Sunday, 13 September 2015 15:27

History of RMTC - Cecil Wiest

Written by Garry Allison, Rocky Mountain Turf Club
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Teagan Oulton aboard Anne Seven, one of Cecil's best horses Teagan Oulton aboard Anne Seven, one of Cecil's best horses
There are very few horsemen who don’t recall there not being a Wiest involved in horse racing in southern Alberta.

The elder statesman of the Wiest clan, Cecil, is 89 years of age and is the older brother to 81-year-old Phil.

“Actually only a third of the family - John, David, Reg, Cecil and Phil - were in horse racing. Mother had 11 boys and four girls, all of us born right on the farm at Enchant,” says Cecil.

Cecil and his younger brother, Phil, are the only ones left.

“We were all brought up around horses, and sometimes you’d see five of us kids at a time on one horse. Phil and I are the only ones left now, and we get along . . . as much as brothers do.”

Cecil who was the middle child in the huge clan, has spent 46 years as a counselor with the MD of Taber. He served 10 years as Deputy Reeve and 10 years as Reeve.”

He has only missed two meetings in those 46 years, one because a horse bucked him off.

“I live the farthest away, 46 miles. When I went on the council there wasn’t a mile of pavement in the MD, and just look at it now.

“I’m pretty proud of my record. When I started Nephi Jensen was Reeve, and I really looked up to him.

“I have a plaque from the Prime Minister acknowledging me as the longest serving counselor in Canada. I’m really proud of that and I’m really dedicated to the council.”

The Wiest family moved into horse racing in the 1950s and they helped build the track and starting gate at Enchant.

“We later sold that starting gate to Taber. When we started we had people like the Glass family and Rufus Goodstriker racing their horses out at Enchant.

“We didn’t have pari-mutuels nor running water, and no bathrooms, so we didn’t last too long.’

Unlike most horsemen Cecil doesn’t remember most of his horses, not even the first one, though he does know they were Quarter horses.

“One horse had a heart as big as his body, Kals’ Charm,” Cecil remembered with a smile. “That little horse raced in the bush, Milo, Taber Lethbridge and such in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The horses were up and down through the years but there was a good one, the first one we claimed, from Ken Buxton, All My Exe’s. She was a good horse, but boy was Ken ever mad. But that’s all part of racing.

“This year I claimed Dailydblnotrouble and Red Defence. With Red there were seven claims in the box for him, and I won him in a toss up.

“I guess the best horse was Anne Seven. She won the Claimer of the Year, the B Cup and two other awards two years ago. She was recently bred to High Field Farms stud Wilko who won two and a half million dollars when racing. I’ve got a foal now and I have to think of a name for it.

“I had a Thoroughbred, Third World Power, who won the Triple Leg Series here at the RMTC.

“Boy, you know I just can’t remember all the horses over the years.”

After all if you have seven siblings older than you and seven younger, it’s a chore remembering their names, let alone those of race horses.

Cecil knows his family tree well and says his mother lived to be 87. As well, his grandfather George Shenton, came to Canada in the early 1900s and was one of the men who worked on the construction of Lethbridge’s landmark, the High Level Bridge. He came from Staffordshire, England ahead of the rest of the family who arrived in 1912, the year Lethbridge played host to the World Dry Farming Congress.

His father and grandfather came to Enchant in 1908, walking from the train-stop at Carmangay all the way to Enchant.

Cecil was in the Army during World War II, trained as a sniper, but once his group landed in Halifax it was as far as they got – the war ended about the same time.

Virtually every weekend Cecil and wife Louise are at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club, but really he enjoys being on his tractor or combine even more,

“I can’t stand the city, trying to find a parking space and all that. I love the freedom out in the country. I was on my combine when the horses were running in Grande Prairie. We live in Enchant but I have a house in Arizona too.”

However, the Arizona sun sometimes gets Cecil thinking of home and he has driven the 2,050 miles back to home without stopping, and then been on the tractor the next day.

Cecil was predeceased by his first wife of 56 years, Olivia, with whom he had three children.

Cecil has five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, including twins.

With his macabre sense of humour he pointed out he already has his cemetery marker, not only picked out, but inscribed - “except for my passing date. Its in the Enchant Cemetery, a beautiful place and I love to go there once in a while to enjoy the beauty and the quiet.

“Through the years Reg won some big races, but I won some nice races, but not on the scale Reg did. Reg, until his passing, and Phil have been in this race business the longest.”

He just enjoys coming out each weekend, watching his horses run, and in between, driving his tractor.

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