June 9, 1948, Alberta and the West lost another of its well-known and highly respected pioneers, Lachlin McKinnon at the age of 83 passed away at home in Calgary.
He was one of the early group of pioneers who came from Ontario in the early ’80s in search of opportunity in a new and undeveloped land.
He was born in Durham, Grey County, Ont. in 1865 and at the age of 21, after corresponding with school chums who had preceded him, he went west over the newly completed Canadian Pacific Railway line arriving at Calgary in the spring of 1886.
After visiting with his old friend Hugh McInnes he immediately set to work on odd jobs. On May 10, 1886, he commenced work as a chore boy at $30 per month with the Namaka Farm which was then owned by the Military Colonization Ranch and managed by General Strange. Three months later he was working for Arthur Goldfinch who was one of the shareholders of the colonization plan and after a year in which he gained much experience he returned to the Colonization Ranch and remained in its employ until going to work as a rider for the Lester Kaye outfit which operated ranches, supply farms and a butcher business.
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In 1883 Mr. McKinnon married Miss Sarah Whitney who had come west with her family in 1892 from Collingwood, Ont., to settle in the Langdon district. He rented one of the supply farms east of Calgary and when the lease expired he and his young wife moved to nine acres which they had purchased and which was on the banks of the Bow River.
With plenty of open range for grazing of cattle a large holding of deeded land was not necessary. In 1897 and again in 1898 their home was flooded causing them to move two miles down the river to start anew. From that point on it was a case of accumulating land and cattle. In 1907 he made his largest purchase of farmland — about three sections from the Calgary Colonization Company, all property being adjacent to his holdings at Dalemead. From 1911 until 1917 his cattle operations were curtailed but his farming operations went ahead on a large scale. In 1915 he threshed over 42,000 bushels of grain. After 1917 his cattle operations were again expanded and additional land was purchased from the CPR.
In 1921 he formed a family ranching and farming company entitled the LK Ranch and Farming Company. In 1922 the Bassano lease and 800 head of cattle were purchased and in 1925 the Round T Ranch south of Bassano and comprising 47,000 acres of deeded land were added to the family operation.
Soon after the formation of the company Mr. and Mrs. McKinnon retired from active ranching and farming and moved with their younger children to Calgary. Charles, the eldest son, became active manager. Lachlin McKinnon’s interest in agriculture matters, however, did not diminish with his retirement. For many years he was a director of the Western Stock Growers’ Association, and was a member of the Calgary Board of Trade. He was a one-time president of the Southern Alberta Pioneers’ and Oldtimers’ Association. Every cattle sales event or agricultural field day urged his attendance and despite a long siege of stubborn illness he was seen by hundreds of his friends at the 1948 Calgary Bull Sale.
Lachlin McKinnon has passed to his reward. He was a part of the West’s early development and he has left a large progressive family to carry on where he has stepped aside. c
For more of the past from the pages of our magazine see the History section at canadiancattlemen.ca.