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Bar U Ranch National Historic Site

Restoring Historic Buildings at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site


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Founded in 1882, the Bar U Ranch in Alberta was once one of Canada’s largest ranching operations.

It was designated a national historic site in 1989

Bar U Ranch is the only national historic site that commemorates the importance of ranching in Canada

Many of the site’s original buildings still stand

Parks Canada began restoration work on some of these buildings in 2016

Including the Workhorse Barn

The Workhorse Barn was built between 1883 and 1892

It is one of the earliest and largest log structures at the Bar U Ranch

The barn was critical to operations due to the ranch’s dependence on horsepower

The Workhorse Barn is designated as a classified Federal Heritage Building

This is the same designation as the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa

In May 2020, Parks Canada moved the Workhouse Barn off its foundation

It took two days to lift the barn and move it to the side

This allowed important restoration work to be carried out

In July 2020, the barn was moved back onto its new foundation

This project required five years of preparation by architects, engineers, historians and cultural resource experts

The restored barn includes a new foundation, floor, logs and paint

Restoring these buildings preserves the history of ranching in Canada

For future generations to enjoy

Come experience old-style ranching for yourself!

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Bar U Ranch: Where Ranching History Comes Alive


It all started with the grass; the allure of grazing your cows in belly-high pastures on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains.

And soon over 30000 cattle were grazing the over 160000 acres of unfenced grassland.

It was a hard life, a life with simple ways of doing things, but a free life as well.

And that’s the life that we celebrate here.

The Bar U Ranch is the only site within Parks Canada that celebrates the cowboy way of life;

a lifestyle that shaped the history of western Canada and the world.

So come on down and take a wagon ride on the Percheron horses;

the Bar U was once home to the largest herd in the world of these gentle giants.

Come to the cookhouse and have traditional baking prepared before your eyes.

Watch a leatherworker repair harnesses and tack still used on the ranch today;

or a blacksmith fabricating everyday ranch items.

Check out the old barns and try your hand at roping,

And stop by round-up camp and learn about a rich tradition through great yarns with cowboy coffee and bannock.

Experience history, a history that lives on in all of us, a history we want to share with you.

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