President, Rafter Six Ranch
Stanley Alfred Cowley was born February 25, 1936 in Calgary, Alberta. As a young boy, Stan was enthralled by his native neighbours and was deeply interested in their customs and culture. At the age of 13, Stan was made a blood brother of Chief Walking Buffalo of the Stonay Nation, in a Sun Dance ceremony.
At this time he was given his life's work - "to teach the people that they are like trees of the forest - all different from one another, but standing in harmony with each other". He then became an honarary chief of the T'su T'ina (Sarcee), Peigan and Siksika (Blackfoot) Nations and adopted into the Samson band of the Cree Nation. Following the 1977 re-enactment of the Treaty 7 at Siksika with Prince Charles, Stan was honoured with the eagle feather marker staff and a copy of the treaty.
In 1976, Stan purchase Rafter Six Ranch, a guest ranch on the Kananaskis River between Calgary and Banff. Working hard to develop a world-class ranch resort destination, Stan designed and built the three story log lodge, cabins, chalets, dance hall, barn, museum and country church.
Recognizing the potential for the Kananaskis area and river for recreation, he invited the Banff National Cadet Camp to use Rafter Six Ranch as a base for their kayaking and canoe programs. As this was successful, the following year he encouraged the Edmonton Kayak Club to enjoy the Kananaskis River from the Rafter Six site. That same year he met Mike Sawyer and together they started the first commercial white water rafting on the Kananaskis. Today, the Kananaskis River is highly acclaimed for water sport and recreation in not only Alberta, but throughout Canada.
Always looking for the next way for people to enjoy the outdoors, Stan arranged the first cattle penning program in Canada at Rafter Six Rach. Today, cattle penning has become one of the fastest growing western equestrian sports in North America. In addition, Stan hosted the first show of the Steel Scouts, which now performs at Stampede Parade, Spruce Meadows, Fort Calgary, Heritage Park and other locations across Alberta.
In 1976, Stan developed the Passing of the Legends Museum of Western Heritage at Rafter Six Ranch. The museum houses a unique collection of horse drawn carriages, First Nations artifcts and beaded buckskin attire, NWMP and RCMP uniforms, crests, pictures, wildlife mounts, art and bronzes. Every item has a story that is enthusiastically shared by Stan with his visitors.
In order to maintain the knowledge and and culture of the First Nations, Stan initiated the forming of the Buffalo Nations Cultural Society in 1986. When Stan was informed the Glenbow Museum was closing the Luxton Museum of the Plains Indians in Banff, Alberta in 1992, he spearheaded the Buffalo Nations takeover of the museum in Banff. Stan continues to be an active Director on the board of the Buffalo Nations Cultural Society and in the operations of the Luxton Museum.
Rafter Six Ranch continues to host an equestrian program for for physically and mentally challenged youth through the group “Between Friends”. Stan is personally developing and working on trails along the Kananaskis River at Rafter Six Ranch for those in wheel chairs so they may enjoy this area and its ecology.
Stan has also worked closely with the Alberta Film Industry, encouraging movies, TV and magazine productions to shoot footage in Alberta. His interests extend to writing and illustrating with his stories and cartoons appearing in several equestrian publications. Currently on the drawing board and near completion is a children’s activity book featuring numerous tourist attractions in Alberta.
As a past auxiliary member of the RCMP, Stan Cowley’s continuing interest and support is evident through his assistance in supplying horses to the RCMP for parades, special occasions and community events. He has participated in 67 consecutive Calgary Stampede Parades and has worked as a volunteer, Associate Director, racing chuckwagon sponsors and supplied the chuckwagon and pancake breadfasts for the Calgary Stamede Breakfast Caravan.
Over the years, Stan has been a supporter of youth through his involvement with several organizations. Starting as a cub in the Boy Scouts of Canada and progressing through to a Scoutmaster and up to Regional Assistant Commissioner. He also held a commission in the Navy League at HSMC Tecumseh.
Stan’s community involvement through volunteering and charitable support is a way of recognizing the value of success. Donating special vacations through the Make a Wish Foundation to Rotary sponsored activities, Stan continues to return to society the benefits from tourism in Alberta.
Stan’s philosophy is “We should always be looking for ways to improve the enjoyment and offering to the traveling public. We all should be instrumental in helping create new opportunities for adventures, activities, sporting events, attractions, culture, tours and vacations in Canada.”
In 1979 Stan married Gloria Buehler and hase five children: Cathy, David, Thomas, Kateri and Daisy.