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BC Cowboy Hall of Fame 2024 inductee: Isadore Kalelest — Family

The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is home to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame
Isidore Kalelest. (Photo submitted)

Isidore Kalelest’s life and career in ranching and agriculture reflect a deep connection to the land, hard work and the traditional skills of a cowboy.

Kalelest was raised in Canoe Creek, 85 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

At the age of 15, he found himself working for the B.C. Cattle Association, operating a dump rake. This was his first experience with ranching.

Two years later, Isidore was hired by Jim Bishop, the ranch manager of the historic Gang Ranch. It was there he would meet Red Matheson, an older cowboy, who would take Isidore under his wing and become his mentor.

His ability to adapt and learn new skills, from operating balers to teaching himself mechanics, demonstrates a remarkable determination to excel in his craft despite the challenges of working in remote and demanding environments like Gang Ranch.

Isidore’s willingness to tackle any task, from fixing machinery to participating in gruelling cattle drives past Gaspard Lake and into the Hungry Valley in extreme weather conditions, speaks to his dedication to his work.

His ethics can be credited to his grandfather, Anyway, who often told Isidore, “If you’re going to go to work, be prepared and have everything ready. Expect the unexpected.”

During Isidore’s early years at the Gang Ranch, he married Rosemary Johnson, his childhood sweetheart from Canoe Creek. Rosemary and Isidore welcomed two children into the world, both born at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake.

Isidore’s transition to various ranches and roles over the years underscores his versatility and expertise in agriculture.

From the Gang Ranch to Chilco Ranch and eventually Empire Valley Ranch, he consistently contributed his skills and knowledge, building friendships and leaving a lasting impression on those he worked with.

By this time, Isidore had remarried and had two more children with Doreen Peters.

His decision to relocate to Williams Lake in 1978 highlights his commitment to providing his children with educational opportunities, reflecting his values of family and community.

Throughout his career, Isidore’s passion for ranching and his camaraderie with colleagues like Chris Kind exemplify the enduring bonds forged through shared experiences in the agricultural industry.

Isidore’s story is a testament to the enduring legacy of hardworking individuals who have shaped the landscape of ranching and agriculture in British Columbia, embodying the spirit of the cowboy and leaving behind a wealth of experiences and friendships.

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