C.K. Armitstead - Hometown Hero


Cecil Armitstead display
Onoway Museum is highlighting internationally recognized cattle breeder, C. K. Armitstead. Around Onoway, people knew him as Cecil Armitstead. But in the world of Aberdeen Angus breeders across Canada and in the U.S., he was known as "C.K."

Cecil Armitstead was born in Onoway to area pioneers and lived all his life here. In 1924, at the age of 21, he bought some land from the CPR and, with a team of horses and a plow, he started on a career that put Onoway on the map as the home of prized black Angus cattle.

In 1934 Cecil purchased his first pure-bred Angus. This was the beginning of a herd that was popular at cattle shows and sales and were known for their large size.

It was not unusual for the Aberdeen Angus bred on Armitstead's Bonny Chance farm to be sold at shows for a higher price than the Grand Champion. Buyers and breeders from across Canada, at least 30 U.S. states and as far away as Japan sought these exceptional cattle.

Cecilís wife Millie was very involved in Onoway and in the Angus community as well. The children took an active part in feeding, grooming and showing the animals and participated  in Edmonton shows. Ken and Lynn followed in the cattle-breeding footsteps of their father.

WillabarIn 1970, C.K. Armitstead & Sons sold 20 cows and 20 calves to Hackamore Ranch in Mississippi then later, sold the entire herd to the ranch.

The secret of C.K.'s success? His son Ken sums it up: C.K. had the ability to foresee what the commercial cattle people wanted and purchased his herd sires to meet the need of commercial cattlemen therefore his bulls usually sold for a higher price than those of other breeders.

Cecil's hatOn display at Onoway Museum are scrapbooks made by C.K.'s wife Millie and his son Ken. Those who knew Cecil will immediately recognize the hats for which he was known. The Museum thanks Lou Parker and Ken Armitstead for lending these artifacts for this exhibit and for their assistance in compiling C.K.'s story.

The Onoway Museum exhibit on Onoway's world-famous cattle breeder was on display from November 2010 to January 2011.

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Last Updated: October 23, 2013