If location is everything, the Ranch at Fisher Creek has it all and then some. The picturesque property, which hit the market last year, occupies 480 acres in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountain range and sits within driving distance of seven national parks. It’s also an hour’s drive from Calgary International Airport, which is outfitted with an air facility specifically for private charters. Many of the Ranch’s past guests have made good use of it.
When the current owners first bought the property in 1992, they planned to turn it into an high-end corporate retreat for world leaders and business executives. Back then, the complex included a single 13,000-square-foot-lodge with two neighbouring cabins. Hoping to attract elite guests, the owners built it into a 33-bedroom mega-resort with six guest cabins, all linked by a winding, tree-lined walkway.
The owners aimed to provide all the amenities guests could need, so they’d never have to venture off the premises. To that end, each of the two-floor, 2,300-square-foot guest cabins came with its own kitchen, ensuite bathroom (plus a jacuzzi tub) and large deck with forest views. When luminaries did come to town—the guest list remains undisclosed, for obvious reasons—they were served by a staff of 19 workers who provided housekeeping, food service and entertainment. There was even enough room for some staffers to live on-site.
By the early 2000s, the owners decided to shut down the retreat in favour of hosting only family and friends, many of whom hailed from Europe. They set their sights on updating the already massive main lodge, a ’60s-era pine-and-stone creation with 30-feet cathedral ceilings. The living area already included a horseshoe-shaped bar and family kitchen, but still, they wanted more—namely, a commercial kitchen, a floor-to-ceiling slate fireplace, a boardroom, a dining room, extra office space, additional bathrooms and an entire wing devoted to utility space and storage. The owners’ varied interests are reflected in the property’s features, too. They converted the lodge’s primary bedroom into a top-floor art studio, so they could paint under the glow of its six skylights.
Making good on its ‘ranch’ name, in 2001, the owners—both horse lovers—built a 20,000-square-foot equestrian arena, with a two-storey riding hall, five horse stalls and a viewing lounge with a crystal chandelier and full bar. Elsewhere on the property, there’s a 44-foot-deep man-made lake stocked with trophy rainbow trout and non-invasive carp; a 1,500-square-foot boathouse with a functioning kitchen and sprawling deck (for barbecues); and a large greenhouse, complete with plenty of flowers (naturally) and an adjacent chicken coop.
Its resort days are now long gone, but there are still vestiges of the ranch’s prestige past on-site. Clint Eastwood stayed at Fisher Creek in the early ’90s while filming Unforgiven in the nearby village of Longview. Soon after, the ranch’s owners bought and moved the film’s set—a fully functioning Western town—onto their property. A stone’s throw from the main lodge, it includes a sheriff’s office (with iron-barred jail cells), a saloon (with bar and poker table), a bank, a general store and a church with antique pews and a working bell. Per the ranch’s original exclusive mandate, the town is not open to the public.