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More cowbell? That's not what these neighbours wanted

How much cowbell can you take? It was the question at the centre of a dispute between two neighbours in the 1980s.

Dispute in eastern Ontario arose from noise of herd of cowbell-wearing cattle

Cowbell controversy

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32 years ago
1:39
A beef over cowbells built up between two neighbours in the late 1980s. 1:39

How much cowbell is too much cowbell? 

Enough that it is keeping you from sleeping — or that was the view of an eastern Ontario family who found their neighbours' cows too noisy, when their cowbell complaint made news nearly three decades ago.

In July of 1989, CBC's Midday brought viewers the story of two families, and the herd of cows whose jangling cowbells were jarring to a sleeping family on one side of a fence and the cause of an ongoing dispute in St. Albert, Ont.

The Naef family's cows wore cowbells -- and the noise of those cowbells had upset their next-door neighbours. (Midday/CBC Archives)

The Bourgeois family had a bedroom window that faced a fence, which bordered an area where their neighbours, the Naefs, had cattle going to and fro.

And they found those cowbell-laden cattle a hindrance to getting a good night's sleep.

"My patience has gone the limit," said Yvon Bourgeois, when speaking with the Globe and Mail about the cowbell-related conflict.

'Put in air conditioning'

The Naefs had cowbells on their livestock to keep track of their whereabouts — a practice that, according to this report, was common in Switzerland where the family had emigrated from.

And the Naefs had suggestions for how their neighbours could deal with the problem. Earplugs were one option. Changing the location of his bedroom was another.

"He can put in air conditioning and close the windows," said Shua Naef, listing a third option, when speaking with CBC about the issue.

In 1989, CBC's Midday reported on a dispute between two neighbours in St. Albert, Ont., that centred on the cowbells around the necks of the cows that one of the neighbours had on their property. (Midday/CBC Archives)

A complaint was made about the cows, which was supposed to go before a provincial board later that year.

The Naefs said that if it didn't go in their favour, they would simply take the bells off.

If it went the other way, the Bourgeois family would have to "lie awake at night, listening to the nightly gong show," according to the report that aired on Midday.

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