Thursday, October 15, 2015

Update: Return of Stolen Historical Artifact

(See side panel: “Plea for Information”)

Parisien taxidermy head
Nov. 2015
Nine years after the taxidermy head of the great Simmental bull Parisien was stolen from display at the 2006 World Simmental Congress in Calgary, Alberta, it was anonymously turned over to a member of the Canadian Simmental Association during the 2015 CSA Convention in Lindsay, Ontario (July 30-August 2, 2015). Its return was briefly reported on CSA Facebook1 under dates of August 1 & 2, 2015, and also commented on in the Commercial Country cattle magazine (Vol. 12, Issue 2, Sept 2015, p. 8, col. 2 -- "The Canadian Simmental Convention - A Huge Success").2

The Smith family was advised of its recovery on August 13, 2015.

Two months later (on October 14, 2015), it was returned to its owner—somewhat injured from its experience (suffering a broken ear and broken horn). We are grateful for its return and wish to thank the CSA (or other persons responsible) for arranging its return.

1. From the CSA Facebook page:

2. Quote: “The banquet which was held Saturday evening was attended by over 275 guests who enjoyed a fabulous meal and a special surprise when Parisien, the first Simmental bull imported to North America joined us. This was a huge surprise to all as his head and memorabilia were last seen and went missing during the 2006 World Simmental Fleckvieh Federation Congress that was held in Calgary. It is great to have these items back and all will be returned to the Cardston museum where they have previously been housed.” From Commercial Country cattle magazine (Vol. 12, Issue 2, Sept 2015, p. 8, col. 2) -- "The Canadian Simmental Convention - A Huge Success" - byline: Bruce Holmquist, General Manager - Canadian Simmental Association.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

About this blog

This "blog history" of the early years of Simmental in North America was essentially posted in chronological order of unfolding events, thus if you want to begin at the beginning, it is probably best to begin with the first posting of May 7, 2010. For additional information about this blog history, refer to the side panel to your left. There may be a few future additional posts in the chronological sequence as I have some draft blog entries that are awaiting additional information/research and some "photo" permissions.

For my note repecting the many others who contributed to the story of Simmental in North American and my inability to cover the entire story, please see: .

Friday, December 30, 2011

21st Century ~ “New Dawn for the Cowman”?

The first North American Simmental breeders in the late 1960’s began their programs committed to breed improvement. After a period of distraction by some (see yesterday’s post), the focus, once again, seems to be returning to performance testing, evaluation, and breed improvement.

From Simmental Country, March 2007:
“The Progeny Testing and SMARTag Program” by Alana Lunn, p. 10: The CSA has initiated two new, exciting programs for our members that will help you providing information and service to your customers. These are the progeny Testing Program and the SMARTag Program. …”

“Progeny Test Program” by Sean McGrath, p. 16: “… Increasingly in beef production, value is being determined by differentiation and the ability to identify those differences. … / The Canadian Simmental Association is currently ramping up their 2007 progeny testing program to obtain commercial calving, growth, and carcass data on Simmental sired calves. This effort, in addition to breeder efforts to collect carcass data, and overall efforts to obtain ultrasound data on seedstock represent a significant commitment to ensuring the future profitability of the commercial beef industry by identification of end product attributes and the genetics that produce them. …”

“A Look Back” by Bill Macleod, pp. 34-35: The Canadian Simmental Association has experienced a number of very significant changes over the period of time that I have been associated with the Board. The first one that comes to mind is the work of the Promotions and Marketing Committee which has changed the focus of the industry from issuing registration papers to promoting Simmental cattle as having a greater role in the commercial beef industry. This emphasis has led, in part, to the dramatic increase in the sale of Simmental cattle to commercial cattle breeders and to a far greater influence on the genetics of the commercial beef industry. This dramatic shift, from emphasizing the purebred industry as an end unto itself to that as a seed stock industry, to a much more inclusive role in the beef industry as a whole has been a turning point for the Simmental breed. This emphasis has led to the significant increase of Simmental genetics as seed stock providers. …
“A second significant change which has come about in the operation and role of the CSA is the focus on data collection introduced by the Breed Improvement Committee. Increased emphasis has been placed on the role of EPDs [Expected Progeny Difference] in the evaluation of cattle and the number of traits being collected. These traits now include, not only a number [of] convenience traits such as calving ease, docility and body condition scores, but economic traits such as weaning weights, yearling weights, rib eye and back fat scores and scrotal measurements. The more information that can be collected on an individual animal, the greater the potential for making better breeding and selection decisions.”
This appears to be a 21st Century “New Dawn for the Cowman”—not one that Travers anticipated when he wrote an article entitled “New Dawn for the Cowman” in the Commercial West magazine, August 12, 1972 (pp. 49-50). He acknowledged those who had prepared the way for the 1960’s cattle revolution, but he never imagined that the pendulum trend he thought had been overcome would swing backward once again for a time. He wrote:
“Through the years, a few persistent and dedicated men in the land searched, selected and developed more profitable cattle, but very little progress was made in profitable beef production until around 1960-61. When a very faint light of change appeared lit by a very few scattered ranchers, researchers, geneticists and businessmen, and by 1968 this small” light had grown to be a steady flame until now in 1972 it is referred to as a prairie fire lighting this whole continent. This change has been wrought in all sections of the industry and in every breed and beef improvement association. A most intense and dramatic improvement has come from the introduction of the continental or so called “exotic” breeds into our crossbreeding. …

“Production Efficiency: In America, while the pendulum had swung one way and started back, stockman in other countries had continued on from centuries back improving production efficiency. Switzerland held the lead with two dual purpose breeds, delivering seed stock to many parts of the world. …

“Men can, through their co-operative management blend together all the resources at hand into a formula to bring about a profitable economic agricultural structure, and also a better balanced ecology. …

“There is still lots of room for improvement in our economy, not alone towards profit, but for building a better land that our inheritance might be passed on to those after us better than we received. ...”
Travers’ enduring dream would probably be: 1) no more pendulum swings; 2) forward movement for centuries to come in breed improvement; and 3) that we would pass on to those who come after an inheritance better than we received.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Performance ~ Voices from the Past

B. Travers Smith
Apr. 10, 1973
In the sidebar of this blog, one of the blog purposes—perhaps the most important—was stated to be:
“to remember “WHY” Travers and others were looking for improved genetics and performance.”
As documented in the Simmental Shield, March 1974, p. 30: “Travers contention was that judging cattle by type [or color or breed preference] instead of performance was our ruination.”

Travers was passionate in that belief. As we look around at where we have been, what we intended, and where we are today in the cattle industry, is there any need to remember the voices from the past?

In the Simmental Shield, August 1974, pp. 119-122, Don Vaniman, Exec. Sec. of the ASA wrote an extended article about his show ring observations:
“A traditional ceremony of visually appraising breeding cattle in the showring has interfered with comprehensive within-herd performance selection. The showring is promotional, but seldom breed-improving. … / Yes, the showring is a wonderful place to meet and visit with old friends. But how can it measure and select breeding cattle for the future based on one day’s parade of only visual analysis all done by one judge for all breeds of cattle? /…Showring will never be compatible with performance testing because showring leans toward short-term breeding goals with fast-turn-around. Performance testing calls for exact measurements to be taken within equal opportunity groups, then selecting for economic traits of high heritability and culling traits of low heritability.”
In January 1982, Ted Pritchett wrote an editorial (Viewpoint) in the Simmental Country magazine about his views on the showring influence. He stirred up a flurry of letters in response, e.g.:
From Frank E. Cursons of Eastend, Sask., (Feb/82., p. 132): “… Sacrificing utility for style has not in any way benefitted the class of animals subjected to this form of appraisal. / … The appearance of the early imported Simmental bulls and females and their products remain imbedded in my memory and these present day pea-pod weasels on stilts do not appear to measure up as satisfactory replacements to me at least. I am aghast at what I see. / It seems I am watching the Canadian exotic breeders offering a replay of what happened to the British cattle starting about fifty years ago. / Though it has to a degree been corrected, I fail to see why the exotics have to go through the same process. …”

From Diane Gilliland of Carievale, Sask. (March/82, p. 49): … “It[’]s really sad to see what is happening to the breed. It was so good to see someone with the clout and a goodly amount of internal fortitude finally speak out and say what we’ve been saying for four years. …”

From Gary Decock (3D Ranch) (March/82, p. 49): “… I would like to congratulate you on your remarks about the showing ring and the kind of cattle we’re raising today. / I hear you have cheesed off a few people, I think if you recall that one of the biggest reasons why we imported exotic’s in the first place was because the breeders of the old traditional b[r]eeds decided that we had to have a short dumpy, butterball type of animal, which produced a rather wasty type of carcass. Lately some people seem to think we need a tall lean extreme type of animal. … / I think more of us should be paying more attention to what goes on in the stockyard ring th[a]n the show ring and take what we’ve learned from there to the show ring. …”
In Simmental Country, October 1994, pp.83-4, Bob Gordon pondered the pros and cons as he wrote:
“Most every good commercial cattleman wants some Simmental blood in his commercial cow herd as he realizes what their influence has done in improving the productivity of his cattle in the last twenty years. / Having been involved with the Simmental breed from day one I realize very clearly what we expected the Simmental cattle to do in changing our domestic commercial cow herd in the early 70’s. We were coming out of an era when the industry had cattle too small with a number lacking performance and milk. Yes I do remember well what the Simmental sires did when spread across America on those present day commercial cows. This gave the industry some of the best commercial cows ever in those half and three quarter blood cows. / Yes, I remember the pledge that Travers Smith preached we would build the Simmental breed on as he was provoked with what had happened in our other breeds. How many people remember those pledges and did we carry them out? I spent many hours visiting with Travers when we were forming Bar Five and he gave us much helpful advice. … I remember that Travers Smith stated very clearly we would never ever show the Simmental cattle in open shows, only display them. In fact it was in the constitution we would never show these cattle. I worked hard to have these cattle shown and have this changed. May times I have asked myself since was it the right decision. Yes I am positive for shows but are they always evaluated for what is the most positive for the particular breed[?] …
“Let[’]s work together in trying to breed the best Simmentals possible to keep the breed in the lead in the future. This was the dream of Travers Smith when he had determination to talk eight people into putting up four thousand dollars to bring Parisien to Canada. We owe it to his foresight to do our best in breeding the kind of cattle he dreamed of producing, as what he started benefited so many of us over the last twenty year. … his great hopes and desires [were] to have Simmental cattle improve and change the direction of the present day cattle. I am sure he is watching over us to see what kind of job we have done to improve that cattle. Are we living up to his dreams?”
Many others in the intervening years have undoubtedly expressed their views and it seems to have made a difference. In the Simmental Country, March 2007 issue, the focus was on "Breed Improvement." Tomorrow's post (likely the last in this story of the early days) will include some quotes from that issue.

Despite some detours in focus, the Simmental advocates still seem to be as Travers found them and as Rodney James (former Secretary of the Canadian Charolais Association; former Editor and Publisher of the Canadian Charolais Banner; and Sales Manager of Transcon Livestock) described them when he wrote:
The incredible advancement of the [Simmental] breed over the past twenty years in my view is only partly due to the cattle. I still believe as I did in 1971 that this breed attracted and still does, some of the best people there are out there. Simmental breeders have traditionally invited competition and most importantly enjoyed other breeders’ successes. …. (Simmental Country:Aug1987:24)

Human Performance

Wikimedia Commons ~ Public Domain
Travers was just as adamant about the performance of mankind—in improving their lives and in making positive contributions to family and society. That was why he sometimes turned from promoting Simmental to talking of his belief in God and in handing out copies of the Book of Mormon—a book of scripture that he held in esteem alongside the Holy Bible. Instances of his spiritual asides were sometimes reported in the media, and a blog post referencing some instances can be found at

At his funeral service (February 11, 1974), all three speakers spoke of Travers’ faith in God. His friend Oakley Thompson said:
“Travers didn’t separate temporal and spiritual matters. Often times we hear people excusing themselves, “Well, that’s business, and this is church. You don’t mix the two.” They do mix, and Travers kept them together all the time wherever he went, and in the work that he has done. He said the Book of Mormon was his passport to the countries he went to, dealing on this Simmental work that he started to take up. Wherever he went, he preached the Gospel to those that he met up with. On one occasion he handed out 26 Books of Mormon to one group, and 39 to another group as they were getting on chartered buses, and he said they all acted eager to receive them. I thought Travers’ motto might well be stated as the Scripture which says, “Oh ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength that ye may be able to stand blameless before God at the last day.” And that was the way he lived his life.”
His friend and stake president, Fred Spackman, said:
“[Travers] had some priorities in his life. His first priority was his family. … He had great concern and a great love for them. His second priority was his duty to the church to which he belonged and in which he believed, and which he knew was true, and he served faithfully many long hours in striving to do the things he was called to do. His third priority was his business, and I don’t suppose that any of us can realize the tremendous impact that this man, with his courage, has had on the cattle industry in this country and in the United States.
“Travers never gave up. One man in the government with whom he dealt, and told me this story, finally said to him, “I have never seen such a stubbornly persistent individual in all my life.” And he meant that as a compliment, and you know that Travers was like that.
“His other priority in his life was to be a good citizen, a law-abiding citizen, and he was that, and he served in many capacities in our community and our area. Why did he have these priorities? I can only tell you that he felt the same way that the prophet Joseph Smith felt about the purpose of this life. The prophet Joseph Smith said: ‘Man is an eternal being. The resurrection from the dead, if quickened by the Celestial Glory, restores him to life with all his bodily and mental powers and faculties, and consequently associates him with his family, friends, and kindred as one of the necessary links of the chain which connects the great and loyal family of Heaven and Earth in one eternal bond of kindred affection and association.’”
Robert Sackley, another dear friend, said:
“I think I have some obligation to him and, humbly, to you who are in the audience, whether you be Latter-day Saints or not Latter-day Saints, to express a point of view that he would express. …
“Travers believed that God commanded the earth, and he believed also that He commanded him and that he belonged to Him, and that it was according to the Lord’s will and pleasure whatever he should do. …
“I would just like to be personal for a moment. I flew in here, as the family knows, not so long ago. … I spent some time alone in Travers’ room, and we held hands together and we prayed together. He said, “Will you talk at my funeral?” And I didn’t tell Belle that he had asked me to talk at his funeral because I knew she would anyway. And I said, “What do you want me to talk about?” By the way, he hadn’t even told the family that he thought he was going to die. He wanted to spare his mother that horrible feeling of anguish and difficulty, but I knew that he knew, and he said, “Tell the people that the religion that I have embraced,” and he said it in a shocking and difficult voice, and you men who know Travers and know he spoke quietly anyway—and he had a great struggle speaking in the last hours of his life—”tell them that I belonged to a cause that I believed in. They know me as a cattleman, many of them, and they know me as a businessman and some of them know me as a pretty hard-headed fellow.” He said, “You and I have been together on many occasions,” and there are some of you in the room that Travers and I have met with, and I would like to tell you, all of you, that he believed and understood and accepted implicitly his religious code; that it was the pivotal part of his life that belonged to him, and that at no time that I ever knew him did he flinch in that particular area. He stayed with it all the way. … The process by which he spread his business was a religious process. … His whole life was guided by virtue of the fact that he accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
“And if there is any message that I could give, humbly and sincerely at his death, it would be to ask you, whether you be members of his church or not, to take a look at it and see what it teaches, and see why he was motivated in it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lasting Monument

With the untiring efforts of Travers and others, many became believers in and benefactors of the Simmental dream. Now almost fifty years—a half a century—have come and gone and the name and legacy of Travers Smith is only remembered by a few, but those who knew Travers and what he dreamed and what he accomplished will never forget him. Ted Pritchett wrote:
A fitting tribute to the man was given by his friend, and fellow pioneer breeder, Wayne Malmberg. He said, “The whole North America cattle industry owes Travers Smith a lot of credit because of what he did, and because he did it without a lot of backing or support from anybody.”

There will be no monuments needed for Travers Smith or Parisien. There’s a lasting monument spread across North America. It’s a living and moving monument, made of Simmental breeders, and cattle. Most of all it’s a change of thinking, and an example of what can be done when a man has a dream and works at making it come true. (BeefTodayYearbook’77:88)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Other Contributors to the N.A. Simmental Story

Of course there were many others in SBL (and outside SBL) who contributed immensely to the growth and spread of Simmental in North America. I could not cover everyone and I apologize to the many who are not included here or were not given more credit and coverage. Hopefully they are writing their own stories and perspectives and preserving what records they have. The researcher and author of this historical blog (which has become quite lengthy) chose to focus on the records and information in her possession; and to try and accurately document those first early years from a somewhat narrow vantage point.

As noted in the sidebar, if you observe errors or wish to contribute something to the story of Travers Smith, SBL, or Parisien, or even to include your own story, please write me. If there is enough interest, I may link a second blog site to this one to include a broader range of history. I also hope you will blog your own Simmental (ranch, farm, company, family) stories and we can put links on this or a secondary site. Now that my blog is nearing completion, I intend to turn over the historical records to a provincial archive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Anniversary Tributes

Over the years, periodic anniversary remembrances have been observed. A video, prepared by the noted livestock photographer Walt Browarny was shown in November 1987 to a large crowd in Edmonton, Alberta at the 20th Anniversary Celebration. It acknowledged the great contribution of Travers with these words:
“Though Travers Smith, the man basically responsible for the introduction and establishment of Simmental in North America through the importation of Parisien and years of hard work and promotion, passed away on February 7, 1974, 4 years before Parisien, the countless herds of Simmental across the continent stand as a living tribute to the perseverance and dedication of the man who contributed immeasurably to the North American beef industry.”
In the Simmental Country, August 1987 issue that commemorated the 20th Anniversary of Simmental in North America, Douglas G. Blair of Western Breeders Service Ltd. wrote:
I recall that Travers Smith was certainly a visionary when it came to the needs of the beef industry at the time. He was very strong on performance and factual data about sires and was very opposed to the influence of the showring. I always regarded Travers Smith as a close friend and was proud of the fact that his family asked me to serve as an Honourary Pallbearer at his funeral. I am sure that Travers would not be very happy to see the tremendous emphasis of the showring in the Simmental breed today. [p. 106]
Other comments from that August 1987 issue come from an article by Ted Pritchett, entitled “Remembering Travers Smith”:
… The idea Travers had and the force that kept him motivated through difficult times, went far beyond the high price of the new breeds’ boom. The desire for a better beef animal and its potential for the beef industry was the initial driving force and its benefits will be felt long after the exotic boom of the 1970’s is forgotten. / In looking back over history, people have wondered what motivated Travers Smith. What gave him the idea to strike out in such a different direction? What kept him going over the years before Simmental caught on and started to boom? / “I [Don Jensen] believe his driving force was to make a significant contribution to the beef industry and to leave his mark with something that would be remembered long after he was gone. Although I felt he never received the recognition he deserved while he was alive, he recognized himself he had achieved his goal. Now people and the beef industry are recognizing the kind of impact and legacy he left.” …

“… the guidance Travers gave Simmental was unique. While his first idea came out of their potential with the extra growth and milk for the beef industry, he quickly saw the potential in the purebred business too. In looking at the other new breeds that followed, Travers was unique in being able to see both aspects of the cattle — both the Purebred and commercial potential. While some people in other breeds saw the Purebred potential of a new breed and exploited that, they had no concern or interest in what they could do commercially. Those breeds weren’t destined for a bright future or a long life. / On the other hand, there have been people with sound ideas for commercial cattle, but they lacked the ability to put those ideas across to other folks. They couldn’t grasp the need for promotion and the excitement that goes with the purebred business.” / Travers was unique because he could see the need for both aspects and he did each one well. (SC:August1987:48)
Wes Alm wrote:
Our first, of several trips to Europe in the early 1970’s removed all doubt about the use of Simmental in Canada. After seeing the hundreds or even thousands of outstanding Simmental cattle in France and Switzerland we came home absolutely sold, and I realized to the fullest the visions that Travers Smith had had when he first visited Europe and saw Simmental. I then knew why he drove the thousands of miles, spent the thousands of hours and gave so unselfishly of himself to spread the word “Simmental” throughout North America. (SC:August1987:50)
In “SBL means Simmental” Don Sylvester wrote:
Everyone associated with the SBL operation, and virtually everyone involved in the Simmental business in North America, acknowledges that the development of both SBL and the Simmental business owes a great deal to the late Travers Smith. He not only got together the original $4,000 investment to import Parisien, but he also worked tirelessly to promote the breed in North America and it was he who formulated much of the plan and policy for the development of SBL. / “He’s the one that originally had this dream,” says [Ron] Gibson. / Travers Smith saw much of his dream come to reality before he died last February, and it is obvious that the dream did not die with him. (p. 34)
In Simmental Country, October 1994, Bob Gordon reminded breeders of the legacy that Travers had left.
We owe it to [Travers’] foresight to do our best in breeding the kind of cattle he dreamed of producing, as what he started benefited so many of us over the last twenty-five years. I remember flying home from Louisville, Kentucky in 1973 with Travers, he was dying of cancer at the time but all that was on his mind was his great hopes and desires to have Simmental cattle improve and change the direction of the present day cattle. I am sure he is watching over us to see what kind of job we have done to improve the cattle. Are we living up to his dreams? (p. 84)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

SBL Legacy

The full story of the beginnings of Simmental in North America and of SBL will probably never be known because Travers died without recording many of the details. Like many of those involved, he was often too busy to realize that history was being made, and sometimes too mired in the problems of resolving differences in expectation and vision. Travers’ commitment to his own drive and vision probably did not help, but being the kind of man he was, he tried with integrity to do what he felt was right. Yet even with all the problems, SBL grew to a status that few realize even to this day with its extensive land and cattle holdings in southern Alberta and its test facility in Switzerland with Hans Ulrich’s father as manager.

For a time, SBL reigned as the largest and most progressive purebred and percentage Simmental business in North America. And as others have observed, it would not have happened without the great Parisien and his remarkable first offspring. Part of SBL’s success can also be credited to its philosophy. As Don Sylvester wrote in “SBL mean Simmental”:
The [SBL] objective is relatively simple, just the production of superior cattle and the subsequent improvement of cattle and the cattle industry in North America. The significant thing about that objective, and something [Ron] Gibson [General Manager of SBL] and his directors emphasize, is that it puts the profit motive into a secondary position.

“Not that we don’t work hard at showing a profit,” says Gibson, “and we’ve been fairly successful in that area so far, but that isn’t our primary objective.”

Now, a lot of people could make that statement, and a lot of other people wouldn’t believe it. However, coming from Gibson and SBL, it does have credibility. Much of the credibility comes simply from the character of the people involved …

… the seemingly philanthropic objective of SBL may also be the major reason why the operation is so successful on the financial side. At least that’s Gibson’s philosophy. (Nov. 1974:32&34)
Another reason for the SBL success might well be traced back to Travers’ openness to the expertise and opinions of others.
S.B.L.’s success has been built on a firm foundation. From the initial stage of the venture sound advice was sought and utilized. Genetic consultants advised that the operation be built on a broad genetic base.
(“Eleven years later Parisien is still making history” by Edgar Bain, CLJ, Tue. July 11, 1978)
The SBL legacy was also augmented by the construction of Universal Semen Service which developed into one of the best facilities of its kind in the world. Travers, however, never lived to see its best growth.

Also, Travers never lived to see the rough years of 1975 and 1976 when Simmental sales dropped drastically and when SBL was forced to cut back its expansionism. But the down turn was survived by most and Simmental continued its advance—even to this day. And though the golden days of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s will never be repeated, they will ever be remembered with amazement. It was a heady time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Summary of SBL ~ 1966 to 1976

History of the Development of SBL’s Cattle Enterprise and Land Acquisition

- Company incorporated
- Import permit granted and Parisien selected
- Parisien imported [i.e., arrived Mt. View, Alberta]
- Four heifers and four bulls imported
- First half-blood calves born
- Curtiss Breeding Service began selling Parisien semen
- Promotional program initiated
- Four heifers and three bulls imported
- Half-blood heifers purchased from Canadian and American ranchers
- Cahoon land purchased
- Parisien on show circuit
- First fullblood calves born—Amor, Apollo and Ami
- Heifer-semen contracts made
- Heninger land rented
- Six heifers and four bulls imported
- Additional half-blood heifers purchased
- Show circuit
- Sale of Amor
- Additional land rented
      a) Rothe place
      b) Gregson place
      c) Bates place
- Additional heifer-semen contracts signed
- Promotional program regarding Lohner semen available through Carnation
- European import selection program initiated
- Four heifers and two bulls imported
- Imported fullblood heifer contracts signed
- More half-blood heifers purchased and gathered under contract
- Sale of fullblood bulls Chief, Cabo and Cy
- Promotion
- Zemp and Beazer land purchased
- Calved first half blood heifer [?–from imported Simmental dam–?]
- Signed contract with A.B.S. for distribution of semen on Beat and Florian
- Eleven fullblood calves born
- Contract for semen distribution on Galant signed with N.B.I.
- Semen contracts on additional bulls signed with Curtiss
- Semen sales peaked as to net earnings
- Eight heifers and two bulls imported
- More half-blood heifers gathered on contract
- Large group of two year old heifers calved—substantial loss due to bad weather
- Jensen land purchased
- More imported fullblood heifer contracts signed
- Twenty-four fullblood calves born
- Forsyth land rented
- Decision made to build an A.I. Stud
- Ten heifers imported
- More imported fullblood heifer contracts signed
- Semen distribution contract signed with Y-Tex
- Simmental sales hit peak
- Farm at Raymond rented
- Fifty-one fullblood calves born
- Two heifers imported
- More imported fullblood heifer contracts signed
- Sixty-nine fullblood calves born
- Semen sales peaked as to number of units sold
- Progeny Test unit purchased
      a) land
      b) cattle
- More land added to Zemp place
- Construction began on A.I. Stud
- Commercial cattle market weakened
- Simmental sales stayed firm
- Feed costs became prohibitive
- Four heifers imported
- Commenced to phase out European import selection program
- Seventy-seven fullblood calves born
- Universal Semen Sales, Inc set up
- Y-Tex contract terminated
- Simmental sales dropped drastically
- Semen sales plummeted
- SBL cattle inventory peaked
- cash flow very difficult
- Two bulls imported (Abondance*)
- Markets seemed to have bottomed out
- Optimism seems to be coming back
- Drastic cut made in SBL inventory of percentage and progeny test cattle
- Revision of company goal and objectives
- Seventy-three fullblood calves born

This is a reproduction from an SBL list: 1966—1976. Author of list in unknown.
* "The French Abondance originated in the harsh conditions of the valleys and mountains of Chablais in the Haute-Savoie. Their bodies are thick and long with strong sound legs and body color is mahogany red with a white face." (quoted from p. 5 of the Simmental Digest 1992: Simmental Breeders 1992 Special Feature booklet (25th Anniversary of Simmental in Canada).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

End of an Era: SBL Dispersal Sale ~ 1981

On April 21, 1981 SBL had a dispersal sale in Calgary, Alberta as the "old" shareholders were selling the company to three new owners: Ken Bester, Jerrold Amonson, and Dennis Bumanis. Simmental Country magazine reported on the event in the July 1981 issue where the dispersal summary and SBL "Thank You" were printed.

The three buyers of the SBL company are pictured at the bottom of this page (page 20)
of the Simmental Country magazine, July 1981, and other cattle buyers at the dispersal are listed on page 21

In one of their first promotional flyers (“Simmental Breeders TAX PROGRAM”), the buyers of the SBL company described themselves as:
“Mr. Dennis Bumanis has been a resident of Southern Alberta for over three decades. A preoccupation for many of those years has been the operation of the family ranch located in the southern part of the province. Dennis was first exposed to Simmental cattle in 1972 and has been associated with the breed ever since. Mr. Bumanis is a director of Simmental Breeders Limited as well as Universal Semen Services and has been very active in the Alberta Financial environment as a mortgage and loan company executive. The Bumanis family, three children and wife Peggy reside on an acreage at Millarville, Alberta.”

“Mr. Jerrold Amonson has been an Alberta resident for 18 years and over the past 15 years has been very active in the Land Development and Construction Industry. Jerrold is President of Investors Development Corporation Limited and a Director of several other firms active in the Calgary market. Mr. Amonson’s agricultural involvement extends beyond his principal role in Simmental Breeders Limited and Universal Semen Services to the initiation of a major Canadian Dairy Herd with the acquisition of the herd’s first seed stock holsteins. The Jerrold Amonsons, wife Joanne and son Johnathan, live on an acreage at Bearspaw, west of Calgary.”

“Mr. Ken Bester, a native Albertan was born in Fort Macleod. Since 1974 Mr. Bester’s agricultural holdings have been centered in Alberta and Saskatchewan. To remain current and to optimize returns on his agricultural investments Ken has broadened his knowledge with courses in cattle nutrition and farm management. Besides being a director of Simmental Breeders Limited and Universal Semen Services Mr. Bester is active in land investment and the management of mortgage portfolios. Today Ken and his wife Marlene raise quarter horses on their acreage near Dewinton, Alberta.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tributes to Parisien

▪  born February 16, 1966 on the Henri Rossin farm, at Saint Appolinaire, Cote d'Or, France
      (France Reg. No. 15.891 c982)
▪  weight: January 1, 1968 - 1,770 lbs.; July 1, 1973 - 2,800 lbs.
▪  died December 12, 1978 in Cardston, Alberta  Canada
      (SBL 1X; CSA #1; ASA #1; progeny over 15,000; 1st Simmental Golden Certified Meat Sire).

 Ted Pritchett wrote:
It all began with a bull too. Parisien. He’s regarded as the greatest Simmental bull today, not just because he was first, but for what he did and didn’t do in the cattle industry. / He was impressive, himself, and that alone won him a lot of friends at hundreds of shows and exhibits. He was structurally correct, and didn’t have many of the faults found in bulls that followed. / He gave good, growthy calves, that an ordinary cow could have without problems. While he impressed a lot of people, he didn’t get anyone in trouble. He wasn’t an extreme bull, but a useful bull that crossed well on British breeds. He was tailor-made to be a bull to establish a breed. Reflect, if you will, on the position, of not just the Simmental breed, but every breed which was to follow, had Parisien been a very hard calver, left calves that didn’t cross well on British breed cows, or that didn’t grow, or were structurally unsound. If Parisien hadn’t proven successful, it’s doubtful whether there would’ve been a Simmental breed, and all the subsequent changes it brought. (BTY’77:87-88)
In the “Guest Editorial” of Simmental Country, August 1987, Wes Alm wrote:
Yes, Parisien arrived on the winds of change. The commercial cattle industry was still suffering from the dwarfism or pony cattle era of the 1950’s. Parisien, and those who followed were the beginning of a Revolution in the bull industry that will be documented in the pages of history for all time. (p. 50)
In fact, Parisien became too popular for the liking of some. Miles R. McCarry of Curtiss Breeding Service tells the following:
… We suddenly started hearing rumors that Parisien—and his offspring—were “wilder than hawks.” We never knew who started it. Parisien found a way to stop it. / By this time, he was big, mature, and super-impressive. Travers was displaying him, along with some of his daughters, at several USA shows. We were collecting semen along the way, too. / At Las Vegas, a jump cow ran out from under Parisien. His front feet returned to earth in a hurry. One of his horns narrowly missed me. The other landed squarely on Glenn Allen’s head. / No damage. Glenn’s Stetson cushioned the blow. He walked away without a headache. Or, at least he did until the rumors started anew. Mean bull! Almost killed that Curtiss guy! / That same night, Parisien, with Travers on the lead strap, marched in a parade of exotics at the rodeo held in conjunction with the show. No problems until they got back to the barn. / There, they arrived just [in] time to walk within five or six feet of a Limousin bull celebrating the end of the march by trying to kill his leadsman. / Actually! There were screams, shouts, and blood all over the place. Parisien paid them no heed. He was more interested in getting back to eating hay in his pen! / “Tough bull to handle,” slow-grinned Travers as he hung up the show halter and watched the stand-by rodeo ambulance scream away with the poor Limousin cowboy. / Perhaps he smiled because he knew something that the rest of us were just starting to realize! Parisien was much, much more than a great bull to handle. He was a great bull. Period. …
He launched what has to be the greatest single success story in the entire history of animal agriculture—the story of the Simmental in America. / Who—except maybe Travers Smith—would have bet that Simmental registrations would outnumber those of Polled Herefords less than 20 years after Parisien got here? / That happened last year [1986], you know. And, the Simmental breed out-registered Limousin, Charolais, and Shorthorns combined … moved into third place behind Angus and Hereford. / None of this would have happened if Parisien had turned out to be less than great. … / Parisien was one heckuva bull—for a “Backwoods Guernsey.” Fact is, he’d have been one heckuva bull if he’d been purple-spotted. Honest. (SSh:July 15,1987:6A)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Universal Semen Service Ltd ~ promotion

~ (circa 1975)
an early USSL flyer

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More SBL Promotion ~ 1974


back cover of SBL 1973 or 1974 flyer

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

1st SBL Production Sale ~ 1974

SBL held its first production sale on Jun 8, 1974 at the Calgary Exhibition Grounds in Calgary, Alberta.

from Simmental Shield magazine, August 1974, p. 160

from Simmental Shield magazine, August 1974, p. 121

Monday, December 5, 2011

Simmental Week ~ June 1974

believed to be from Simmental Country magazine

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Innovators ~ Travers & Friends

One of the great attributes of Travers was his openness to new ideas—almost too open some might have said, but he listened and if something made sense, with facts to back it or with potential for testing, he was all for the innovation. His interest in the conformation/linear measurements theory of Karney Redman of Montana was a prime example. (Ref: theories: SC:Sep1980:20-21,24, 28)

Travers was not afraid to seek advice from others. He believed that listening to others’ ideas, expertise, and vision could “irrigate” the SBL idea and so, from day one, he sought to cultivate and irrigate every aspect of Simmental.

Don Jensen said:
Travers never went at anything half-heartedly. When things started to expand and really roll here in Canada, he knew he had the tool and he wanted to find out how to use it. He went to men like Lavon Sumption, Dr. Wiltbank and Bill Pickett down in Fort Collins for their help in designing a breeding program to find out the top genetic traits in the bull battery. In addition to this work, Dr. Wiltbank was a specialist in reproduction and he set up estrus synchronization experiments and worked with induced calving. (SC:Aug1987:44)
Travers came to the Simmental idea already intrigued by the potential for crossbreeding, AI, and progeny testing—long before these were considered acceptable tools. Thus Travers was uniquely prepared to help spread the idea that “You can’t raise modern cattle with Model T methods.” (Ref: Ted Pritchett, SSh:March1974:12)

And strangely, with all their European antiquity, Simmental would become the most modern of cattle for it was their introduction to North America, more than any other breed, that blew down the barriers against every one of these modern innovations. Simmental was truly a revolution that impacted the entire cattle industry in North America.

Ted Pritchett wrote:
It all began with a dream and a dreamer. While the cattle industry lost Travers Smith, with his untimely passing in 1974, he lived to see his dream come true. He lived to see his idea, developed way back in 1965-66, grow, develop, and change the beef industry. Simmental was the first of the new breeds that led into the Golden days of the beef industry — reaching a peak in 1974. Those years, and the free flowing money, led to long lasting changes that, without that kind of money, would not have been possible. Embryo transplant, improvement in heat detection, and the widespread use of AI, became everyday operations. The widespread awareness of ROP and record keeping were all a part of this period, and became long lasting by-products of those years. (BTY’77:87)
Travers’ openness seems to have been a trait shared by many who became believers in Simmental. Travers was always impressed with the quality of people drawn to the Simmental dream and he would have been immensely gratified to have read the comments of Rodney James (former Secretary of the Canadian Charolais Association; former Editor and Publisher of the Canadian Charolais Banner; and Sales Manager of Transcon Livestock), when he wrote:
The incredible advancement of the [Simmental] breed over the past twenty years in my view is only partly due to the cattle. I still believe as I did in 1971 that this breed attracted and still does, some of the best people there are out there. Simmental breeders have traditionally invited competition and most importantly enjoyed other breeders’ successes. …. (SC:Aug1987:24)

Friday, December 2, 2011


From the Simmental Scene, March 1974:

The Southern Simmental magazine ~ March 1974
Travers may be gone from his active role in Simmental but his memory will live on in all of us who knew him as a tough, headstrong, courageous man with a streak of humility, compassion and kindness seldom encountered in any man. (p. 13)
From the Simmental Shield, March 1974:
I only heard one negative comment about him in the intervening years. A Montana rancher phrased it like this: “If only he wasn’t such a lousy salesman I’d have bought 500 or maybe 1,000 ampules of Simmental semen when he first visited me. And if I had bought that much I’d be a millionaire today! Darn him anyway!” (p. 12)
Belle received many kind remembrances. Miles R. McCarry, Director of Agricultural Relations at Curtiss Breeding Service in Cary, Illinois wrote of a visit he and his son made to Alberta:
Travers—although busy—dropped whatever he was doing and devoted his entire day to giving us the grand tour. / We wound up finishing supper—in Fort McLeod—after dark. … / I can think of 101 more similar incidents over the years that I was privileged to know Travers Smith. / He was a pioneer, a thinker and a doer. A busy man who never got too busy to help a friend—or show a kid a bunch of Simmentals. / A rare combination, I agree. But then, Travers Smith was a rare individual! In all sincerity, I rank him among the three or four truly great men I ever knew. (Letter: March 28, 1974)
Charles R. Koch, Editor & Publisher of Koch’s North American Beef Sire Directory, wrote to Fenton Webster at SBL and said:
With his importation of Parisien he became a major figure in the development of the North American cattle industry. That importation we now know was one of the most fortuitous events of modern cattle history. It made Travers something of a modern Bakewell. And Travers carried off the honor with the calm dignity of the gentleman that he was. / My frequent visits with him at stock shows and meetings will long be remembered. … (Letter: Feb. 26, 1974)
From the Montana Simmental Association Newsletter, February 19, 1974:
… It is with a great deal of sorrow that we say farewell for now, to you Travers. We know you were needed in greater pastures and we know you will do your work well beside our Greatest Cowman. We know too, that in only a short while we will be with you again, looking to your guidance as we have been guided by you for these many years. / … The wisdom and leadership you have given us while you were here will make you the Immortal Cattleman of the Century.
An MSA Newsletter quoted from Travers’ 1971 letter to his children, and commented:
Occasionally, as we pass thru life, some of us are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend some time with great men. Those of us who were fortunate enough to spend time with Travers Smith knew a great man. Not a great man only in the field of livestock, not great because he was wise enough to import the first Simmental into North America, but great because of his love of God and his family. (MSA:March1974)
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Early Years of Simmental in North America blog by SMSmith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.