Cariboo Chilcotin agrologist Chris Armes loves everything about his work.
“I think it’s just an amazing job,” he said of working for the ministry of forests for the past 29 years. “I can be inside on a rainy day like it is today. I have ridden horses for work, motorbikes, quads, snowmobiles, ridden in helicopters and planes.”
His job as the district range officer takes him from Horsefly to Anahim Lake and Empire Valley Ranch to McLeese Lake — the largest ranch district in the province.
Earlier in May, Armes was awarded Agrologist of the Year by the BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA) during its virtual annual general meeting.
In his nomination he was lauded for making significant contributions both professionally and personally to the agriculture community and referred to as the ‘Range Godfather.’
One of his tasks has been to work with Xeni Gwet’in First Nation government to transition the tenuring from the province to the Xeni Gwet’in following the Tsilhqot’in title land decision. He has also been involved with supporting ranchers and First Nations through the process of the NStQ Incremental Treaty Agreement. The NStQ negotiations were the first time in any treaty negotiations the province has had to deal with significant potential impacts to the ranching industry.
Armes has historical roots in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
His great grandfather was a Cariboo ranching pioneer in Dog Creek, and his grandfather Frank Armes, also a rancher, had Armes Brothers Agencies in Williams Lake selling farm equipment and supplies, located where Surplus Herby’s is today.
Roderick Mackenzie, one of Williams Lake’s earliest business owners and who Mackenzie Avenue is named after, was also his great grandfather and Anne Stevenson, was his grandmother on his mom’s side.
He was born in Williams Lake to Gordon and Rhona Armes.
Soon afterwards the family moved to Kamloops where Gordon was hired for a principal position. Rhona was a teacher as well.
After high school he studied agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan and University of British Columbia before returning to his birth place of Williams Lake to work for the Ministry of Forests in May 1992.
He spent three years as an auxiliary before bidding on a permanent job as the district’s range agrologist, eventually moving into the range officer position.
Armes and his wife Dawn, who is originally from Kamloops, have two sons Matthew, 25, and Wyatt who will be 21 in June. Growing up, their sons were involved with 4-H and Dawn was a leader for 25 years.
“When you are married to the beef leader you can’t help but be involved,” Armes said, noting this year they were helping the Williams Lake First Nation 4-H club halter break steers at the 150 Mile Ranch where Julia Flinton is the leader.
“Julia was one of Dawn’s 4-H members when she was a kid. They lived just down the road from us.”
Matthew and Wyatt were also involved with high school rodeo, which saw their parents volunteering.
Armes said they’ve also volunteered at the Stampede.
He’s taken tickets at the door, driven a tractor on the grounds, fixed and cleaned things, did whatever was needed.
After the 2017 and 2018 wildfires Armes and co-workers walked along the burned fences to determine what needed to be rebuilt, a program undertaken by the BC Cattlemen’s Association, he said.
Both of his sons have pursued degrees in animal science — Matthew in Oklahoma and Wyatt in Saskatchewan.
“We have a grand baby due in two weeks in Utah. Matthew got a rodeo scholarship down in Oklahoma and met someone and got married.”
Wyatt works for Dr. Doug Magnowski at the Animal Care Hospital of Williams Lake in the summers.
Local ranchers have told Armes they don’t want him to retire so he plans to stick it out for a few more years.
When asked if there is something about him that no one might know, he responded no, “I’m an open book.”
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