The Burkes’

by Christine Burke

My Canada My Story: The Burkes’
By, Christine Burke

The roots in Alberta are far reaching. People from around the world have made this province home because of opportunity, resources, open spaces and rugged beauty. One such family, was the Burke Family.
Denis Burke immigrated to Canada in 1898 from Ireland. The son of a wealthy landowner from the County Armagh he set out to the unknown wilds of Western Canada looking for adventure and a new life.
He joined the North West Mounted Police (now known as the RCMP) and quickly realized the adventures of a young and wild western land.
Denis married Meriel Kate Griffen and raised 8 of 10 children in High River, Alberta.
In 1910 the southwest Alberta foothills found themselves engulfed in flames. Denis volunteered to fight the blaze along with local ranchers, farmers and NWMP officers hoping to save as much of the land as possible. It was at this time that Denis stumbled upon a remote cabin and the prettiest quarter section he had ever seen. Now, known as the Burke Ranch, it has become a stop for many over the years. Surveyors mapping the Kananaskis country, ranchers, hunters, outdoor adventurers and even an artist have all found refuge and a place to pause with the Burke family.
Meriel was well known for her welcome and care. She fed many a soul. The prevailing family story is that the mountain, in Kananaskis country west of the Burke Family Ranch, was named ‘Mt. Burke’ because of Murial’s culinary skill. Officially however, it was documented and named after ‘the Major’, Denis Burke.
For the Burkes’ the mountain is special. Every 25 years, on Canada Day, the Burke Families get together to climb to the ranger station at the summit. This year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th, Ron made the climb. My husband (in the middle) never knew his grandfather but, as in most families, there are some traditions too good to let die.
Our goal now is to climb it again, as a family, in another 25 years. May need a flying walker but, it’s Albertan to dream big!

Happy 150th Canada!


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