Mud pups

As British Columbia became an outpost of the British Empire, it was fashionable for the well-to-do families of Great Britain to encourage their younger sons to look at ranching as an acceptable source of income.

A photograph of Coutts Marjoribanks.Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

Coutts Marjoribanks. 12303 – Courtesy of the Kelowna Museum

Many families urged these young men to emigrate to the "colony" of British Columbia to make a life for themselves and "raise the flag of empire" in the new world. Many of these younger sons received a regular payment from home to help them in their new ventures, and this gave rise to the term "remittance men," a reference to those who, unlike the rank and file, did not have to work to make a living. For many of the more sensible families, however, it seemed more appropriate to send the money to a rancher, who would train their younger sons in the intricacies of ranching so they could eventually make their own livelihood.

A photograph of Hugh and Gertrude Bayliffe and Tommy Young. Click to enlarge,
image opens in a new window

Hugh and Gertrude Bayliffe, Tommy Young in parlour. Courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

In the Interior of British Columbia, these students were called "mud pups," a term that initially expressed disdain from those who had paid and continued to pay their own way. But, as more of these mud pups became hard working cowboys and eventually successful ranchers, the term had a less negative connotation, and simply described someone who had arrived under favourable circumstances and worked as hard as everyone else to succeed.