ALEXANDER HENRY BEERE

ALEXANDER HENRY BEERE

by Reg Beere
Updated by Nenon Beere
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society


Alexander Henry Beere was born at Adare County, Limerick, Ireland, on August 20, 1881. His father, Alexander Beere, was a civil servant supervising the survey and maintenance of County Limerick roads. Earlier in life he had had experience as a sailor. Harry’s mother was Alice Maunsell (Mansl), three of whose brothers were ranching at Fort Macleod, Alberta, at the time Harry Beere was born. Six of the Beere children lived to adulthood: Gerald, George, Aline, Harry, Lulu (Louise), and Florence. Florence alone was alive in 1973, living in Cork, Ireland.

The father of this family died before Harry Beere reached teenage, and their mother brought them up. Harry’s school days were not happy ones as he did not get on well with his teacher, Mr. Jago. Jago’s son, interning a while from teacher’s college, gave him some encouragement but Harry left school at roughly the eighth grade. The school was a one-roomed one, a “Protestant National School”, operated in a large room remaining from a medieval abbey. The school room had been the monk’s rectory or dining room.

Harry liked the farm and applied himself to the chores on Fernlea, the family’s three-acre farmstead. He associated with the servants and itinerant workers such as the handyman O’Hickey, who came around to repair all the family shoes. While he argued politics and the course of the Boer War with these Catholic neighbors, he learned the tricks of their trades. His knack of sewing with pig bristles twisted into the thread along with cobbler’s wax stood him in good stead for harness repair on the ranch and the farm in Alberta.

Harry’s next older brother, George, was employed as a stenographer by a Limerick lawyer, Peter Fitzgerald, and for about two years Harry became the farm manager of Mondelihi, the Fitzgerald farm at Adare. Before he was twenty-two, however, he left this foremanship to come to Fort Macleod, Northwest Territories (later Alberta), to the I V Ranch of his uncles Ned and Harry Maunsell. He took the mail boat from Dublin to Liverpool to catch the liner from there to Montreal. In Liverpool his suitcase was ransacked and he had a new lock put on at a luggage shop. He carried a sack of gold, his inheritance from his father’s estate, in his clothing.

On first arrival at Fort Macleod, Harry stayed in town with his brother Gerald and his wife, Florence McKiernan Beere. Jerry Beere was an auctioneer’s clerk, insurance and real estate agent. He served in World War I and moved to Calgary to work for the Soldier’s Settlement Board, where he died in 1923.

At the I V Ranch on the Oldman Ranch, six miles west of Fort Macleod, he found his two uncles and their wives and the two families of cousins living in a large house, sharing a common kitchen with a Chinese cook and a school room with a tutor. It was June 1903 and Aunt Jeanette (Mrs. Ned Maunsell) said to Harry as they drove from Macleod to the Lower I V Ranch, “Isn’t everything green, Pat?” The new arrival from Erin could not believe the prairie was really green, but he tried to agree politely.

“Pat” was given to Harry Beere as a nickname since he was fresh from Ireland and as one Harry was enough in the house, especially with a teen-age Henry Maunsell, Harry’s son, also on the ranch.

After a few months at the Lower I V, Pat was sent up to the Maunsell cow camp or “Upper I V Ranch” at Spring Ridge. Here the foreman was Dick Duthie, but two brothers from Wyoming, Roy and Frank McLaughlin, started riding at the Upper I V in 1903, and Frank was to become the next foreman and eventually bought the land. Roy worked for other ranches, then returned to Maunsells. Frank never left the Upper I V and he and Pat Beere were fast friends from the first. The Spring Ridge cow camp was established because Maunsells had leased the grazing land of the Peigan Indian Reserve. Pat’s saddle mates included Phillip Big Swan I, Weasel Bear, Morning Bull, and others. These companions named him “Apistamuk” for the white tennis cap which he wore on the range when he was new in the country.

Pat often got to travel on the train to tend shipments of Maunsell cattle. Maunsells had an interest in a packing house in Greenwood, B.C. The train trips to Grand Forks involved ferry rides on both the Kootenai and Arrow Lakes. One trip Pat always spoke of was to Chicago with a shipment of the Maunsell cattle. Pat Beere was a tea-totaller, but the other two men from the I V, Cap Baker and Marian Olive, were not. Marian Olive was a bartender as well as a cowboy – and the travelers had to have a look at every bar they saw at all the train stops and in Chicago.

In 1911 Harry Beere returned to Ireland on the “Empress of Canada” to have a six months visit with his family. He kept Mary McLaughlin, who then lived with her brother Frank at the I V, well complemented with post cards as he travelled.

In Ireland he had unlimited time for tennis, golf and badminton. He won some tournaments in badminton – and he golfed until he was nauseated. His boyhood friends were now lawyers, clergymen, bank clerks and when any one of them needed a companion for golf, Harry was asked to go.

In the mid-thirties, there were a few tennis courts around Spring Ridge and Pat Beere, at 55 or so, surprised all the new players with his good backhands. When he retired to Pincher Creek at 71, he had about fifteen years of golf left in him, and he was constantly on the course with Scott Bishop and Walter Marcellus.

Harry Beere had homesteaded a quarter section west of the Upper Ranch, taking over the claim of an earlier settler named Voucher, and had proved it before his visit home to Ireland. We now commenced to live on the Wells place, of which he bought eighty acres from Jack Heggley. He would live in the shack on his homestead when working there, but made his real home in the Wells shack. From this home near the top of the hill he commanded a grand view. In the distance he could see Iron Springs through his binoculars. Nearer at hand he could see the Krewatch sod shack and Joe and John Krewatch’s houses (as of 1973 on the Les Duffield land). By this time John Krewatch had moved to the Cassevelo homestead on the SE quarter of the section, and bought the south eighty acres of the Wells’ place, making him Pat’s neighbor across the south fence line.

Mary McLaughlin was living on the adjoining Tom Nash quarter which Pat owned in partnership with Frank McLaughlin. He hauled Mary water from his good well and began to court her. The couple was married by Reverend Gretton in Pincher Creek on December 14, 1914, and set off by train for a three-month honeymoon in California.

Upon their return they lived on the Tom Nash place, the NW quarter S12 T6 R28 W4, until retiring to Pincher Creek in 1952.

A son, Reginald Henry, was born to the Beeres in the Galt Hospital in Lethbridge, September 15, 1917, and when the infant’s name was fully decided, Pat Beere saddled his gray mare “Astoria” and rode over the hill to the SW quarter to register with the spring Ridge Postmaster Jim McNellis.

There was more hardship in farming through the twenties and thirties than in the ranching years. In the spring of 1920, Pat Beere was skinning calves that died of the “hard winter”. In 1923 Mary Beere reamed lemons to add to grasshopper bait with real longing, lemons to eat were a luxury farmers could not then afford. In 1936 Harry hayed buckbrush. It provided excellent bedding for his cattle the following winter, if not much feed. In the same summer Harry and Reg drove seven early Hereford calves to Brocket with their mothers, driving the cows home after delivering the calves to the buyer. The calves were large and crinkly with fat, but the selling price was fifty dollars -- $7.14 per calf. Older stock sold even worse. Luckily for Reg Beere, turkeys were a fairer price at Christmas 1936 and his parents were able to keep him in Calgary for the year of teacher training provided at the “Normal School”.

Harry Beere never became a tractor farmer. Instead, as he grew older, he hired tractor work done by his good friend, John Janzen, who had bought the Jim McNellis place. When Pat retired, John Janzen’s sons Peter and John, in turn farmed the 240 acres on shares.

Mary Beere died in 1960. Harry Beere kept on with his golf and his gardening. From 1962 on, his son Reg, daughter-in-law Mildred and grandchildren Nenon and Evelyn Beere, shared his home. His old Pincher Creek house, the Anglican rectory of Canon Havelock Smith’s time, became a duplex so that the old round-up cook could make his own meals and set his own pace yet enjoy his grandchildren.

Harry Beere died on February 11, 1971.