This week is Cowboy Heritage Week is B.C. and the Williams Lake and Cariboo Chilcotin areas have lots of cowboy heritage to celebrate.
Ranching is the oldest continuing industry in many parts of British Columbia.
Working cowboys drove the first cattle across the border at Osoyoos from Oregon in 1858.
Alkali Lake Ranch is the first recorded ranch in the province (1861) and the Cariboo Chilcotin boasts a number of Century Ranches that have been operated by the same families for over 100 years.
Williams Lake especially has roots in the ranching heritage.
What had been William Pinchbecks’ ranch became an instant town in 1919 when the PGE extended the rail line here to expedite shipment of cattle from local ranches to market.
The Williams Lake stockyards are still going strong, handling thousands of head of cattle each year.
Ranching has been an important economic engine for Williams Lake for over nine decades.
The BC Cowboy Heritage Society was formed in 1997 to pay tribute to and remember BC’s cowboys and cowgirls who have made a special contribution to BC’s heritage and culture.
The first president of the society was Connie Falk.
Historian Mike Puhallo took over the reins in 1998 and held that position until his death in 2011.
The BC Cowboy Hall of Fame became part of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in 1999, a logical choice since Williams Lake is the heart of BC’s cowboy country and the home of the Williams Lake Stampede.