Big Cake for a Big Man!

FlyLady Marla C has focused on dealing with paper clutter as her “Habit” this month, so I’ve been going through old files. This news clipping was among Mom’s paper stash and I incorporated it with mine when we moved her. It’s an article with a photo of the mammoth cake given to P Burns for his 75th BD.

At 7-ft high, the base 8-ft square, this is one hefty birthday cake!

Rancher, businessman and politician, Burns was born in 1856 to Irish immigrants near Oshawa, Upper Canada — now the province of Ontario. He settled in Manitoba, farmed and started buying beef cattle. Later he moved to Calgary where, in 1890, he built his first slaughterhouse and began supplying beef to the city and surrounding area, also to the miners during the Yukon gold rush days. His business became the well known Burns Meat Company.

In 1901 Burns married Eileen Louisa Francis Anna Ellis, the daughter of a Penticton, BC, rancher. Sadly, the couple had a stormy marriage that ended in separation. Their only son, Patrick Thomas Michael, wasn’t robust in health and was found dead in his bed at the age of thirty, an apparent heart attack.

Called Alberta’s “Cattle King,” Burns was one of the “Big Four” ranchers who founded the Calgary Stampede in 1912. He was a special guest at the Stampede on July 6, 1931, and his 75th birthday party was celebrated with this seven-layer cake weighing 3,000 pounds (1587 kg). The banquet was attended by various VIPs: AB Premier Brownlee; the Lt. Governor of MB, and Prime Minister R B Bennett. The cake was cut into 23,000 pieces and given to residents of Calgary.

When Patrick Burns died, the Alberta government had a real windfall, as the taxes on his estate were enough to eliminate the provincial deficit and balance the province’s budget!

In life Burns was a generous man and in his will he left bequests to the Lacombe Home, the Salvation Army, the local Children’s Shelter, widows and orphans of men in the city’s police force and fire department, the Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, the Collège Saint-François-Xavier in Edmonton, the Navy League of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Junior Red Cross, the British Empire Service League, the Canadian Legion’s tuberculosis section, the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Highlanders), the Boy Scouts Association in Alberta, and the Southern Alberta Pioneers’ and Old Timers’ Association.

4 thoughts on “Big Cake for a Big Man!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the story. He was big here in the West, especially because he succeeded even during the Depression years, but folks in Eastern Canada would hardly have known about him. He died in 1937 — so much history came after.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, what he all accomplished in his lifetime was amazing. The bio I read said he wasn’t even all that interested in school and frequently skipped classes — yet he became one of the notables in Alberta history.


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