a western legacy
John Brewster moved to Alberta from Ontario in 1886 and established his homestead at the base of Yamnuska mountain, which today is the Kananaskis Ranch.
More than a century after his sons, aged 10 and 12, took their first guests on a horse pack trip a unique group of companies, operating in Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Banff and Kananaskis, are operated by fifth and sixth generation family members. They make up the Brewster Company.
In Forty-five minutes west of Calgary and 30 minutes east of Banff is the Kananaskis Guest Ranch, operated by Janet Brewster-Stanton. Opened in 1923 by Missy Bagley Brewster, Bill’s wife, the original Brewster family homestead entertains groups ranging from wedding parties to conference attendees with western barbecues, and backcountry horse trips. Janet also runs the 18-hole Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course, on the north side of the ranch.
In downtown Banff, the Brewster’s Mountain Lodge opened in 1996. The 77-room hotel, complete with historic family photos in each room. “We tried to make it as uniquely back-country as we could,” says Janet, noting that the Brewster’s have operated back-country lodges throughout the generations and wanted to bring that feeling to downtown Banff.
Ten minutes outside Banff lies Brewster’s MountView Barbecue, run by Alison Brewster and Bryan Niehaus. The year-round western corporate event and reception facility caters to groups of 50 or more and features the family-named ‘donut’ tents. The tents, designed by Alison’s, Cori’s and Janet’s grandfather and modernized by their father, are permanent structures with a bonfire in the middle.
Between Banff and Lake Louise, Alison Brewster and her husband, Bryan Niehaus, also operate Brewster’s Shadow Lake Lodge, a quaint back-country hiking and cross-country ski lodge.
In Lake Louise, Kevin Stanton, Janet Brewster’s husband, operates Brewster Cowboy’s Barbecue and Dance Barn, which hosts western barbecue dinners and live entertainment for corporate and incentive groups of 50 to 400 people. Kevin also operates the Brewster Lake Louise Stables, where guests can take sleigh rides to the end of Lake Louise and in warmer months, trail rides to the Lake Agnes or Plain of Six Glaciers teahouses taking in the mountain views that have made this region famous. Brewster Mountain Pack Trains, the oldest outfitting company in Alberta, offers guests an experience in the Canadian Rockies on horseback, with multi day and custom horseback backcountry trips featuring rustic log cabins.
The Brewster Transport Company, established by Jim and Bill in the 1930s, was sold to outside interests in 1965 and is today a publicly traded American company, separate from the following family-run businesses.