Want to Enjoy a Romantic Interlude: Visit Reesor Ranch

by Habeeb Salloum     

Photos courtesy Habeeb Salloum

"You will have to live the life of a cowboy for a while”, an acquaintance I had met in Val Marie commented when I told him that I would the next day overnight at the Historic Reesor Ranch, edging the Cypress Hills.  Now, after touring the seductive Cypress Hills, as I turned to enter this historic ranch made tourist-friendly by its owners, I was impressed.  Surrounded by an inviting wooded and hilly countryside, its location appeared appealing, especially for those who seek solitude and quiet country life.  Semi-hidden away in a valley sloping down from Cypress Hills, its 1,000 acres over which over a hundred head of cattle roam appeared like a jewel encompassed in greenery - truly an ideal hideaway for honeymooners. 
           
The ranch stands in the forested highlands of Cypress Hills, a special area in Canada that is the highest point between the Rockies and the Atlantic.  Rising to about 1,468 m (4,816 ft) above sea level, the Cypress Hills in prehistoric times were an extension of the Rockies and one of the few places in Canada that escaped the effects of the last Ice Age some 15,000 years ago.  Called Mun-a-tuk-gaw (beautiful highlands) by the Cree, these hills, the First Nations’ hunting and wintering grounds for many centuries, are today one of Saskatchewan's most fascinating provincial parks - a year-round resort. 
           
Before being converted [turned ] into a tourist abode Reesor Ranch had a long history of raising cattle, going back to the early settlement of Western Canada.  William David Reesor, a descendent of one of Canada’s distinguished families and his wife Alice Moffat came from the East to settle on a homestead in the Cypress Hills region on the Saskatchewan/Alberta border.
           
They built their first hand-hewn log home in 1906 and in 1916 they erected a new modern home, partially encasing parts of the original log structure.  It was one of the first homes in the area to have electricity and running water.  For the Ressors it was a dream come true - a home their 4th generation descendents are still proud of today.  The present owner Scott and Theresa never tire of relating to their guests the family tradition of a hundred years of ranching.
           
In 1997 the Reesors turned their home that they like to refer to as an ‘unique treasure’, into a guest ranch home where visitors, mostly from Alberta and Saskatchewan, can live in almost urban comfort while they relish taking part in ranching and cowboy history.  The ranch house and barn as well as a number of cabins have been turned into guest rooms each with its own theme relating to the ranching experience of the family and the early pioneers in the area.  Visitors will find that the only thing missing is a private bathroom for each room.  Almost all the rooms have shared bathrooms.
           
If they wish to take part in ranch life in southwestern Saskatchewan, visitors can join in some of the ranching activities such as guided hiking, roundup on horseback, riding for hours in the hills, and taking part in the daily operation of ranch life then enjoying a meal around a campfire
           
Standing by the barn that has been converted into guest rooms and surveying the panorama around me, I felt elated as I inhaled the incredible fresh clean air.  Under a deep blue sky there seemed to be endless space - room to easily breathe.  Many visitors opt for hiking through the majestic forest of pine and spruce and observe the flowers, animal and bird species.  Others might choose taking part in the ranching operations while honeymooners usually would want to spend their time cooing. As for myself, I was content to just rest in the comfortable temperature, glorying in the empty space around me.
           
During most evenings, guests often sit around a cozy campfire, swap stories or listen to cowboy poetry, usually by Scott, while in the background they can, at times, hear the howl of the coyotes.
           
This evening there was no campfire but Scott was there to recite poetry composed by himself or by Helen Reesor, his mother.  From her poems he recited:

            “There’s a ranch house on the hillside
            Where they lived for many years,
            Where they worked and raised a family,
            It knew their hopes, their dreams, their fears.
            Memories of friends and loved ones,
            Good times that were fun for all,
            Of picnics, stampedes and camping,
            And of dances you can recall.”

With a strong yet gentle voice, Scott repeating his mother words, seemed to truly draw an image of life on the ranch.  Without challenge he was the poet laureate of the Reesor Ranch.
           
Poetry aside, there is a semi-hidden romantic aura to the Reesor ranch where couples, especially those on their honeymoon can cuddle together and enjoy the invigorating air and the sheer emptiness of the world around them. After a tasty home-cooked dinner, they can then retire to have a restful sleep and in the morning, enticed by the smell of coffee and bacon sizzling over the fire enjoy a memorable breakfast.
           
The Reesors have, with agric-tourism, increased their income and brought happiness to thousands of visitors.  It is a success story supreme.  Almost everyone who stays awhile at the ranch falls in love with the place.  The hosts are very welcoming, the view is fantastic and the aura is seductive – the only thing missing is a bathroom for every room. 
           
In the words of one honeymooning couple on the ranch, “It’s an experience that we will always remember.”

For More Information

Historic Reesor Ranch
Box 1001 Maple Creek
Sask. S0N 1N0.
Tel:/Fax (306) 662-3498
E-mail: reesorranch@hotmail.com
Website: http://www.reesorranch.com