Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1]

Smith’s photograph of an OH Ranch branding party is featured in the new OH Ranch Historical Centre.

Smith was honoured for his work with children in 2011 when a park was named in his honour. You can visit the Bert Smith/Lorne Fuller Playground and Exercise Park in Longview, Alberta.

Bert Smith did the graphics for a colouring book that is sold in the Bar U gift shop. One of the pages features an OH branded horse.

Donations can be made in Bert Smith’s memory to the Heaven Can Wait Animal Rescue Foundation.

Bert Smith, Bert Pierson at the Medicine Tree, c. 1960. This appeared in the book Leaves from the Medicine Tree. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH006.022.164

To see the colourized version of Bert Smith, Bert Pierson at the Medicine Tree, click here.

To see a sketch of Bert Smith Self Portrait, click here.

[1] Bert Sheppard, Just About Nothing: The Hardest Part of Doing Nothing is Knowing When to Quit (Privately Printed, 1977), 43.

Source: Calgary Stampede