The following are a few recollections of Cal Hayes:

Source: Mike Schintz, The Ya Ha Tinda Ranch

A young horseman named Cal Hayes turned up briefly at the (Ya Ha Tnda) ranch in 1957 where he served under Fred Dixon.  He came back again in 1963 when Don Sutherland was in charge and went on to work under Bill Burles for a number of years.  Cal left again and Slim Haugen became foreman.  When Slim retired in 1982 Cal returned and became Foreman.

Source: Legends of the Red Deer River Ranch and its Western Neighbor the Ya Ha Tinda by Bob Boucher.  Page #17

Cal told Bob Boucher about the training that horses had to be given before they were suitable for use by the Park Wardens.  The foals were weaned in the fall and kept in the barn at night.  They are turned out in the daytime but not with the mares. As they mature they are halter broken and gradually given training for whatever purpose they will be used.  Some will become saddle horses and others will become packhorses.  This is a daily training program for all new mounts.  Cal said that only the disciplined horses are released to the Park Wardens’ use and care.  Cal spoke about the time he and Richard Regnier were out riding horses that had come up from Fort Walsh.  They were about two miles away from the compound when Richard’s horse decided that he didn’t want a rider, and bucked him off.  Richard climbed back on and said, “He isn’t going to do that again!” The horse bucked Richard off again! To top it off, Cal got promptly  bucked off his saddle  horse and received a gash on his head.

Cal also told about the time he was breaking one horse, a mean one.  As Cal got aboard, the horse started to buck, leaped into the air and came down on all four legs and without a pause twisted his way back into the wild blue.   Well, needless to say, Cal flew through the air like a feather on a breeze, but his landing was more like a ton of bricks hitting the ground.  The result of that ride turned out to be a broken shoulder for Cal.

One evening, Cal’s wife Donna took out the garbage in a large dishpan.  It was late, about 10 pm.  Suddenly, Cal said he heard some screaming and the sound of running footsteps coming up onto the porch.  Donna burst through the door panting (minus the dishpan).  She said, “I was emptying the garbage into a barrel, and it was dark, it was some time before I realized that there was a bear sorting garbage in another barrel!”  She never took garbage out in the evening again.

Source: Park Warden Alumni Society Oral History Project

Ken Pigeon related the following story about Cal.  

Jasper National Park had a big grey horse named “Smokey”.  Cal got on him one time and that horse bucked him off right in front of the barn….in that little catch pen.  Cal went up in the air and did about 2 flips and landed in front of this horse on his feet.  He still had the reins in his hand.  He walked through the barn and looked at me and Neil Plested, and he said to us, “Now that’s how you get off a rough one boys!”

Lorne Cripps’ recollection of Cal Hayes

I was cooking at Cuthead during the winter of 1957-58.  I overheard Don Brestler talking on our warden telephone to someone named “Cal”.  When Don got off the phone I asked him about this guy named “Cal”.  It turned out that this was Cal Hayes who was at the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.  Don and Cal had worked together at Pincher Creek.  I too had known Cal and the whole Hayes family – 7 boys and 5 girls.  Mrs. Hayes fed every hungry cowboy who ever wandered in. One time I complained about the wind south of Hanna and Cal commented, “It ain’t real mouth-flapping wind unless a logging chain is sticking straight out blowing in the wind!”  At one time, Cal bought a farm and was raising pigs.  He sold this farm to his brother and went back working for the parks.

Christine Cripps-Woods’ recollection of Cal Hayes

I had the distinct pleasure of knowing Cal Hayes both as a family friend and as “the guy running the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch”.  I graduated Forestry in 1983 and was hoping to get on as a seasonal ranger; called a Forest Guardian at the time.  In 1984 Cal gave a “good word’ to the chief ranger at Sundre, and I was hired on at the James River and later the Red Deer River ranger stations. I loved my time at those ranger stations and spent three years as a Forest Guardian.  During my final year I got to see more of Cal.  He always had his “eye on things” at the ranch and did not trust that the public would be respectful.  He would have his binoculars on the table so that he could see who was coming up the road, and would often take a drive through the campground just outside the gates.

I loved going into the ranch.  I had heard about it from my parents (Lorne & Shirley Cripps) and I knew Cal would always give me a cup of tea, a hard time and his ‘look’.  He let me take a horse up Scalp Creek for a ride. He and his wife Donna both had a heart of gold.  Later on, Donna made the table centerpieces and the top for my wedding cake.

The best story I heard about Cal was the time he was doing a check through the camping area. I believe he was a Forest Officer at the time.  A man and woman didn’t do things quite right, so Cal gave them a ticket.  Years later, this same couple were back once again. Cal came along, his parks’ stetson  pulled down tight.  The couple proceeded to tell him about a bad experience they’d had years ago with this miserable ranger who was the nastiest person they’d ever run across. This miserable ranger had a distinctive curl on his forehead.  Well, Cal with his ever-loving dry sense of humour, proceeded to take his hat off and say how sorry he was that they’d had such a poor experience. The couple left that night.  I could just see Cal doing this!!

Poem by Bob Boucher, Sundre.

Composed for Cal and Donna Hayes in 1994.

Source: Legends of the Red Deer River Ranch and its western neighbor The Ya Ha Tinda (Government Horse Ranch), by Bob Boucher


He rode into camp one sunny day,

Riding a mare, that was dapple gray.

He said that he could ride anything in sight,

So we gave him a chance to prove he was right.


The meanest horse was given to this young buckaroo,

When he rode it to a standstill, we resolved his yarn was true.

His riding and roping put often times to test,

Disclosed his cowboy passion…for our Alberta West.


As the years slid by, he was placed in the lead,

Of this horse riding crew…they tamed many a steed.

For several years the Ranch he called home,

With his adept comely wife, it was cared for as their own.


The cowboy that I speak of…has lead in his pants,

His name is Cal Hayes..from the “Ya Ha Tinda Ranch”.