- Corporate body
Sir John Lister-Kaye was the visionary behind the 76 Ranch. In the fall of 1884, Lister-Kaye purchased almost seven thousand acres from the CPR and Dominion at Balgonie, east of Regina. Finding success with that region of land, Lister-Kaye turned his attention to the region west of Calgary. He purchased 10,000 acres of land there from the CPR and Dominion and began to establish ten farms. Seven of them were, at intervals, west of the Swift Current district extending almost to Calgary, one on the plains of Rush Lake, another south of Swift Current, and the third near a CPR experimental farm at Gull Lake. Lister-Kaye began promoting his group of farms as the Alberta and Assiniboia Land, Stock and Coal Company, but without convincing investors of the value and a bad drought, the scheme was almost abandoned. In 1888, however, along with D.J (Joe) Wylie, Lister-Kaye set out for England to convince his investors that his business was worthwhile. Success was had, and a new syndicate known as the Canadian Agricultural Coal and Colonization Company (CACC Co.) was created on January 26, 1888. This company bought out Lister-Kaye's Blagonie holdings and took over his purchase agreement with the CPR and Dominion once the land was inspected by the investors and given approval. By the end of 1888 the sale was finalized and Lister-Kaye had made a fortune, and also became manager of the CACC Co. for five years. The 76 Ranch brand orginally came from the Powder River Ranch Company, an English-owned organization based in London, when Lister-Kaye purchased about 5800 cattle for his ten station farms. Since the cattle already bore the brand "76" the CACC Co. decided to maintain it, and that is why today the whole enterprise in the North-West is known as the "76" Ranch. Lister-Kaye imported many high-quality breeds - mares, Merino Ewes, rams, bulls, Yorkshire Boars, and pigs - and distributed them all throughout his enterprise. Young Englishmen, and some women, were recruited and sent to the North-West to begin constructing the farm buildings and farm the land. To capitalize on the success of his farms, Lister-Kaye came up with an idea that linked his farms together. He opened up butcher shops and slaughterhouses in Dunmore and Medicine Hat and a large meat packing plant in Calgary in order to sell the company's own beef, mutton, and pork. The idea to sell cheese and butter, however, failed. After reckless mistakes and decisions, Lister-Kaye was replaced as manager of the CACC Co. and Harper P. Clinto took over. The company's troubles, however, did not end. In 1890, a prarie fire started by sparks from a CPR engine trapped 2200 CACC Co. sheep who were grazing near Gull Lake. Most of them were pregnant and over half of them were killed or badly burned. Coyotes also heavily prayed on lambs and sheep. A bad hail storm in 1890 also destroyed the crops in the Swift Current region. D.H Andrews took over as cattle manager of the "76" in 1890 and the livestock from Swift Current moved to Rush Lake, and those at Gull Lake moved to the Crane Lake ranch. Plagued by financial troubles, the CACC Co. sold all of its holdings and assests in the North-West to a new London-based company, the Canadian Land and Ranch Company Ltd. (CL & R Co.). A.F Eden was chairman of the Board of Directors and D.H Andrews was made general manager of the company. Selling off livestock became a priority to make money and several employees were dismissed. Weather and low prices for wool made making money a tough practice, even though the new company managed to make healthy profits through consolidations. The company was dealt a mortal blow during the winter of 1906 - 1907 when two-thirds of their cattle herd died on the open range, and was only able to continue on until 1909 because of stored profits. In 1909, the company gave up ranching entirely, and sold its remainging holdings to the firm of Gordon, Ironsides and Fares of Winnipeg.