For lovers of horse history and driving, an Alberta auction house is set to sell off one of the most extensive collections of carriages and sleighs in North America.
The collection was amassed over the lifetime of Lee Bowie, an Albertan who passed away in January at the age of 90. Bowie began collecting the carriages about 60 years ago. “It all started with a carriage he found out in southern Saskatchewan behind a barn, and it grew from there,” Greg Bowie, Lee’s eldest son, told CTV News. “He was the type of person that liked fixing things and he really enjoyed working with horses and dogs, so the collection sort of started out as a hobby.”
Some of the unique carriages include a Newfoundland taxi circa 1890 and a McLaughlin Cutter carriage. That company was once considered the largest manufacturer of buggies in the British Empire and would one day enter the automobile industry as part of General Motors Canada.
According to Lee’s daughter Kim, it was a passion that provided a slew of fond family outings and memories. “Four generations have enjoyed riding on the sleighs and buggies,” she told CTV News. “Dad used to take Mom for carriage rides in the evening in a buggy with the surrey on top and go down the country roads. All the neighbors would think he was a big romantic guy and he sort of was, but a tough cowboy, too.”
The Bowie collection remains on the family property in Penfold, which is approximately 120 km north of Calgary. And it’s not only carriages and sleighs up for bid ‒ there are also several horses, including driving teams ready to go to the highest bidder.
The auction is slated for June 21, and over 2,000 people have already registered to bid on the collection. You can check it out here.