Linda Lou Howarth baked up a storm for the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin Christmas market. (Monica Lamb-Yorsk photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Linda Lou Howarth baked up a storm for the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin Christmas market. (Monica Lamb-Yorsk photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Living life to the fullest

Linda Lou Howarth has ‘deep, deep’ roots in the Cariboo Chilcotin

Attendees of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin craft event just before Christmas may have been drawn to the lower level at the Tourism Discovery Centre where Linda Lou Howarth was selling homemade bread and buns.

“I was frying bread from noon to 5 p.m.,” she said. “People were following their noses to come and find me.”

It was fitting for her to be part of the museum’s event because as she will tell you herself, she has ‘deep, deep’ roots in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Her mom was Gladys Bowe, related to Otto Herman Bowe the founder of the Alkali Lake Ranch, her mom’s mom was a Pinchbeck and her dad was Irvine Meldrum.

“I think my mom and dad were living at Meldrum Creek when I was born in Williams Lake,” she said, adding she is a member of Tl’etinqox First Nation.

As a child she attended what is Marie Sharpe elementary school today and then left the Williams Lake area when she was about 13 to live in Burns Lake and then Fraser Lake, before returning to live at Meldrum Creek when she was 16.

“I was living in foster homes,” she recalled. “My mom and dad split up.”

After graduating from Columneetza Secondary in 1971, she met Evan Howarth.

They moved to Chezacut in 1972 where Evan was working with horses and and then spent the summer at the Fish Lake cow camp at Riske Creek.

“That was really nice,” she said. “We spent a winter in Riske Creek at Davis Meadow feeding cows by a team of horses. That was pretty cool too.”

Continuing to work at cow camps led to them a few more spots before they landed at the Cotton Ranch in 1973 where they stayed for 38 years.

“Evan was cowboying and I would help him. It was a good life,” Howarth said of their years at the ranch where they raised their three daughters – Melodie Gano, Racquel Russell and Shelly Howarth Loring.

For about 15 years Howarth worked at Riske Creek School while they were at Cotton Ranch.

She started out doing noon-hour supervision, then being a teacher aid, a substitute teacher and then the secretary.

“I loved the job, but I had a stroke on March 17, 1999 and I couldn’t work at the school anymore.”

After the school she went to cook at Gang Ranch for cowboys there and between 2000 and 2001, she went to the College of Equine Therapy for horse massage.

“I also sewed four grad dresses for girls at Toosey one year,” she recalled.

When they left the Cotton Ranch in 2009 they moved to Tatla Lake for work and then to Tatlayoko Lake.

Today they live in the old teacherage at Tatlayoko Lake where the school used to be.

“It’s quite a bit smaller than what we had at the Cotton Ranch, but it is warm and our water doesn’t freeze. Perfect eh?”

Evan rides off and on for three local ranches and ‘on occasion’ for their daughters Racquel at the River Ranch, Riske Creek and Shelly at Moon’s Ranch, Meldrum Creek who both cowboy with their husbands.

Life always brings them back to Meldrum Creek, Howarth mused.

Howarth also wrote as a correspondent for the Tribune for about 20 years.

“I have two jobs out here in the Chilcotin,” she said. “I clean sharesheds at Tatla Lake, Cochin and Tatlayoko Lake and Puntzi, plus I recently got the recycle depot job – I enjoy them all.”

The baking she uses to supplement things now and then.

One year she had lost too many hearing aids to get compensated by Indian Affairs so she decided to bake bread as a way to raise some money.

Between June 2020 and November 2020, she made enough money selling bread to pay for new ones.

Even on Tuesday, Jan. 4, she was at home waiting for bread to rise, which she enjoys making for Evan and one of their neighbours.

Looking out her window she said she can see Potato Mountain, Tatlayoko Lake and the Niut Range – quite the view.

When asked what keeps her youthful she chuckled and responded that she didn’t know.

Then after a pause, she suggested, “Keeping busy and I guess by being stubborn.”

She also loves spending time with their four grandsons and one granddaughter, while Evan loves teaching them horsemanship skills.

READ MORE: Loring finishes top 10 in country at Canadian High School Rodeo Finals

READ MORE: Growing Smiles flower fundraiser raises money for Tatla Lake School

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