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History: Alberta’s 1950 Master Farm Families Named

Reprinted from the November 1950
 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

By Lorne Stout, Calgary, Alta.

Three prominent cattlemen were among five Alberta Master Farm Family winners for 1950. And the honours were even between the major beef breeds. Emil Cammaert of Rockyford, winner from southern Alberta, is a Shorthorn breeder; Roy Ballhorn, who took the Central Alberta award, is one of Canada’s most prominent Aberdeen-Angus men; and for Eastern Alberta, Master Farmer Charles J. Kallal is widely known for his Herefords.

For the second time, the Southern Alberta winner is a comparatively youthful farmer and stockman, for the initial award was won last year by L. Jensen of Magrath. Emil Cammaert , 48, came to Alberta from Belgium and the winning of the Master Farm Family competition is a highlight of 30 years of farming for Emil, his wife and their two children, 22-year-old son John, and daughter, Margaret, 17.

Unquestionably, the Cammaert farm at Rockyford is a showpiece of agriculture in Southern Alberta. The home was built in 1938 and the most recent addition to the extensive buildings is a fully modern 94’x34′ barn, with concrete floor and foundation, air conditioned with water heated for the stock, electric food cookers and other conveniences, including space for 100 tons of hay.

The Cammaets farm 1,170 acres and can irrigate more than a thousand acres with recently acquired sprinkler equipment. An eight-year crop rotation plan is followed and this year’s crop was 18,000 bushels of wheat, 4,000 bushels of oats, 2,000 bushels of barley, 145 tons of hay and 40 tons of straw. One field of wheat averaged 62 bushels to the acre.

Little need be said about the Cammaert Shorthorns to stockmen for a vigorous program of improvement has gained for his herd an enviable reputation. Twice Reserve Grand Champion at Calgary, the herd sire is Rockyford Control. As the Master Farm Family awards were being announced Mr. and Mrs. Cammaert were in Scotland, where Emil bought 10 Shorthorns to improve still further his Rockyford herd, and before returning to Alberta they plan to visit their native land, Belgium.

Addition of the Master Farm Family title to the name of Roy Ballhorn of Wetaskiwin is another achievement to the reputation which already covers all of Canada and many of the States, as a breeder of fine Aberdeen-Angus cattle. Their farm at Wetaskiwin, where they have lived for the past 32 years, is also widely known. They came to Alberta from Iowa, and have one daughter, Roma.

Woodlawn Farms, as they call their home ten miles southeast of Wetaskiwin has frequently been visited and this summer was host to a party of 200 from the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. Its 800 acres is well covered with shelter belts of trees, but visitors head for the barns and corrals for they want to see the fine black cattle that have won ribbons and championships at shows and sales over all of the West, Eastern Canada and the States. Roy is proud of the fact that his Aberdeen-Angus have gone to all of the Provinces and half of the 48 States as breeding stock. His Angus are noted for their fine heads.

The Ballhorns don’t think they will ever retire — they don’t think life in town can compete with the farm.

Charles J. Kallal, who farms and ranches in the Beaverhill Lake district 5-1/2 miles southeast of Tofield, and his wife are both natives of Illinois. They were married at Edmonton in 1915 and have lived on their present land for the past 23 years. They have nine children and son Joe, 33, one of the three still at home is a livestock expert. The others still working on the home place are Kenneth, 29, and Lawrence, 17, both competent stockmen. They raise a lot of grain but like their fine Herefords. Mr. Kallal says, “Alberta is a great cattle country, and we like our district. Our animals are bigger boned and have a more rugged constitution than those raised in the South.” But he did have an envious tone when he conceded the Chinooks were a help, for at Tofield the cattle have to be fed in winter. The Kallal Hereford herd includes more than a hundred registered animals, and usually 40 commercial cattle.

The Kallals know their Herefords, for in addition to being consistent winners of the Championship ribbons at Edmonton and other stock shows, Joe has several times acted as judge at cattle shows. He is also interested in Palomino horses, and plans an exhibit at the Royal Winter Fair.

Up in the Peace River, the Master Farm Family is Fred LaBrecque of Spirit River and here, too, grain is giving way to livestock. Born in Quebec at Lambton, Fred farms 1,500 acres. Eldest of their nine children is Romeo, 18, who is going to be the livestock man. The farm is still, however, mainly a grain proposition specializing in Thatcher wheat and Lorain-Victory oats. The cattle are grade Shorthorns.

Winners for the Athabasca section is the E.S. Parsons family of Boyle. They came from Sweden, and found a boom town in Athabasca when they arrived in 1913, shortly after their marriage. They were only 21 and 20, and they stayed in town only overnight before starting out on foot for their new land, 30 miles away. Neither spoke a word of English, and their raw quarter was virgin timber. A plot had been cleared for the first shack and when it was completed they found it had been built on the wrong quarter. Undiscouraged, though possibly down-cast, it was torn down, board by board and plank by plank; a new location cleared on their own land, and their first home rebuilt.

With that kind of perseverance, it is not surprising that in 37 years, the original quarter has grown to 640 acres under cultivation, called Esplund Farm, and the family has grown to eleven children, seven sons and four daughters. They have all grown up active in farm young organizations, calf clubs and the like. The Parsons also raise Shorthorns that are prizewinners.

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