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Norman McMurray was the visionary who sensed a direction from God to acquire property in a country setting for a Retreat Centre. Norm, his wife Marj and their children would from time to time take road trips in search of such a property.

On Saturday May 30th 1964, the family were headed back home after one such road trip. As they turned onto the gravel road, (today known as Highway 8), Norm noticed a Farm House and decided to stop in and ask if they had any land for sale. The Farm House was located on the Clem Gardner Ranch.

(Clem Gardner was a Christian man who was a long time rancher in the Calgary area. He was a famous World Champion Cowboy and one of the originators of the Calgary Stampede.)

When Norm was greeted at the door, he got straight to the point, because it was close to supper time and his children were getting hungry. He asked if they had any land for sale, as he and his wife were hoping to build a Christian Retreat Centre, and he told them how much money he had to offer.

The lady who answered the door listened to Norm’s request and invited him in. When he entered the house he realized he was intruding on a large family gathering. He was informed that Clem Gardner had passed away and the family had gathered together to discuss ways to come up with money to pay estate taxes. They had discussed selling a portion of the Ranch property that was unsuitable for cattle, but they were not certain that Clem would have approved of selling to just anyone. There were a number of reasons why the lady invited Norm in. The first reason was that her family had just discussed the possibility of selling a portion of the Ranch, secondly, when Norm informed them of his intention to build a Christian Retreat Centre they knew Clem would have approved, and the final reason, the amount of money Norm had offered was the exact amount needed to pay the estate taxes! What a miracle! God had directed the McMurray family to the Gardner Ranch that evening. As a result Norm and Marj acquired 60 acres of beautiful forested land bordering the Elbow River.

The McMurray’s built a family home on the front 10 acres of the property and spent many days building trails and bridges in preparation for the Retreat Centre.

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