pg 40 A Peep into the Past 1990 Vol 1 by Gordon and Belle Hall
The Justhome Ranch was the brainchild of Harry and Jack McConachie. They bought the C.W. Fisher mansion and property from Jack Tweddle in or about the early ’40s. They also bought three-quarter sections on the north side of the Big Hill Creek, also a section of land on Horse Creek, known as the old Garson section.
They built a big barn and sheds, also workers residences on the C.W. Fisher site and also finished the big stone house. Harry and Jack had two or three carpenters working steadily. The foreman of the carpenters was a Bob Henderson. The McConachie’s were related to Grant McConachie, president of CP Airlines. Grant McConachie started out as a bush pilot and Uncle Harry bought his first airplane, and also financed him in his ventures.
The Justhome Ranch was home to a number of families: the Sam Bloods, the George Morris family, Jim McPeak family, Scotty and Terry McConachie, Charles and Olive Clark and Pete Tindal and family, to name a few. Across the creek where the Boothby’s now live was Bob and Mary Hogarth Sr. The McConachies built a big barn on this property too, as well as a large modern granary and machine shed.
They stocked the ranch with cattle from the Justamere Farms at Camrose. Horses were Percherons from Jonathan Fox at Lloydminister, American Saddle Horse from Fulkerth at Didsbury and sheep from the P.J. Rock Farms at Drumheller.
I started working at the home place in the fall of 1943, and Belle and I, and Ronnie lived in the stone cottage next to the big stone house. Our pay was $100 per month plus eggs and milk and free lodging. The McConachie’s left quite a bit of money in the country one way or another. They broke about 500 acres of land on the north quarters and on one field got 105 bushels per acre of oats.
An amusing thing happened one fall. Old Jack at noon collected the workers in various fields and brought them home for lunch. He was supposed to take us out again at 1 p.m.; however, Jack loved to have a snooze after lunch and sometimes it was 1:30 p.m. before he showed up. This galled Harry, so one day, while everyone was having lunch, he placed a smoke bomb under the hood of the Chev panel attaching the fuse to the sparkplug. Jack arrives about 1:30, turns on the key and poof, there was black smoke coming from under the hood. Jack jumped out yelling “fire,” and the workers were running for fire extinguishers. However, upon raising the hood, the joke was discovered.
The McConachie’s kept the property until 1949 when the home ranch was sold to the Franciscan order as a retreat house. The land north of the Big Hill Creek was sold to the Boothby’s and progeny from the Percheron horses are being raised by Jack Bates of the Bates Bar J Ranch.