slide 1

History

 

The Brewster Family – A Rich History in Canada’s Rockies.

The Brewster Family, real life Canadian Rocky Mountain pioneers and cowboys, have been taking care of visitors to the Bow Valley for over 100 years. With a long and colourful history, each Brewster descendant has made their mark-in-time on a variety of the family businesses.

The Brewster Family businesses have grown to include numerous ventures in the capable hands of the fifth generation.

Now 100 years later, Bud Brewster’s eldest daughter, Janet Brewster and her husband Kevin Stanton proudly welcomes the involvement of the sixth generation, Lacey Brewster Stanton and Bailee Brewster Stanton to the Canadian Rockies.

  • Kananaskis Guest Ranch
  • Kananaskis Guest Ranch

A Brief History

The Brewster Family, real life mountain pioneers and cowboys in the Canadian Rockies, have been taking care of visitors to this area for over 100 years. A long and colorful history of Brewster descendants have all made their mark on a variety of family businesses. Here is a brief summary of some of those family members who have been involved in the guest ranching and outfitting side of Brewster history.

In the shadows of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, John Brewster clearly saw the bright future his parents had left Ireland for. William and Sara Jane (Irvine) Brewster had just prior to the Great Potato Famine.

Born in Kingston, John felt the lure of the western Canada, after his brothers had explored much of the area. In 1886 John followed the Canadian Pacific Railroad to Banff, Alberta, deciding this would become his home. His wife, Isabella, and four sons arrived on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1888, a rather auspicious occasion for an Irish family about to begin a new life. Two more sons and one daughter would be born in Banff, completing the original Banff family. John soon identified a need for a dairy to service not only the growing community, but the CPR Hotel as well. The dairy was not as busy during the winter months, and so the need to keep the dairy herd outside of the National Park became necessary. It was there at the base of Yamnuska Mountain, which today is the Kananaskis Guest Ranch, where John established the family's homestead.

Two illustrious sons, William (Bill) and Jim, decided there was much more to Banff than the dairy farm. The boys became expert mountain men, skilled at camping, hunting and exploring Banff's mountainous terrain, thanks to a close native family friend William Twin. In fact, they took their first outfitting trip at 12 and 10 years of age as a request of the Banff Springs Hotel Manager.

 
Mountain Barbecues at Kananaskis Guest Ranch

 
Those small beginnings grew into the Brewster family legacy and its association with Banff that today has spanned six generations. The early beginnings of Bill and Jim's pack trips would result in Brewster Mountain Pack Trains Ltd., a business that continues to be a successful outfitting operation managed by the family in Banff National Park. In 2008 the family operated riding stables in Lake Louise celebrated its 100 anniversary.

Bill and Jim continued their life in the mountains after they married two sisters: Bill to Sylvia (Tead) Bagley and Jim to Tess (Lade) Bagley. Bill and Tead had one daughter, Sydney and two sons, Claude and Jack. Jim and Lade had one daughter, Fern. A request came to Bill from the Great Northern Railroad to help establish an outfitting operation in conjunction with the new East Glacier Hotel being built in Glacier Park, Montana (circa 1912). He took up the challenge, moving his family while leaving his brother Jim in charge of all their shared Banff endeavors. In Montana, Bill developed the Park Saddle Horse Company, numbering some 600 head of horses, as well as establishing the Two Medicine Guest Ranch, a new venture.

The family returned to Banff when Bill became General Manager of Brewster Transport. By now the family thoroughly enjoyed guest ranching and moved to the ranch homestead at Seebe where Sylvia (or Missy as she was called fondly by family and friends) was to build the Main Lodge in 1922. Ready for guests in 1923, many visitors from the midwestern United States followed Bill and Missy to Alberta to continue to enjoy their flavor for adventure and western hospitality.

Here's a great excerpt from a letter Missy wrote in 1936, promoting the ranch. Her words capture a moment in time that still holds true today:

"When the day's riding is over, however, one is glad to sit on the cool verandahs and watch the sun turn the sky to gold as it sinks behind the mountain tops, and when the shadows grow long on the hillsides and the peace of the night settles down we are glad to go inside where the fire throws it flickering light over all, and join in the games at the pool table, storytelling, dancing, singing or just "set" and "let the rest of the world go by".

Missy Brewster

Missy and her son, Claude (third generation), managed the ranch through the difficult 30's and 40's. When Claude married his Montana childhood sweetheart, Ruth, along with their two sons, Jack and Bud, the ranch flourished under their direction until the late 50's. It was then that Claude and Ruth decided to retire from ranch life.

Mountain Barbecues at Kananaskis Guest Ranch

 
Their son Bud happily took the reins of the ranch business. Under his careful guidance and business acumen, he and his wife Annette took the foundation his father and grandfather had begun and simply began building. For 65 years, Bud expanded the family tourism business and created profitable entities such as Brewster Mountain Pack Trains, Kananaskis Guest Ranch, Shadow Lake Cabins, Mountview Barbecue and Catering, Lake Louise Stables and Dance Barn, Brewster Mountain Lodge and the recently completed 18-hole Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course.

Thankfully Bud and Annette's daughters - the fifth generation of Brewster's: Janet, Corinne and Alison - have been carrying on the family business successfully for the past 25 years.

Janet is the General Manager/Owner of the Kananaskis Guest Ranch. The Guest Ranch, now hosts groups for western barbecues, conferences, incentive/corporate events and weddings. Just like in the 1920's, guests can still enjoy overnight pack trips, and western barbecues. An 18 - hole Golf Course, opening in 2001, is now an additional activity at the ranch.

With the arrival of Lacey Brewster Stanton in 1988 and Bailee Brewster Stanton in 1991, to Janet and Kevin, the Guest Ranch proudly welcomes the sixth generation, 100 years after the arrival of the Brewster's to the Canadian Rockies.