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  Riding the Rails on the Canadian Prairies
Doug Blair
(Reprinted with permission from ‘Boxcar Boys, Riding the Rails with Bovine Beauties’ by Ronald F. Eustice)
   In 1963, which was late in the ‘Boxcar Era,’ we took 12 head of Holsteins from Colony Farm and my family ’s Langview Farm in a boxcar from New Westminster, BC, to represent the province of British Columbia on the Western Canada Prairie show circuit.
The Western Canadian Provincial Branches of Holstein Canada, largely through the encouragement of Lloyd Picard, started a series of national shows at several locations that ran every two years, the first being held in Calgary in 1959.
Lloyd Picard, a long-time showman for Hayes and Rosafe Farms had moved from Ontario back to his home province of Alberta, to start a Holstein and Aberdeen Angus sales management business. The Holstein Journal of August 1959 reported “Alberta's national shows at Calgary and Edmonton more than accomplished their purpose of instilling new enthusiasm among Western Canadian breeders.” The British Columbia exhibit came by train and gave a good account of themselves.
I flew from Vancouver to Calgary to help on show day in Calgary. I was thrilled to be in competition with Picard and Clark’s famous cow SYLVIA PABST TEXAL, who had been Grand Champion at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in 1957 and 1958 and would repeat in 1959 and be Reserve Grand Champion in 1960.
In 1961 the National Show moved to Vancouver and the visiting herds from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Washington State carried off the lion’s share of the prize money. SYLVIA PABST TEXAL was again Grand Champion. The Holstein Journal reported, “Bailey Farms, Alberta, won the Premier Exhibitor banner and Colony Farm the Premier Breeder for the home team. Picard and Clark lost out by the narrowest of margins for both awards. Not far behind in both divisions were BC breeders Les Gilmore and W.C. Blair.”
In 1963 the National Show moved to Saskatoon and Regina. My father W.C. Blair, Langview Farm, Langley and Bruce Richardson, Superintendent of Colony Farm, Essondale, BC, decided we should tackle the Prairie show circuit and that we should share travel expenses including the cost of a boxcar.
We booked a wooden boxcar on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) for the trip that would start just outside
of Vancouver. Preparation for the trip required construction of a deck for feed, tack, sleeping and tie rails for the cattle. Ray McDonell (age 18) and I (age 21) were the boxcar boys. Neither one of us had ever been in a boxcar before, but I don’t recall being concerned about that, other than the possibility of being trapped inside the boxcar, so we put a 2 x 4 block on the door sill so it could not slam shut on us.
Our two-day, 600-mile trip through the Rocky Mountains began on July 5, 1963, our destination was the famous Calgary Stampede and Livestock Show.
The CPR train men placed us close to the front engine for a smoother ride. In the box car with us were 12 head - nine from Colony Farm and three from our Langview herd. All of the animals were bred and owned by the respective exhibitors. There were five milking females that had to be milked by hand while on the train. The manure and milk were tossed out the car door when we were in a remote wilderness location.
Our itinerary was well planned out. We spent the first week in Calgary and then back in the boxcar for the 200-mile ride to Edmonton for the second week. We then traveled 325 miles to Saskatoon for the third week and 160 miles to Regina the fourth week. After a month on the show circuit, it was time to make the 1100-mile ride home.
At Calgary, we had first Senior Yearling heiferandJuniorChampionwithCOLONY
Saskatoon (1963). First Milking 4-year old, Doug Blair at the halter.
 FAYNE ENA CYVRO and first milking Two- year old with COLONY VALE JEWEL CAMEO. A total of 110 head were shown at Calgary under judge Allen Haight from Saskatchewan. At Calgary, our mature cow LANGVIEW ETHEL PRIDE DEKOL calved with a bull calf. We made a straw pen for the calf while at the shows as well as a separate pen in the boxcar on the trip back to BC. We named him Langview Rag Apple Stampeder and he later went to All- West Breeders, Burlington, WA.
The show at Edmonton was much larger. We did not fare as well here. The judge for this show was Wm. K. Hepburn from Windsor, CT. He awarded us only one first with the two-year old COLONY VALE JEWEL CAMEO.
In Saskatoon, CPR’s train crew left us sitting in the railyards all afternoon in 95-degree Fahrenheit weather! It was a
challenge keeping the cattle hydrated. We gave the cattle sponge baths in an effort to cool them off. Fortunately, we had access to lots of water in the yards. This was the first of the national shows and it attracted 229 head from four provinces under judge Ray Brubacher, then of Elkhart Lake, WI.
Our LANGVIEW CORA DEKOL JEWEL was first milking Four-year old and won the special National Show trophy for the best British Columbia-bred animal. Next came the short ride to Regina for the final National Show with 165 head, again from four provinces, shown under veteran judge J.M. Fraser, Spring Farm, Streetsville, Ontario. The cattle were all accustomed to the drill by then and we had our best showing with four firsts. These included: first milking Four-year old LANGVIEW CORA DEKOL JEWEL (who again won the best BC bred animal trophy), first dry Two-year-old COLONY FLOOD COLANTHA CYVRO and first
"The coal-powered locomotive had to climb through the Rockies so they added an extra engine at the foot of what was known as the "Big Hill". The route also included the Rocky Mountain's famous Spiral Tunnels where the train made a big loop in a tunnel inside a mountain. By the time we came out the other side we and the cattle were covered in coal-black soot."
 anadian National Holstein Show,

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