The Fenerty/McLean Cabins
These cabins are significant as the first properties officially subdivided for the purposes of recreational use in the area. The lots were cut in 1924 from the quarter SW 12 23 W5W managed by the Department of the Interior. Today, Bragg Creek Provincial Park sits on the rest of this quarter section. Not much more than a trail (and later, a corduroy road) ran west through the property, past the sawmill to Stanley Fullerton’s. Much later the road was surveyed, built and paved before opening of the Provincial Park in 1960.
Howard W. and Ida Helen McLean were the first to build a cabin in 1924. Howard, a well-known barrister during his 30 years in Calgary, died at 55 years of age in 1936 so did not get to enjoy the area for long. With some renovations the McLean cabin continued as a residential home. It sits south of the road to the Park and faces north with an expansive view of the river and Two Pine Hill.
In 1924 Lloyd Hamilton Fenerty also bought almost two acres on the river, beginning his family’s longer roots in the area. His friend, Dr. E. B. Roach, purchased the same-sized lot west and adjacent to Fenerty’s. Roach really didn’t want the land, but because the government would not sell two river-facing lots to the same owner, he bought it and then sold it to Lloyd.
Fenerty, originally from Nova Scotia, had opened a law office in 1912 in Calgary with Henry Phipps Otty Savary. The flourishing Alberta oil industry contributed to the firm’s growth and by 1985, it was home to 60 lawyers. (Former premier Peter Lougheed worked for this firm after law school and his Harvard MBA in 1954.) In 1991, Fenerty Robertson Fraser & Hatch, as it was known then, merged with the established Edmonton-based firm, Milner & Steer, to become Milner Fenerty, the largest law firm in Alberta. During a further merger, they tossed a gold coin cast on one side with the Fenerty name and the other with Milner to determine the new firm name of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP. As Lloyd’s grandson Mike Fenerty later observed, one bad toss and the Fenerty name was lost forever.
Around 1926-27 arrangements were made for a one-room log cabin to be built by local First Nations with logs chinked with cement. The cabin featured a cement-block fireplace with a stone facing, a 24-by-24 foot lean-to as the kitchen, a bedroom on the back, and a screened front porch. The family used it for many years, but in early 1950s, Lloyd’s son Robert (aka “Buzz”) built a new cabin on the west lot that was originally bought by Roach. Lloyd transferred this title to Buzz and sold the original property to Mike, his grandson. Significant modifications included replacing the cement chinking by re-sealing with quarter-rounds, adding new uprights to support an insulated roof, a new extension on the back, a Quebec heater and wood-burning stove in the lean-to, then a propane tank with copper wire servicing Buzz’s cabin, more than 50 yards away!
Throughout the history of the cabin, however, no modification or solution was found to deal with the regular and annoying disappearance of shiny objects. One attempt Mike still remembers: he woke to a loud “kaboom” after one of his teenaged friends loaded his .22 rifle from his bed to shoot at the pack rat, out for its nightly excursion. When the cabin was finally torn down in the 1990s, keys, coins, knobs and all sorts of other shiny materials were found in the foundation floor.
Mike stayed in the area for many years and his company, Clark, Swanby Co., did the survey work in the 70s and 80s to develop Elkana Estates and Two Pine Estates.
by Michele McDonald
Sources: Mike Fenerty, interview, May 2019; Our Foothills; Calgary Herald (McLean & Fenerty) June 6, 1936; www. Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP.com;