History of the Pablo-Allard herd

The Pablo-Allard or Flathead herd, sold to Canada by Michel Pablo in 1907, had its beginnings with a man named Walking Coyote (also referred to as Samuel). Walking Coyote, came to own four buffalo calves, two male and two female, it is said the calves had followed him home after a hunt in 1873 / 1874. About ten years later, the four calves had increased to a herd of thirteen, Walking Coyote sold ten of his buffalo to Charles Allard and Michel Pablo for $250 per head.


Charles Allard and Michel Pablo were ranchers on the Flathead reservation in Montana. Allard recognized that possessing a herd of an animal that was then regarded as practically extinct had the potential to be an immensely profitable investment down the line. He convinced his friend and fellow rancher Michel Pablo to join him in this endeavour. In 1896 Allard and Pablo increased their herd with 26 Buffalo bought from a Kansas man named Charles “Buffalo” Jones, who had himself acquired part of his herd from Colonel Samuel Bedson of Manitoba.

In 1896 Allard died and his half of the herd (approx. 150) was sold and dispersed. Meanwhile Pablo’s herd continued to grow, Pablo found it increasingly difficult to manage his ranch and large herd of buffalo, and eventually Pablo’s herd began to range wild along the Flathead River.


In 1904 the United States government notified Michel Pablo of their intent to open up the Flathead Reservation for settlement by selling off parcels of land. Therefore, Pablo’s grazing privileges were cancelled, he would lose the land on which his cattle and buffalo ranged.

A U.S. Government agent offered to purchase Pablo’s herd but at a price per head so low that Pablo decided to approach the Canadian Government. Alex Ayotte, the head of the Department of Immigration for Canada approached Howard Douglas, Superintendent of Rocky Mountains Park (now Banff National Park) who consulted with Norman Luxton, a businessman in Banff, as to how best approach Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior, regarding the purchase of a herd of buffalo. Oliver was open to the idea of purchasing Pablo’s herd, and in 1907 a deal was struck to purchase all but a dozen of Pablo’s buffalo and bring them to Canada.  


Luxton Family fonds, LUX/I/D2/4/9, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Cast of Characters

• Walking Coyote (Samuel), ca. 1820-1886]:  Owner of the original herd of ten buffalo sold to Michel Pablo and Charles Allard.


• Michel Pablo [ca. 1844-1914] and Charles Allard [ca. 1852] - 1896: Ranchers on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Partners in purchasing Walking Coyote’s herd in 1884. Allard died in 1896. Michel Pablo and Allard’s son, Charles Allard Jr., orchestrated the buffalo roundup to send the animals to Canada.


• Howard Douglas, 1852-1929: was Superintendent of Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada from 1896 until 1910 and Commissioner of Dominion Parks, 1910-1911. Douglas was involved in acquiring buffalo from the Pablo-Allard herd for Canada. The round-up commenced in 1907 and was completed in 1912 with a total of 716 animals purchased.


• Frank Oliver, 1853 - 1933: Minister of the Interior (Canada) at the time of the sale. Edmonton, Alberta’s first MP


• Alex Ayotte, 1859 - 1932: Department of immigration for Canada in Montana. Alerted Howard Douglas of the herd and Pablo’s desire to sell.


• Norman K. Luxton, 1876-1962: Publisher and businessman, the son of Winnipeg Free Press co-founder William Luxton. After working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Norman Luxton travelled, then joined the Calgary Herald for eight years. Luxton bought Banff’s Crag and Canyon newspaper in 1902 and remained as publisher until 1951. Also in 1902, he established the Sign of the Goat Curio store which specialized in Stoney Nakoda handicrafts and taxidermy specimens. Other significant Luxton businesses were the King Edward Hotel and Livery, Luxton Bros. Insurance (with brother Louis Luxton), and the Lux Block, which included a hotel, the Lux Theatre, ands retail stores.

The Luxtons were important Banff “boosters” with involvement in numerous local organizations and events. Norman Luxton managed the Banff Indian Days from 1909 until 1950, was a founder of the Banff Winter Carnival, and was involved with the Calgary Stampede for 25 years. In 1953, Norman established a museum to house his collection of indigenous artifacts. The Luxton Museum was built in cooperation with Eric Harvie of the Glenbow Foundation of Calgary. After Luxton’s death, the museum continued to be managed by the Glenbow until 1992.


• Georgina (McDougall) Luxton, 1870-1965: In November 1904, Norman Luxton married Georgina (Georgie) Elizabeth McDougall, of the pioneer missionary McDougall family of Morley, Alberta. Norman and Georgina Luxton had one child, Eleanor Georgina, born in Banff in July 1908.


Michel Pablo. Malcolm Geddes fonds,V756/PS - 295, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Howard Douglas. V692/NA33 - 746, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Norman Luxton. Luxton Family fonds, LUX/I/D1/1/15, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Charles Allard Jr., Luxton Family fonds, LUX/I/D2/4/23, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Alex Ayotte. Luxton Family fonds, LUX/I/D2/4/69, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Georgina Luxton. Byron Harmon fonds, v263/I/A/I/A/NA - 3350, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Michel Pablo.