Back in the days when horses were the primary source of power on North American farms, there was no bigger name in the world of heavy horses, particularly Clydesdale horses, than Brandon Bros. Stable.
James (1877-1948), William J.(1879-1962) and
Robert R. (1882-1959) Brandon were the second generation of livestock dealers in the Brandon family.
But unlike their father and uncles, who dealt extensively in cattle, they instead focused their endeavors mainly on improving the Clydesdale breed in
Canada and in 1904 formed Brandon Bros. Stables, Breeders and Importers of Clydesdale Horses.
Growing up in the late 1880s, the brothers recognized the need for farmers to upgrade the quality of their livestock.
Being stallion owners prior to the
formation of their partnership, they had established a practice of bringing in stallions from other districts that were of better quality than what was available locally.
As a result, they decided to establish their own breeding program and began buying
and importing the very best purebred Clydesdale mares Scotland could afford them.
They also secured the stallion “Gallant Brown” which, at the time, was one of the best Clydesdale sires in Canada.
Their breeding program was a success
and not only helped farmers upgrade the quality of their horses, but also put the brothers at the top of their game.
They acquired wide acclaim for their expertise in the fitting, training of Clydesdale horses as well as driving of six and eight-horse
They were soon supplying horses for logging camps and prison farms as well as champions for the show ring.
The Brandon name became synonymous with the Clydesdale breed and their horses soon became the ones that noted breeders and show people
wanted in their stables..
It was in the show ring where their talent as showman and judges of draft horses was truly reflected as they garnered many awards and recognition at not only local fairs but also at the big shows such as the Canadian National
Exhibition and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
The Brandons were soon sought out by the large dairies and brewing companies in the U.S, that did and still do, use Clydesdale horses to promote their products at fairs, parades and other events
throughout the United States.
However, following the Second World War it became obvious that times were rapidly changing, not only in urbans areas, but on the farm as well.
With the advent of the gasoline tractor, horses were quickly being replaced
and stallion services were no longer in such great demand.
The era of true horsepower on the farm had, for the most part, come to an end.
Consequently, Brandon Bros. Stable ceased operations in 1948.
However, horse sense seemed to run in the
blood of this family and a third-generation in the person of John R. Brandon emerged to assume the mantle.
Having learned the trade from his father and uncles, he started out as a six-horse hitch driver and showman working for a number of different stables
during the 1930s and 1940s, quickly making a name for himself within the Clydesdale fraternity..
In the 1950s,, he caught the eye of a number of major U.S. corporations that continued to maintain stables of draft horses which they used for promotion and
advertising as well as show purposes on a world-class scale.
He was eventually tapped by the Anheuser-Busch Company and for many years was the lead driver and trainer of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.
Donald Brandon, fourth generation and son
of John R. Brandon, also caught the horse bug and he too worked many years for some of the same companies that employed his father, including a stint at the Anheuser-Busch stable.
Donald and his cousin, Jim Brandon, attended the induction ceremony and
accepted a memorial plaque on behalf of the Brandon family.
“It was out of nothing but respect for my forefathers and their great horse sense that I nominated them for this honour,” said Donald Brandon.
He added that the Brandon’s
were horse people “plain and simple.”