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Drewry House

Cowley, Near

Other Names:
Drewry Ranch
Drewry/Rener House
Drewry/Rener Ranch House
Glen Ranche
Reners' Farmhouse
Reners' Farmstead

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Drewry House is an early twentieth century, two-storey building situated on 17.64 hectares on the north bank of the Crowsnest River near Cowley. Constructed of locally quarried, rough-faced sandstone, it features a hipped roof, plain exterior, and window bays on the west and south facades.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Drewry House lies in its long association with southern Alberta's ranching and farming life and its fine representation of a rural Alberta sandstone ranch home.

The land on which the Drewry House sits was given by the Dominion government to the Calgary and Edmonton Land Company in 1905. In the same year, John Climie Drewry, a former "Globe and Mail" journalist with interests in British Columbia mines, abandoned Toronto and headed west, arriving in the Cowley area. Four years later, Drewry purchased this property from the land company and founded the Glen Ranche, an enterprise specializing in raising Percheron horses and purebred Holstein cattle. At the time of its establishment, the Glen Ranche represented a relatively late addition to a ranching frontier already in decline due to the end of the grazing lease system and the influx of homesteaders. From his acquisition of the ranch until his death in 1914, Drewry was an integral part of the economic and social life of the area. One of the largest landowners in the region, he was also the President of the Percheron Horse Breeders Association and a member of other stock associations. After Drewry's death, the ranch was taken over by his brother, Andrew, and his sister, Mary Burnham Drewry, both of whom had accompanied him from central Canada to Alberta. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Netherlands Investment Company in 1927 before being acquired by farmers Edward Alfred Percevault and Frank Joseph Piazola in 1943. The site served as a farm for three decades before being sold to Reners' Farm Limited in 1972. Through its association with prominent local rancher J.C. Drewry and its connection to ranch and farm operations near Cowley, the Drewry House provides a vital link to the continuing social and economic traditions of southern Alberta.

The Drewry House is a rare example of a rural Alberta stone residence. Constructed in 1910, the home was erected by local stonemasons Tom Iredale and William Lighthart using locally quarried sandstone. The sandstone facade is composed of semi-coursed, irregularly shaped sandstone blocks. The exterior is almost completely unembellished and the design is plain, featuring an irregular fenestration pattern, stone lintels and sills, and window bays on the south and west facades. The overall appearance of the Drewry House suggests the influence of the English stone building tradition. The interior of the home is far more ornate, with pressed tin ceilings and beautiful woodwork in the mouldings and staircases. The rustic exterior and bucolic setting of the home amidst the panoramic beauty of the Cowley area imbues the Drewry House with an air of romantic pastoralism, while the more ornate interior expresses a more urban, sophisticated aesthetic - an ideal union for a former central Canadian journalist turned western rancher.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1720)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Drewry House include such features as:
- rural location;
- mass, form, and style;
- hipped roof;
- semi-coursed, rough-faced sandstone facade;
- stone lintels, sills, and quoins;
- window bays on south and west facades;
- fenestration pattern and style, including double sash windows;
- pressed tin ceilings;
- original interior elements, including mouldings, trims, doors, staircases, fittings and fixtures.


Street Address:
Community: Cowley, Near
Boundaries: Portion of Block L, Plan 9211229
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
10 (ptn.)
7 (ptn.)
8 (ptn.)
9 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.604264 -114.120115 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1993/07/23

Historical Information

Built: 1910 to 1910
Period of Significance:
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Builder: Tom Iredale
William Lighthart

The Drewry House is located on land originally given to the Calgary and Edmonton Land Company by the Dominion Government in 1905. In 1909, it was sold to John Climie Drewry, who established the Glen Ranch on the property. Prior to coming to the Cowley area in 1905, he had been journalist with the Globe and Mail in Toronto and was involved with mining interests in British Columbia. With his acquisition of this property, he became one of the largest landowners in the area.

The Glen Ranch belongs to the era of small ranch operations which developed in the area by the turn of the century. The end of the bonanza ranch era came about with the cancellation of the lease system, the arrival of large numbers of American dry-land farmers and the disposal of the region's water reservation after 1905. The Glen Ranch, therefore, reflects changes in the ranching industry during this era.

The Drewry House is a rare example of the use of stone as a building material for a residence in Alberta. Stone was used in a variety of building types ranging from simple worker's residences like the Gunderson residence to classically inspired schools in Calgary, but this is a rare example of its use in Alberta country homes.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0533
Designation File: DES 1720
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 71488
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1720)
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