BY KATE WINQUIST
“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”.
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?