Ranchman's seized memorabilia returning to owners
A new ownership group has purchased Ranchman's, the iconic Calgary honky tonk
CALGARY -- The saddles seized by the bank from Ranchman's closure will find their way back to their rightful owners.
That was the message delivered Friday by realtor Rob Campbell, who is looking for a tenant for Ranchman's, the iconic Calgary cookhouse on Macleod Trail that shut its doors for good last Saturday.
Last Sunday, Campbell revealed, in an interview with CTV News, that all of the memorabilia inside the club, which belonged to several generations of cowboys, had been seized by the bailiff, despite the fact that all of it was on loan from members of the western rodeo community. Many of those individual were crowned champions and allowed their personal treasures to be put on display inside the bar in exchange for a tab and priority entrance.
"When they called the note, they send in a bailiff and the bailiff comes through and basically puts everything on a list," said Campbell. "We gave them a list of things we thought would be excluded, but until they got proper backup, legal documentation, everything was seized."
That meant a treasure trove of rodeo paraphaenalia was taken from the restaurant, he said.
"There's saddles, there's buckles, spurs," he said. "Outfits from rodeo princesses. There's bronzes.
"All kinds of different things," he added, "That comprise a mini-museum of rodeo history - and we were lucky to have that (on display in Ranchman's) for the last 45 years.
"People entrusted these things to us," he said, "And we felt it was incumbent on us to make sure they got it back."
The effort was greatly aided by Kahane Law, Campbell said, which lent its legal expertise to the effort, and to the Bank of Montreal, which was willing to hand back the seized saddles.
(In a statement, BMO said, "While this is an ongoing legal matter, BMO recognizes the importance of this memorabilia to the community, and has released its seizure of all items, including saddles and trophies, which remain at ranchman's Cookhouse and Dance Hall. All inquiries related to these memorabilitia items are being directed by BMO to the landlord of the establishment for further handling.")
The heroes, Campbell added, included a former employee named Wendy Daniel, who worked at Ranchman's for 38 years, and was the person who managed all of the rodeo memorabilia and bar tabs.
She was no longer employed by Ranchman's at the time the bank foreclosed on the property, Campbell said, but then she heard about the saddle seizure.
"(She) called right away," Campbell said, "And said, 'Look, I was a part of bringing these things in and I've got to be a part of getting them back to folks.'"
Daniel, Campbell added, has been downstairs in the club - all the saddles are still inside - tracking down family members and letting them know their stuff is safe, and that it will be returned to them.
"She deserves a ton of credit," Campbell said.
The irony of the saddle seizure, Campbell added, is that all that old western leather isn't really worth anything - except to the families whose loved ones sweated and strained and sometimes got clobbered over - for years.
"It's not worth anything if you were to take it to auction," he said. "You might find a collector who wants to pick up a piece here and there, but it's not worth a lot of money.
"It's worth everything," he added, "To cowboys and cowgirls that earned it."