The career of David Warnock

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One of the best-known ranching veterinarians from the pages of Pincher Creek’s local history was Dr. David Warnock.

An early pioneer in his own right, he was widely connected with the development of local ranching circles and was known for his political connections in both Edmonton and Ottawa.

Veterinarian studies and work near High River

Warnock was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1865. As a young man, he attended Edinburgh University where he specialized in veterinarian studies, a medical science which at that time was just becoming understood and developed as a discipline.

He applied himself diligently at his studies, learned much, and graduated a few years later.

As with many other fellows of his generation, the call of the western Canadian frontier was too strong for Warnock to resist, and he quickly immigrated, first arriving in Calgary.

His first appointment was as the veterinarian for the High River horse ranch.

He found the work there, both outdoors and with the ranch animals, rewarding and much to his liking.

Veterinarian and managerial work with the Walrond Ranch

His next appointment came with much more responsibility, and Warnock, eager to establish himself within the local ranching community, was keen to accept it.

He became the veterinary surgeon for the world famous Walrond Ranch, the corporate operation which cradled throughout the picturesque valley between the Porcupine Hills on the east and the front ranges of the Rockies to the west.

Upon the retirement of Dr. Duncan McEacheran from the ranch, Warnock was appointed the manager of the Walrond. McEacheran too had veterinarian experience – many years earlier, he had served as the Dominion Veterinary Surgeon. A way with animals and an aptitude for medical sciences obviously was a pre-requisite for working on and managing an extensive cattle ranch such as the Walrond.

It was in 1896, while Warnock was working for the Waldrond, that he and his bride were wed. She was the former Miss Annie Whitelaw, who also hailed from Scotland. Her father, Thomas Whitelaw, was a prominent lawyer. David and Annie Warnock were blessed with two children, a daughter Leslie and a son Melville. Both children were born here in Pincher Creek.

Pincher Creek business connections

The esteemed veterinarian resigned from his management position with the Waldron in 1902, and the family moved into the bustling ranching settlement of Pincher Creek.

Here, he set up a veterinarian practice, conducting sales stables. Shortly thereafter, Warnock and a Mr. Jordon established a partnership to run the business.

The firm of Warnock and Jordon flourished until the latter retired several years later. For a few years, the firm was assisted with the partnership of Barney Bolster. Warnock’s strong connections with the regional ranching community, sharp business mind and outgoing personality ensured a thriving business.

Political career

Always interested in politics, Warnock was elected in 1909 as the Member of the Alberta Legislature for the Pincher Creek constituency.

He defeated the Liberal Party nominee John Plummer —better known as J. P. — Marcellus (1839 – 1932), who had been the sitting member since the Province of Alberta was created in 1905.

Two years later, Warnock resigned his provincial seat and entered federal politics.

He was elected to the House of Commons for the old rural riding of Macleod, defeating the well-known ex-Mountie John Herron who had ably represented the area during the previous two terms.

Throughout his years in politics, Warnock retained his local business interests.

However, in 1918, he not only had retired from active political duty but also decided to move on with his life.

The Warnocks settled in Victoria, B.C. where David received an appointment as the Provincial Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

He continued to keep in touch with the ranching community in the Pincher Creek area and paid a much-publicized visit back here in November 1927.

David Warnock lost his life in August 1932, due to an accidental drowning out at the west coast. His widow Annie passed away just over two years later.


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