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Calgary Stampede seeks Archie McLean’s family

The Calgary Stampede centennial committee is looking for descendants of Archie McLean, who along with Pat Burns, George Lane and A.E. Cross helped fund the first Calgary Stampede in 1912. A ceremony is planned in July to honour the Big Four.

In true western style, the Calgary Stampede is trying to round up descendants of the men who helped found “the greatest show on earth.”
The Stampede centennial committee is racing a July 6 deadline to find family members of Archie McLean, who with Pat Burns, George Lane and A.E. Cross formed what became known as the Big Four.
“They gave Guy Weadick $25,000 apiece to put on the original Stampede,” centennial committee member Jim Barker said.
Guy Weadick, who was manager of the first Calgary Stampede in 1912, offered to repay the Big Four when the event showed a profit, but they told him to keep the money for the next Stampede.
The Stampede centennial committee wants to celebrate the people who got the event off to a great start, and is inviting descendants to the big party in July.
“We’re going to tell their story,” said Barker, who lives at Stavely. “We want people to know we haven’t forgotten about them.”
The Stampede centennial committee has located descendants of the other three men and is now desperate to locate McLean’s family members.
Archie McLean was born in 1860 at Aldborough, West Elgin, Ont. and at the age of 21 moved west to Manitoba where he got his first training in raising and handling livestock.
McLean in 1886 moved to Alberta where he hired out as a range rider.
“A few years as a cowboy and ranch foreman fitted him for the position of manager of the famous C.Y. Ranch, which was located near Taber,” The Macleod Gazette wrote Oct. 19, 1933. “He operated the big ranch for a number of years, and then, when wheat raising began in the south country on an extensive scale, the rich pasture lands of the old C.Y. Ranch were turned into grain fields.”
While raising cattle McLean formed the company Baker & McLean, which handled large shipments of Canadian export cattle.
McLean was elected in 1909 to the Alberta Legislature as an independent Liberal candidate in the Taber riding. McLean was re-elected in 1913 and 1917.
McLean in his first term served as provincial secretary to Premier A.L. Sifton and later became minister of municipal affairs.
McLean was appointed minister of public works by Premier Charles Stewart in 1917 and held that post until he retired in 1921. It was under McLean’s direction Alberta’s first system of main highways started.
After retiring from politics in 1921 McLean returned to ranching, securing a lease on the Peigan Reserve and stocking it with cattle.
In the 1930s McLean sold that operation and moved to Calgary, where he supervised the Namaka farm and other holdings of the estate of George Lane.
McLean married Margaret Duncan in 1903 and they had one son, Duncan, who worked with his father at the Peigan Reserve ranch and continued to ranch in the district.
Archie McLean died at the age of 73 at Macleod General Hospital on Oct. 19, 1933. The Macleod Gazette reported the funeral at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was “probably the largest funeral ever known in southern Alberta.”
Archie McLean was predeceased by his brothers James and William, who both lived in the Pincher Creek area, as well as his sisters, Mrs. Colin McPherson of Ontario and Mrs. John McMurchie of Macleod.
Jim Baker is anxious to hear from McLean’s descendants.
“We’re having a big ceremony for them,” Baker said of plans to honour The Big Four. “Their representatives will have the opportunity to say something on their behalf.”
Any descendants of Archie McLean are asked to contact Jim Baker at 430-549-2477 or
“We are quickly running out of time,” Baker said.

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