History of the Brand and the Ranch

rcmp chiefs

Last of a Breed

Calgarian, Stan Cowley, was driving toward Banff, Alberta, one day in 1976, discovered Rafter Six Ranch, and drove on to the property. Before he left, on a handshake, he had bought Rafter Six Ranch, lock, stock and barrel.

Later that year, Stan was in Northern Alberta looking for logs for the planned new log Lodge, where he met Gloria. Together Stan, Gloria, and the family built and developed Rafter Six into its present form.

Today, the ranch is one of the finest ranch retreats in the world, and is a testament to the Cowleys and their life's work!

Rafter Six Ranch History

In the 1880s Colonel James Walker of the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) established a rough line shack, and pastured and bred horse's on the land that today is Rafter Six Ranch. The Mounties eventually moved their horse operations closer to Calgary, and next into the area was an old Trapper and Mountain Man, called Soapy Smith. Soapy was quite a character, and in addition to having a rep' as a man who never sold a good horse, he had an eye for the ladies. In his mid seventies, Soapy took a teen aged wife, Eva, and together they homesteaded the land and took rich clients on guided hunting trips.

Soapy and Eva operated the guest ranch, and housed their guests in tents, teepees, a small log lodge. Cabins were added as the years went by. Soapy died in the late 1930s, and Eva remarried and operated the ranch right up until Stan Cowley bought the ranch in 1976. A half-diamond over the number six - is what is called a rafter six in branding lingo. After acquiring the Ranch, the original horse brand was registered to Stan Cowley. The Tradition continues. . . .

gloriaPictured here is Gloria Cowley, Mary Kootney, and her daughter Clarice Kootney, posing below a picture of Mary's father, legendary Stony Indian Medicine Man, Chief Walking Buffalo. Walking Buffalo and Stan Cowley became blood brothers in a Sun Dance Ceremony, when Stan was thirteen years old. The painting hangs above the river rock fireplace in the Rafter Six Dining Room.

Great Ranch Vacations have been our pride and joy for over 30 years. Our relaxed western atmosphere allows you to unwind and enjoy life in comfort and experience some exciting and fun adventures too!

Why come to a Ranch?....Well, for the horses of course! Adventures such as Horseback Riding, Whitewater Rafting, and Overnight Pack Trips, Wagon Rides or maybe a Riding Lesson! Start your day with an outdoor Cowboy Breakfast at the Ranch or Finish up with a Sunset Supper ride for a hearty western meal cooked outdoors on the banks of the wild Kananaskis River.

The three storey log lodge is one of the larger log structures in the world! Designed and built by Stan and Gloria Cowley in 1977 and completed in 1978, it complements the original lodge (now our dining room) which was built in the 1930's.

The "Rafter Six Lodge" as it is affectionately called by many travelers, with its aged log walls, leaves one with the impression of just having stepped back a century in time! The lodge hosts 18 guest rooms, sitting room, restaurant, lounge, gift shop, whirlpool and massage. As well, the conference rooms are ideal to host meeting and seminars.

In addition to the Lodge, eight rustic log cabins are featured, which exude old fashioned charm, while maintaining all of the modern amenities and comforts. (Keep watching our progress as we transform the cabins into a new lodge with full amenities!) Four cedar chalets, feature wood burning fireplaces and kitchenettes. Guests especially enjoy the separate picnic and campfire spot. Perfect for Family Reunions!

Rafter Six has also been a location for many motion pictures, TV shows, commercials, Music videos and modeling shoots. We're sure it's the wonderful scenery, fresh mountain air and our warm western hospitality that brings people back here, time and time again.

Whether you select Rafter Six for your special Ranch Vacation, company BBQ, meeting, reunion or wedding, we are certain you and your guests will enjoy our rustic atmosphere, fine facilities and true Western Hospitality!

Come out and stay with us a while — you’ll love it!

Rafter Six Ranch ~ 'Where the West stays Alive!'