“You will have to live the life of a cowboy for a while,” an acquaintance I had met in Val Marie commented when I told him that I would be spending the next night at the Historic Reesor Ranch edging the Cypress Hills. Now, after touring those seductive hills, I turned to enter this historic and tourist-friendly ranch, and was impressed. Surrounded by an inviting, wooded and hilly countryside, its location was appealing, especially for those seeking solitude and quiet country life. Tucked away in a valley, with over a hundred cattle roaming on its 1,000 acres, the ranch appeared like a jewel encompassed in greenery – truly an ideal hideaway for honeymooners.
The ranch stands in the forested highlands of Cypress Hills, an area that boasts the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Rising to about 1,468 m (4,816 ft) above sea level, the Cypress Hills in prehistoric times were an extension of the Rockies and one of the few places in Canada that escaped the effects of the last Ice Age some 15,000 years ago. Called Mun-a-tuk-gaw (beautiful highlands) by the Cree, these hills, the First Nations’ hunting and wintering grounds for many centuries, are today one of Saskatchewan's most fascinating provincial parks and a year-round resort.
Before being converted into tourist lodgings, Reesor Ranch had a long history of raising cattle going back to the early settlement of Western Canada. William David Reesor, a descendent of one of Canada’s distinguished families, and his wife Alice Moffatt came from the East to settle on a homestead in the Cypress Hills region on the Saskatchewan/Alberta border.
They built their first hand-hewn log home in 1906 and in 1916 they erected a new modern home that incorporated parts of the original log structure. It was one of the first homes in the area to have electricity and running water. For the Reesors it was a dream come true – a home their fourth generation descendents are still proud of today. The present owners Scott and Theresa never tire of telling their guests the family tradition of a hundred years of ranching.
In 1997 the Reesors turned their home, which they like to refer to as a “unique treasure,” into a guest ranch where visitors, mostly from Alberta and Saskatchewan, could live in almost urban comfort while taking part in ranching and cowboy history. The ranch house and barn, as well as a number of cabins, have been turned into guest rooms with their own themes relating to the ranching experiences of the family and other pioneers. Visitors will find that the only thing missing is a private bathroom for each room. Almost all the guests must share.