Rodeo families are rejoicing after BMO agreed late Thursday to release memorabilia seized amid the closure of Calgary’s iconic Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall.

Saddles, trophies and other souvenirs from the rodeo circuit from dozens of cowboys and cowgirls had been lent to Ranchman’s to contribute to the venue’s western atmosphere, but BMO began to seize the property after Ranchman’s closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While this is an ongoing legal matter, BMO recognizes the importance of this memorabilia to the community, and has released its seizure of all items, including saddles and trophies, which remain at Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall,” a BMO spokesperson said in a statement.

“All inquiries related to these memorabilia items are being directed by BMO to the landlord of the establishment for further handling.”

The news came as a relief for those in the rodeo scene, including Mark Roy, whose National Finals Rodeo championship saddle carries an immense personal meaning.

Roy’s saddle, won in the 1992 steer wrestling competition at the annual world rodeo championship, has been on display at Ranchman’s for decades.

“I’ll be quite happy to get it back. The whole idea was to lend it to Ranchman’s to put it on display. It was just that, it was a loan,” he said. “I’m very happy. It’s good news.”

Roy said he’s been in touch with other cowboys, mostly in America, who asked him to pick up their merchandise if it was released, saying community members were skeptical about why a bank would have seized items with mainly sentimental value.

Rob Campbell, the realtor looking to find a new owner for Ranchman’s, said Friday he was pleased to see resolution for those who consider these items family treasures.

“It’s a good result. BMO really stepped up,” Campbell said. “I just want to thank them for doing the right thing. We knew they would, once they got all the right documentation.”

After nearly 50 years as a Calgary mainstay, Ranchman’s was put up for lease last week.

The bar, which attracted especially raucous crowds during the Calgary Stampede, was forced out of business by COVID-19 coupled with hard economic times, said Campbell. The bar had been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic. It was not permitted to reopen because it is classified as a nightclub, which falls under Stage 3 of Alberta’s economic relaunch.

“The Ranchman’s was basically the only bar I ever went to in Calgary. I’m sad to see it go, there’s a lot of history there,” he said. “It was always the place, especially during the Stampede where you’d go, have a couple of beers and see some cowboys you hadn’t seen in a long time.”

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Ranchman’s Cookhouse & Dancehall Inc., Calgary

World news – CA – Bank to release rodeo memorabilia seized from Ranchman’s

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