Menu Cover
Menu Cover

Few formal dinners were ever quite as unusual as one held in Alberta in 1912. On October 16th of that year, the Red Deer Board of Trade invited politicians, influential businessmen and members of the press to a banquet to commemorate the singular achievement of a local Jersey cow, Rosalind of Old Basing.

Rosalind had just been declared the champion butter cow of the British Empire. In celebration of this mark of distinction for the dairy industry of central Alberta, local and provincial dignitaries (including Edward Michener, MPP, the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Duncan Marshall, Minister of Agriculture, and Dr. Rutherford, Head of the Natural Resources Department, Canadian Pacific Railway) honoured Rosalind and her owner, local architect C.A. Julian-Sharman.

The town hall was elaborately decorated and a stall was placed near the head table for Rosalind. "It was a unique event, a big thing," wrote one reporter. The meal served the guests emphasized the agricultural productivity of Red Deer; and each elaborate menu card included a photograph of Rosalind. Interestingly enough, even in the presence of a Jersey cow the main course was roast beef. Instead of using wine, the chief toasts that evening were made with Rosalind's own milk. Throughout the evening the Citizens' Band entertained guests and cow alike with musical selections. One may wonder what Rosalind made of the entire affair.

News wire services picked up the strange story; and for a fleeting moment both Rosalind and Red Deer were famous throughout North America and Britain. A poem about the banquet, by Harry Burmester, was published in the Calgary Albertan and the Red Deer Advocate:

Let us drink to the health of Rosalind, the cream of all the kine,
Let us rise and join in a real milk toast, instead of sparkling wine,
For there ne'er was a cow like Rosalind, Old Basing's pride and boast,
And she is our honoured guest tonight, together we'll play the host.

Such a banquet board as the one that night Red Deer had never seen,
Where men of state and untold wealth paid homage to one bovine;
Oh, the things they said about Rosalind would have caused that cow to blush,
If she could have heard her praise sung as she quietly ate her mush.

Tregilius was there with a gallant speech that would flatter a fairy queen,
While Duncan Marshall in dulcet tones depicted a charming scene,
Of a kind-faced cow in a clover patch on a balmy day in June,
Telling her calf a nursery rhyme or humming a lullaby tune.

But Rosalind is a cow with sense, her head wasn't turned at all,
She actually looked a trifle bored as she lolled in her big box stall;
The silvery phrases of compliment fell flat as a cake of mud,
And big-eyed Rosie switched her tail as she solemnly chewed her cud.

It must be great to be a cow in one of those Pullman pens,
With lots to eat and a jointed name like Alice of Old Vincennes;
To have a record of fifty pounds of milk in a single day,
And a college man with a big degree to slip you a shot of hay.

To be petted and praised by a cultured crew of learned men and great,
Who journey for miles at great expense to honor you at a fete,
That's sure some life, so when I die - and this is an honest vow,
I hope the Moulder will make of me a high class Jersey cow.

Rosalind, butter cow of the British Empire
Rosalind, butter cow of the British Empire