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What is Bar U Ranch National Historic Site?

Nestled in the foothills of southern Alberta with the majestic Rocky Mountains as the backdrop, Bar U Ranch National Historic Site is one of the jewels in Parks Canada's crown. Our vision: to commemorate the evolution of the Canadian ranching industry and the contribution of the industry to the development of Canada.

This national historic site uses a living history approach to present the ranching industry.

The Bar U Ranch was one of a small group of large corporate ranches in western Canada. Established in 1882, it was one of the foremost ranching operations in Canada.

Key personalities included Fred Stimson, George Lane and Patrick Burns. Fred Stimson set out the foundation and infrastructure for the Bar U Ranch, which under George Lane achieved international repute as a centre of breeding excellence for cattle and purebred Percheron horses. Patrick Burns and his company modernized the ranch by replacing horses with tractors.

Artists, princes and outlaws have all called the Bar U Ranch home at various times in its colourful history. Famed western artist Charley Russell, H.R.H. Edward Prince of Wales, and Harry Longabaugh (better known as the Sundance Kid) were among the famous and infamous characters who graced the ranch's vast expanse at various times.

Recognizing that the Bar U Ranch's long history provided an excellent opportunity to commemorate Canada's ranching heritage, Parks Canada acquired 148.43 hectares (367 acres), including the ranch's headquarters area, in 1991.

The Bar U Ranch National Historic Site preserves a spirit of time and place by presenting a vibrant, living historic ranch with daily activities, group tourseducational programs and special events.

Bar U Ranch At A Glance

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site
Bar U Ranch National Historic Site © Parks Canada

  • Size: 148.43 hectares
  • Status: National Historic Site, established in December 31, 1991
  • Opened to the public on July 30, 1995
  • Features: original ranch headquarters situated along Pekisko Creek, consisting of 35 historic structures and visitor orientation centre
  • Nearest town: Longview (population 300)
  • Maintains livestock including saddle horses, draft horses and a cow/calf operation
  • Welcomes almost 20,000 visitors each year from Canada and around the world
  • Located in the Municipal District of Foothills where agriculture remains a major economic engine. Annual farm receipts amount to $237 million
  • Remains an important part of the foothills community, hosting school groups, youth groups, weddings and special events
  • The area is home to an abundance of wildlife including mule deer, whitetail deer, moose, elk, coyotes, wolves, cougars, black bears and grizzly bear
  • Pekisko Creek is an important trout spawning stream and tributary to some renowned fly fishing rivers