Ed was the last surviving child of Florian and Margaret Abt, who were German Russian immigrants escaping the Bolshevik Revolution. Florian, along with his nephew (Kilian) were sponsored by the Canadian Catholic Church, and arrived via ship from Frankfurt, Germany March 1924, with Florian’s wife Margaret following in August. The men worked for their sponsor farmers in Macklin, Sask. until finally Florian and Margaret were able to pay for a homestead at Fusilier in 1927.
Their family grew steadily and quickly to six children – four boys and two girls. They eeked out a meagre living in the rocky hills and shared good times and bad with their neighbours, the Lauers and Zlatners, until the depression and WWII created too much hardship to remain in Saskatchewan. In 1945, Kilian Abt sent word that Ponoka, Alberta was ideal for farming – there was enough rain to raise cops and beautiful gardens to feed your family. Florian, Edward and Lewis travelled by box car to Menaik while Johnny Weinkauf drove the women in the Durant. Kilian met the boys in the middle of the night to drive the cattle and horse to SE-18-44-25- W4 – the old Patenaude place in the Dennis district. It was a blessing for the family and they were welcomed and assisted by the community. Ed was always so grateful to the Martin Malterer, John Lauer, and Roger Stretch Families and of course his Abt Cousins.
After the death of Margaret in 1950, and Florian in 1952, Ed and Lewis formed Abt Cattle Company. Together they were an ambitious team, and their passion for farming led to a strong and successful operation.
In 1960 Ed met Mary McHugh, a nurse from Montreal, at a Church function in March. They married July 18 of the same year on one of the hottest days in the month. Ed often recollected how the confetti stained his shirt as it was soaked from sweat. They settled into the “old house” on the homestead in the Dennis district to start their new life. Colleen was born in 1961 and Michael in 1964. One memory Ed shared involved Ben Sieben who was working at the farm at that time. The ‘old house”” was so cold that Ben would let Colleen sleep with him by the coal stove downstairs so she wouldn’t turn blue! With his family needing warmer conditions, Ed set to work building a new ranch style house for the family to match his brother Lewis & wife Beverly who lived next door. While the adults worked, Colleen and Michael spent many hours with their cousins Carol, Wayne, and Donald snowmobiling, riding horses, playing fort, catching gophers, and getting into all sorts of mischief with Marcus Abt’s boys as well.
In the 1970’s with encouragement from Mary, Ed pursued his talent for painting, taking classes from University of Alberta while at the same time building a feedlot for fattening steers. As with painting, he excelled in farming and throughout the next ten years the feed-lot grew and eventually expanded into a 400 head cow-calf operation as his house overflowed with portraits and still-lifes of different mediums. Being a cowboy and an artist was a unique combination; one that allowed Ed to challenge himself with many ventures and he relished developing pasture land, building roads with George Berg, and competing in Team Penning.
While Ed was a hard worker dedicated to his family and farm, it was the people he encountered that truly held meaning for him. The coffee shop was central to his life and he could often be found discussing new ideas and making business deals with local business men. The other favorite stopping spot was any Auction Market in Alberta or BC. His goal was to find the “greenest grassers” to put on the pasture and grow for the summer months. The fall was Ed’s favourite time as the Cattle round-up combined his love of horses, cattle, campfires and friends. With the help of friends and family they would gather up to 1,500 yearlings to bring them home to the feedlot for the winter.
In 1999 Ed lost his beloved wife Mary, and in 2002 suffered a stroke and heart-attack. With needing more support, he reluctantly moved to “the pink mansion” in Lacombe. Ever the tough cowboy, he continued to walk a couple miles a day to visit with neighbours and their horses. He made many friends over the next 18 years who showed immense kindness by taking him to Timmie’s for coffee and back to the farm for surprise inspections.
He spent his last two years at Royal Oak in Lacombe enjoying life to the best of his ability; having suppers with his children and grandchildren, reminiscing of old times, and even engaging in an art show set up by Lacombe FCSS. His family is grateful to all the staff who have been so kind and compassionate to Cowboy Ed. You are God’s Angels on Earth! We would also like to thank Dr. Brendan Bunting for both his friendship and care and Dr. Olivier for your support in Ed’s final years.
If asked to describe what made life enjoyable, Ed would certainly say friends, family, his community, and of course, a good horse. Ed was very proud of his community and giving back by sponsoring the Ponoka Stampede or the Best Cow Calf at 4H were essential to him. Family suppers on Sundays were a constant throughout his life, as was Church followed by a bacon and egg breakfast. Being successful and innovative were important but it all came back to the people around him. Nothing put a smile on his face more than seeing someone he knew and sharing a smile and hello. Please know you were all so important in his life – each and every one of you!
Mary McHugh (D: 1999) & Ed’s Family in Heaven and on Earth are:
Colleen & Randy Lomas – Kaitlin and Carmen
Michael & Robyn Abt – Brodie, Tori, Kate, Mallory and Luna
Anne McHugh (D: 1989) & Ron McDonald (D: 2012) Family- Kevin (Christine) McDonald - Zac & Bradley
Blondina (D: 1983) & Johnny (D: 1999) Weinkauf Family
Maggie (D: 2008) & Walter (D: 2021) Burchnall Family
Lewis (D: 2016) & Beverly (D: 2015) Abt Family
Herman (D: 1999) & Delores (D: 2017) Abt Family
Alexander Abt (baby in Russia) and Johannes Abt (D: 1932)
Ramona Sieben(D: 1982) & Kilian (D: 1990) Abt Families
and many Friends, Neighbours and Business Associates that were so important to Ed.
Private Service due to COVID Restrictions will be held at Ponoka Funeral Home:
Saturday, February 27th at 1:00 p.m. Officiated by Deacon Rollie Comeau.
Please Join Us for an Honorary Procession from the Ponoka Funeral Home to Forest Home Cemetery immediately following the service (2:00 p.m.). Tune in to 91.5 FM to hear some of Ed’s Favorite songs and listen to the graveside service. Please remain in your cars and tip your hat to Cowboy Ed as you follow the Horse Drawn Hearse to his final resting place.
Memorial donations are gratefully accepted to the St. Augustine Catholic Church Building Fund, the Ponoka Agricultural Society, or the Ponoka Stampede Youth Foundation.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Edward Abt, please visit our floral store.