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and decided to ship them to eastern markets. It was the first transaction of its kind for the railroad and after negotiating for some time about the rates, the C.P.R. proposed to bill through five cars, and if Burns lost money on the deal it would rebate him up to the total amount of the freight. Three weeks later he called the C.P.R. offices to say that he did not require any rebates.
There were further important milestones in 1890.
When work began on a railway connection between Calgary and Edmonton, Pat Burns, spurred by the success of his earlier railway contracts, was quick to move further west. At the same time he set up headquarters in Calgary, operating from a shack on 9th Avenue.
With that he also set up the first packing plant in Western Canada. But two years later the first of many reversals from which the company has fought back occurred when the plant burned down.
Burns Foods gradually supplied meat through more than 100 wholesale and retail outlets in the territory bounded on the east by the province of Saskatchewan, on the west by Vancouver Island, and the south by Fort MacLeod and on the north by Dawson City.
Pat Burn's relationship with Calgary was generally a happy one. The foothills city and Burns were good for each other. Cattle were abundant on the ranches and the company chief with typical enterprise was always able to open up new markets.
In 1898 when the gold rush was on in the Yukon, he was the first to say "Sure we'll deliver beef for the miners at Dawson City, even if it is a thousand miles farther for the cattle than we have ever driven before". The cattle for Dawson City were sent north by boat from Van couver, then driven inland over forbidding passes and dangerous wilderness, to be slaughtered beside the Lewes River, and their carcasses floated from there down to Dawson.
Pat qualified for the reward of $1 a pound for beef at far-off Dawson City, and in the years that followed he sent thousands of tons of prairie beef northward to fill the Alaskan and Yukon demands.
By 1898 the Calgary plant was processing 150 cattle a week and soon pigs and pork were added to the trade. Most of the buying Pat Burns did himself, travelling over large areas of British Columbia and the Prairies. He knew the ranchers and many of the farmers and it was natural for him to be attracted to the production as well as the processing end.
And so, Pat Burns became a rancher ... and it should go without saying, a big one. By 1912 he had six huge ranches, including the Bow River Ranch south of Calgary, one on the Red Deer, one on Milk River, one on the Highwood and two near aids.
He was one of Alberta's "Big Four" cattlemen who, in that year backed the first ambitious Calgary Stampede and saw it go on to gain international fame. Mr. Burns liked cattlemen, and never was so much at home as when he was with them.
But life was not without its setbacks. Following the serious plant fire in 1892, hundreds of cattle were lost in a disastrous winter of 1906-07. Fire destroyed the Calgary plant for the second time in 1913. But there was an
unquenchable fire about Pat Burns and while his plant was being consumed by the second destructive blaze he was issuing orders even before the fire was extinguished.
In 38 years, from 1890 to 1928 he built up one of the largest packing and provisioning businesses in the world. His start with a small slaughterhouse in the east end of Calgary expanded, and later he built or purchased packing plants at Edmonton, Vancouver, Prince Albert, Regina, Winnipeg and Seattle. In addition there were over 100 retail outlets, 65 creamery and cheese factories, 11 wholesale provision houses and 18 wholesale fruit houses. He extended his business operations, setting up offices in London, Liverpool and Yokohama.
While building his fortune, Mr. Burns also established a reputation for forthrightness and integrity. He could be a hard bargainer, but was never known to take advantage of another man's desperation. On one occasion, when a Burns cattle buyer proudly reported that he had managed to buy up cattle from the hard-pressed ranchers in his district at one cent per pound under the market price, Mr. Burns not only failed to reward him with the expected praise, but ordered him to personally visit each of the ranchers from whom he had purchased cattle and offer them the full market price.
When the depression hit the Southern Alberta cattle industry, many of the ranchers with whom he did business looked to him for advice and comfort. Pat Burns is reported to have told them: "Hang on to the cow's tail and she'll pull you through".
On July 6, 1930, when Pat Burns celebrated his 75th birthday, a two-ton birthday cake was cut to provide 15,000 pieces and 700 people attended from all walks of life. There was a message from Prime Minister R.B. Bennett "You have been permitted to take a very large part in the progress and development of Western Canada ... your life has been an inspiration to the younger generation" ... Then there was the announcement that Patrick Burns had been appointed to the Canadian Senate, a position he held until his death in 1937. He is buried at the St. Marys Cemetery, Calgary.
But through the years the restless dynamism of Pat Burns has been kept alive as the firm has spread across Canada. And now in this new decade in Canada's history, Burns Foods under the vital leadership of Arthur J .E. Child, President, is embarking on a new era of sales and leadership in the packing industry.
A tradition started by the immigrant Irish family in the nineteenth century has become part of the Canadian mosaic, a great industrial corporation ranking among the top businesses in Canada, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy and employing over five thousand people. Richly deserving the title of Pioneer Packer of the West.
Few things establish confidence quite so firmly as doing things on time and particularly doing them as promised.