Agnes Chantyman has seen many changes in her life and the lives around her. She treasures the memories from her youth and those include stories of Pan Phillips, colourful rancher and legendary Chilcotin character.
Agnes remembers Phillips well, beginning with memories from as young as six years old.
Her father also taught her to speak his language, Chilcotin, as well as Carrier and of course English. Of all her family, only one grandson can also claim that accomplishment.
“My dad, Jimmy John, worked as a cowboy for Pan and Rich Hobson on the Home Ranch,” she said.
She said as a child she had to stay home but remembers Pan visiting their place.
As a teenager, Agnes, along with her brother, father, Pan, Rich and many others would “chase the cows to Quesnel.”
“It would take about two weeks to bring everyone’s cows from Kluskus to the stock yards in Quesnel to be loaded on trains,” she said.
When asked for a particular memory of Pan she talked about how one morning he was looking to have eggs for breakfast but couldn’t find a pot, “so he dropped the eggs in the coffee pot and had his breakfast.”
Agnes lost her mother in 1952 and although not sure why, that was the end of horseback cattle drives.
“After that we used trucks,” she said.
After reaching Quesnel and safely delivering and selling the cows, Agnes spoke of the big event in town – the cattle sale dance.
“It cost a dollar to get in,” she said.
“After that it was time to buy groceries at Fraser Store then go home.”
Agnes’ image has been added beside that of Pan Phillips to the mural on the Pioneer Pawn Shop/Bliss Cafe building in West Quesnel.
Also added are two pack horses, symbolizing the lifestyle both Pan and Agnes enjoyed in the Chilcotin.
Although now 78 years old, Agnes still remembers that time fondly. Agnes said she named her first daughter Diana in honour of Pan’s daughter.
“I’m happy now but I miss life in the country,” she said.
The mural speaks to a time gone but certainly not forgotten by all
who had the privilege of living life in the early Chilcotin days.