Implement Shed

The Implement Shed at the Bar U Ranch, otherwise known as Building 18, is a long rectangular shaped, red and white building with a tall gable-roofed mid-section and was…

Side View

Livestock Shed

The Livestock Shed on Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building 31A, is situated on the south bank of Pekisko Creek within the working area, screened by…

Corner View

Percheron Box Stalls

Located on the northern perimeter of the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, the Percheron Box Stalls, also known as Building 29, constructed to accommodate and breed…

Corner View

Piggery

Situated on the south bank of Pekisko Creek, the Piggery at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, otherwise known as Building 31, has distinctive massing, with its two…

Facade

Post Office, Building 5

The Post Office located at the Bar U Ranch complex is a rectangular, one-and-a-half storey log structure with a medium- pitched gable roof. The wall construction consists of…

Corner view

Abattoir

Situated on the north side of Pekisko Creek, the Abattoir at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building 27, is a simple, rectangular, light frame…

Corner view

Coal Shed

The Coal Shed at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building 12 is a small one-storey agricultural building with a simple rectangular form and a shallow…

Corner view

Dairy Barn

The Dairy Barn at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, otherwise known as Building No. 25, is a substantial single-storey utilitarian structure with high side-walls and a…

Corner view

Feed Mill

The Feed Mill at Bar U Ranch, otherwise known as Building No. 3, is rectangular, a single-storey building with high side-walls and a medium pitch gabled roof. A windowed tower…

Corner view

Pearson's House

Pearson’s House on the Bar U Ranch, also known as Building No. 22, is a simple one-storey near-square cabin, covered with a T-shaped gable roof. A brick chimney projects from the…

Corner view

Foreman’s House

The Foreman’s House at the Bar U Ranch, otherwise known as Building 4, is a rectangular, one-and-a-half storey building with a gabled roof covered with cedar shingles. The…

General view

Harness Shop

The Harness Shop at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building No. 6, is a simple, single-storey structure of domestic appearance. It has a…

Corner View

Blacksmith Shop

The Blacksmith Shop at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building No. 14, is a simple, rectangular one-storey log structure with a medium pitched…

Corner View

Bunkhouse and Cookhouse

The Bunkhouse and Cookhouse at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, otherwise known as Building No. 11, consists of a gable-roofed, symmetrical two-storey main…

Corner view

Woodshed

The Woodshed at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, also known as Building No. 23, is a rectangular single-storey construction clad with bevelled siding. Its gabled roof…

Facade of Stud Horse Barn

Stud Horse Barn, Building 1

The Stud-Horse Barn is a T-shaped one-storey building. It has a medium-pitch gabled roof featuring a large cupola on the main section. The roof is sheathed with milled cedar…

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