Horst Wirsig

Self Sufficiency

Mr. Wirsig shares his memories and photos of growing up in Northern Manitoba; working his father’s sawmill in BC and moving to the M. D. of Bighorn with his wife Joan.  His stories convey a love of land, a natural work ethic and a wonderful partnership with his wife; a woman who could set a broken leg 70 Km from a doctor; take care of the books and feed 100 people each year at branding time. 

This son of Polish immigrants whose land was taken from them, bought and sold many properties over the years and was heard to say he couldn’t live on 20 acres as “I never lived in something that small my whole life.” Mr. Wirsig once purchased 10 acres in Hannah simply because he fell in love with the wild mint, he built a home and lived on his property near Jamieson Road. 

Having a rescued beaver join him at the dinner table; getting a cow to adopt an orphaned moose calf; and an annual New Years Eve bonfire that could be seen from Cochrane are just a few of the lovely tales of a life where the word retirement doesn’t exist as one simply “slowly quits” the hard work. 

Joan and Horst Wirsig, Photograph by Matthew Timmins

Horst and Joan Wirsig, Photograph by Matthew Timmins

Horst Wirsig, 2017

Horst Wirsig

Learning to be a Rancher 

Mr. Wirsig talks about first taking over the Bar C ranch.  How he and his wife Joan road their skidoos from property to property to introduce themselves; the lively and frequent parties; and learning the customs of the ranching community, “…the neighbors all get together, and we come and bran them, and all you gotta do is supply the food and the beer. Always a good party at the branding.” 


Municipal District of Bighorn Interview highlights of Horst Wirsig – January 24, 2017. 
For full interview, watch the complete Oral History Project playlist for Horst Wirsig