Roland Alphonse untimely passing on December 20, 2007 astounded many in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. In honour of a well renowned cowboy, family and friends accompanied Roland on his final journey to CV Ranch at Tl’etinqox, a home he cherished so much.
Tensions rode high throughout the planning of Roland’s celebration of life, for everyone alike wanted the best for a cowboy with such a high calibre.
Roland’s riding buddies gathered to round up the horses for a last ride, and to their amazement, the horses had come home on their own.
The team and wagon was hitched, cowboys and cowgirls saddled up their horses, and dressed up in their best western duds to bid farewell to a great friend.
In acknowledgement of Roland’s love of horses and cowboy life, he was brought to his final celebration in a western theme.
The procession leaving CV Ranch was piloted by Anthony Chelsea, followed by Douglas Alexis leading Roland’s favourite horse.
Dale King drove the team and wagon that was carrying Roland, trailed by his buddies on saddle horses.
A convoy of vehicles completed the long procession to the school gym, to join others who waited patiently.
Many travelled from Alberta, Vancouver, Kamloops, Prince George, Cache Creek and various places to pay their last respect to Roland on December 29, 2007.
Donovan Ketlo was honoured to lead the procession into the gym, carrying his dad Roland.
Father Jude officiated at the service, Kirby Russell read the Cowboy’s Prayer, and Joe Alphonse delivered the eulogy. Stanley Stump and Mike Holte provided inspirational music that was a comfort to many.
Following the traditional feast, Ervin Charleyboy played the fiddle, while Terri and Donovan Ketlo danced a jig as a final tribute to Roland. To conclude the celebration, a customary lahal game was on for one of Roland’s horses.
The lahal team from Redstone won the horse, and it was sold to Johnny Lulua.
Roland was predeceased by his parents Raymond and Johanna (Johnny) Alphonse. His parents were his mentors, and influential in teaching him about ranching, hunting and living traditionally in Tl’etinqox-t’in territory.
Roland developed horsemanship skills at an early age, which got him interested in rodeo. During his teens, he competed in bareback and team roping at high school rodeos.
Roland’s main interest was team roping, after teachings from Archie Williams.
After graduation, Roland worked as a logger, while maintaining and running the family ranch. He also completed farrier training in Alberta, a trade that provided services to ranchers within his community, and his own ranch. Roland completed his Carpenters’ Journeyman training in Kelowna. At last he started doing something he enjoyed, building houses.
Playing hockey was Roland’s passion. He played for the Mustangs, Alkali Braves, Anaham Athabaskans and Williams Lake Longhorns.
At school, Roland enjoyed sports such as hockey, gymkhana, baseball, and floor hockey.
During annual track meets, he rarely came home without a trophy.
Roland enjoyed travelling and meeting people. Niagara Falls, Edmonton, Disneyland, and Nova Scotia were some of the places he enjoyed.
He had quite the experience at 7-Eleven in Nova Scotia, when a robber came in and threatened the cashiers. Being fearless as usual, Roland took the law into his own hands, and had the robber down in no time.
This past summer, Roland and a few friends went to Calgary Stampede. Roland was indeed a “home grown cowboy”, for he was always glad to come home.
Family regarded Roland as a leader, and he accepted that role seriously.
He was an “uncle” to everyone, for he was their hero, and they looked up to him. Roland had a special place in his heart for family and friends, especially his children. When visiting with family, he would reminisce and speak about each family member.
Roland was a caring person who did not hesitate to help anyone, or to provide moral support. He had a great sense of humour, and loved to entertain with his stories.
Of his many qualities, translating and composing songs, and writing poetry were some of Roland’s hidden talents. He entered karaoke in Alberta, where he claims he was singing as if he was reading a story.
Roland enjoyed dancing, and most will remember what a charming dancer he was.
Most of the time, he was upbeat and full of life.
When he arrived at gatherings, he was the life of the party. As someone pointed out, “He could make a party happen, and end it as fast as he started it”.
During leisure times, Roland organized trail rides and wagon trips from CV Ranch with the “CV Riders”.
He enjoyed taking annual trips to Williams Lake Stampede and Rocky Point. Lately, Roland talked about expanding CV Ranch, and building his own home. Family can’t understand his untimely death, because he was so full of dreams and plans.
Though Roland was in his early 40s he had the popularity and respect from everyone normally shown to an elder.