Fonds F0315 - Pat Burns fonds

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Pat Burns fonds


  • 1882-1985, predominant 1896-1960 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

9.8 m of textual records. -- 290 photographs

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Patrick Burns, 1856-1937, was born in Oshawa, Ontario, son of Michael Byrne and Bridget Gibson Byrne. With little formal schooling, he set out for Manitoba and homesteaded near Minnedosa in 1878. He began to freight goods from Winnipeg and trail neighbours' cattle to the Winnipeg market. By 1885 he was buying cattle full-time, and in 1886 he got his first supply contract. His business grew with the railway boom and he expanded into ranching, packing, and the retail meat trade. In 1890 he settled in Calgary, Alberta and built an abattoir, supplying beef from his own ranches. He expanded into British Columbia in 1895. He bought out his British Columbia partner in 1901 and built a large plant and abattoir in Vancouver. He married Eileen Ellis, 1873-1923, of Penticton in 1901, and they had one son, Thomas Michael, 1906-1936.

Many of Burns' ranches were sold in 1917 to finance his businesses but he later acquired others. He also invested in mining such as the Northern Syndicate Ltd., although these investments did not have great results. By First World War he was established internationally and had become one of Canada's most successful business people. He was one of the "Big Four", who founded the Calgary Stampede. He was chairman of Burns Co. Ltd., and president of P. Burns Ranches Ltd., P. Burns Holdings Ltd., P. Burns Agencies, Limited and Burns Foundation Ltd. In 1928 he sold his packing business but retained the ranches including Bow Valley, C.K., Ricardo, Circle, Walrond, Bradfield, Lineham, Glengarry (44), Bar U, Flying E., 76, Two Dot and Rio Alto. Burns became a senator in 1931 and died in Calgary.

Senator Patrick Burns School in Calgary was named in his honour in 1961. He was later inducted into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame and Canadian Business Halls of Fame and the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1963. In 1960 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated Burns as a National Historic Person.

For further information see Pat Burns, Cattle King / Grant MacEwan. -- Saskatoon : Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980 and Warren Elofson's article, "Patrick Burns", in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, online at

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gifts of Burns Foundation, P. Burns Ranches Ltd., Burns Foods Ltd., and Edward B. Nowers, 1960-1987, and purchased from Aquila Books, 2004.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of ranching records (1896-1985): correspondence, agreements, inventories, appraisals, financial statements, ledgers, maps, purchases and brand records; oil records (1911-1953): correspondence, leases and oil company prospectuses; legal records (1882-1959): mortgages, agreements and leases; investment records (1896-1955): correspondence, mortgages and agreements; records of Burns' companies (1898-1981): correspondence, ledgers, memorandum of association, financial statements and minutes; real estate records (1942-1973): correspondence, reports and maps; records of Burns' estate (1932-1983): will, reports, correspondence, minutes of executors' meetings and ledgers; personal account ledgers (1912-1936); share certificates (1903-1941); and collected samples of Metis scrip and North-West Mounted Police veterans' land scrip (1880-1911). Includes photographs of Alberta oil wells, Burns' ranches, the meat industry, and aerial views of Bow River Valley and Fish Creek.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      The material is in English.

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      Existence and location of copies

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      Notes area


      Title based on contents of records.


      Preliminary inventory by Rob Brownie available for M 7771.


      M's should be amalgamated. The Metis scrip samples are in M 2376, originals in vault.

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      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

      Thursday, November 01, 2018




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