Home and Native Land

    Two major land gifts help expand the University's reach.

    January 24, 2011

    Mark Twain famously quipped, “Buy land, they ain’t making it anymore.”

    Well, the U of A may not have bought any land, but it sure is a lot more land rich thanks to Edwin, ’57 BSc(Eng), and Ruth Mattheis, ’58 BA, who recently donated their 5,000-hectare ranch in Southern Alberta to the University.

    The gift ensures the land will forever remain a working ranch as it complements the University’s agricultural research infrastructure already in place, including the 4,900-hectare Kinsella Ranch in central Alberta, the 325-hectare St. Albert Research Station, and other land holdings.

    The couple bought the 19 sections of what is currently called the Three Walking Sticks Ranch in 1977, and, in December 2010, they donated it to the University to ensure it will remain a ranch in perpetuity. “We have this marvelous piece of land, and we don’t want to see it sub-divided and abused,” says Ruth

    The ranch is situated near Duchess — about 150 km east of Calgary — and is composed primarily of rangeland, with about 280 hectares of cultivated land. To honour this gift, the Univer­sity is establishing the Mattheis Chair in Rangeland Ecology and Management.

    “No other university in Canada has access to a natural research lab of this kind,” says U of A Presi­dent Indira Samarasekera. “Indeed, only a very few universities in all of North America have the rangeland resource that the U of A now has.”

    In accepting this more-than-generous donation, Samara­sekera also called it “truly historic” and an “unprecedented gift.” Later that month she had to find new superlatives to describe another donation — the gift of their family home, called “Soaring,” by Sandy, ’90 LLD (Honorary), and Cécile Mactaggart, ’06 LLD (Honorary).

      "Soaring," the MacTaggarts

    "Soaring," the MacTaggarts' Edmonton home.

    “Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart are among this Univer­sity’s greatest friends, supporters and benefactors,” says Samarasekera. “The sheer generosity of giving the Uni­versity their home leaves us humbled. The Mactaggarts have simply transformed us, and their relationship with the Uni­versity is a dynamic force as the U of A continues to grow.”

    The Mactaggarts’ philanthropic and volunteer relationship with the U of A dates back several decades. Their giving — along with the resulting matching funds their donations have generated from government — equal an unprecedented $100 million for the University.

    “Cécile and I were always convinced that the University of Alberta could become the internationally recognized university it has become — a place of respected learning and discovery, a place of culture — and in doing so help build the city of Edmonton itself,” says Sandy. “This gift is another way we hope we can continue to help build Edmonton and the University of Alberta.”

    Go to www.museums.ualberta.ca/mactaggart to see an art collection the Mactaggarts donated to the University.