af contributor |cardston
When Richard Lowe and his son Robert crossed the border in 1898 into Canada, they fell in love with the country.
The appeal of land ideally suited for cattle hasn’t lessened for Jack Lowe since his grandfather and father homesteaded the family ranch, some of which is nestled against the border (about five kilometres east of the Carway Port of Entry and about 20 kilometres south of Cardston).
“Once you work with cattle, it gets in your blood,” said Jack Lowe.
He started ranching with his brother Jim when their dad passed away in 1957, and bought out his brother seven years later. He started with Shorthorns, then moved into Herefords, and when exotics arrived in Canada, started crossbreeding with Maine Anjou.
In 1988, Jack was ready to quit the cow business. But then Neil McKinnon at High River decided to sell about 1,000 head of red Angus-Simmental cross cows. Jack couldn’t resist.
He bought 150 head “of the best set of cows I had ever seen.”
“I got back into the cattle business,” he said.
Jack’s wife Ida emigrated with her family from Romania, first to the Schuler area and later near in the Elkwater and Taber areas, where her father was a grain farmer. Ida was raised with horses, “but I was bucked off so many times, I prefer my Japanese ‘horse’ now,” she said, referring to her car.
The couple met in Lethbridge, where Ida had moved to work, and have two children. Linda has an accounting background and son Val became a physician. He works in Rochester, Minn. at the Mayo Clinic.
The Lowes both came from frugal backgrounds. Ida remembers the days when her father said no new dresses this year because he had to make a land payment. Jack remembers the blood, sweat and tears fighting snow storms in winter, drought for many years in summer, and always the long hours at calving season. The couple have always held the opinion that either you’re moving ahead or going backwards. So they bought land as it became available, mostly to ensure they had adequate grazing for their expanding herd.
Ida is a passionate gardener, and notes she has two riding lawn mowers so the farmyard can be kept just right. She also worked in a Cardston nursing home for several years and volunteered with the Beef Information Centre while Jack has been involved in the surface rights debate and is a strong supporter of the Nature Conservancy movement that assures agricultural lands will be retained in production.
The couple commissioned a life-size bronze of Cardston-born jockey George Woolf and Seabiscuit, the world-famous racehorse he rode. Its recent unveiling at the Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston drew a crowd of nearly 1,000.
Jack said he wanted people to be aware of this piece of local history. The couple are also ardent supporters of the 4-H movement, and were instrumental in bringing the Cardston-area clubs back home for the annual achievement day, after years in Lethbridge.
“A lot of people here didn’t even know we had a 4-H club in Cardston,” he said. “We wanted it to become more of a community club.”