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Mountain View Today

A Poetic Goodbye For Sundre Cowboy

One of Alberta’s true cowboy poets and inspirational community leaders heads to greener pastures

A pillar of the cowboy community and a longtime resident of Sundre, Bryn Thiessen, passed away on January 16 at 63.

Thiessen was a man of many talents. He was a poet, teacher, columnist, speaker, rancher, author, and horse trainer. 

He was also a devoted Christian and the pastor of the Cowboy Trail Church in Cochrane. Thiessen spread faith, kindness, and inspiration to those around him.

Thiessen touched the lives of hundreds. 

The 1,400 people who attended his memorial service proved that. 

The memorial was held at the Hillrock Arena southwest of Sundre and reflected on the life Thiessen led. 

Ben Crane, a singer, songwriter, artist, and one of Thiessen’s closest friends attended the memorial service.

Crane spoke highly of Thiessen and put on many performances in his honour. 

“I knew him for more than 40 years, and he always valued people. We travelled together and shared many stages. He was a very close friend and a very good friend,” said Crane.

“He wouldn’t just stand up there and spout. He would really work the crowd and make everybody feel like they were the most important person in the room,” Crane recalled.

Bryn Thiessen, who passed away at 63 | Red Deer Advocate
Bryn Thiessen, who passed away at 63 | Red Deer Advocate

He Was a Bard

Thiessen conveyed his thoughts and emotions through his profound but humorous poems when he wasn’t public speaking.

Several of Thiessen poems were published in the Cowboy Country Magazine, a popular magazine “celebrating the history and culture of the Canadian West.”

One of the published poems, “The Gentleman,” tells the story of a man who gets two black eyes trying to fix a woman’s dress.

Thiessen’s poems are in his book The Wind in the Pines.

Ben Crane, one of Thiessen's closest friends | Ben Crane | Facebook
Ben Crane, one of Thiessen’s closest friends | Ben Crane | Facebook

He Was a True Cowboy

Thiessen did all his ranch chores on horseback. 

He owned the Helmer Creek Ranch near Bergen. He was one of only two Albertans allowed to round up feral horses. 

He Was a Family Man

To say Thiessen was talented would be an understatement. Above all else, he was an incredible father.

Thiessen is survived by his wife, Bonny, happily married for nearly 30 years. The couple built a fulfilling life together and had three children: Casey, Orin, and Lane.

His children went on to start families of their own.

In the years leading up to his passing, Thiessen suffered from health problems. But that didn’t stop him from spending time with his grandkids. 

“Pops would get down on the floor to play for hours with grandkids – or ride the roller coasters with them at Calaway Park – or tackle waterslides at a pool,” recalls Thiessen’s children.  

Thiessen’s family members attended the memorial service, including his father, Clancy, who spoke at the service.

“As a father, you don’t normally plan to give a tribute to your own son, but I am privileged that I can do it,” said Clancy.

Thiessen is no longer with us, but his work has had an unforgettable impact on cowboy culture. His legacy will live on through his poetry and the people he inspired.

Thiessen's father, Clancy, at the memorial service | Dan Singleton | Mountain View Today
Thiessen’s father, Clancy, at the memorial service | Dan Singleton | Mountain View Today

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