His life was a strange contrast. He spent the odd evening behind bars but at other times he was hired as a Deputy Sheriff when help was required.

Brandt became acquainted with Dr. Boon and his wife Ethel in New Mexico where they too, were employed. Ernie received a Deputy commission in Taos, New Mexico and lived at the Boon home. He often made rounds with Boon when he went to see his patients. Boon was paid with produce but seldom any cash. About this time he and the Boons decided to move elsewhere.

After much deliberation, they decided on Birch River where Ernie’s relatives, the Hicks family had moved. Brandt arrived in Birch River in 1929, followed by the Boons in 1930.

In 1930 Brandt got a job tending 350 head of cattle shipped to the area from southern Manitoba, due to drought conditions. The cattle were grazed as Swan Lake where a crew of men hired by the government had put up 4,000 tons of wild hay to be shipped south for the hungry cattle on the prairies.

In 1932 he began taking cattle from a fifty mile radius locally, to pasture for the summmer at $2.50 a head. For about six years Brandt made the Goodman farm at Thunderhill his headquarters as he gathered cattle to take north to pasture. Here he had built a corral and squeeze gate where he with the help of several others, accumulated about 150 animals from the area. The cattle were dehorned, branded and castrated before leaving Goodmans.

Generally, the next stopping place was Snelgroves west of Swan River where he would spend the night before moving on to Fothergills, south of Bowsman. Sometimes another stop would be made before reaching Birch River to rest the small calves who had difficulty breathing in the dust if the weather was hot and dry. Usually, about 300 head were taken to Birch River for the summer.

Mary Snelgrove, a friend of Ernie Brandt’s daughter used to enjoy spending her summer holidays helping herd the cattle north of Birch River. Cattle were herded east of the railway and north to the sand hill which is now the Community Pasture and west to the base of Porcupine Mountains. Mosquitoes, bulldogs and sandflies were numerous. Bears were a threat to the cattle and scared the horses. Sometimes the riders would be thrown. The cattle could wander onto the railway track so a constant watch had to be kept. The herd was broken into smaller lots and moved around frequently but Brandt seemed to know where each group was at any given time.

To create a little excitement in Birch River, in 1936 Brandt began to put on small rodeos. Ranches would lend their unbroken horses for the day and the best “bronc” would earn the owner $5. The young farmers, ranchers and Indians enjoyed the challenge of riding a bronc or steer for the entertainment of the crowd.

Carl Leslie, a young chap from Novra started hanging around the sand hills where Brandt was herding cattle. Brandt began bringing out a second horse for Leslie to ride. Soon he became Brandt’s right hand man, with the cattle and rodeo. He became rodeo pick-up man when he was fourteen and began competing a couple years later. Brandt put on rodeos from 1936-40 and Leslie in 1948 and 1949. After Brandt discontinued, Leslie began taking in cattle to pasture. One year he had 800 head to look after which included a large number of animals from The Pas.

In 1938, Ernie married in Birch River. He and Willa raised four daughters. The Brandts moved to Calgary in 1965 and spent the winters in New Mexico. When Calgary began to seem too crowded, they moved to Black Diamond, Alberta, a small town with a few old time cowboys to reminisce with. He died in 1978.

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