Brand Stories

The term “brand” is associated with marketing but it originated with livestock brands.

Originally used to testify to the ownership of an animal, brands tell stories in their unique shorthand. 

“Riding for the brand” became a symbol of loyalty and pride.

The brand is now ubiquitous in the world of business. As companies plot ways to conduct war on rival brands, most probably don’t give a thought to the origin of the term, “brand”, and its history on the open range.

If you’d like your brand story included in our website or program contact Jen Zollner, 403.529.6384. (See How to Read Brands at the bottom of this page.)

MH “M monogram H” is the “brand*” of the Medicine Hat Cowboy Poetry Foundation (*not registered as a livestock brand).

2021 Brand Stories

Daniel Negus Cavan

The ‘N’ brand represents Daniel’s original last name Negus. Cavan is the last name he adopted, the name of the Irish County his wife Annie came from. In 1883, Daniel Cavan was one of the first homesteaders in the Dunmore area.

Henry Negus Cavan

LH (Half Diamond, C, Half Diamond)
This brand for Henry Cavan’s horses and Hereford cattle was passed it to his grandson Warren. Now his great grandson’s cattle still carry that brand, but they are Angus /Hereford cross now. They still have a few straight Herefords from the original herd.

Calvin and Lionel Cavan

LR (K, Running Bar, C)
In 1958 Calvin and Lionel bought additional land near Chappice Lake and obtained their own brands, K—C and –CL

Lionel Cavan

This brand was passed to his grandson Lance Henry Cavan upon Lionel’s passing in 1996 mostly because they shared the same initials (reversed on the brand). Lance’s middle name is that of his great-grandfather, Henry Cavan

Lance & Lana Cavan

<c> Right Side
In 2005-06, Lance and his brother purchased their great-grandfather’s brand, all positions, now 5th generation Cavan Ranches. When the ranch split, Lance received the right side brands because he is left-handed.

Dan & Erin Cavan

In 2005-2006 Dan and his brother purchased their great grandfather Henry’s brand, all positions, now 5th generation Cavan Ranches. When the ranch split it was decided that being Dan was right-handed he would receive the left side brands. Dan Cavan he carries his great-great-grandfather’s first name. 

Mick and Elaine Nieman

RR This was the brand that came with the first ranch and the cattle they bought from Wilf Davidson. They used this brand on her own little herd brought from Cavan Ranches at the time.
Mick and Elaine Nieman there is a second brand entry:
Brand: lazy S over Y, RH
“This is the brand we used when we dabbled in registered Hereford cattle for a short time. But we decided we were just ranchers”

For our 2020 Medicine Hat Cowboy boy Poetry and Western Music Show we’ve added the following Brand Stories:

Doris Daley

The Daley family brand is the campstool. It has a modest connection to Fort Walsh, not far from Medicine Hat. James Daly was a NWMP constable (enlistment number 266) and was stationed for some time at Fort Walsh, and later Fort Macleod. When he left the service, he took the NWMP’s X brand, put the crossbar on top, and registered the Campstool in 1883. (He also gained an “E”: he came out of the force James “Daley”).

The Wright Ranch

Ken Wright, Maple Creek, SK
M connected K on the left shoulder for horses and left rib for cattle. Ken got his first cow at age 10, the same year he got the MK connected brand in partnership with his dad.

Memorial Brand Stories:

Peter Fitterer

1933 – 2020
Bar E F LR
If people asked him, “How many cattle you feedin?”
Pete always replied, “I feed ’em all!”

John Schnell

1916 – 2007
J S Right Hip
John’s son Larry used the same brand until 2012. They heated the irons in the blacksmith shop a couple hundred yards away. As a 10-year-old Glen, the younger son remembers running the hot irons from the forge and through a 3-wire fence to the cattle. “Make sure you don’t drop the iron!” was the caution.

Herb Weiss

1927 – 2014
H W bar Left Shoulder
Herb wanted a rib brand but it was already used so he ended up putting his initials on the left shoulder. His motto was: “I wouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”

For the 2019 Medicine Hat Cowboy Poetry and Western Music in Harmony show we asked local ranchers for their Brand stories, which were included in our program.

Historic Reesor Ranch
Bar M5

This brand was originally owned by Markham Ranching Company for which WD Reesor was manager  from 1900 to 1904.  After a killer May storm in 1903, the company folded and WD Reesor bought up the remaining assets and obtained the brand. Today Bar M5 is owned in Alberta by Lyle Reesor, son of Keith and Helen Reesor.  Leanne Reesor, daughter of Scott and Theresa Reesor owns it in Saskatchewan.

X Bar Diamond

Jim and Carol Hern

Their ranch is in the Bindloss community which is about 85 miles north of Medicine Hat on Highway 41. Jim is the grandson of William Fowlie, his mother’s father who homesteaded in the area in 1912. Hern ranching operation consists of two ranches, the X Bar 4 Ranch and the Bar Diamond Ranch. From 1963 cattle from both ranches wore the X-4 brand.  In 2013 we incorporated both ranches names into a new registered brand, X-^.  (diamond)

Bar A Reverse R

Les & Diana Roth: Taking his father’s brand meant Les didn’t have to rebrand as he gradually bought dad’s cattle.  Albert recognized each of his animals at a glance.  He wanted a large brand, and large it is.  Even so, there was that one time when he stopped the auctioneer because someone else was selling his cow.

1923-2017 Floyd Brusky: This brand was also on the door of Floyd’s new 1967 Ford truck made with a 22 rifle. At a branding there was talk about being a good shot. Floyd had only one bullet hole out of place. The truck did go to Sunny’s Auto Body the very next day for an ‘erase’ job.

1918-2009 Jack Trieber: His daughter, Millie remembers they always had to bake a batch of spudnuts and were sure to have cold beer on hand for the brandings. Who helped them varied from year to year.  It was neighbors or family and sometimes it was the ball team.

Gerald & Bernice Kunz: Albert Kunz passed the brand to his son, Gerald. For years branding was a neighbour event in which Ken Bauer, Ted Adams & our family helped each other.  After branding, the herds would be trailed on horseback to the government-run Bitter Lake PFRA pasture, then back again in the fall. PFRA lease lands have since been privatized meaning farmers and ranchers form a co-op and run it themselves.

Bob and Carol Eisenbarth: One year, just as their branding had begun, this one Charolais went wild.  She jumped over the corral, over the neighbor’s fence and was out of sight. Two days later she was found five miles from home, one white amongst a herd of Black Angus. She didn’t hit home; she went directly to the sale.

Triangle E Bar

Shelley Goldbeck’s Brand Story: My dad, Ernie Goldbeck and my mom, Ilene (pronounced Eileen) took over the farm when my grandpa, Peter Goldbeck passed away when I was 11. Here is the story my dad told us about the brand when we were young:

“The Triangle represents you three kids”. That was my brother, my sister and me. “I’m E, of course!” he said.  “And the Bar (the “lying down” letter ‘I’) is your mother. She’s the one who keeps us all together.”  My parents are married 63 years.

Rafter KP

Larry Krause’s Brand Story: Dad’s brand was Half Diamond (we always called it Rafter) over joined HL. We still have the branding iron. It has found its place as a prop at my SHAW TV Timberline Music Show.

     When we were designing our brand, we wanted to carry the heritage “Rafter” to the next generation. We decided on having KP under the Half Diamond. This represented Gail and my last names, Krause and Pfeiffer being joined under one roof, as in fact we are.

Time wore on, we sold our cattle and relocated. But once in a while we’d see a nice bunch of Polled Herefords with the Rafter KP. It’s a bit of a legacy.

Shortgrass Ranch

The Lehr Family got their first brand in the early 1960’s when Dad bought the brand with the cattle.

The brand changed to two characters and the operation grew immensely as two sons and three grandsons gradually took over ownership. The brand is electric now and the traditional branding party has been replaced by a ranch crew of five and a calf table.

1925-2018 Bill Treiber: His son Wayne said: Each of us knew our job. My older cousin and uncle would hold the beasts down while dad branded.  You’d get the odd cow that would chase you up the fence.  There were always wet cow paddies to mess with.

Bar MZ

1936-2002 Herb Zollner: His dad, Martin gave him a heifer when he was 16.  Now he needed a brand; he wanted his very own brand. Martin’s brand was Bar MZ.

Double Bar Z

He’d use his dad’s bar and the Z iron.  (By the way, a double bar is no longer allowed as a new Alberta brand.) Herbie’s land was more suitable for cropping, so the PFRA was our summer pasture. Ours was a family farm, so branding was a family affair. Then came having to stop right in the middle of seeding to haul the cattle to pasture. We had to put the cattle racks on the seed truck, haul for two days, then take the racks off again. The worst part was cleaning all that guck off the truck box before seeding again.

Tarry & Audrey Herter: This is a tough one to brand. First you have to be sure all four ends of the X touch the circle. Then you have to know how to brand or you’ll over brand and it’s a blotch.  As a new brand it’s probably not even allowed anymore but it was passed down from dad, Ben Herter so it’s perfectly legal.

Michael & Marie Kulyk: The brand is his mother’s initials (Florence Kulyk). Credit to Mike Kulyk, Sr for acknowledging his wife in this way, an equal in their ranching operation. Michael and Marie live on the home place his grandfather, Steve Kulyk, homesteaded in 1916.

Wendell and Dawn Straub: Our girls, Mindy & Kimberley want to be involved in all the farm and ranch activities.  Branding is the perfect time for them to be part of it all, helping sort, carrying pails and even helping wrestle the calves, doing whatever they can.

Ross and Cindy Straub: Border View Farms Ltd. is a fourth generation farm, homesteaded in 1912. The R1 brand was registered in 1974 and is still used today. Annual branding parties bring neighbours & friends together to socialize and identify cattle before being moved to pastures. Sometimes there are as many helpers as animals. Different methods are used to get the job done including calf tables, old fashioned wrestling, roping and norforks.

2 Lazy Left 2

Phyllis  Rathwell Our brand is 2 Lazy Left 2.  This was the brand we registered after selling the last of our herds and the last bit of hay land.  We chose Two Lazy Two as a way to recognize the hard work of friends and neighbours who continue ranching, and to declare that we are now at a place in our lives when we are ‘too lazy to ranch’.

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