By Mr. Jack Hannam, Sr.
From the Kiskatinaw River to the East Pine there weren’t any cattle until 1919 when some World War veterans homesteaded a part of the land. Early in the summer of 1919, Bill Haight and his wife from Southern Alberta filed on land which later was named Progress District. They brought with them about twenty head of cattle. After battling along for a long tough winter, they decided that stock feeding here was too long and expensive a period for their liking. So in the spring of 1920 they moved on looking for green, rather than white pastures. Before leaving they sold all their cattle to their neighbours, the homesteading veterans. That was the beginning of the cattle raising industry in this country. Nondescript sires were used because a good bull was too expensive. The number of cattle gradually increased during the 1920’s. Some were bought in the Dawson Creek area.
During the life of the creamery on the Pouce Coupe River, some of the families augmented their income by shipping cream once a week, which was great help.
When the 1920’s arrived so did many more settlers and they took advantage of the Federal Government bull-loaning policy. To qualify we had to form three cattle associations within easy distance of each other thereby establishing a livestock improvement centre. Each association had to have at least three members with enough cows suitable to the bull as near as possible to capacity. Yearlings — twenty-five cows. Two-year olds — forty cows.. Three-year olds and over — seventy-five cows. The government delivered a purebred bull to each association, to the nearest railroad depot, where the appointed caretakers took charge. After two or three years the associations exchanged bulls, this giving the livestock association about nine years of purebred bull service for the low cost of care and feeding. The breeding fee was one dollar payable to the caretaker, with usually a free meal thrown in to the customer. Hence it was a social occasion all around. From then on the number and quality of cattle increased quite satisfactorily, proving the government policy a welcome success.
Of special note in the cattle breeding history is Mr. & Mrs. Henry Bentley of Benlyn Farms, Progress. With his sons Bill and Doug, he built up from scratch an excellent herd of purebred heifers that would do a stockman’s heart good to look over. How this excellence was achieved you know best, and for sure it was not with too much rest.