Norman James Lawson Telford, was born June 12, 1933 in Alexis Creek, B.C. and passed away quietly at his home on his beloved ranch October 31, 2003 with his family by his side.
He is survived by his loving wife Valerie, three daughters; Beverly (Al) Madley, Carol Telford, Jennifer (Jack) Verschoor; sisters Louise Vernon and Olive Edgar; brothers Bill (Edna) and Bobby Telford; five grandchildren, Brooke and Garrett Madley, and Jake, Marni and Capri Verschoor.
In July Norm was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He spent a month at Vancouver General Hospital receiving treatment and was released in August with the advice that although the treatment had not been successful he might have a few short but good months ahead.
Once at home, the power of the beautiful Chilcotin gave him the strength to do many of the things he wanted to do, to see many friends and neighbours, and enjoy his family.
He had a chance to fish and camp, ride his horse, show off his old hunting territory to his grandchildren, take a fantastic helicopter tour over local mountains and glaciers, and spend time running his D6 cat.
It was one of the most spectacular and long-lasting falls we have ever seen out here in the Chilcotin. Norman was able to spend many a long hour relaxing on the lawn and looking out over his fields and his legacy.
Norman was the grandson of pioneer Alex Graham who arrived in the country in 1887.
Alex founded the C-1 Ranch in Alexis Creek. After Alex turned it over to his oldest daughter, Francis and her husband, Duke Martin, in 1927, he purchased the Armstrong Ranch just west of the present Alexis Creek town site which dates back to 1888.
Alex’s other daughter, Kathleen and her husband, George Telford, were heir to this ranch when Alex passed on.
On June 12, 1933 Norman and his twin brother Bill were born in a little cabin close to the old red ranch house.
It is here Norman spent the rest of his life doing what he loved.
In 1953 Norman met his wife, Valerie, who came to the ranch with his cousin for a holiday. In 1955 they were married in south Burnaby where Valerie lived.
She shared his love for the country life, the animals, and the ranch and they spent the next 48 years together working to make their dreams come true. They have three daughters, Beverly, Carol and Jennifer.
Norman told his family that he’d had a complete and satisfactory life: “I’ve done all I wanted to, I have no regrets,” he said.
He was a tireless worker; no job was too hard. He fixed a never-ending stream of farm machinery and loved to invent things to make the job easier or the broken piece stronger.
He was an accomplished welder and lathe operator. He was a true jack of all trades and master of many.
He could fix anything, large or small and with three daughters running all over the place in his tractors and vehicles, his services were in constant demand.
He always had time for his family, and he always had time to help out a neighbour. He was honest and generous, his word was as good as gold and his promises were always kept.
Norman loved rodeo. In his youth he did his share of bronc riding, and as the girls grew, enjoyed roping and teaching them to read cattle and do a little team roping of their own.
Along with brother Bob, and friends, Val and Norm established their own rodeo in Bull Canyon in the 1960s.
It was a two-day event complete with gymkhana, concession stand, horse races and all night dancing. The rodeo became a well known May and September rodeo.
By 1972 Norm was travelling all over the province transporting his daughters Bev and Carol to high school rodeos.
He shared in their thrills and spills, and loved to boast about their skill and accomplishments.
Anahim Lake Stampede was always his favourite rodeo. A time to be spent with his friends behind the chutes and around the camp fires.
Hunting was another of Norm’s passions. He was a guide outfitter for over 20 years guiding non-resident hunters in favourite meadows and over mountain trails. Being an accomplished horseman, packer and a marksman enabled him to slip easily into this role.
He was an outdoorsman in the true sense, seeming never to get lost, able to navigate the flat Chilcotin plateau country like it was his backyard, and that is exactly what it was.
In 1970 he had the unforgettable experience of guiding his hunter onto the world record grizzly bear just a few miles outside camp.
The bear was entered into the Boone and Crocket North American record book and still holds the title for the largest grizzly bear killed.
In 1991 Norm turned his guiding business over to his son-in-law Alan Madley, who continues the tradition with his son, Garrett.
Flying was also in his blood. Building and flying his own Ultra-light airplane was something he pursued in the early 1980s. He enjoyed many thrilling experiences and only a few crashes.
This was undoubtedly one of his most exciting pursuits.
A cowboy to the core, Norman took great pleasure in riding a good horse, and he had many of them.
He especially enjoyed the more spirited ones.
In his younger days, when he and his brother, Bill, and hired hands were spending winters feeding cattle at remote meadows, they would chase and round up wild horses for something to do after chores.
In the evenings, they would play poker for them if they looked like they would make a good mount.
Norman knew cattle, and he knew the country like the back of his hand. He could track animals anywhere.
Whether he was roping, branding, calving, vetting a sick animal, shoeing his horses or moving cattle it was all in a day’s work for him.
He got the job done quickly efficiently and had fun doing it.
Travel is something norm and Val enjoyed together. They travelled to Australia, Alaska, Italy, Arizona, Jamaica, Hawaii and many trips to Alberta and around B.C.
Norm travelled to Ottawa and met Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and even got to sit in the speaker’s chair.
Val and Norm loved to go on horse pack trips, camp and fish and boat in many lakes and streams all over B.C.
An integral part of the community always, from serving on the Stockmen’s Association, the Community Club and the Rod and Gun Club, the Chilcotin Guide and Outfitters, Norman was always helping when there was a need.
He knew when his time had come. He enjoyed your visits and phone calls. He loved good food, fresh air, open spaces and the beauty of his amazing Chilcotin.
He and Val celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary in September with the peace of mind that the ranch would run smoothly with Bev in charge and that Carol and Jennifer, were happy and healthy and doing what they loved.
He cherished his wife, his daughters, his two sons-in-law and five grandchildren.
The stock is all in, the gates are closed, the tools are put away and we’ll be good for wood and hay. Rest in peace, Norm.