A Calgary businessperson has donated a portion of the historic OH Ranch to the Calgary Stampede Foundation.
Bill Siebens donated 8,000 acres, the buildings and the OH brand to commemorate the Stampede’s centennial. The gift is worth $11 million.
“I thought it was a good time to remind everyone what a special institution it is. I see it as an important link to Alberta’s past,” said Siebens, who has lived in Alberta for 54 years.
He also owns the neighbouring Tongue Creek Ranch.
Daryl “Doc” Seaman bought the land in 1987. He had the 16,000 acre site designated heritage rangeland to protect it from development and turned over its management to the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2008.
Siebens bought the ranch after Seaman died in 2009 with the intention of turning it over to the Stampede foundation to preserve the property’s environmental and cultural heritage.
The OH is a working ranch west of Longview and south of Calgary in the foothills.
Stampede president Mike Casey said the foundation will develop a plan to continue it as a working operation and a heritage site. An environmental management plan is already in place, and the Stampede does not want to change that, he added.
“We will take it slowly and do the right thing,” Casey said.
The ranch was founded in 1883 and has had five owners, including entrepreneur Pat Burns, one of the four founders of the Stampede.
The OH brand was first registered in 1881 to Orville Hawkins Smith and Lafayette French, who raised cattle on the site.
The ranch is protected to sustain native fescue rangelands by maintaining grassland ecology and through the use of grazing. It is not a recreational site.
The land is home to a number of rare species and is beside a grizzly bear habitat in Kananaskis Country, a provincially protected area.