A Glimpse into Western Life

Last week I was in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, in Southern Alberta.  The weather gods smiled down on me and sent me sunny days, with temperatures reaching into the low 20s (Celcius) in the afternoons.  It was gorgeous!

The landscape there is so different from here at home.  There it is all big open prairie, with rolling hills.  And lots of cows and horses dotting the landscape.  And oil wells too.

I was at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site for a few days as it was a work trip.  The Bar U is fabulous!  I want to go back and visit someday when it is in operational season (they had just closed for the season on September 30th).   

Bar U Ranch in the Alberta foothills

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site

I could certainly handle looking at this every day!

At the Bar U, you can find out about ranching life from 1895 to 1950.  You can see cows (longhorn and shorthorn) and Percheron horses.  And you will see cowboys too.  It’s a world so different from my own.

Percheron horses are draft horses (they pull wagons and were the choice animal for pulling fire engines back in the day).  Draft horses are much larger than riding horses. 

Shoe for a draft horse (in this case, a Percheron)


On the left, shoe for a riding horse. On the right, shoe for a draft horse.


Here are the horses that would wear those large shoes.

Percheron horses - the grays (the whitish ones) apparently weigh about 2000 lbs each


I was able to take in a little local entertainment while I was in Southern Alberta.  We went out to a pub where some local musicians were have a jam night.  There were about 10 people around the table, most with a variety of accoustic guitars, but there was also a slide guitar and a fiddle or two and they played and sang songs about the land.  There were also some local delicacies available – prairie oysters.  Yes, I caved to the peer pressure and tried them.  If you don’t know what prairie oysters are, I’ll let you google those yourself.  😉


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