History of Homeplace Ranch

Long ago, Stoney and Sarcee Indian lodges were the only dwellings in the western foothills. This area was called "Paradise" by the native Indians and remained undisturbed until the mid 1800's. Then, wagons crossed the prairies bringing families to this untamed land. Around 1890, large cattle ranches were created, a few of which survived and flourished. Because Alberta was promoted as the "Last Best West," people continued to migrate across the country. And as homesteads were built around 1905, settlers learned to respect and live with the land.

Prior to 2013, Homeplace Ranch has been run as a year round working horse ranch and guest ranch in Alberta’s high cattle country. Since 2013, Mac has continued to offer exceptional day riding, horseback riding lessons and horse awareness program, although without full service lodging available at the ranch. In 2016-17, we are once again able to offer self-catering lodging at the Horseman's Lodge. 

The main ranch is about 50 km (31 miles) southwest of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is at an elevation of 1500m (4900 ft) in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to the ranch property, we also ride on the surrounding several thousand acres of Crown land, most of which is leased for cattle ranching. Bears, deer, coyotes, elk and other wildlife are frequently seen.

The Makenny family has been in the guide, outfitting and horseback vacation business for over 30 years.

Mac tells the story: "My relatives established our tradition with horses. In 1903 my great grandfather and grandfather trailed to Alberta to sell horses to the new settlers who came west following the railroad and the lure of free land. They were so impressed with the land they returned to Nebraska, sold their holdings and headed north. One of the reasons they later told me was "crime was creeping into the mid-west." Ruby Makenny, my mother, was one of the 11 children who was born & grew up ranching west of Ponoka. She and all the children were born at home, many of the youngest in a sod roofed house, whose doorway was 5' 8" tall.

Mom met my Dad, Bill, when he came to Canada to hunt moose. He came back in 1935 and when he was preparing to return to Connecticut he kissed her and said, "Ruby if you don't find anyone you like better than me, I'll be back next year (1936) to marry you." He did. In 1946, after returning from 5 years in the US Navy's Seebees, Dad, Mom and myself, along with my Aunt & Uncle, moved to Jasper to go into the outfitting and summer trip business.

With 80 head of horse it was a boys dream, one which never left me even when going to university and working to make enough money to start my own outfit. Every summer it was back to Jasper to help out. Finally, in 1978, the opportunity was there to start The Homeplace Ranch.

When riding I often think of the dedication to the business and the horses my relatives exhibited and I wanted to have them shown on our Homeplace Ranch web site."

We have enjoyed helping our guests understand a way of life for which Southern Alberta is known. Every week, a limited number of people can share the traditions, heritage, recreation and natural beauty that constitute our unique lifestyle.

Our priorities are:

1. Safety and well-being of guests and animals.

2. An enjoyable experience, that provides you with a sense of natural beauty, history and our love of horses and nature.