History: Edwin Aubrey Cartwright of the D Ranch (Part 2)

Abridged from the May 1950 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Old-time Alberta cattlemen: (l-r) Lem Sexsmith, Billy Henry, John Fisher (CBC) and E.A. Cartwright.

Edwin Aubrey Cartwright of the D Ranch (Part 2)
By Guy Weadick, High River, Alta.

The 86 ranch was established in the middle ’80s when George Lane, then range boss for the Bar U outfit, staked out his homestead along the banks of Pekisko Creek, hired a couple of men to get out logs and build a house and stable as the “home ranch.” The cattle were branded 86 and were owned jointly by Lane and the late Herb Millar, who was also employed by the Bar U at that time.

Upon his arrival from England in 1888, John Thorp purchased the outfit, including the brand in 1889. As mentioned before, in addition to Thorp’s 86 and Cameron’s V.E., there were several outfits along the forks of Pekisko Creek, Mosquito Creek and the Highwood. Most of them are no longer in existence, their owners either having died or moved away. Among them was George Emerson with the Rocker P, sometimes called the Anchor P (now the property of Rod Macleay); Crawford who branded F X O; McConnell, who marked ’em M C; H. N. Sheppard (Bert’s father), who branded his cattle H N connected and his horses Quarter Circle Diamond; the Chair outfit belonging to the Heartz family of Prince Edward Island, later to become the property of R.L. McMillan who operated it until he sold out a few years ago, retiring to live in Calgary; the Running N, owned and operated by the late Frank Bedingfield from the early ’80s until he sold out to George Lane in 1919, who in turn sold the outfit to the Prince of Wales, now the Duke of Windsor, who still operates it under the name of the E P Ranch. Then there was the ranch purchased from Charley Knox by Captain Gardner, still operated by his sons Dick and Percy.

When John Thorp first bought the 86 the ranches in that section were mostly stag outfits and many are the stories told of the happenings to the bachelor owners and their cowhands.

A few years after Cartwright began working with the 86, he became a partner of Mr. Thorp, they eventually bought out the outfit owned by Dunc. Cameron and in 1909 they purchased the D cattle belonging to the late Mike Herman. Since that time the main ranch brand for cattle has been the D, while the original Cartwright horse brand Half Diamond Z is used on the horses of the outfit.

The bachelor atmosphere that for years dominated this ranch went by the boards when Mr. Cartwright got married. Today he has twin sons, Jack, who is the eldest, and Jim. Jack takes after the Cartwright family, leaning toward the professions. He graduated as a petroleum engineer and the past couple of years has been engaged in that capacity by a major oil company in South America, only lately transferred to Sumatra. Jim, the younger son, was also educated in the east but like his father took to the cattle business. He is married, has a young son John, who no doubt will grow up to follow in the footsteps of his dad. Jim remains on the ranch attending to its operations, while his father and mother reside in High River, athough “E.A.” spends much of his time at the ranch during the summer season. John Thorp, now in his 80s, makes his home with the Cartwrights in High River.

In 1939 Jim Cartwright was taken into the firm, the name of which is now Cartwright, Thorp & Cartwright.

During all the years the 86, later the D outfit, has operated, there was only once they had to move their cattle off their own range. That was in the spring of 1911, owing to the big forest fire that burned their range from July until August in 1910. In addition to the damage done by the fire, 1910 was an exceptionally dry year, the drought extending away out from the foothills on to the flats to the east. The result was the Ds moved their cattle to a summer range on Sounding Creek away to the northeast in the vicinity of where the town of Youngstown, Alta., is located.

The D Ranch is located in the beautiful big foothill range country west of High River, their summer range extending back into the high valleys of the Rockies. Well watered and provided with excellent shelter and good native grass, it is an ideal location for raising beef cattle.

Both Messrs. Thorp and Cartwright have long been members and active supporters of the Western Stock Growers’ Association, and E. A. Cartwright has occupied many important positions on the various executive committees that have had many contacts with the government on various occasions in the interests of the livestock industry. His election this year to the office of president is a testimonial of its members to their appreciation of the good work he has contributed to the industry for so many years.

He has never regretted that he came West to enter the agricultural field in preference to the professions. Although his eldest son Jack is inclined that way he too may find an outlet for his technical learning in the great oil discoveries lately made in Alberta. Jim will no doubt continue to follow the cattle over the mountain range, and most likely will be succeeded by his son John, who is being brought up amid ranch surroundings — yet the future alone can tell. He might turn to some of the advanced professions in this day of rapid progress in the sciences, but he’ll get his start on a ranch, and that will please his granddad, E.A. Cartwright of the D Ranch, immensely.

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