The cow boss statue stands in its original form, overlooking the Williams Lake Stampede. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake cow boss statue replacement options explored

Statue was modelled after Evan Howarth, former cow boss at Cotton Ranch

The carver of the collapsed cow boss statue in Williams Lake said he’d only make a new one if it is out of cedar.

“When the City commissioned me to make the cow boss and bull rider statues, they wanted them built out of local lumber —it was bug-kill pine laminated together,” carver Ken Sheen told the Tribune Thursday.

After the statue was found laying on its side a few weeks ago, public works determined it has most likely fallen over because when crews hauled it to the works yard, they saw that it was quite rotten.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, June 30, city council was asked to decide if the statue should be replaced.

Council voted unanimously in favour of getting a new one and directed staff to pursue a definite quote and options for making it out of something that will last longer.

Sheen said if it is carved out of cedar, it could last 40 to 5o years or longer. The mountain racer statue located near the Chevron Station was carved out of cedar, he said.

“The City of Hope had the same problem with carvings out of fir. They look great, but don’t last,” he added, noting he carved a statue of Billy Barker that stands outside the Quesnel Visitor Centre and Museum that is made out of cedar.

Sheen confirmed the cow boss statue was modelled after Evan Howarth, a cow boss at the Cotton Ranch west of Williams Lake for 40 years.

Linda-Lou Howarth said her husband stopped working there about 10 years ago and these days contracts as a cowboy in the Tatlayoko Lake area and also does horsemanship clinics where he works with horses and humans.

“We’ve travelled to Alberta, Bella Coola, Castlegar and Penticton for Evan to do the horsemanship work.”

Recalling how he was selected by Sheen to model for the cow boss statue, Howarth said they met Sheen and his late wife at Riske Creek.

“They lived above the Chilcotin Lodge in a house and we got to be good friends with them.”

She recalled how Sheen had Evan posed with a rope and his foot on a bull skull as he took photographs from all angles.

“My nephew was saying when they update the cow boss it will need grey hair to look more like Evan,” she said, chuckling.

In 2016, the Cotton Ranch was purchased by Douglas Lake Cattle Company.

Read more: Douglas Lake Cattle Company expands into Cariboo-Chilcotin

Surprised by how ‘incredibly’ busy he has been through the novel coronavirus pandemic, Sheen said he has not opened his gallery on Highway 97, but has lots of orders.

He is carving a salmon piece with bears and eagles for Horsefly and another piece for a honey bee keeper in Victoria.

Originally from Vancouver Island, Sheen lived in the Peace River area for over 30 years and moved to the Cariboo in the early 2000s.

He started carving after being nudged by his late wife who saw a posting 20 years ago from the City of Chetwynd looking for a carver.

“I was a faller, trapper and worked in the bush, and she talked me into it, saying I could carve, and here I am still doing the same thing.”

Sheen said he often works with Williams Lake muralist Dwayne Davis who designs many of the carvings.

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