Guy Gibson of Benchlands

by Jean L. Johnson pg 308 Big Hill Country 1977

Guy Gibson was born in England in 1883 and came to Canada with his parents in 1891. They settled in the Simons Valley district north of Calgary on a place they called The-cup-of-tea Ranch. Guy became a wandering cowboy and a good roughrider. In World War I, he enlisted in the Army and went Overseas where he became a P.T. Instructor and an expert at dismantling and assembling the Lewis gun. 

After the war he worked for Ruth Laycock on the old Coleman Ranch. Around 1922 Mrs. Ethel Wynne came from Vancouver and bought the Warnock place, just east of the Coleman Ranch. She had some Aberdeen Angus cattle and hired Guy to manage them. Thus was formed an association that lasted for many years. 

In 1927 Mrs. Wynne sold out to Pat Render and bought NE4 5-27-6-5 from the C.P.R. This was a lovely place. The Ghost River flowed through the land and far to the northwest, the Devil’s Head Mountain brooded over the valley from behind the shoulder of Black Rock. From the pine-covered hills on the south side of the Ghost, an old Indian trail wound down to the Buffalo Crossing and passed along the river flat on the north side, up the steep hills, and northward. Between the old trail and the riverbank, Guy built a log cabin for Mrs. Wynne and a bunkhouse for himself. The few remaining black cattle were turned out in the Rabbit Creek Valley where they rustled winter and summer. 

On September 4, 1929, a wildcat oil well, Baymar No. I, was spudded in, almost on the line between the north quarters of section 5. Guy built a little log cabin there for the use of the men. George Webster (once Mayor of Calgary) had an interest in the well, and when it proved to be a dry hole, he obtained the cabin and the northwest quarter of land and transferred both to his daughter, May Olson. May and Orren Olson began using the cabin in 1930 and became the first of the summer people, the first “cabiners.” They sold the cabin to the Suiters and Guy built the Olsons a log cabin on their land just west of Robinson Creek. The Suiters, too, had a new cabin built and sold the oilwell cabin to the Trowsdales who wanted it placed down on the flat near Mrs. Wynne’s cabin. Guy, who was equal to any task confronting him, somehow slid the old cabin down the steep hill and set it on the river flat. 

Mrs. Wynne registered her quarter section as a Junior Townsite so that she might have it surveyed into lots. She called it Benchlands, a descriptive name, for the land rose steeply from the river flat to a level bench that followed the contour of the Ghost, and from there it rose much higher to the flats above, making three levels in all. 

One of the first cabins on Benchlands was built for Elsie French at the east end of the middle bench. In September 1938, Elsie French sold out to F. C. Manning for $300. This gave him clear title to the lot, the cabin, two cots, the folding chairs, and the coal oil lamps, once so dear to the hearts of the cabiners. 

About the same time that Guy built the French cabin he built one for Miss Scott on the same bench. This cabin, with some additions, is now the permanent home of Lloyd Greenway. 

In 1934 Mrs. Wynne sold Benchlands to Guy so that he might homestead an adjacent quarter of Section 4. He built many more cabins on Benchlands. At first they served only as summer places but in time several families made their permanent homes there. 

In 1935 May Olson sold a piece of her land to Donald Leslie and Guy built a cabin for him west of Olsons. When Guy Gibson passed away in April, 1965, Donald Leslie gave this story to the Calgary Albertan: “Guy always had a smile and an amusing story to tell – I don’t know how true all the tales were but they showed the spirit of the man. After the First World War, Guy had had enough of bugle-blowing and restricted life. So when he returned to the West, Guy put his alarm clock on a wooden block and smashed it to bits. He said the sun and the stars could tell him the time of day in the future. Although Guy was wild and tough, he was one of the gentlest people I’ve ever known.

Aside from his dogs and his horse he always kept a goat. Guy used to say the goat was his refrigerator. Whenever he needed milk he’d call the goat to him.” 

Guy Gibson’s ashes were scattered over Benchlands. 


Guy Gibson was born in Gaythorpe, Lin- Lincolnshire, England. He came to Canada when he was eight years old, away back in 1891. His mother packed all the food for the trip in England and brought it to Canada in wicker baskets. When they arrived in Canada they took a settlers’ train to Calgary. On the train, they were allowed to cook their own meals to save expenses. The Gibsons ate the last of their food sitting beside the C.P.R. tracks in Calgary. 

Guy’s parents homesteaded in the Simons Valley area. When Guy was ten, he went to help a neighbor with chores; here he learned to ride and train horses. Later he worked and ranched on different places. He served with the 31st Bat- talion in France during the First World War and was wounded twice. After returning in 1918 he settled in the Ghost River area. Over the years he became known as Lord of the Ghost. 

Township27 1935

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