Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cattle Branding Out Here

            When did regulated cattle branding get underway in Western Canada?  As a consequence of the end of the fur trade about 1845, formerly busy trading posts either closed or became notorious as whiskey outlets.  Federal governments on both sides of the 49th parallel set about securing their lawless western territories by encouraging settlement and commerce.  "Starting in the early 1870s, a number of men in the southern North-West Territories of Canada kept a few head of cattle for their own meat and dairy supplies and, from 1874, for trade with the North-West Mounted Police and the native population ... In the 1880s they began recording their brands with their stock associations, and the police acted as hide inspectors when cattle were being sold or shipped to market.  However, a lot of the cattlemen - in particular those who were not members of associations and could not register brands - did not properly mark their animals ... It was not until the North-West Council 'hide ordinance' of 1898 that all brands could be properly registered."  This initial ordinance, as it turned out, was full of legal loopholes, and in 1900 a new one had to be enacted.  "The first brand book appeared as early as 1888 and new ones were issued from time to time.  However, there apparently were few copies and they were poorly updated and distributed.  That changed as a result of pressure from the Western Stock Growers Association.  By 1907 the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were publishing their own brand books."   I was happy to discover the other day that a very old leather-bound brand book has survived in the possession of a close friend of mine.  I look forward to perusing it.  (Quotes herein are from Cowboys, Gentlemen & Cattle Thieves by Warren M. Elofson.)

Today's Good News:  Back then folks wouldn't have a problem coming up with a solution to the U.S. debt problem!