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Alberta Hereford Association honours former Macleod couple

A former Fort Macleod area couple has joined the Alberta Hereford Association Hall of Fame.

Barb and the late Bernie Powesland were honoured by the association earlier this summer.

Bernie and Barb Powesland both grew up within highly respected Hereford families in Alberta.

Bernie’s parents were Glen and Grace Powesland of Bonita Valley Herefords in Del Bonita; Barb’s parents were Stuart and Doris Fenton of Fenton Hereford Ranch in Irma. They both were active in 4-H; Bernie in the Del Bonita Beef Club and Barb in the Irma Beef Club.  

Bull sales and cattle shows were normal occurrence on both ranches; Barb can remember fondly when she was 18 having to get permission from her high school principal to go to the The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto that fall. 

Barb’s Dad Stuart took two steers and show herd east by train and Barb flew to Toronto to meet up with them. Barb enjoyed working alongside her dad that week. Like her principal had said it was something special that she would not learn in school.

Bernie at that time had success with his own cattle projects. In 1964 Bernie showed a Hereford steer at Fort Macleod Little Royal taking grand champion honours. In 1965 Bernie had a show herd and Hereford steer at Toronto Royal; he won grand champion with his steer.   

Bernie and Barb met while showing cattle at Edmonton Klondike Days in 1965 and they got married the following year. Barb’s dad Stuart gave them seven purebred Hereford heifers as a wedding gift along with Bernie’s own purebred cow herd.

The newlyweds settled on Bernie’s family ranch in Del Bonita. Bernie and Barb worked alongside Bernie’s parents until they bought out the cow herd and ranch in 1977. They changed the ranch name to Powesland Ranch.    

Ranch life and family life was a full-time priority for Barb and Bernie. The Powesland family all participated in various ranch activities. The kids could wrestle calves, drive tractors, feed pigs and ride; everyone helped. The kids were also active in 4-H and sports; as Barb fondly put it, a fun mad house.

Bernie and Barb showed cattle at summer and fall shows and bull sales in the winter. One particular memory that Barb giggles about was at Agribition. They had Jeff with them, he was young at the time and he had a busy day in the barns. Barb wrapped him in a Hudson Bay blanket, and he was still holding on to a balloon, fast asleep on their tack box. A photographer snapped a picture of him; that picture was shown in newspapers all across Canada.   

The kids are all grown now and pursuing their own dreams. Jeff (Sue), John and his kids Blake, Harley, Mary Jo (Darren) Macey, the twins Bobby Jean (Chris) Tait, Teagan, Betty Ray (Aaron) Cole. Bernie and Barb later on ranched in Oliver, B.C., Waterton and north of Fort Macleod.

Over the years the herd got smaller but remained horned Herefords. Barb had her cows and Bernie had his quarter horses.  

The highlight for both of them was when they both sold animals at the 2009 Calgary Bull Sale. Barb sold her bulls and Bernie sold his quarter horses.

In 2008, Bernie sold a black gelding horse named Moon to John Scott, who is the head wrangler for the Heartland TV series. Moon became Spartan, Amy’s horse in the Heartland series. At the 2013 Calgary Bull Sale Barb and Fenton Hereford Ranch won best group of five bulls; four of the five bulls were raised by Barb and all five of the bulls were sired by 270U.  

At the end of the day it was never about the banners or ribbons to Bernie and Barb — it was about family and lifelong friends they made in the Hereford community. 

In 2018 Bernie and Barb sold the ranch and sadly Bernie passed away that same year. Barb moved back to her home town and still attends Hereford functions in her area. She recently asked the mayor of Irma if she could have a registered Hereford in town. He laughed but he knows like everyone else who knows Barb, she will always have a love for Hereford cattle.

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