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June 18, 2018 13.4°C

Reesor Ranch Provincial Heritage Property plaque unveiled

Posted on June 10, 2018 by Maple Creek

BY KATE WINQUIST

kwinquist@maplecreeknews.com

Friends, relatives and neighbours of the Reesor Family gathered Friday morning in the beautiful Cypress Hills to unveil a plaque commemorating the special designation of the Historic W.D. and Alice Reesor Ranch.
Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Gene Makowsky and Member of Legislative Assembly Doug Steele were both on hand for the unveiling.
“Today we have government authorities here, and they’re not here to arrest me,” joked Scott Reesor (a 4th generation Reesor) who along with his wife Theresa, three children and their families are the current owners and operators of the Historic Reesor Ranch.
“The designation of the Historic W.D. & Alice Reesor Ranch helps to preserve Saskatchewan’s strong ranching history,” Makowsky said. “The Reesor Ranch not only represents the importance of the family ranch in Saskatchewan, but its main buildings are also fine examples of the craftsmanship used in ranch architecture in Cypress Hills during that period.”
Historic places play an essential role in our provincial identity, our sense of place, and providing locations and events that support tourism.  The ranch retains many historic buildings, which were constructed between 1906 and 1916, including the ranch-house, barn, granary, bunkhouse and roothouse.
Tourists to the area can visit these buildings which continue to serve in the family’s ranching operations.  The property is also operated as a bed and breakfast.
The Historic W.D. & Alice Reesor Ranch is the first and only provincial property to be formally designated in the Maple Creek and Cypress Hills destination area. It is also the first historic ranch property in the entire province of Saskatchewan to be selected as a provincial heritage property.
Manager of Community & Economic Development for the Town of Maple Creek, Royce Pettyjohn, served as Master of Ceremonies during the event and explained the historical significance for not only the Reesor family themselves but everyone in the area.
“How appropriate that the first representative example of the historical significance of the ranching industry to our province was designated here in the beautiful Cypress Hills and within the R.M. of Maple Creek, an area steeped in deep and rich ranching heritage. The R.M. of Maple Creek of course, encompasses the town of Maple Creek which is where the very first shipment of cattle were loaded on the rails to market in 1884, earning the town its traditional moniker of “The Old Cowtown” and more recently the town was designated by the Western Horse Review as “Canada’s Greatest Western Town”.
Scott Reesor recited one of his mother’s poems that she wrote to honour his grandparents, who had lots of memories on the ranch.
“One of the good things about reciting poetry is that when the writer of the poetry puts some words together to make sense of an event or a situation when you recite those words they again make sense, and you don’t have to figure out a bunch of new words,” Reesor said.
The poem encapsulated many things about ranch life in remote areas that could be anywhere in Saskatchewan or the world for that matter.
“As I recite this, let’s remember that we all have a story to tell and a history that is valuable and should be recorded for succeeding generations to profit from,” Reesor said.

The Hillside Ranch ... By Helen Reesor

There’s a Ranchhouse on the hillside,

Where they lived for many years.

Where they worked and raised a family,

It knew their dreams, their hopes, their fears.


Where they rose early in the morning,

‘Oft in the dawn’s grey light.

And planned and toiled and sweated,

Through each day ’til it was night.


Memories of all the things they did,

Through the good years and the bad.

How they faced the long cold winters,

Stuck it out and were glad.


For spring always came and with it,

Came new life and springtime joys.

New leaves, new grass, new calves and colts,

And through the years the boys.


Memories that go way back in years of which great tales can be told.

Of blizzards sweeping o’er the hills, of cattle dying in the cold.

When there was no feed, and the icy wind chilled them,

And drove them on to shelter in brush or coulee or lie dead in the frozen dawn.


Memories of men who toiled for hours,

To care for the poor dumb critters.

It could break their backs as well as their hearts,

It was sure no life for quitters.


For the elements are often harsh,

In these old Cypress Hills.

And a cattleman cares for his stock,

Though he endures heat, pain or chills.


Memories of round-ups and branding,

Trailing cattle for miles in the cold.

Often for a price next to nothin’

When taken to market and sold.


Memories of breaking wild horses,

It was all part of ranch work then.

Bucking broncs and four-horse teams,

Separated the boys from the men.


Memories that bring a smile to your lips,

Some that call forth a real belly laugh.

The wonders of spring on the prairie,

Like the sight of a newborn calf.


Well, things could be so grand and peaceful,

As you worked in the sun or the rain.

Made you feel so good inside,

Forgot all the winter’s pain.


Memories of caring for family and home,

And women’s work was never done.

In sickness, or health or grieving,

Or the death of an infant son.


Memories of cooking and baking bread

In the old black cookstove’s heat.

Of branding crews and haying crews

So weary, most asleep on your feet.


Memories of gardens, planted and tended,

And those years that it didn’t rain.

You watched them dry and wilting,

Burned like the hay and the grain.


When feed was scarce and prices low,

There wasn’t a nickel to spare,

But you managed to somehow keep going,

And you always ate three-square.


Memories of visiting neighbours,

Trips to town with buggy and team.

Being rich enough to own a car,

For years was just a dream.


Memories of friends and loved ones,

Good times that were fun for all.

Of picnics, stampedes and camping,

And of dances, you can recall.


Memories of schooling and teachers,

Of boys joining the army to fight.

In a war far over the ocean,

Though somehow it didn’t seem right.


But they kept the home place going,

And worked just as hard as before.

’Til they turned it over to their sons,

At the ending of the war.


I’ve heard that as you grow older, good memories blot out the bad.

And I’m wondering if this is so, would you dear Mother and Dad,

Turn back the pages of your lives, forget the sorrow and pain.

Come back to the ranch on the hillside, and do it all over again?

Through The Heritage Property Act, Saskatchewan’s irreplaceable and non-renewable heritage is protected and preserved for the benefit of Saskatchewan residents.  There are 52 Provincial Heritage Properties in Saskatchewan.
“Events like these help us appreciate the unique stories and places that make up the history of our province. To say it’s beautiful – I think you’re just starting to get warm,” Makowsky said.
Pettyjohn concluded, “This plaque will be an endearing link to the past and a symbol of pride for all Canadians”.
More photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.

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