THE STORY SO FAR...
Yes, at first glance, maybe the good fortune found here is happenstance, but then again, maybe it is by design. The story begins with a gesture of kindness, a son standing in for a father who is recovering from a broken back sustained during a chuckwagon wreck.
"Inspired by a true pioneer spirit and love of the land, Dorchester Ranch Golf Course has evolved into a magical place that cannot be simply defined by the golf course. You and your family will find endless activities to fill your days, and by what might seem by accident, relationships that matter will grow closer, new friendships will blossom, all under warm Alberta skies."
Gord Dorchester and his wife Lil had been living in Fort Saskatchewan while Gord worked as a prison guard, when a phone call told him of his father’s Chuckwagon wreck. Gord and Lil moved home to help with the Ranch while Tom recovered. Days turned to months, months to years, and Gord had built up a successful carpentry/ rock stone mason company in the Pigeon Lake area. He realized that his family’s land was unlike any other place, and it was home. Smiling at fate, he decided to build his own house on a little slice of heaven that Tom gave Gord as appreciation for coming home.
Great land often speaks to people and whispers its potential to those who take the time to listen. Such was the case when Gord noticed that the land had a few natural fairways. Perfect in length and width, these fairways whispered that they needed only gentle coaxing to become not a good course, but a great one.
The year was 1984 when he began cutting out large strips of land on his property and falling trees. The best way back then to figure out how the holes should be laid out, was by climbing trees and visualizing where to cut next. The communities’ curiosity grew but the golf course project idea remained a secret. Serendipity smiled as the land whispered when Vic Almond, Gord’s brother-in-law, came to visit the area. Vic’s business was landscaping and at the time, his crew was just finishing a job and would be idle. Vic proposed that he and his men help create the course. By August 1986, the newly shaped course was ready for seeding and a long winter’s nap.
THE ORIGINAL DORCHESTER RANCH
Spring of 1987 brought the grand opening of the first 9 holes. The community was very excited to try the new course. That excitement was fueled by green fees being a whopping $5.00. Through the late eighties, many people enjoyed seeing the course mature, and many more enjoyed the challenging 9 holes. Unfortunately, the rates for borrowing money during this time skyrocketed, making for tough times. Although there was a growing demand for golf in the area, the workload and expense were enormous, so a great deal of the work fell on the family.
Now, more than 20 years later, the family can joke about the long labor-intensive days and how all the relatives have been utilized in various capacities to make it a go. Jody, their son, reflected on what it was like putting in the irrigation lines. His job was to follow behind the ditch-witch and make sure there were no large rocks on the bottom of the trench. After a time of crawling in the mud, Jody said, “Dad, this is the worst job, this is ditch digging. I am ditch digging! You have the hired guys here; can’t you get one of them to do this?” “No, we don’t pay them enough to do that.” Gord said. Luckily, Jody had lots of help from his older brother Robin.
CHI CHI RODRIGUEZ
All the family’s hard work and perseverance paid off, the golf course’s popularity grew, and it became apparent another nine holes were needed. In 2005 the family purchased the quarter section south of them and went to work getting the new nine opened. The original nine had been changed dramatically as well, to fit in with the new design. The course is a sheer delight to play, as the likes of Chi Chi Rodriguez can attest. In fact, Chi Chi returned to play this stunning course three times between 2006 and 2008. It is fair to say there were a lot of sweat and tears amongst them all over the years.
The Dorchester name in the Westerose Alberta area is synonymous with chuckwagons; brothers Gord, Garry, Dennis, Dallas and Father Tom are all well known in this field of racing. To their credit the Dorchester clan have 9 Calgary Stampede victories with Garry in 1968, Tom in 1970 and 71, Dallas in 1983 and 1991, Brother-in-law Dave Lewis in 1982; 1988; and 1990, and nephew Troy Dorchester in 2012. The racing spirit continues as Troy Dorchester is still active on the circuit. Besides being known as experts in chuckwagon racing and entertaining fans for years, the Dorchester name is also well known in curling and golfing circles.
Gord was no stranger to chuckwagons; from 1963 - 1965 he had raced pony chuckwagons with Cliff Claggett. The two had travelled across Canada from race to race. After a brief intermission at home Gord decided he would continue on without Cliff and jumped into a motor home and got back on the racing circuit.
Our story ends in a similar manner to how it began, with a gesture of kindness, a son standing in for a father who was recovering from injuries sustained from the operation of the golf course.
CATHREN, KAEL, KASH, OLIVIA, JACOB, KYLE DORCHESTER
Kyle had grown up working for his Parent’s at the golf course. He was probably 14 when they started building it and worked there throughout his teen years and in Summers when he was not in school, so he was somewhat familiar with how the golf course operated. Kyle also spent years working in Rehab and Correctional Services. He still remembers getting the call from his Mom while sitting in his office at Catholic Social Services. “Your Dad got hurt at work. He hurt his leg it got pinned by the tractor” It was at this point that Kyle changed professions and came home to help at the Ranch.
Currently, Kyle is the General Manager of Dorchester Ranch Golf Course.