Introduction

In 1948, based on statistics gathered by the British Columbia Beef Cattle Growers' Association, there were 98,000 head of beef cattle in the southern Interior Plateau, not including the Okanagan and Boundary districts. Over the next ten years, there was a steady increase in the number of cattle raised in the area. By 1960, it was estimated that this number had increased to approximately 130,000 head. The dominant breed was Hereford -- fully two-thirds of all beef cattle were of this breed. The remainder were pure- or cross-bred Shorthorns, since it was generally felt that the Shorthorn cows provided better milk and faster weight-gain for calves. There were also scattered herds of Aberdeen Angus.

A photograph of Danny Williams, Native cowboy. Click to enlarge,
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Native cowboy, Danny Williams, 1952. Courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Until the mid-1950s, the typical herd in the British Columbia Interior consisted of breeding stock, yearlings, and two-year olds. Occasional three-year olds were marketed off the more isolated ranges. These cattle were marketed as two-year olds finished on grass and were shipped directly from the ranch. Most of the cattle went by rail to the Greater Vancouver area from stockyards like those at Williams Lake.

Another significant aspect of British Columbia ranching during the post-war years was the large number of ranches that were purchased by Americans. Beginning shortly after the war and peaking in the 1960s, Americans, driven from their native land by high taxes and land prices, purchased many of British Columbia’s ranches.

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