Edwin Aubrey Cartwright of the D Ranch (Part 1)
By Guy Weadick, High River, Alta.
Elected this year as president of the Western Stock Growers’ Association is a man who has been continuously and actively engaged in the production of beef cattle for the past half-century. For most of that time he has been identified with the same ranch where he was first employed as a cowhand, but of which he later became part owner.
Christened Edwin Aubrey Cartwright, but better known to his intimates as “E.A.,” he was born in Toronto, Ont. in 1879. The son of a lawyer and a member of one of Eastern Canada’s oldest families, he was the first to enter the field of agriculture, other members of the Cartwright family from earliest days being professional men.
Hon. Richard Cartwright was a member of “Butler’s Rangers” who fought with the United Empire Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. He was the grandfather of Sir Richard John Cartwright, who entered public life as a member for Lennox and Addington in the Canadian Assembly at the general election of 1863, and continued to sit for that constituency until the Union of 1867. In the earlier days of his political life he supported Sir John A. Macdonald. After the period of the Pacific scandal he acted with and was a member of the Reform Party.
He was minister of finance in the cabinet then formed by Mr. Mackenzie. He was chief spokesman for his party in all fiscal subjects and developed in debate powers of oratory superior to all public men of his time, save only the Hon. William Macdougal. On Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s ascension to power, July 1896, Sir Richard (he was created a K.C.M.G. in 1879) became minister of trade and commerce in the new government. During Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s absence from Canada in 1897, he was temporary leader of the government in the House of Commons. Sir Richard was a cousin of E.A.’s father.
On his mother’s side, his uncle, Major Charles A. Boulton, along with the ill-fated Thomas Scott, was in the party that accompanied Hon. William Macdougal to Manitoba, where the latter was to represent the Federal Government in the turning over of the Hudson’s Bay Company Lands. It was upon that occasion that both Scott and Boulton were captured by the Metis, imprisoned in Fort Garry (now Winnipeg) and sentenced to death.
The Metis then concluded that their prisoner Boulton was bad medicine and turned him loose. He was soon on his way back to Ontario. But he again returned shortly afterward with the Wolseley Expedition, after which he again returned east. In 1879 Major Boulton again returned to Manitoba, this time taking up land and settling at Russell. Soon another new settler arrived in the vicinity, he being Capt. Gardner (the father of Clem Gardner, rancher of the Pirmez Creek district near Calgary) with whom Major Boulton had soldiered in the British Army before coming to Canada.
When the Riel Rebellion broke out in 1885, Major Boulton formed “Boulton’s Scouts,” of which Capt. Gardner was a member and who was severely wounded in the fighting.
Back in Toronto, young Edwin Cartwright of course heard of the exploits of his uncle “out west” and like the majority of small boys of the period developed a keen desire to visit the frontier West. In 1895 eye trouble necessitated his leaving school and he decided to visit his uncle Major Boulton at Russell, Manitoba.
He remained there a year and a half and then retuned to attend the Agricultural School at Guelph, Ont. In 1898 he took advantage of a harvester excursion to again visit his uncle in Manitoba, where he remained until returning for Christmas to his home in Toronto.
But the West had gotten into his blood and he finally decided to strike out again toward the setting sun, this time farther west to take a whirl at ranching, where range stock raising was more pronounced. He had letters of introduction to persons in Calgary who contacted Fred Stimson, manager of the Bar U Ranch, who gave the young man a job riding for that outfit.
Mr. Cartwright recalls that upon his arrival in Calgary the first bucking horse riding he witnessed was at the Chipman ranch operated by the late R.G. Robinson. Some outfit from the States had trailed in a bunch of horses, and their riders, along with Lee Marshall, were riding out a string of them.
After working for the Bar U awhile, Cartwright went to work for the late Walter Hanson whose ranch was then located on the Highwood close to where the town of Longview is now located. Then, like many of the other ranger riders, he worked for first one outfit and then another. In those days there were many ranches scattered along the foothill range, and fifty years ago there were more outfits and people back in that country than there are today. Most of the range occupied by these different outfits is now the property of the Bar U, the D Ranch and the 7 U outfit.
Back on the middle fork of Pekisko Creek was the 86 outfit owned by John Thorp and, alongside, the V.E. operated by Duncan Cameron. Both these outfits worked together in a sort of a partnership deal, although each had their own respective brands.
Young Cartwright went to work for John Thorp at the 86 and has remained there ever since. While working for Thorp, he got together a little bunch of cattle and horses of his own, branding his cattle 9PH and his horses Half Diamond Z.
(Continued in our January 2017 issue.)
For more of the past from the pages of our magazine see our History section.