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The lights at The Ranchmans Cookhouse and Dancehall are a little dimmer today with the passing of founder and long-time owner Harris Dvorkin.

Lester Gurnett & Harris DvorkinRaised between South Calgary and the family farm near Rumsey, AB, Harris developed a passion for the cowboy way of life early on.

His city home was next to a livery stable and Harris rode Shetland ponies that his grandfather had bought. Harris graduated from Western Canada High School and then tried university where he studied pre-med for a short time. He soon realized that he was more inclined to find success in the restaurant business.

He worked as a Leasing Manager for United Property Management, later worked for Allarco Developments and as General Manager of the Beachcomber Restaurant in downtown Calgary. At the Beachcomber he started up Alberta's first real night club and he even hired Tiny Tim for the first act.

Harris continued to form friendships with prominent members of the rodeo world. These included Wayne Vold, Gid Garstad, Buddy Heaton, the Crowchilds and the Gladstones.

The Beachcomber burned down and the opportunity arose to build a steakhouse on the south end of Macleod Trail. That steakhouse would be the Ranchman's and Kevin Baker would be Harris Dvorkin's business partner.

The popularity of the establishment grew with it being the home of the Wayne Vold Show in the 1970's.1976 saw a need for expansion and the Saddle Room was opened. In 1995, a renovation brought the seating capacity up to 1050.

The Ranchman's has been Calgary's Country Music Assocation’s Club of the Year a total of 6 times. It has been named CCMA's Country Club of the Year 9 times. Many of country's biggest names have played there. It has also been the setting for many movies and has been host to the Ranchman's Renegades PBR Bullbustin' which takes place in the parking lot. This event has been a major fundraiser for the Project Warmth Society and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Center.

Harris Dvorkin was co-founder of the CPRA's Cowboy Benefit Fund. He was instrumental in having the Boys Steer Riding be part of CFR and he helped to get Ladies Barrel Racing recognized as a major event, receiving equal prize money. For many years, Ranchmans sponsored CPRA season leader awards.

Harris Dvorkin was on the Calgary Stampede committee for 21 years and more recently, on the Alumni Committee.

Harris Dvorkin and The Ranchmans hosted many benefit events for cowboys and cowgirls faced with hard times. Harris estimated that over $2 million was raised for contestants and for charity causes over the years.

Harris Dvorkin was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2015.

The rodeo community extends its condolences to Harris’s family and many, many friends and long-time colleague and assistant, Wendy Daniel.

Lynette, the McDonald and Dvorkin families thank you all for the support and many condolence messages related to Harris Dvorkin's passing.

Services will be held at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue, 1325 Glenmore Trail S.W., at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, April 20th. Internment to follow at the Erlton Street Cemetery (Erlton & 32 Ave. S.W.)

In keeping with the Jewish tradition, no flowers please, but rather, make a donation in Harris's name to your favorite charity.











 
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