Study Questions For Henry Klassen’s “Entrepreneurship in the Canadian West”
1)Why does the author feel that the entrepreneurial activities of A.E. Cross are important for historians to
2)What was the family background of Cross and what were his early business activities?
3)What was the nature of the A7 ranching operation overseen by Cross? How was it managed?
4)How did Cross get involved in the brewing industry and what was the nature of his involvement in this
industry? What was the difference between Cross’ cattle ranching activities and his brewing business?
5)What other entrepreneurial activities did Cross engage in?
6)What lessons can modern entrepreneurs take away from this examination of Cross?
1) The author feels that the entrepreneurial activities of A.E. Cross are important for
historians to study since the western entrepreneur’s resources ranked as modest but in the
context of the rapidly expanding western economy their diverse activities assumed
enormous significance. The regional and national impact of western entrepreneurs
remains neglected. It’s important for historians to close this gap in Canadian Business
history and study and trace the career of the Calgary Entrepreneur, Alfred Ernest Cross.
He represents a major presence in the western business world, his name symbolizes the
force of growth in both the regional and national economies, a spirit of enterprise, the
normal pursuit of profits, family capitalism, access to central Canada’s and Britain’s
capital markets, and economic progress through reinvestment of earnings.
2) Cross started in business with a substantial investment, in the mid 1880’s, in
southwestern Alberta’s livestock raising industry, the main economic stimulant to early
Calgary. An energetic and venturesome man, he built a small brewery into the largest
beer-making enterprise in Alberta. He built a small brewery into the largest beer-making
enterprise in Alberta and one of the biggest in the Canadian West. Cross was the son of a
wealthy judge Alexander Selkirk Cross. He attended haileybury College of Hertford,
England. He expressed a desire to raise livestock and when he returned to Montreal from
England he attended Business and Veterinary College and graduated as a veterinary
surgeon in the spring of 1884. Cross’s work impressed his mentor at the veterinary
college and he decided to offer Cross the position of assistant manager, bookkepper, and
veterinary surgeon on the ranch. Age of 22 he arrived in Calgary to begin work on the
Cochrane Ranch. He began to participate in the cattle business as part owner of a herd of
good grade Shrorthorns. Convinced his brothers to join him in a family owned livestock-
raising business. Formed a firm named Cross Bros.
3) Cross depended on his father and the Bank of Montreal for loans to pay for the
development of the A7. He constructed a sod house and barn, and primarily he bred cattle
however his interests extended to saddle and driving horses and polo ponies.
Exceptionally heavy snowstorms and deep drifts blanketed the grass on the range. Less
than half of his herd survived the winter. He chose a poor location for ranch headquarters,
it offered little natural shelter for the livestock. He borrowed money from his father to
rebuild the A7 ranch and decided two things: use most of the money to replenish his herd with purebred Shorthorn Cattle and move his headquarters westward into the rolling
foothills of the Rockies. His method was trial and error, he built new ranch buildings and
one mile of barbed-wire fence. Cross followed the pattern of an adaptive entrepreneur,
flexible and bold but always full of money-saving ideas and common sense. He kept
production costs down by grazing the cattle on the Cross Bros’ open, unfenced range, as
well as unclaimed pasturelands. Cross joined in associations with other livestock raising
concerns. Cross helped create the Alberta Stock Growers’ Associatin in 1888. Became
involved in the shipment of live A7 cattle from Calgary to Liverpool, England, via
Montreal. Cross retained his earnings and put them back into the busiess. His brother’s
had withdrawn from the A7 leaving Ernest as the sole owner of the prosperous business.
A7 became leading medium-sized cattle enterprise in Alberta. It was a tidy system. Cross
remained active in determining the poicy of the business. He looked after finance and
cattle sales. He dug ditches that chanlled water to his ranch to irrigate the enclosed hay
fields. He bred more strains as it was more profitable. He continued to rely heavily on
local and regional markets. Another winter caused him to lose cattle and he used brewery
profits to rebuil the diminished A7 herd with newly purchased purebred stock. He
purchased land from the federal government at the junction of Cross and Ranch creeks
and it gave the A7 control of strategically located waterfronts and grasslands and helped
protect and preserve its long term interests. He erected numerous