Herbert Thomas (Bert) Hargrave was born in 1917 at Medicine Hat and grew up on the family ranch at Walsh. After graduating from high school, he worked and saved for two years in order to begin first year studies in agriculture at the University of Alberta.
As a result of the summers spent as a student at the Swift Current Experimental Station, he made a decision to transfer to the University of Saskatchewan and graduated with his bachelor of science in agricultural engineering in 1942.
Mr. Hargrave served his country for four years in the Canadian Army as a captain in command of 250 mechanics in the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. In 1944, he was named a Member of the British Empire (M.B.E.) for distinguished service in overseeing the modification of Sherman Tanks into troop-carrying “Kangaroos” used for the breakout from the Normandy beachhead. In 1984, he was invited to Normandy by Canada’s Minister of Defense to take part in the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.
In 1945, Mr. Hargrave returned to the ranch at Walsh to help his father who was in failing health and in 1948 took over the entire operation. He spent the rest of his life maintaining and developing the simple facts and philosophies of living in harmony with the environment which were taught to him by his father.
He was a longstanding member of the Western Stock Growers Association, served as President and member of the Board of Governors and in 1984 was named an Honourary Life Director. An active member and Executive member of the Alberta Cattle Commission and the Canadian Cattleman’s Association, Mr. Hargrave was honoured as 1982 Canadian Cattleman of the Year. The Northern Institute of Livestock Exhibitions, an international organization centered in Billings, Montana, named Mr. Hargrave Cattleman of the Year for Western Canada in 1975.
In 1972, Bert Hargrave was elected Member of Parliament for Medicine Hat and during the following 12 years served, with dedication and distinction, the interests of his constituency and Canadian agriculture in general.
He became recognized as the most informed spokesman for Alberta’s cattle and beef industry in the House of Commons. He served with great competence on the important Special Commons Committee on Trends in Food Prices and the Standing Committee on Agriculture. As chairman of a Committee on Beef Imports he was instrumental in bringing into existence the Beef Import Act. Highly respected for his knowledge and gentlemanly approach, Mr. Hargrave’s circle of friends in Ottawa included many from all parties. In recognition of his 12 years of service to southeastern Alberta, he was honoured as a Life Member of the Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce in 1984.
Mr. Hargrave’s interest in grass and rangeland care, culture and preservation was legendary, and he had a long association with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation programs. Having dealt with drought and water supply in one of the driest regions of the prairies, his advice was sought after by farmers, associations and government agencies. In 1985, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Water Resource Association for outstanding contributions to the development and management of water in Canada.
Directing his energies toward the community at large, Mr. Hargrave served as a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, and was a strong supporter of the Medicine Hat College. He was a member of the Senate of the University of Lethbridge and also served as a member of the National Farm Debt Review Board.
Bert Hargrave exemplified the highest standards of excellence, as a cattleman, rancher, agriculturist, parliamentarian, and as an Albertan who continually gave of himself for the betterment of society.