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Comment: Goodbye Boyd

Like many of you I was saddened to hear of the passing of Boyd Anderson last month, but thankful that I had a chance to know him briefly along the way.

Of course, I had met Boyd not long after I started with the magazine, either at a Saskatchewan Stock Growers meeting or around the commercial cattle barn at Agribition. He could always be found talking to someone about cattle or the people who raised them.

That was one of the first things you noticed about Boyd. He always had time to visit with people from Ministers of the Crown to a young greenhorn just getting his feet wet in the business.

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Chris Mills, who spent most of his career working with Western cattle organizations, believes this characteristic was one of the reasons Boyd was so effective in his work on behalf of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.

Says Chris, “I recall back in the early ’80s we ran into yet another of the ongoing disputes with the U.S. over beef and cattle imports. The issue was so hot in parts of the U.S. that the International Trade Commission decided to hold large public hearings. Boyd and I were elected to appear at the hearings in Kansas City. The big arena where the hearing was held was stacked with large numbers of red-coated members of the American Farm Movement, all determined to make life difficult for us. Boyd spoke on behalf of the Canadian Cattlemen but instead of using the presentation that I had prepared laying out all the statistical reasons why we were not a problem Boyd chose instead to visit with the crowd about the fact that he lived on the U.S. border. His neighbours to the north were Canadian and those to the south were American and for the last hundred years they had all got along together helping each other regardless of borders and nationalities. He could not see any reason why we could not continue to get along. After his presentation, Boyd got down amongst those red-coated militants and before long we were invited to go with them to the Kansas City Royals baseball game being held next day. That episode was symptomatic of Boyd’s view that almost all problems could be resolved if you took the trouble to get to know the people involved.”

Charlie Gracey, the former general manager of the CCA, remembers Boyd as being steadfast and imperturbable, “and I admired him greatly. He knew who he was and was the perfect example of a ‘natural’ gentleman.

“My first memory was when he was president of SSGA in 1970 and I attended their meeting,” says Gracey. “I was to speak but Boyd was never much concerned about time and as the day dragged on I was becoming more and more concerned. A banquet was scheduled and the premier, the Hon. Ross Thatcher was the guest speaker. To my temporary relief we were told the hall had to be cleared so that the tables could be set up for the banquet. I explained to Boyd that that would be fine with me but he had other ideas and convened the assemblage in the big lobby where the bar was already open and people were milling around. Boyd fetched a kitchen chair, had me stand on it and deliver my speech. I have always insisted that that is what taught me to give short speeches.

“Another vivid memory was the night I introduced Boyd to Tom Jackson in the Skyline hotel in Toronto. I knew both had been paratroopers in the Second World War so thought they would have something in common. As soldiers do they asked each other what division, troop, company each was in only to learn that they were on the same drop where Tom came down on one side of a wood and Boyd nearby. Tom went on to fight the war but Boyd was captured three or four days later, after hiding out in a big empty wine vat, when he left it to catch a pig. Boyd then spent three years as a prisoner of war. I recall asking him once what it was like being a prisoner of war and his reply was pure Anderson. He allowed that it wasn’t always easy but ‘… I guess they treated us about the same as we treated their prisoners.’”

Chris Mills saw Boyd as one of the last of that generation of farmers and ranchers that grew out of the Depression and consequently had developed very clear and determined ideas about right and wrong. “Debt and idleness were bad; hard work and community were good. Those principles guided Boyd in everything that he did.

“Boyd had a deep attachment to the land and especially to the southern grasslands where he grew up. He knew almost every blade of grass on his ranch. Wife Peggy and I with some other friends visited with him a couple of years ago and in spite of being well into his 90s and almost blind, he insisted on hiking with us out on his ranch and telling us about its history. At one point, we stopped on the brow of a hill and he said that if we would go a couple of hundred yards back up the slope, we should find the remains of an old Hudson Bay Post. And there it was.”

He will be missed. Goodbye Boyd.

About the author

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Gren Winslow

Gren Winslow is a past editor of Canadian Cattlemen.

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