Anahim Lake rancher Dave Brace is the new president for the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. (Photo submitted)

Anahim Lake rancher Dave Brace is the new president for the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. (Photo submitted)

OUR HOMETOWN: Home on the range

Anahim Lake rancher Dave Brace enjoys the ranching lifestyle

Raising cattle has been an integral part of Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association president Dave Brace’s entire working

life.

“I had cows when I was 15 years old in Horsefly — my dad had a little place on Lemon Lake Road,” said Brace, who today along with his wife Debbie owns and operates Guichon Creek Ranch at Anahim Lake.

“Debbie’s last name was Wright and she has lived here all her life,” he told the Tribune. “Our home property is one of the last pre-emptions in B.C. in 1957. Her parents started the home place out of the clear blue.”

It was at the Anahim Lake Stampede in 1980 where he first met Debbie.

He was competing in the wild horse race and wild cow milking.

“Myself and various crew members won the wild horse race two or three times out here and we won the wild cow milking between Anahim and Bella Coola several times over the years through the 80s and early 90s,” he said, noting he also competed in team roping.

The Braces have two sons. Their oldest son lives at Kersley on a small farm with 40 cows, has a truck and hauls cattle and hay. The other son is an electrician in Boyne Lake, Alberta. So far they have two grandchildren and another one on the way.

As their sons were growing up Brace and Debbie took turns driving them into Anahim Lake for school. When Debbie was the janitor at the Anahim Lake School, something she did for many years, the boys rode home with her.

Once the boys were in Grade 11 and 12 they stayed with family or lived in the dorm at Columneetza Secondary School in Williams Lake.

Guichon Creek Ranch looks west to the Coast Mountains and is the second highest elevation ranch in B.C. at 4,640 feet above sea level.

This spring the Braces are calving 650 cows and as of as of April 5, they had 30 calves on the ground and lots of snow.

“Every 10 years we get a big snow and this is one of them,” Brace said.

Living off-grid, they have a generator, solar panels, a satellite phone through Xplornet, wifi and all the amenities of home.

“We’re probably just as modern as anybody is — just out in the bush,” he said chuckling.

When asked if he enjoys the life of a rancher, without hesitating he responded “oh yah.”

“I like my fellow man when he is scattered some,” he said, noting he was stealing that saying from Lester Dorsey, the legendary horse packer and guide of Anahim Lake.

“Our nearest neighbour by road is about 20 kilometers away.”

Brace was a director on the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association for two years up until he attended a Zoom meeting held Feb. 17 and stepped up to the plate to become president.

“There are some very promising young people in the association coming up and one of them — Jordan Grier — wants to be president eventually, but he wanted to be vice-president for a year. I’m very blessed to have him as vice.”

Brace said he is also a close friend with Cordy Cox who was president for several years and is now the general manager of the BC Livestock Producers Co-op.

Eyeing 2021, Brace said he is hoping there is not going to be big fires or floods, as the association continues to tackle predator issues.

“When I first came here, predators were not an issue and there were lots of moose around. The moose have disappeared and the wolves and bears have shown up.”

Read more: VIDEO: Cariboo-Chilcotin rally aims to stop antlerless moose hunt

Forty years ago their operation kept three families busy all summer putting up hay and today they can do the whole thing themselves with the equipment they have.

Finding labourers has been difficult the last two years, but Brace said that is not just for ranching, but every business.

Borders have been locked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to hire people from overseas through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) program.

In the past the Braces have hired people from Australia and New Zealand and have a couple from South Africa who are close to being hired.

“We are looking forward to having them come here,” he said.

In the four decades Brace has witnessed transportation changes and while people complain about Highway 20, today it is shorter drive from Anahim Lake to Williams Lake than it was in the past, he said.

“I can remember when it took an hour to drive 24 kilometres from our ranch to the highway and then another five and half hours to Williams Lake — today you can get there in four hours easily.”

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Read more: Our Hometown: The sky’s the limit



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