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Brewsters Mountain Lodge, Banff Canada

The Brewster Family – A Brief History


Before the Irish famine in the 1840’s, William Brewster managed the Irvine Estate in Irvine, Fernanagh, Erie. James Irvine, a friend & a doctor, had immigrated to Canada & encouraged his friend William to come to Canada. Sarah Jane Irvine followed her brother soon after to Kingston, ON. Here it was that Sarah Jane, an heiress to land
Brewster Family History
holdings in Ireland, married the manager William Brewster, and while farming in Ontario raised eight children. John, the 5th born in 1852, married Isabella Thompson, farming until following the railroad west to Winnipeg where he worked in mill shops before coming to Banff. Isabella Brewster with her four sons, William, James, Fred & Jack arrived in Banff, AB via CP Rail from Winnipeg, MB on March 17, 1888 to join her husband John who had decided Banff would become their permanent home. George, Pearl (1st white baby girl), & F.O. Pat were born in Banff. John, on the advice of his brothers who had visited the mountains earlier, told him of the opportunities in the West, thus he started a dairy to service the Banff Springs hotel & the community. This was the start of a great adventure for the Brewster Family in Banff National Park.

Brewster Family History - The Boys
The dairy herd could not remain in Banff through the winter so John established his homestead at the base of Yamnuska Mountain. Today, it is the Kananaskis Guest Ranch & golf course and still remains in the family. John’s young sons, W. A. (Bill) & James (Jim) didn’t like delivering milk. A family friend, Joshua Twin Wildman, taught the boys how
to survive in the wilds. So at ages 12 & 10, the boys began to taking guests on Pack Trips into the mountains. They would begin outfitting operations, livery service, tally-ho horse drawn carriages to bring guest from the railway station to the Banff Springs Hotel, and would go on to acquire a mercantile, opera house and the Mount Royal Hotel.

The division came with motorized vehicles in the 1930’s. Jim developed the Transport Company, Bill managed transportation for 30 years & quit. Bill remained in outfitting, but also built Brewster Industries in Banff in 1947 to house a Ford dealership. His building remains part of Brewster’s Mountain Lodge, which opened in 1996.
Brewster Family History - Brewster Transport Company

Brewster Family History - The Girls
Claude with his mother, Missy, developed the original homestead into the Kananaskis Guest Ranch in 1923. With his wife Ruth, Claude continued guest ranching raising two sons, Bud & Jack, at the Ranch. Today, Janet – Bud’s eldest daughter, operates the Guest Ranch, 81 years after its opening. The Ranch has been operated by
the women of the family - Missy, Ruth, Annette & now Janet, indicating strong female influences within the family.

Claude, 3rd generation Canadian, is probably the least known because he was quiet, unassuming, but a giant in his humanitarianism. At his own expense, he would care for his staff through food chits, waived rents & gave his own shirt; Claude was also an active politician in the Liberal Party, a personal friend of Louise St. Laurent, Prime
Brewster Family History - Isabella and John Brewster
Minster of Canada in the 1950's. He was active in the Chamber of Commerce & many local organizations. Because Claude had grown up with the Stoney Indians at Seebe, AB, he was able to promote the Trans Canada Highway through the reserve. He was prominent in bringing Sulphur Mountain Gondola, (now Banff Gondola), into the Park, through his political connections. He worked for years to promote Indian Days, a native festive affair held during the summer & now, about to be reintroduced.

Brewster Family History - The Donut Tent
When Banff decided to put in a bid for the winter Olympics for 1968, Claude was part of the team. Unfortunately, Claude passed away in 1968, and no Olympics. My father–in–law, Claude, led me into future ventures. He’d done some special events for VIP clients & convinced me that there was a future in a BBQ specialty business. I promised & today
our youngest daughter Alison & her husband Bryan Niehuas have developed an incredible business, Mount View BBQ - the dream came true.

Bud, 4th generation & youngest son of Claude & Ruth, slowly took on the task of his family’s enterprises. When we married in 1959, moving to live in Banff, Bud had taken over the operation of Brewster’s Mountain Pack Trains, outfitting the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, & Skyline Hikers, back country camping groups during
Brewster Family History - The Ridge
the summer months as well as the trail riding concession the had with CP Hotels in Banff & Lake Louise. By 1962, he purchased the company from this father. Since Bud considers himself a carpenter the first building was a new stable in Banff. In the early 1970's, he would sell the Banff portion of the company to Warner & Mackenzie, two cowboys who worked with Bud. My job in all of this is what, you might ask? I became the chief cook & bottle washer - plus the bookkeeper, food organiser, & anything that needed doing, all the while caring for our three young daughters - Janet, Corinne & Alison.

Brewster Family History - Kananaskis Guest Ranch Golf Course
Today this company is in the capable hands of our son-in-law, Kevin Stanton & Janet. He has built the Brewster’s Cowboy Dance Barn in Lake Louise & a thriving sleigh ride operation around the lake in the winter time, all successful. Bud’s next undertaking was the family home – The Kananaskis Guest Ranch near Seebe, Alberta. Since his parents
wanted to retire, Bud purchased the Ranch & for eight years it was a holding area for all the Park operations, at one point there were nearly 400 head of horses in all. That was part of his decision to sell. Horses are live stock that need feed and care all year-round, and were becoming too costly so he scaled back. Since the Ranch was becoming in need of revitalization, he went in, building again, probably nearly 30 buildings including the Main Ranch House. Thus began a new venture.

Bud's Cousins Jim and his wife Alma, operated for a few years but did not enjoy tourism, so I cut off the BBQ business for the summer months so I could manage the Ranch. Our children, older now were a huge help and now the Ranch is in the capable hands of Janet, our eldest daughter. Meanwhile, back in the Park, Bud had purchased Shadow Lake Cabin from Brewster Transport, (Jim Brewster), a back-country facility which is under license with Parks Canada. We had to fight to keep the Cabin & it was difficult, but in 1990, we obtained permission to develop. So again the builder went in, actually riding a bike at times. The Cabin is at least 15 km from the Trans-Canada Highway, so the development wasn't easy. All the new cabin logs had to be air lifted to the site, but by the end of 1990, there were six cabins standing in the meadow with a view of Mount Ball. Today, Shadow Lake Lodge & Cabins & more development are in the capablehands of Bryan Niehaus, our son-in-law who is a genius at mechanics and technology, and our daughter, Alison, who is an incredible cook & organizer, as was her grandmother.

Moving forward, Bud's grandfather, W.A. (Bill), fondly referred to as "The Boss", owned property on Caribou Street, when The Boss died in 1970, Bud pursued ownership since no other family member appeared interested. Buying out the shareholders, Bud acquired the property in 1974 with the idea of developing a hotel. That did not happen, so Bud, the builder, developed his grandfather's property into retail, office & apartment space. Always with the future in mind, he acquired adjacent property, believing that one day; he would be able to build a hotel. When Banff became a town in 1990 and, with rezoning, he got his wish. With the help and planning of his daughter Janet, and a fabulous architect, the new Brewster's Mountain Lodge came to fruition. This time though, the builder was told the project was too much for him to do. So what does this illustrious man do? He had a hobby called golf, so over a ten year period he designed, walked miles, and built a golf course called Kananaskis Ranch Golf Resort at the Ranch. It was designed and irrigated for 18 holes; 9 holes are up and running with daughter Cori in charge. We had to put the ambitious man into hold when we came to the downturn but Bud's golf course, designed for families, is also a success.

Bud also renovated the Bankhead Station House, which he had inherited from his Aunt Syd, into 5 apartments. The upper apartment was my first home. When we bought our first house at 123 Muskrat Street, he renovated that too. We raised our young family there for 12 years, but Bud hated that house, so he was always searching for a new location. He found it at 509 Buffalo Street. It was a huge lot with a big house, strategically located to one side, giving Bud the opportunity to sub-divide, which he pursued and after 4 years, and a trip to Ottawa, he finally achieved his subdivision. We were the first in the community to do so, and then it became very common. I designed our house & Bud, along with Cowboy Construction, built our home and we moved in June of 1974, where we live today. Our family has given us 5 grand children, now the sixth generation of Canadians and we are proud of all of them, all young achievers. If they grow up to follow in their grand father's foot-steps, they will be very successful. As for me, I've had quite an exciting life, appreciating the beauty of our incredible mountain surroundings. My wish to you is to enjoy what nature provides free of charge.


Respectively submitted, Annette Brewster; wife, mother & grandmother and married to Bud Brewster, 4th generation, for 45 years.

 
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