OLDS, Alta. — When Gary Latimer looks across the show ring at the Olds Mega Dome, he remembers his father Louis.
“He loved these cattle shows,” he said.
A long-time ambassador for the purebred cattle industry who understood the value of genetic improvement and new technology, Louis Latimer has been inducted into the Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame. He died in 2010.
Born in 1923 near Bowden, Alta., he left home at 14 with a Grade 9 education and worked at various jobs. He and Jean married in December 1945 and started Remitall Cattle Company, west of Olds in 1947.
Jean was always a full partner.
“She was a perfect complement to Louis. She was always positive and encouraging him to buy that good bull,” said their son, Bryan Latimer.
They had six children, Gary, Bryan, Nancy, Linda Henderson, Marlene Harvie and Elaine Urwin, who have all continued in the agriculture business. Gary and Bryan became partners with their father.
The Latimer story is one of hard work and striving for continuous improvement.
Shorthorn was the primary breed in the early days and when the Latimer family came from Missouri, they introduced these cattle to the farm at Bowden in 1902.
Latimers entered some of the first Shorthorn bulls at the Calgary Bull Sale.
Louis was the first to import Shorthorn semen from Australia and purchased Hereford genetics from New Zealand. He bought other herds to build the Remitall herd.
“He had a good eye for picking out the ones that were raw to start with. He had a feeling for cattle,” said Bryan.
Always considering breed improvement, Louis shifted to polled genetics because customers wanted hornless cattle. He added polled Herefords in 1960 and the Shorthorns were dispersed in 1972.
“Shorthorns had decreased in numbers quite a bit. At that time the Herefords had the largest registry in Canada,” said Bryan.
A great promoter, Louis believed showing cattle was a good marketing tool.
In 1956, the Remitall operation had the champion pen of Shorthorn bulls in the stockyards at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, and later individuals were shown in the open show, winning championships in 1962-63.
“There was nobody from Canada doing that. It was unheard of,” said Bryan.
Later at Denver, he showed the national champion Hereford two years in a row in 2002 and 2003 with a bull named Remitall Online 122L, recognized as one of the most influential bulls in the Hereford breed. Another home bred bull, Remitall Keynote 20X was also recognized as one of the most influential bulls in the Hereford genetic base.
The family participated fully on the farm and at the shows.
“Louis’s crew was the family,” said Bryan.
“Louis always had a lot of confidence in everybody.”
The family introduced Black Angus in 1977 and owned Gelbvieh from 1990-99. Louis went on to win national champion bull in all three breeds in one year.
He also had a John Deere business in Olds for a time and gradually worked his sons into the farm partnership.
Working together was critical even when the farm was split into different units. The transition was easy because there were regular family conversations over a pot of coffee and he was always there to advise and help.
“You can do tremendous things when you work together,” said Gary.
Gary and his son, Richard, run Remitall Farms, which is Angus while Bryan has Remitall West, with Angus and Hereford cattle.
There was always time for family and he mentored breeders who looked to him for guidance.
“Right around the world people regarded him as one of the best around,” said Gary.
Louis also made time for volunteering and chaired the beef committee for the Calgary Stampede and a shorter-lived winter show called Roundup.
He served a director on the Canadian Hereford Association and was a president of the Alberta Hereford Association that had a bull test station and a spring sale called Best by Test.
The family worked with Masterfeeds, which used the Remitall name for developing show rations and calf creep feed.
New technology was embraced including genetic testing.
“He could see possibilities in things,” said Gary.
“He always had a vision for the farm and what he wanted.” he said.
They also were among the first to have onfarm production sales. The family continues with live auctions as well as private sales.
Louis was an early adopter of artificial insemination being the first to collect semen on the farm.
The semen was sold around the world and his sons believe Remitall cattle have made an impact.
At Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, his grandson Richard led out the supreme champion with an Angus bull.
The list of honours also includes being recognized by the Beef Improvement Federation and being named stockman of the year at the Denver stock show. He was also named a Shorthorn Builder of the Breed, Alberta Angus breeder of the year and he and Jean are on the Hereford Honour Roll.
The Latimers were also recognized as a BMO Farm Family from the Calgary Stampede.
Louis Latimer will be inducted this fall at a ceremony in Quebec Nov. 28.