McKillop Ranch selected for Century Farm Awards

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Posted: 
Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Peter McKillop was born in 1918 in Stirling Scotland.

Peter’s uncle, Bill Forsyth, had been a resident of Bearberry for many years. The McKillops learned of all the acres of land available in Canada for a small sum of money and lots of improvement work.  Uncle Bill homesteaded the Bearberry quarter in 1912; and in 1926 his sister and family, including Peter, headed for Canada.

After arrival they moved out to Bearberry to live with Uncle Bill.  Peter went to school in Bearberry and rode 5.5 miles on horseback to get there. He became accustomed to horses and started rodeo at an early age.

Following his father’s passing, Pete helped his brother farming and then joined the Canadian armed forces for 5 years.  He also guided tourists and fishing parties and trailed horses through the Rocky Mountains. He purchased a half section on the flats at Sundre and in 1945 sold them to purchase his uncle’s quarter in Bearberry allowing Uncle Bill to retire to Sundre.  

Frances (Hayes) McKillop was born on September 25, 1928, the oldest of the seven children of Elmer and Christine Hayes.  She came from a family of strong women and that strength has been much needed throughout her life.

When serious illness struck both her parents it was Frances who assumed the task of looking after the younger children. In 1948 she married Stanley Webb and with high hopes for a bright future together they began a family of their own. That future was not to be, as Stanley passed away while Frances was expecting her only child, Joyce.

On her own now, and with a child to raise, Frances spent the years of 1949 through 1954 as a camp cook for several of the sawmills in the area. Days were long and hard, filled with cooking, cleaning and caring for her young daughter.

The year 1954 brought a big change. Frances became Mrs. Peter McKillop and with her daughter they moved to the farm in Bearberry. In addition to running the farm, Frances and Pete put her many years of cooking experience to use by purchasing and operating the Corral Café in Sundre for 12 years.

Peter was a kind loving man that embraced Frances’ family and siblings making the farm a home for anyone who needed it.

Additional family responsibilities came to rest on Peter and Frances shoulders. The untimely deaths of two of Frances’ sisters left Frances at times helping to raise their children.  At the other end of the age spectrum, both Frances’ mother Christine Hayes and uncle Les Oliver made their home at the ranch helping where they could and shared the warmth of Frances’ extended family.

In 1977, it was another hard year in which Frances lost Peter and another sister but through the love and closeness of her family, she carried on. 

In 1988 the community expressed its appreciation for her many years of service by choosing Frances as their nominee for the “Heart of Gold” Award.

Frances transitioned from the farm into town in 2000.  Her granddaughter, Deanna, and her husband Marty Ringland, purchased the home quarter and took over the cattle ranch with their three small children Carlie, Jace and Lexie.  Deanna still owns the property and her son Jace currently resides there with his partner Bailey.  Frances also still owns the surrounding other 4 quarter sections.

Frances has a wonderful immediate family, including daughter Joyce and her husband Alan Jewell, granddaughters Deanna, Angela and Lana, and their spouses, along eight great-grandchildren.

In 2020 at 92 years of age, the highly respected and revered Frances – the heart and roots of the farm and the family – was awarded the “Century Farm Award” from Mountain View County along with the “Alberta Century Farm and Ranch award”.

- Bio provided by the McKillop Family


Frances McKillop receives the Century Farm Award on behalf of McKillop Ranch. 


Frances and Peter McKillop (bottom) shown on their wedding day in 1954.


The McKillop Family Farm shown in 1995.

 

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