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Celebrating 100 years of ranching in the North Cariboo

Nine Mile Ranch awarded a Century Farm Award by BC Government
Lorraine and Alan Sanford (centre) are surrounded by their children Reanne (right), Ross, Robin and Riley in front of a landmark hip-roof barn that adorned the Nine Mile Ranch for many years. The roof was destroyed during a windstorm two years ago, changing the view along the road where the original home once stood. (Dani Sanford photo)

Alan and Lorraine Sanford were surrounded by family and friends Saturday, Aug. 20, northwest of Quesnel, as they were presented with an award honouring pioneers whose farming, ranching or agricultural operations have been active in B.C. for 100 years or more.

According to a BC Government news release, the legacy of Nine Mile Ranch on Blackwater Road near Bouchie Lake began in the early 1920s when Walter Sanford, a druggist from London, England, and his wife, Cristiana, an opera singer, arrived in Canada. When visiting their son, Jim, and daughter, Ivy, in Bouchie Lake in August 1922, the Sanfords bought the property that would become Nine Mile Ranch.

Jim, who took over operating the ranch in the 1930s with his wife, Wyn, worked tirelessly to clear the land and create pasture and fields with their son, Jim Jr.

In 1937, they logged behind the home and peeled enough logs in one day to build the landmark hip-roof barn that adorned the ranch for decades.

Reanne Sanford shared a photo of the barn built by her great-grandparents and grandparents that she and her parents, Alan and Lorraine, and siblings posed in front of before a windstorm destroyed it in 2020.

Jim Jr. and his wife, Annice, had three children, Bill, Joan and Alan, who all grew up on the property.

“Not too many farms stay in the same family for this long, so I think it’s just a testament to a lot of hard work, and determination by many of my ancestors and my parents,” Reanne said.

“It’s super challenging with weather and all the different things that are happening in the world right now, but it’s a great way to grow up, and it’s a great way to make a living. It does take a lot of hard work, but having family around is really helpful.”

The ranch has grown over the years, with Hereford cattle replacing the dairy cows that initially occupied the valley. Other cattle breeds, such as Simmental, were introduced in the 1980s, followed by Angus.

Today, Alan and Lorraine run the ranch’s cattle operation with their children, Robin, Reanne, Riley and Ross. Reanne said there is even honey as one of her brothers and his wife keep bees.

“We had a lot of fun,” Reanne said of Saturday’s gathering, which Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes attended.

The family was presented with a Century Farm Award by regional agrologist Nicole Pressey on behalf of B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lana Popham.

“The community of Quesnel has been lovely to be a part of for this long as well,” Reanne said, noting they also sell a lot of local beef. “We’ve been well supported by our broader community, so we just want to extend our gratitude and thanks.”

Read More: Australian Ranch south of Quesnel receives Century Farm Award

Read More: Abbotsford family honoured for more than 100 years of farming

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