About the A7 Ranche

View across the valley to one of the ranch houses

View across the valley to one of the ranch houses

History of the Ranche

The A7 Ranche is rooted in tradition and the business and political history of Alberta over the past 125 years.

The A7 Ranche was founded by A.E. (Alfred Ernest) Cross in 1886, who picked the ‘A7′ brand to symbolize himself and his six siblings. It is said to be the oldest ranch in Canada still in the hands of the original owners, right through to present-day owner John Cross.

A.E. Cross is best known for being one of the “Big Four” cattlemen who founded the Calgary Stampede in 1912. However, he had many other business, public and charitable interests, like the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company, oil and gas, and the budding motion picture industry. Cross also served as the MLA for East Calgary in the Legislative Assembly of the North-West Territories. He ran and won as an independent, calling himself a “western conservative with progressive ideas.” Together with a handful of friends, he founded the Ranchmen’s Club, the Calgary Polo Club in 1884, and was a noted philanthropist. As a leading pioneer, Cross epitomized the independent but generous can-do spirit that embodies the Alberta identity today.

"Braehead" - The original ranch house built by A.E. Cross in 1914

"Braehead" - The original ranch house built by A.E. Cross in 1914

In June 1899, Cross married local beauty Helen (Nell) Macleod. Nell was the daughter of Colonel James Macleod, head of the original North West Mounted Police (now the RCMP) that formed to bring law and order to Western Canada for the incoming settlers. Although knowing of each other socially, Ernest and Nell began to keep company after competing against each other in a barrel race, where even the timer could not tell which of them won! A long and happy marriage produced several children including John, the father of today’s A7 Ranche owner John Cross. A.E. Cross’ original 1914 house, Braehead (named after the family seat in Scotland) still stands on the ranch today (see photo).

If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy reading the entertaining book Braehead by Sherrill Maclaren, which describes the history of the Scottish Cross, Macleod and Drever families leading to the founding of the A7 Ranche.