Friday, September 6, 2013

Preserving our History

I had the pleasure of spending time last week with former CEO Doug Fee, Angus breeder Doug Henderson and Director of Field Services Brian Good discussing Canadian Angus history and doing some work in our archives.

As we have started to pack items in preparation for our move to Angus Central, we have realized that we don't have a record of the history behind some of the artwork, trophies and memorabilia. Our Calgary-based summer intern, Katelyn Dietrich, photographed most of our memorabilia and artwork and created a database for us this summer. We're now working on identifying all of these items and capturing the stories that go with them.

Doug Fee dropped by the office to provide some history on items that the Canadian Angus Association acquired during his 17-year tenure as CEO. In addition to the many gifts received from around the world in appreciation of Canada hosting the 1985 and 2009 World Angus Forums and 1999 World Angus Secretariat Technical Meeting, we have received several gifts from trade delegations visiting Canada to learn about our beef. When these delegations have visited the Canadian Angus Association office, they have often brought an item from their country, such as a Japanese tea set.


The two wooden plaques pictured above came from the Highlander Hotel in Calgary. Doug purchased the plaques for the Canadian Angus Association archives when the Highlander closed down. Dynamite was a red carrier bull that was purchased in the United States and imported to Canada. He was a very popular and influential Angus bull. We're not sure who Jennifer is....

Not everything in our archives is Angus material. Former President and namesake of the Junior Ambassador program Robert C. McHaffie made a replica oil rig and presented it to the Association. It may not be a replica Angus, but it's a piece of memorabilia that we are proud to have and display.

I had the privilege of working with Doug Fee for five years, and I enjoyed his reminisces about how we came into possession of so many priceless artifacts.

On Thursday, I was honoured to spend most of the day in the presence of a true Angus historian, Doug Henderson. Doug and Brian took me on an incredible journey through Angus history. Brian has donated several of his own family trophies and other mementos to the Angus archives. There were very few items that we looked at for which Doug didn't have a story.


We have two prints of the approved “standard type” Canadian Angus animals circa 1930s. These prints come from a time when the federal department of agriculture asked each breed association to provide an approved standard type of their breed for distribution to schools for educational purposes. Doug shared that Ross Butler did all the paintings for all breeds. He also shared that only the pictures of the females hung in schools. Apparently the anatomically correct bulls were deemed inappropriate for display in schools.

Doug was also very excited to discover that we own a copy of Volume 1 of the Polled Herd Book dating back to 1884. This Scottish herd book has the pedigrees of Aberdeen Angus cattle starting with #1, Old Jock. Doug pointed out that very few Angus breeders are aware that Angus cattle had to be "bred up" until 1922. In order to be eligible for registration, a calf had to be sired by a registered Angus bull.

Despite our best collective efforts, there are some items that we have been unable to identify. Once we are settled into Angus Central, we will be looking to our breeders to help us fill in the gaps.

Angus Central will have a large space dedicated to showcasing our breed history. Starting November 1, the Canadian Angus Foundation would be thrilled to accept donations of Angus memorabilia for display in the new archive space. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about donating to the Foundation.

Posted by Tina Zakowsky