Frederick Stimson

Frederick Stimson

NOVEMBER 27, 1842 - JANUARY 15, 1912

The son of a wealthy merchant and farmer Frederick Stimson, born in 1842, had many advantages while growing up in Compton, Quebec. Upon his father’s death Stimson inherited the family farm and much of his father’s money. While in charge of the farm he grew it until it was one of the largest farms in the district with 124 cattle and 23 horses over 1,000 acres of land.

In 1881 Stimson decided to change his path and become a rancher out west due in part to the economic difficulties faced by English speaking farmers in the east. He moved to Alberta to take advantage of the government’s offer to lease land to ranchers. He undertook the venture with two other men, Sir Hugh and Andrew Allan, and they began the North-West Cattle Company. As resident manager Stimson was expected to first find a range, and then go to Idaho to purchase more than 3,000 cattle and transport them to High River where the ranch was located. While in the United States Stimson hired three experienced ranchers to overlook the cattle, since he himself had no experience with ranching.

The Bar U Ranch, as it was popularly known, experienced much success because it learned from the mistakes made by surrounding ranches. As a result, they experienced limited cattle losses during the winter. Soon the ranch was providing beef to the Department of Indian Affairs, the RCMP, and railway contractors. Thanks to the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway the ranch was able to expand its market as far as British Columbia and Manitoba. Soon after they broke into the highly lucrative British beef market.

A few years after the establishment of the North-West Cattle Company they merged their ranch with the neighbouring Mount Head to increase their profit. As a result, Bar U became one of the largest and most profitable ranches in Canada. Unfortunately for Stimson and the ranch, the government soon abolished their leasing policy. Under the new policy ranchers were able to purchase up to 10% of the land they had leased or negotiate limited leasing arrangements. While this downsized Bar U they were still able to run a successful operation.

The ranch suffered another unfortunate event when Andrew Allen, the chief financial backer of the ranch, died and the ranch was sold without Stimson’s consent. He felt that the ranch had been undervalued but any attempts he made to rectify the situation were unsuccessful. With no ranch to work in Alberta, Stimson lived in Cuba for three years searching for investment opportunities before moving to Mexico City and establishing a dairy farm. Late in 1911 he moved back to Canada when he began experiencing poor health and passed away during the new year.

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