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William Roper Hull Ranche House


Other Names:
Hull Ranche House
Bow Valley Ranch
Bow Valley Ranche House
Government Supply Farm
Hull Estate House
Hull/Burns Ranche House
Native Supply Farm
The Ranche Restaurant

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The William Roper Hull Ranche House is a late nineteenth century, brick, two-storey, Tudor (Gothic) Revival style house with Victorian Stick detailing. It is situated on approximately half a hectare in southeast Calgary near the confluence of Fish Creek and the Bow River on Crown land within Fish Creek Provincial Park. Two additions were made to the ranch house in 1946 and 1957.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the William Roper Hull Ranche House site lies in its representation of the upper-class society that emerged amid the development of ranching in Southern Alberta. The architecture of the ranch house establishes a direct link with the early ranching industry in Southern Alberta and the lifestyles of the ranching elite, notably its owners, the influential cattle barons William Roper Hull and Patrick Burns.

The house demonstrates the progression from subsistence ranching to commercial empire within a matter of decades. William Roper Hull, a successful rancher and businessman, bought the property in 1892 and when the original log ranch house burned down, commissioned a brick, two-storey house from James Llewellyn Wilson (foremost architect in Calgary in 1888-90). It is one of the few remaining residential buildings designed by Wilson, and is a reflection of elegant country entertaining in late Victorian English style meant to demonstrate Hull's success and his ascension into the ranching aristocracy in Calgary. The house became the focal point of social gatherings and represented the height of gracious country living when it was built in 1896. In 1902, Patrick Burns bought the property. Burns (a senator after 1931) amassed one of the first personal fortunes in Southern Alberta by building an integrated meat-packing company. He too had a profound effect on the economic and social life of Alberta, notably as one of the "Big Four" investors who founded the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede in 1912. During the period of the Burns' family ownership, the ranch house was used as a private family home and headquarters of the Bow Valley Ranche. The house was continuously occupied by Hull and his descendants from 1896 to 1973, when the property was purchased by the Government of Alberta and incorporated into Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1919)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the William Roper Hull Ranche House include elements associated with the original construction of the ranch house.

Key elements of the ranch house include:
- the use of balloon frame, masonry and sandstone foundation construction;
- its design, consisting of a two-storey rectangular main structure;
- its steeply pitched roof with upper-storey windows piercing the roofline as gable dormers, tall chimney stacks, verandas, mullioned and bay windows, as well as timber work at the eaves as decoration;
- its original interior detailing, including main floor sitting room walls and ceilings, original plaster covered with stencilling and paint, and original decorative fir baseboards, corner boards, door and window trim, handrails, and balustrades;
- the original floor plan of the 1896 residence is retained;
- its division into front and back zones;
- the fine architectural detailing of the front zone;
- the mass and form of the west wing and its exterior finishes.


Street Address: 15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Portion of SW 36-22-1-W5
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4 (ptn.)

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


Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50.910253 -114.021422 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2001/04/03

Historical Information

Built: 1896 to 1896
Significant Date(s) 1896 to 1973
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Farm or Ranch
Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Eating or Drinking Establishment
Architect: James Llewellyn Wilson
Builder: Jean Watson

Hull House Estate, located on the Bow Valley Ranch site in Fish Creek Provincial Park, is situated southwest of Calgary at the confluence of the Bow River and Fish Creek. This Tudor style home is unique among early Alberta ranch houses, which tended to be two storey, four square homes or sprawling, one story wooden structures. This very opulent house and estate reflect both Hull's wealth and architectural tastes.

In 1874-75, John Glenn, one of the first settlers in the region, acquired land on Fish Creek. The property changed hands and use (farm, ranch, Government Indian Supply Farm and training centre) several times between 1874 and 1892 at which time William Roper Hull, a British Columbia entrepreneur with interests in the meat processing and ranching industries, purchased it from a Quebec based land speculator. During his tenure as owner he expanded the size of the ranching operation and established an efficient irrigation system that was widely touted by the Dominion government. Following a fire in 1896 that destroyed the first residence Hull commissioned pre-eminent Calgary architect, James Llewellyn Wilson, to design and build the existing Tudor style manor.

Hull sold the property to Pat Burns in 1902. The character of the ranch changed almost immediately as Burns implemented modifications to increase and improve beef production to supply his processing and packing plants. Social functions were largely restricted to those involving family members and employees of Bow Valley Farm. Also Burns paid little attention to Hull's extensive and innovative irrigation system and it was soon rendered useless. The ranch remained in the Burns family for several decades and underwent several major modifications during the forties and fifties, including the addition of a large family room, an in-ground swimming pool, tennis courts and significant changes to the grounds. The estate was acquired by the Alberta government in 1973 as part of the Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The Hull Estate House was designed by Calgary architect James Llewellyn Wilson, described as the most prominent architect in Calgary between 1888 and 1900. It was built in 1896 by contractor Jean Watson. Built of brick with wood detailing in the gables, this was one of the largest and most imposing houses in the Calgary area. Stylistically, the Hull Estate House shows the influence of the Queen Anne style, which was very popular at the time. Its varied roofline, large chimneys, fish-scale shingles, and bow windows are all features of this style. Originally, the proportions of the house appeared more vertical - also a feature of the Queen Anne style. Alterations have changed this impression: the large veranda has been closed in, and a one-storey wing has been added to the north. However, the former is reversible, and the latter is largely in character with the main house.


The site was originally settled in 1873 by John Glenn, a trapper and former gold prospector. Glenn was the first settler in the Calgary area. He built a log house and barns and lived here until 1879. The property was subsequently purchased by the government as an instructional farm for native people. In 1892, William Roper Hull, a successful rancher and businessman, purchased the property. When the original log ranch house burned down, he built the brick, two-storey house, now known as Bow Valley Ranch, at a cost of 12,000 dollars. The structure was finely detailed, with elegant furnishings chosen by Mrs. Hull. In 1902, Patrick Burns, a leading Calgary rancher and meat packer, purchased the property, complete with Mrs. Hull's furnishings. Few modifications were made to the house. Pat Burns was one of the major forces behind the growth of ranching in Alberta. This was an active ranch until 1973.


This building was brought to the site in 1910 from the McGuiness property, six miles to the southwest. Sixteen teams of horses dragged the house to its existing location, where it was assigned to foreman Ed Hoschka and his wife Nellie. They lived here until 1948. The use of the decorative trim and good quality woodwork are indicative of the fact that the house was very well constructed. Hoschka's elevated status as foreman is reflected in the quality of this building as compared to the communal bunkhouses.


The ranch house is a modest example of the 'Old English' vernacular style which was popular for country houses in England in the 1880s and 1890s. In the same period this style became popular in North America and many fine structures of this type are found in Ontario. The style is characterized by a square floor plan, steeply pitched roof with the upper story windows piercing the roof line as gable dormers, tall chimney stacks, verandas, mullioned and bay windows, and timber work at the eaves as decoration. The house is of frame construction sheathed in yellow stretcher bond brick decorated with horizontal stringcourses of red brick. The gables are decorated with curved wooden brackets, a king post and collar-tie, topped by extended finials. The wall in the gable angle is sheathed with fish-scale shingles. The original veranda has been enclosed in brick across the front facade and removed along the north wall. The interior is in excellent condition, with the original woodwork and ornate fireplaces intact. In scale and decorative detail, the house is unique among the extant ranch buildings of Alberta.


The foreman's house is a one-storey frame structure with a low, asymmetrical hip roof and widely overhanging, flared eaves forming a veranda on three sides. The siding is horizontal wide-drop wood except for the portion of the front porch which is vertically sided. A flat roof dormer protrudes from the south side of the roof. The interior plan is determined by a central octagonal front room from which the other rooms radiate. The interior is finished throughout with vertical V-joint cedar decorated by a horizontal moulding at door-top level and a lower chair rail. The architraves are carefully moulded with square corner mounts decorated in circles. This structure is similar in style to the Walrond Ranch House and the guesthouse at the Flying E. Ranch, as all have low hip roofs with overhanging eaves creating verandas, but it is much better condition than either of these structures.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0797
Designation File: DES 1919
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 70167
Website Link: www.bowvalleyranche.com
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. 1919)
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