Ranch History

Sunday company at the Historic Reesor Ranch circa 1918.….GO WEST YOUNG MAN!!!

On February 25, 1847, David Reesor, one of Canada’s first Senators, married Emily McDougall, sister of William  McDougall, one of Canada’s “Fathers of Confederation”.   David and Emily had four daughters, Marion, Jessie, Annette and Nellie.  Then they had a son, William David, better known as WD.

WD married Alice Moffatt, from Carleton Place Ontario, the second youngest  of eighteen children.  They met in Pilot Mound, Manitoba, and were married in 1883.  They moved back to Markham Ontario, and lived there raising their four sons, Bruce, Frank, Harry and Colby.  WD farmed and raised registered  Jersey cattle, but times were hard and there was no room to expand.   With  the future of their four sons to think of,  the west with its boundless horizons no doubt called again and in 1900 WD headed west to the Cypress Hills, Graburn, Assiniboia, NWT (renamed Saskatchewan in 1905) to manage the Markham Ranch Company.  Alice and the boys followed by train in 1902.

A bad spring storm in 1903 killed 350 cows, over half of the Company’s cattle which in turn wiped out the Ranching Company enterprise financially, but  WD and Alice were determined to continue ranching for themselves and in 1904 they filed for a homestead claim on NW-22-8-30-W3, the present location of the ranch.  According to their homestead file, WD, Alice and their four sons “moved into a shanty April 1905 and began to build house at once, but only got painted and plastered – ready to move into December 1906.”   This log home is partially encased in the large ranchhouse which stands here today.  In 2016 we celebrated the centennial of this original home’s humble beginnings in 1906.

The present Arts & Craftstyle ranchhouse was built in 1916 and was one of the first in this area to have electricity and running water. WD and Alice hired a well known Building Contractor from Calgary, Alberta, A.B. Himmelman, to design and build it.  It was built for two families, themselves and one of their sons, Frank, and his wife, Hazel.

Starting the construction of their new ranch home in 1916 was a dream come true and today the Reesor family proudly displays and shares the family’s history with guests as they carry on with the 100 year family tradition of cattle ranching.


Honourable William McDougall with Prime Minister John A. McDonald and the Fathers of Confederation 1867

Steeped in Canada’s rich history with roots in Eastern Canada, we were pleased to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary along with millions of other Canadians in 2017.  We especially remember and honor our forefathers, Senator David Reesor and Honourable William McDougall.


Senator David Reesor 1867 Confederation

Honourable Senator David Reesor was a  member of the Senate of Canada from 1867 to 1901.  He was born in Reesorville (later the Village of Markham), Upper Canada in 1823 to parents Abraham Reesor and Anna Dettwiler, descended from Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite immigrants from Switzerland.   Reesor was editor of the Markham Economist. He was also a magistrate and notary public, Reeve of Markham and served as Warden for York and Peel counties. Though Reesor came from a pacifist Mennonite background, he became a lieutenant-colonel in the local militia. He was elected to the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada for King’s division in 1860 and served until Confederation when he was named to the Senate. During the debates preceding Confederation, Reesor supported an elected Senate.  Senator Reesor Drive in Markham is named in his honor.


Honourable William McDougall - Father of Confederation 1867

Father of Confederation Honourable William McDougall was born in 1822 near York, Upper Canada to Daniel McDougall and Hannah Matthews.   He was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1858 and served as Commissioner of Crown Lands and Provincial Secretary.  In 1863,  McDougall went to Washington D.C. to meet with President Abraham Lincoln in order to renegotiate the Reciprocity Treaty.  He accompanied Lincoln to Pennsylvania where Lincoln presented his famous Gettysburg Address.  In the 1950s, then US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when addressing a joint session of the Parliament of Canada, recounted the tale of the friendship between McDougall and Lincoln as an example of the long history of friendship between Canada and the US.  McDougall is considered a father of Canadian Confederation as he attended all three Confederation conferences in Charlottetown, Quebec and London.  Once the country formed, he served as Minister of Public Works in the McDonald government.   McDougall was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory in 1869 – 1870.  He served as an Independent-Liberal from 1875 – 1878 for the electoral district of Simcoe South.


Historic 100 year Photomerge
Historic WD & Alice Reesor Ranch – 100 year Photomerge

A tribute to the Reesor family…honoring our forefathers and celebrating our Western Canadian ranching industry.   

“The native prairie sweeping across the north slope of the Cypress Hills owes its resilience to root systems that extend deep into the earth where life giving moisture sustains its grasses. These grasses have in turn sustained the area’s ranching industry for well over a century and attracted the Reesor family to put down their own roots in the beautiful Cypress Hills. For more than 120 years, generation after generation of the Reesor family have served as stewards of the grasslands stretching across the family Ranch. Today, the 6th generation invite guests to share in their family’s connection to these ranchlands with their own brand of cowboy comfort and western hospitality. In 2017 the Historic W.D. & Alice Reesor Ranch became the first ranch in the Province to be designated as a Provincial Historic Site commemorating the role that the ranching industry has played in the development of Saskatchewan. This photomerge is a celebration of the deep roots the Reesor family have in this special place, and the unbroken continuity of care the family has given to their ranch and historic ranch-house. The family extends their deepest thanks to their many friends, neighbours and visitors for sharing in this journey with them.”

Sincerely, Royce E. W. Pettyjohn, PCED.SK  Park Manager  Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Saskatchewan, Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport  Box 850 Maple Creek, Sask., S0N 1N0  306-662-5416