Hank Pallister

Rangeman and Native Son

Hank Pallister
Photo courtesy pallister archives

H. G. (Hank) Pallister was the son of Guy and Evelyn Pallister, and was raised on the Lineham Ranch near Turner Valley, with nine brothers and three sisters. He was the only child who followed in his father’s footsteps into the cattle business. His father, Guy Pallister, came to the ranching frontier in 1888 from Sheffield, England.
After finishing high school, Hank worked on various ranches including the late Joe Bews, owner of the Y Cross Ranch in the spring of 1948 until the fall of 1949. Joe gave him a horse named “Dandy”, that was raised by Guy Weadick at the Stampede Ranch. This was the beginning of his love for schooling horses.
While four of Hank’s brothers joined the armed forces, Hank was exempted from military service because he was employed in agriculture, working in the spring of 1945 at the OH Ranch at Longview.
While he loved the job, he soon realized that he had to make a major change that paid him more money. In 1950, he hired on as a brand inspector, working at Edmonton stockyards and then moving to the Calgary stockyards.
He still loved ranch life, and he always spent his holidays helping Eddie Bowlen gather cattle for his sister, Helen MacDonald at the Mount Royal Ranch at Cochrane or at various spring brandings.
In 1964, Hank was promoted to Supervisor of Brand Inspection for southern Alberta, and he covered many miles to stockyards and auction markets, from Red Deer to the U.S. border. In 1968, he was promoted to Coordinator of Regulatory Services in Edmonton to supervise the Brand Inspection Service for the Province of Alberta. As coordinator, he played a vital role in establishing a brand inspection computer system that provided a more efficient service, assuring the protection of cattle for Alberta producers. He worked closely with K Division of the RCMP on livestock investigation and testified many times in court on stolen cattle cases.

A young Hank Pallister (far right)
Photo courtesy of Pallister archives

During the early years of the provincial Progressive Conservative government, its platform was to decentralize government departments. Hank was charged with the responsibility of moving the Alberta Brand Office out of Edmonton to Stettler in 1975. He supervised an office staff of thirteen and field staff of approximately ninety inspectors. After 42 years, Hank retired in 1992. The Western Stock Growers presented him with an honourary lifetime membership on his retirement.
Nearing the end of his employment, Hank began writing stories of early ranch history from memories of the early rangemen that his father had talked about; backed by information gleaned from the Brand Office files. The secretaries tired of typing his stories for him, so they purchased a computer as a retirement gift. He wrote of many of the early range men his father knew and chronicled incidents and events on the early ranches in Alberta. He had an incredible ability to remember dates and events, and his column, “A History to Remember” in The Regional newspaper or “Smoke From the Branding Fire” in the Alberta Beef Magazine was always a favourite with readers. The last article he wrote was entitled, “Alberta’s Centennial,” published in the Alberta Centennial Brand Book, and in the September/05 issue of Alberta Beef Magazine.
His years at the Calgary stockyards allowed him to keep his horses there so he could participate in many horse shows, gymkhanas and cowboy polo. He became a recognized horse show judge for the Alberta Light Horse Association and also a registered cutting horse judge. He often said his eye for good conformation showed very clearly when he married Joyce Haberer, who worked at the stockyards in Paul and MacDonald’s office across the hall. They were married on August 29, 1964 and had two children; Guy in 1967 and Wade in 1971.
One of the highlights of Hank’s life was attending the Rangemen’s Dinner every year. The first one he attended was in 1956 with his father Guy, who was a guest at the first dinner in 1929. His last one was in July 2004, which he attended with his son, Guy. He counted it a privilege to be recognized as a native son and was a member of the Southern Alberta Old Timers. He also organized the Old Timers section of the Stampede Parade for 25 years.
As a teamster, Hank drove on the “Hooves of History” cattle drive in 1990 and the Western Stock Growers Cattle Drive in 1996 teaming up with Larry Boyd to drive the OH bed wagon over the trails at the age of 70!
In 1999, Hank and Joyce retired to High River where Hank worked with the committee for the selection and establishment of the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site at Longview. In 2000, he took over as manager for the Friends of the Bar U Historic Ranch Association. During that time, he worked with Bill Dunn, Oliver Christianson and the Museum of the Highwood to commemorate Alberta’s ranching history.
Hank passed away in 2005 and in 2007, Joyce Pallister published his manuscripts into the book, “Smoke from the Branding Fire” Hank Pallister’s Tales.