Rodeo families that once celebrated their championships at Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall in Calgary are raising concerns about hundreds of pieces of memorabilia that were seized when the venue went up for lease.
People familiar with the bar said cowboys and cowgirls would bring their championship saddles to Ranchman’s in exchange for a bar tab and VIP status.
The saddles were hung in the rafters or displayed along the walls of the bar, adding to the history and ambiance.
Zakary Gladstone said his father, Jim Gladstone, did exactly that back in the 1970s.
Jim was a three-time Canadian calf-roping champion and became the first Canadian to win a timed event on the world stage, taking home the National Finals Rodeo roping title in 1977.
Jim died in 2015 but his world championship saddle still sits in a display case on the upper floor of Ranchman’s.
Due to the seizure of the bar, Zakary isn’t able to retrieve his father’s saddles.
“Those saddles mean everything,” Zakary said Monday. “They are the last piece of my dad that I have with me.”
Zakary said he signed a deal with the owner of Ranchman’s that he could retrieve the saddles at any time — something he said many of the cowboys did when displaying their accomplishments at the bar.
“I entrusted [the saddles] to Ranchman’s and they were totally fine with it until everything closed down,” said Zakary. “And now it’s been nothing but a hassle trying to get them back.”
The Bank of Montreal, who is trying to settle the debt from the now-defunct operators, would not comment since it’s an ongoing legal matter.
Jeff Kane, a Calgary-based lawyer, said he’s working with the families to prove that the saddles were never part of the lease agreement and that the bank should not have seized them as assets.
He said once that process is done, the work can start on making sure the prized saddles are either returned to their rightful owners or kept as part of the next iteration of Ranchman’s.
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