Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Alberta's Edward Prince Ranch

 by Anita Mae Draper

Prince of Wales "E.P." Ranch, Pekisko, Alberta, Canada

On January 21, 1936, the Calgary Herald announced that Alberta's "Rancher King" Edward Prince of Wales, had succeeded his father King George V to the throne and that of all the places in Canada to choose from Edward still owned a pretty ranch in the foothills of Southern Alberta which he had bought back in 1919. 

View through tree branches of Duke of Windsor's EP Ranch, near High River, Alberta. ca 1950s. Glenbow Archives

While on his 1919 cross Canada tour, Edward was hosted by George Lane, founder of the Calgary Stampede and owner of the Bar U Ranch which bordered the Running N Ranch, then owned by Frank Bedingfeld. Frank and his mother had homesteaded the ranch in 1886, but when Frank married in 1908, his mother returned to England. By that time, the ranch consisted of 1,440 acres of owned land with much more being leased from the government. After serving in WW1, Frank wanted to return to England with his family, so they put the Running N up for sale. While visiting and exploring the Bar U area, the Prince of Wales saw the opportunity, bought Frank's ranch, and renamed it the E.P. (Edward Prince) Ranch.   

Since it was impossible for the Prince of Wales to stay and oversee his new venture, he hired Professor William Carlyle, then veterinarian of the Bar U and Eden Valley, to run the E.P. Ranch in his absence.

Edward Prince of Wales, George Lane, William Levi Carlyle. EP Ranch, 1919. Glenbow Archives

The Alberta Register of Historic Places has a page for the E.P. Ranch and mentions that same trip in 1919. "On passing through Winnipeg on his return to England, Edward gave a speech in which he said that he wanted to have a permanent home in western Canada, "a place where I can come sometimes and live for a while. To this end I recently purchased a small ranch in southern Alberta and I shall look forward to developing it and making it my own." In his memoirs, he later wrote in a similar vein, claiming that he had been "overwhelmed by an irresistible longing to immerse myself, if only momentarily, in the simple life of the western prairies." Edward did not own other properties outside Great Britain, and, although it is not evident that he provided direct input into the operation of the ranch, the property and its buildings were handsomely upgraded during the 1920's, and became known as the E.P. Ranch. High quality cattle and horses were also brought in to breed and be raised under the best conditions." 

Helen Carlyle and Stallion "Tiny", EP Ranch, Pekisko, Alberta. ca 1920s. Glenbow Archives

Helen Carlyle, daughter of W.L. Carlyle, manager of the E.P. Ranch, is shown above holding a Dartmoor pony which had been imported during 1919-1920. Along with the Dartmoor ponies, Edward had Shorthorn cattle, Shropshire sheep, and Clydesdale horses imported to his Alberta Ranch from the breeding farms in his Duchy of Cornwall in the United Kingdom.

"Climsland Broadhooks", prize Shorthorn bull, EP Ranch, Pekisko, Alberta. ca 1920. Glenbow Archives

The E.P. Ranch had many educational and business visitors over the years. In the above photo, the Duke of Devonshire stands in the back and listens to Johnny Watson, herdsman, talk about the attributes of the prizewinning shorthorn bull, "Climsland Broadhooks".

Herd of sheep on EP Ranch, Pekisko, Alberta. ca 1920. Glenbow Archives

Edward wouldn't return to Canada until the fall of 1923 to attend the sale of his breeding stock. It was important to ensure the breeding improvement and excellence of the stock, he'd told his father King George V who had expressed no wish to see his son spend time as a western rancher when there were royal duties to attend. But Edward was a avid sportsman and would often sneak out of official functions to woo a lady, play golf, or find something more interesting to do with his time.

I'll continue the Rancher King's story on the 5th of June, but here's a teaser.... 

Prince of Wales on Dartmoor pony, EP Ranch, Pekisko, Alberta. Sep 1923. Glenbow Archives

Can you tell what kind of rancher Edward Prince of Wales turned out to be from the above photo of him taken in September 1923 at the E.P. Ranch?


Anita Mae Draper lives on the Canadian prairies where she uses her experience and love of history to enhance her stories of yesteryear's romance with realism and faith. Readers can enrich their story experience with visual references by checking Anita's Pinterest boards. All links available on her website at 


  1. Oh what a teaser!! Looking forward to the next installment!

    1. LOL, Connie. I'm looking forward to your reactions, too. Thanks for dropping by. :)

  2. I really enjoyed this, Anita! I'm looking forward to the next one.

    1. Thanks, Ane. I appreciate you letting me know. :)