Introduction

Soon after the close of World War I, all the land suited to full- or part-time cattle raising in the BC Interior had been acquired. No more new areas awaited pre-emption, and older districts continued to consolidate. Soldiers returning from the war procured small ranches, but this settlement was only on a small scale.

With the advent of motorized transport, the colourful stage line along the Cariboo Road, with its system of roadhouses and staging-points, disappeared along with the freight wagon.

A photograph of Chilco Ranch hands in the 1920s.Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

Chilco Ranch hands 1920s. Courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Ranches on the Cariboo Road found themselves without a ready market for hay and garden produce, and, along with many ranches in the Interior, had to focus exclusively on cattle ranching. Although they were not entirely successful, most ranches continued to survive. This reorientation resulted in a basic change to the traditional ranching model that had prevailed since the early gold rush days, and involved a move from the small ranch unit to larger holdings. Although consolidation of holdings had occurred for several decades, and most of the large ranches had taken shape before the war, there was an increased trend toward the establishment of medium and large ranches after the war. More and more small ranchsteads were abandoned as available rangeland was consolidated under a single "home ranch" that served as the headquarters for a large number of once-independent holdings.

A photograph of a 1000 acre meadow in front of main ranch house, Chilco Ranch. Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

1000 acre meadow in front of main ranch house, Chilco Ranch. Courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

The Chilco Ranch across the river from Hanceville, which came to comprise five formerly independent ranches, and the Felker Ranch at Lac la Hache, which eventually comprised nine separate holdings, were typical of these large ranches. However, mega-ranches such as the Gang Ranch, which controlled close to a million acres through deeded land and grazing leases, and the Chilco Ranch, which had exclusive grazing rights on 850,000 acres, were not the norm. By the end of the 1930s, a typical ranch in the British Columbia Interior comprised about 3000 acres and ran less than 500 head of cattle. This is still very much the case today.

Media Files

V1995:1/006.002 – Flying U Ranch “Ranch scenes”
1930s black and white silent footage of horses being driven and saddled at the Flying U Ranch at Green Lake (near 70 Mile House, B.C.).

A flash player with a video showing a 1930s black and white silent footage of horses being driven and saddled at the Flying U Ranch at Green Lake (near 70 Mile House, B.C.).

You need the Adobe Flash Player to view the above video. You can get it by clicking here.

1930s Hamley Saddle

By the 1930s the back (cantle) of the saddle had been lowered so that the cowboy could easily get in and out of the saddle. The seat also had a backward tilt that was intended to keep the cowboy back in the saddle.

A flash player with a qtvr of an artifact from the O’Keefe Ranch collection

Click and drag on the image above to see the object in 3D

You need the Adobe Flash Player to view the above object. You can get it by clicking here.

Click here to view a zoomable image of this object

The zoomable image will open in a new window.
You will need the Adobe Flash Player to view the zoomable image.
You can get it by clicking here.