Innisfail Auction Mart veteran retires after 50 years

Larry Oxtoby started working at the Innisfail Auction Mart in 1967. He retired on Wednesday.

Almost 50 years to the day, Larry Oxtoby has been a reliable “penner” at Innisfail Auction Mart.

On Wednesday, he rode into the retirement sunset, leaving a job he first picked up as a 23-year-old looking to make a few bucks on the side.

Oxtoby grew up in a farm just east of Innisfail and in high school was a stand-out fullback on the school’s football team. He was good enough to get a scholarship to play at Wenatche Valley College in Washington and tried out for the Calgary Stampeders.

Innisfail Auction Mart owner Ivan Daines remembers Oxtoby as the fastest player in the league.

“And he was always bigger than anybody. It was like grabbing a horse by the hind legs to try to tackle him.”

Oxtoby eventually passed on his football and college plans to return to the family farm and get married. Around that time joined his childhood friends, the Daines boys, at the family’s auction mart.

“It was something to do. It wasn’t a well-paying job. It was just something off the farm,” he says. “It was a little added spending money.

“Then I just stayed on,” he says, taking a break from his retirement party, where he was given a plaque and a one-ounce gold coin in recognition of his dedication.

He always had other work to keep him busy, either on the family farm or at the farm equipment sales business he started up 30 years ago and still runs.

Asked if he is retiring with a job title, Oxtoby smiles, “I doubt it.

“I’m head penner man right now. Most people won’t know what that is.

“I receive the cattle the night before the sale and designate pens. You gotta make sure the guys getting paid for his cattle. So you’ve got to keep them all that straight.

“The same with what goes through the ring,” he says. “You gotta be quite alert when you’re doing it.”

Working alongside thousands of kilograms of jostling, irritable animals came with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

“I’ve been run over by horses and cattle have run into me.”

One of his worst experiences came just a couple of years ago.

He went to close a gate left open on a stock trailer at the same time the cattle decided to go sightseeing.

“They hit the gate. I was pushing on one side and they were hitting it from the other side.”

The cattle won, and a concussion and a few days of hospital came out of that unequal showdown.

Oxtoby is matter of fact about his last day on the job, where he spent a full shift in the pens and on the auction stand.

“You’re busy up there. You don’t have time to think about it.

“It wasn’t a big deal.”

He’s not sure what he will do in retirement. Golf will fill the summer. But the rest of the year? He’s not sure.

He won’t particularly miss being penner, but the job added a certain intensity to his day.

“I’ve got to be really in control when I’m here,” he says.

“I’m thinking I’ll have too much slack time.”

But he has no regrets about calling it a day.

“I think 50 years is enough.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Mothers Against Drunk Driving hold candlelight vigil

Four-and-a-half years ago Marilyn Rinas’ husband was killed in a collision with… Continue reading

Thousands expected at memorial for fallen police officer in Abbotsford, B.C.

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The streets of Abbotsford, B.C., will be lined with… Continue reading

One person dead, five others injured in early-morning crash in Kingston, Ont.

KINGSTON, Ont. — A man who was checking the damage on his… Continue reading

Gus is a special, collaborative art exhibit inspired by motherhood

The portrait display by mother and son is showing in Red Deer

Robotics challenge sparks student interest in Red Deer

Student-built robots compete in fun challenge

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Semi collides with vehicle on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

Members of the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit dealt with a call on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

After 70 years, Red Deer veteran still remembers his traumatic war experience

Frank Krepps feels lucky to have survived the Second World War

Merritt Mountie charged with assault

Charges are in relation to an incident in May at the detachment, B.C. Prosecution Service said

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month