happiness

A Brief History of the Ranch part II (FGK 87)

I quite like the name Upside Down Teepee Creek. It’s a bit long, but I could get used to it. I do have to add that the only part of my recording that was quite difficult to hear was the part where my uncle announced he was retired – and that was due to all the snickering and comments from the peanut gallery. My uncle maybe retired, but he still is busy working and I would bet knows just about everything that goes on at the ranch.

Much of my childhood was spent on horseback winding around the cliffs at the buffalo jump, or skating and swimming in the creek below it. I remember finding arrowheads and other artifacts – no idea what happened to them, we probably left them there. One of the more powerful lessons I had in leaving things untouched was as a small child when the university came out to examine the teepee circles that were in the field next to us. I remember having been taken out to see them – and from my memory they looked similar to the photo below (which was taken from This website and is from Saskatchewan). Anyway, the university’s way of “studying” the formation was to gather up all the rocks and take them away with them. My feeling was once they removed the rocks and destroyed the formation, the rocks were just rocks and all they managed to do was permanently remove some pretty cool history.

But in those days, he really built the foundation of this ranch on work horses, draft horses, Clydesdale horses. They had Durham cattle and our beef herd expanded slowly, but not as Clydesdale horses, and of course that ran through till First World War. And a good number of those horses were broke and trained here on the ranch in the haying season and whatnot and sold to farmers for the harvest. But our best customer was the Canadian army, they went overseas and there are some sad stories about what happened to those horses.

But that’s how we arrived here, and my grandfather had 4 brothers and by the time the 20s came along they had a couple of townships of land each.

So going back to the history of why we call this Jumping Pound. If you look in the history books and the written history of the Stoney Indians you’ll find out that the Stoney Indians were for the most part, pretty much back in the mountains. And you go back to when Anthony Henday from the Hudson’s Bay Company was starting out this way, he came from Fort Edmonton in 1750. The Indians that were scouting ahead, they wouldn’t come any further south than Innisfail. And you’ll see a sign on the highway “Behold the Shining Mountains” and it’s a story about Henday. And the reason was Blackfoot to the South, and the Bloods and those folks, they got horses, and horses were like tanks in those days. The rest of them were still running around on foot. That kept things kinds of off balance here. The Stoney were on the edge of the mountains, they’d creep out once in a while and the Blackfoot would move away and then they’d run back into the mountains when they weren’t. But at any rate, that’s sort of the history, and this creek over here which is Jumping Pound Creek, in those days was called Upside Down Teepee Creek and that’s a Stoney Indian term. The Blackfoot have probably forgotten all about that. But the Stoney found an upside down teepee, which is a place where they bury a chief, a famous chief of the Blackfoot. I don’t know who he was, but that was the name of the creek until the white guys got here.

Now we’re going to go back a thousand years, and this Jumping Pound creek, if you’re ever driving up the highway and you look to the north, you’ll see those high cliffs on the creek bank? For a thousand years, five thousand years – I don’t know – these Indians on foot, long before they had horses worked their way out behind the buffalo herd and manoeuvred them, maneuvered them, maneuvered them to a point where they must have given a big whoohaa and these buffalo stampeded and went over the cliff and that’s how they got their winter meat supply. So that’s why the white people when they got here called it Jumping Pound.

And when my grandfather first arrived, that was one of the big industries of the country was digging buffalo bones out of the bottom of the creek. They must have been piled 20 feet deep because they had – there was a hill over there they called “Pile of Bones Hill”, they picked these bones out of the creek bottom there and hauled them over to this Pile of Bones Hill. and then they had great freight wagons that would come over from a little town called Midford, which was before Cochrane, which was on the railway tracks on the South side of the river. And they’d haul these bones over and they’d send them over to Europe or China for fertilizer or whatever else they used them for. But that was the first industry in the country.

My grandfather got married in 1895 and he got married in Midford in a little Anglican Church in Midford, which they later picked up and moved across the river and set it up in Cochrane, in the old Anglican Church in Cochrane, if you have ever seen it or are familiar with it that’s where it came from Midford and was my grandfather’s marriage place.

Anyway, what else can I tell you?

Tell us about the pastor who got lost in the snowstorm out here – do you know that story?

George McDougall? I do

I found that sad. they had no direction

And he was travelling with the Indians too

It was just one of those things that happened, and like I told you before, there were no trees out here. Believe it or not, there were no trees out here. These hills to the west of us, it’s hard to explain that to the government, there were no trees out here. The reason there were no trees is that there were fires, and they would start with lightening and everything else. And the Blackfoot – you know how they got their name? They wanted to burn the grass, so that in the spring the fresh grass would grow up and the buffalo would come up to the new grass rather than the old grass. And they were called Blackfoot Indians because they were always walking around on burnt ground. But those hills had no trees on them. I’m sure there were some on the creek bottoms on the north side of the hills here and there but not like there are now. Like Aspen poplars, forgive me for saying this, are primary and not just weeds in my language, they’re an encroachment and have come in in the last 150 years for sure with fire control. But anyway our ranch has been divided up, and now we’re running the home ranch unit – my family are – I’m retired and I’m very proud of my family.

What more can I tell you about my community. This hall, it was built in 1927 by the locals. And was all done by my old uncle Harry who was a character in his own right. You’ll see some of his pictures on the wall, one I saw where he was making hay. That guy playing violin in the corner is my father, they had their own little orchestra here. But it was, the whole neighbourhood came together on it, and in order to fund it they formed a company and it was called Jumping Pound Hall Ltd. And we still have ownership shares.

And I think that’s about the end of my story.

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