History of the Lakes Ranch Co., Ltd. It really all started with Andrew Stothert who was born in the year 1880 at Blackburn, Lancashire, England; attended Walley Grammer School until the age of thirteen when family misfortunes in the pharmaceutical manufacturing business caused him to go to work in a foundry. At the age of seventeen he became a member of Queen Victoriaâ€™s Coldstream Guards and left with them in 1898 for service under Lord Roberts in the Battles from Cape Town to Pretoria during the so-called South African War. In 1900 his unit of the Coldstream Guards was returned to London for coronation ceremonies of King Edward VII and while the Coldstream Guards remained in England, he transferred to another unit and returned to South African until the war ended in 1902. In 1903 he immigrated to Canada and enlisted with the North West Mounted Police. After training at Regina, he was joined to a party under Superintendent Moodie, Inspection Pelletier, Doctor Flood and eight others who sailed from Quebec City in September 1904. It was not until July 4th, 1905 that their ship, the S.S. Arctic, became free of harbor ice. Some of the party were stationed at Churchill, Manitoba under Superintendent Moodie. Others, including Andrew Stothert, were assigned to detachments at Cape Fullerton and Chesterfield Inlet. He was stationed at Chesterfield Inlet until September 1907 when the first mail was received and he together with Constables Verity, Heap, McMillan and Corporal J.D. Nicholson were transferred to Regina. They travelled from Hudsons Bay by canoe upstream, via York Factory, Nelson River, Split Lake, Norway House and then across Lake Winnipeg to Selkirk, Manitoba. The trip took twenty-one days by canoe and when they were met at Selkirk by Commissioner Perry, they were given 3 months leave of absence. After service with the North West Mounted Police on the Prairies, Andrew Stothert resigned from the force and travelled to Ashmont, Alberta where he started homesteading the South West quarter of Section 34, Township 59, Range 11, West of the 4 Meridian, about one-half mile northwest of the present village of Ashmont. His homesteading papers were registered in 1909. This quarter is now owned by William Tkachuk, just south of the present A.M. Fisher home quarter. Occupation and development of the land by the Stothert family in the area of The Lakes Ranch started in the first decade of the twentieth century. By 1911 Andrew Stothertâ€™s next oldest brother James arrived from England after an illustrious career in international soccer with the English-Scottish League Wolverhampton Wanderers. He took up homesteading that year on the south west quarter of section 35, Township 59, now known as Ashmont Beach (on Upper Mann Lake). At the same time the next oldest sister of Andrew Stothert whose husband was George Turner also immigrated from England and homesteaded nearby. George Turner however being a registered architect, soon left to become the chief architect for the Public School Board in Edmonton where he was responsible for design of all of the two and three story pre-First World War school houses, many of which still remain in use. In 1914 Andrew Stothert joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force immediately upon the outbreak of war and before the end of 1914 was in the front lines of France. He served in the trenches for two years and seven months, at the Somme, Ypres, and Mons, before being transferred to England as an R.S.M.
instructor until the end of the First World War. It was there that he met Edith Boxall of Petworth, Sussex. He returned with the CEF to Canada, back to Ashmont, Alberta where he purchased the south east quarter of section 21, Township 60, Range 11, west of the 4th Meridian, now owned by Paul Lawton. Andrew Stothert made his purchase through the “S.S.B.” (Soldier Settlement Board). This farm had a rather nice home with shingle roof and wooden floor. It was here, after arranging for Edith Boxall to travel by ship and train from England to Edmonton, meeting her in Edmonton where they were married, that he brought her to make their home. It was 1919 and the railroad from Edmonton arrived at Spedden, seven miles west of Ashmont. There was a wye built at Spedden for turning the train around. The railroad was extended through Ashmont and St. Paul in 1920. Later a spur east of Ashmont was built to Bonnyville. On June 3rd, 1920 Keith Andrew Boxall Stothert arrived, followed on January 4th, 1923 by Winston Dunderdale Stothert. At the same time that Winston Stothert arrived the farm home on the south east quarter of section 21 burned to the ground and the Stothert family lived temporarily in a small two room home in Ashmont. Andrew Stothert then took a position in Edmonton with the Government of the Province of Alberta in the office of the Fire Commissioner. The family took up residence in Edmonton in a rented home, two storeys, on 105 A Street, south of Southside Athletic Park and later in a small home set in a cluster of spruce trees on 66th Avenue. In 1914 James Clarence McCabe, born in Inverness, Scotland, after living for a few years in Ottawa with his father, mother and two sisters, moved on his own to Edmonton. There he met the McCulloch family. The McCulloch family had moved to Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan from Ontario. The father Alexander McCulloch served in the Northwest Mounted Police, was a member of their first “Musical Ride” and was the first to be stationed at Fort Saskatchewan. James joined up at the age of seventeen in 1917 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in company with Jack McCulloch, served in France where he was subject to chlorine gas attack, returned to Edmonton and in 1920 married Jessie Ellen McCulloch. They went to Ashmont in 1923 and farmed the north east quarter of section 30, Township 59, Range 11, west of the 4th Meridian. This land is now owned by Alex Hancharuk. The barn which Jim McCabe built still stands today. Jessie’s brother Jack McCulloch, who was the first white child born north of the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta, was born in 1892 at Lamont. Jack went overseas with the CEF. In 1919 he and his wife Rose homesteaded the south west quarter of section 35, Township 59, Range 12, for several years, returning to Edmonton in 1926. Jessie’s sister Deveda, and her husband Hollis Freeman also came to the Old Ashmont area in 1919 and homesteaded in the north west quarter of section 14, Township 59, Range 12, returning to Edmonton in 1922. In 1928, after being “froze-out, dried-out, and hailed-out”, James McCabe “got out” of farming and became the Postmaster at Ashmont. This post office served many rural post offices such as Floating Stone Lake, Sugden, Boscombe and Malaig. McCabes had a daughter Sylvia Holly and a son James Worth.
In 1929 the call of the land became so strong that Andrew and Edith Stothert purchased the north west quarter of section 2, Township 60, Range 11, west of the 4th Meridian from Dan McLeod. Paddle Lake, more recently so named because of its shape of a paddle with the handle being the westerly extremity, together with the other lakes in the immediate area were already well known for their production of muskrats and fish. The intention was to develop fur farming and the land was named Brinksole Fur farm with the name Brinksole having been the name of Edith Boxall’s home two miles outside of the village of Petworth, in Sussex. In the summer of 1929 residence was established in the former home of Dan McLeod, a log house nicely finished with shingled roof and hardwood oak floors, with windows looking out to the east and south over Paddle Lake, a beautiful pastoral setting. Edith Boxall Stothert and her two sons aged nine and six took up residence at Brinksole Fur farm whilst Andrew Stothert continued his employment with the government, commuting twice monthly to the ranch over the hundred miles of dirt road from Edmonton. The fur farming commenced with a fair of fitch which multiplied rapidly and several angora rabbits which multiplied even more rapidly soon reaching one hundred in number. The infamous economic depression caused the fitch to lose value completely whilst for a time the wool from the rabbits sold at $5.00 a pound and looked promising; however, this market also disappeared. Several horses were a must for transportation and haying. Some cows were accumulated, providing milk, butter, meat and a weekly cream cheque. Keith and Winston attended school from 1929 at the one-room log school house known as Rock Bay School on the north east quarter of section 11, a walking distance of about one and a half miles. The school had thirteen students, nine grades and one teacher. (This school system and its “facilities” provided the best form of schooling that can be offered anywhere and cost was certainly less than that of modern educational monuments.) In 1929 the nearest neighbours to the west were Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Murray and their three sons and two daughters. The Tommy Murrays’ were always a great source of help and moral support and always great and dependable friends of the Stotherts. In 1933 with a twelve dollar start from his father, Winston Stothert went into hog farming with two pure bred Yorkshire sows purchased through the Provincial Department of Agriculture under a program directed by agriculturalist Cherniowski. Winston “mechanized” in hog farming in 1935 with the purchase of a pick-up truck, being a 1926 Model T touring auto which had been converted and this hauled the hogs to market and the purchased feed grain after taking it to Mr. Harry Pallot’s Crushing Plant. In 1936 Winston Stothert expanded from hog farming also into mink ranching with a purchase of several mink from a fur farm at Rife, Alberta and he took out his first commercial fur farming license with the Government of the Province of Alberta. He entered hogs in the various country fairs, always taking first and second prizes. With feed grain at 18~ per bushel and two hundred and twenty pound Yorkshire hogs selling in six months at 6~ per pound the business was exceptionally profitable even in the depression years. Mann Lake (Back Lake) providing zero cost food for the mink which sold at $20 to $22 per pelt. One hundred to one hundred and fifty muskrats were trapped by him each spring with an average selling price between $1 and $1.25 per pelt (opportunities always abound).
A homesteading type of application was filed for the northwest quarter section of section 1, lying at the east of Paddle Lake and on the south side of Lower Mann Lake. It required improvement of forty acres before title could be obtained. James (Jim) Stothert who lived during the late 1920’s and the early 1930’s in a large two storey home built of logs on the south east quarter of section 2 on a hill looking north over a large bay of Upper Mann Lake on land that was at one time homesteaded by Mr. Van Buskirk; built a home on the north east quarter of section 1 on the hill at the east end of Paddle Lake, looking west over Paddle Lake. He remained there until the early 1940’s when he moved to Vancouver where he died at age 87. In 1934 in the depth of the depression Andrew Stothert opened a Red and White store and general hardware store in Ashmont, after giving up his position with the provincial government. In 1939 he sold this business to Mr. Ray Miller who had been the Federal Grain Company elevator agent in Ashmont. The start of the Second World War in September 1939 again changed the pattern of lives and in 1940 the Stothert family moved to Edmonton. One or two years later the home overlooking Paddle Lake burnt to the ground during a grass fire. The only thing remaining to mark the sire is a spruce tree which was planted by Edith Boxall Stothert at the west end of the garden. This site is now called Spruce Tree Hill. The north east quarter of section 1 was given up and the title to it was subsequently obtained by Mr. Evenechko who also subsequently obtained the title to the southwest quarter of section 1 which had been homesteaded and partially developed in the early 1930’s by Mr. John Meimi, a Finn and was later occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Whitford. A Shelton (Ashmont) School-days romance which started in 1937 culminated May 9th, 1945 when Sylvia Holly McCabe married Naval Lieutenant Winston D. Stothert. In the same spring Andrew Stothert died at the age of 65. In the 1950’s Winston Stothert purchased the north west quarter of section 2 which used to be known as Custance’s Quarter, from the Municipal District of St. Paul. He commenced running cattle on the north half of section 2 and Ernie Murray’s sons’ with their mother’s (Dora May Murray) help, kept an eye on the cattle during the summer. From 1960 to 1974 cattle were purchased in the spring, pastured for six months and sold in the fall to feed lots. Yearling steers would weigh about 600 pounds when purchased and gained and average of 1.1 pounds per day weighing about 800 pounds in the fall. In the early 1960’s the family purchased the south half of section 2 from Albert Fisher, who had been a friend of Andrew Stothert. Winston Stothert commenced leasing in 1963 the west half of section 11 (section 11 was formerly known as the “school section”) with Mr. Howard Lawton leasing the east half of this section. This lease was renewed for a further ten years in 1973. Arrangements were made with the co-operation of Mr. Howard Lawton so that he now holds lease of the north half of section 11 and Winston Stothert holds lease on the south half of section 11, also on the south west part of the south west quarter of section 12.
In 1972 the Stothert family with the help of friends built the first stage of Sandy Point Lodge on the south shore of Lower Mann Lake, north west quarter of section 1 and have used it each October since 1972 as a hunting and fishing lodge. In 1973 The Lakes Ranch Co. Ltd. was formed, being duly incorporated as a private company in the Province of Alberta. Shares were issued to Winston D. Stothert, Phillip D. Stothert, Dale A. Stothert and Dixie E. Stothert. The James Worth McCabe family share the use. In 1973 The Lakes Ranch Co. Ltd. obtained a commercial game and fish farm license from the Government of the Province of Alberta and commenced trail stocking of rainbow trout in Paddle Lake. Paddle Lake previously contained no fish. It was stocked again in 1974 and again in the spring of 1975 with over 60% recovery in the fall that year, with the trout averaging 1 lbs. and some up to 3 ½ lbs. In May 1975, under the management of Mr. John Morgan, The Lakes Ranch Co. Ltd. purchased its foundation herd of registered polled Hereford breeding cattle. The major part of the foundation herd of the Choice Anxiety strain was purchased from Mr. Andrew Grech, Mannville, Alberta; with part of the foundation herd purchased from Mr. Vic Schneider, Bar V Ranch, of Bruderheim, Alberta. This herd, with 1976 calves, numbered 150 head in June 1976. In May of 1976 the Keith Stothert and “Win” Stothert families (17 including 3 great grandchildren) celebrated with Edith (Boxall Stothert) Pue her ninetieth birthday (May 2nd). In July 1976 she visited with them at the Ranch.