Lorne Fuller (left) demonstrating rope making © Parks Canada
Lorne Fuller, a retired cattle rancher and farmer born and raised on the outskirts of Calgary eighty-one years ago, is one of the 100 volunteers recognized by Parks Canada, as part of its centennial, for his exceptional contribution.
The Bar U Ranch National Historic Site (NHS), located in the foothills of southern Alberta, commemorates the history and importance of ranching in Canada between the late 1800s and the mid-1900s. The Bar-U Ranch dates to 1882 when 158,000 acres of land, with the picturesque Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, were leased for the North West Cattle Company.
Parks Canada purchased the ranch in 1991, and Lorne became a volunteer four years later, though his personal connection with the ranch predates his volunteer involvement. His mother’s uncle worked here in the early 1900s, so Lorne likes to imagine what his great uncle might have been doing.
The Friends of the Bar U Ranch Association formed in 1989 and helps in many ways, including with special events most weekends, such as Old Time Ranch Rodeo, First Nations Day, and Roundup of Memories. During these special event days, Lorne demonstrates rope making. He uses the same machine, with a patent date of 1901, that his father used to make horse leads when Lorne was young. Every child that helps in the demonstration receives a length of rope.
Lorne has also spends many hours restoring vintage farm equipment to working condition as well as bring some of his own restored vehicles for display. Lorne delights in people enjoying the old equipment. As well, he donated a 1947 Mercury truck for display and general use by staff and volunteers.
Best described as an enthusiastic volunteer with a quick sense of humour, Lorne enjoys the camaraderie among volunteers and staff, working with children, and restoring old vehicles and farm equipment. “I came across Lorne one day with just his legs sticking out of the Mercury as he clutched a handful of wrenches. With the temperature in the high 20’s, it made what looked like a difficult job harder, but Lorne was doing it with a smile on his face”, says Volunteers’ Supervisor Michael McLean. Lorne usually volunteers at the ranch once a week with 6 other retired ranchers and farmers, finishing off his day with Cowboy coffee and bannock around the campfire as the ranch-hands might have done.