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 HotelManager.
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.
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.
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.