Stockyards

By the early 1920s, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway had been completed only as far as Quesnel, and no one could be found to buy the struggling railway. Nonetheless, the line provided rail transportation for Cariboo-Chilcotin cattle to the lucrative coastal markets.

A photograph of an auction pen at Williams Lake.Click to enlarge,
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Auction pen, Williams Lake; Courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Even more significant, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway established Williams Lake as its divisional headquarters. The provincial government had purchased the "lower farm" from Bob Borland in 1912 and established a new townsite for Williams Lake. The coming of the railway meant that trackmen, station agents, and others swelled the new town's population, and Williams Lake became the main supply centre for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Stockyards were constructed that accommodated up to 2400 head of cattle at one time. From that point on, Williams Lake became the destination for shipping cattle from all over the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

A photograph of the Williams Lake stockyards. Click to enlarge,
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Williams Lake stockyards, 1939. Courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Although more cattle were shipped out of Williams Lake, Kamloops remained an important railway shipping area and supply centre for ranches in the Nicola and Thompson Valleys. There were also a number of smaller shipping and supply centres throughout the cattle country, including Clinton, Lillooet, Ashcroft, Merritt, Princeton, Penticton, and Vernon.

A photograph of cattle being driven down the street for shipping, Kamloops.Click to enlarge,
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Driving cattle down the street for shipping, Kamloops.

Media Files

Audio Tapes 2727:1 Stockyard Material - “Cattle Auction”
Brian Chance of the Douglas Lake Cattle Ranch talks about the changing demands for beef.

A flash player with audio of Brian Chance of the Douglas Lake Cattle Ranch talking about the changing demands for beef.

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V1989:53/002.05 – The Okanagan Valley “Okanagan Falls cattle auction”
1940s travelogue footage of a cattle auction in Okanagan Falls.

A flash player with a video showing 1940s travelogue footage of a cattle auction in Okanagan Falls.

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