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Living and Cowboying in the Nicola Valley

Living and Cowboying in the Nicola Valley

When you hear the word “cowboy” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Did you know that the term cowboy was first documented in the English language by 1725? It was a direct translation of the Spanish word vaquero — one who manages cattle from horseback, cowboy has the same meaning. Vaquero is rooted in the word vaca, or cow, and stems from the Latin vacca.

For some of us, it is not easy to develop trust when we are dealing with something or someone new. Dealing with a horse is not different. How can you communicate with a horse? How do horses communicate with us? To learn more about horsemanship, let me introduce our guest blogger Miles Kingdon, from Miles Kingdon Horsemanship.

I wanted to cowboy on a big ranch…

cowboyI came from Saskatchewan to the Nicola Valley, in March of 1981,  because I wanted to cowboy on a big ranch.  Most importantly, I wanted a full time cowboying job in cow country.  To live in a land where I could see the mountains and ride my horse across creeks and streams, and view wildlife year round.

I had been a cowboy on the big government pastures in Saskatchewan, but that job was seasonal; finishing for the year when the farmers took their cattle home in the late fall.  Besides, the winters were bitterly cold there, and not conducive to riding year round. 

So I headed to B.C.  When I drove into the Nicola Valley from Kamloops, on Highway 5A (the only highway at that time), I saw vast, beautiful rolling hills of bunchgrass.  I knew that this was the place I wanted to stay.

Streams, lakes, and beautiful wooded hills

My first cowboying job was at the Douglas Lake Cattle Company.  Every day, I rode out in the early morning to look at a new range; with creeks, streams, lakes, and beautiful wooded hills to look at.  Other days, I’d be riding across a sea of grass, and knew I was in the best cow country I could ever see.

It was a good life at Douglas Lake, but I was still hungry to see what was on the other side of the ridge, so I hired on at Nicola Ranch.  I had a family of my own by then, and being at Nicola Ranch exposed me more to the Merritt Community.  Our children were born in Merritt, went to school and were involved in sports in Merritt. 

A cowboy may not plan on involving himself in the community too much, because of his time spent at work, but he will, through the love of his children and interest in their daily activities.  It is inevitable for the parents.  They will rub shoulders with other parents and become involved in community functions, and as a result, feel like part of that community.

A new learning curve for this cowboy

cowboyAs the years rolled by, my interest in other ranges, and the desire to do better for my family, led me to the other big ranches across BC; the Bar K Ranch, Empire Valley Ranch, and the Gang Ranch.  These places were all a new learning curve for this cowboy.  Learning how to fit into a new environment, and acclimatize to each new system’s way of doing things; all were good for me.  I gained more knowledge about grasslands and different herd management practices. 

Also, very important to me, was making a new string of horses for me to go to work with.  Taking the horses from being young and inexperienced to a finished bridle horse, at each ranch. 

Cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life passed through our pretty valley. 

A horse experienced at roping and doctoring cattle, cutting, and sorting cattle, and eventually becoming a willing partner that anyone, even my children,  could eventually ride.  And they did.  And until my children gained enough experience to be good help to the crew, the horses would take care of them throughout the day at work, and bring them home safely.

Not only did the horses watch how they carried my children through their formative and impressionable years, but so did the cowboys we rode with, always watched out for them.  Each of those hands became like uncles or aunts to our kids.  This is part of what makes our community so unique.  Cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life passed through our pretty valley. 

At one time, the native community provided most of the recruits for the cowboy crews, and as the years rolled by, people from all over Canada, the US and beyond came to ride on these legendary outfits; some to move on to new ranges, some to stay and raise their families.  Ultimately, my family and I always came back to the Nicola Valley.  It wasn’t just the ranges and the scenery, the forgiving environment, and the horses, it was the community.  The people, and their empathy for others held us here. 

Back when I was younger, and cowboying at Douglas Lake, one of the older hands did the math and figured we were riding an average of 5,000 miles/year horseback.  Some of us questioned that, but the elders on the crew attested to that figure.  Some outfits were less distance covered on horseback, while some, like the Gang Ranch, were a bit more.

I understand the horse…

So, after over forty years of cowboying for a wage, I’ve come to make a lot of friends in the cattle industry, and I’ve gotten to a place where I understand the horse quite a bit better.  It makes a difference in me, at days end, to count my blessings and tally up how many things were a bit better today than yesterday, with my horses, dogs, saddle partners and life.

It seemed the natural thing to do, once I left cowboying for the outfits full time, to hang my shingle out doing workshops.  To teach the skills we learned going places on horses, and making a living as a cowboy.  So, today, my wife and saddle partner, Possum, and I are making a business of that.  We have two more horsemanship/stockmanship workshops coming up this summer in the valley, at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. 

There’s always a horse, and a person, who could use a hand.

cowboyNow, I can pass on these skills to whomever may be interested in working with horses and cattle.  There’s always a horse, and a person, who could use a hand.  And I really enjoy passing on knowledge to our youth, who, during their impressionable years, grow and gain knowledge the most. That is what they really desire.

Ultimately, after years of freedom and adventure, going places horseback, I had a few good stories to tell, and my wife pushed me to write them down.  As a result, we are looking at publishing our first book later this year.  It will be stories of life horseback, mostly situated in this valley of ours.

Many great adventures

The horse has brought me to many great adventures, and contact with a lot of good people.  The horse will do this for others as well. As long as there’s these grasslands and cattle that need to be maintained, there will be men and women riding down a trail and listening to their spurs chiming in time to their horse’s stride.  I have been blessed to grow in this community, and have come to love this valley, and the people in it.

Thanks, Miles Kingdon! We look forward to your book!

Click here for more info on Miles’ workshops. “Miles Kingdon Horsemanship offers a wide range of clinics, camps and workshops.”

Miles Facebook Page

For more reading on the cowboy experience in the Nicola Valley, read Etelka’s blog on the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

cowboy
 

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Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

Celebrating 60 Years

Dedicated to celebrating and preserving the western culture and way of life 

Experience Nicola Valley

Rodeo action at the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo – Merritt Pro Photo

Our western culture and lifestyle is important to us.  Not only has the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association (NVRA) spent the last 60 years celebrating and preserving this culture , it also hosts a wide range of equine and livestock events. Furthermore, the NVRA hosts everything from professional rodeos to 4-H and high school events! The Nicola Valley Professional Rodeo takes place on the September long weekend every year. For 60 years, our Nicola Valley has welcomed competitive professionals. They are now vying for $20,000 in prize money. This is  the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s (CPRA) Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

60th Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

September 1 -2 , 2018.  Celebrate 60 years with us!  

We offer close-to-the-action covered grandstand seating, free parking, food concessions and beer gardens. We also include crafters, saddle makers and vendors selling all things uniquely western.  In addition, come watch the professional cowboys and cowgirls  fight for a position at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). The Labour Day Weekend is busy in Merritt, not only with our Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo but also with the Fall Fair.   Come visit our valley this September long weekend and celebrate 60 great years with us!

 Performance Times:

Experience Nicola Valley

Bronc Riding – Merritt Pro Photo

  • Saturday, Sept 1st @1 pm
  • Sunday, Sept 2nd @ 1 pm

 2018 Rodeo attractions:

  • Wacey Mulvahill Wild Pony Events
  • Stock saddle bronc and peewee barrel racing
  • Beer Gardens, food vendors and onsite concession

Admission:

Tickets available in advance at Merritt Summer Nights Market at the gate, or by contacting: 

Melissa Dinsdale: 250-315-9305,  or  Haley Rutherford: 250-378-5059

Pricing:

  • Kids 10 & Under: Free 
    When accompanied by an adult (maximum two children per adult) 
  • Students & Seniors: $13
  • Seniors over 80 – Free
  • Adults: $15 
  • Admission:  CASH ONLY- No dogs allowed

Bus service is available to the rodeo grounds. See the schedule below for full details. Bus schedule

What you can find at the grounds

Experience Nicola Valley

Out of the chutes – Merritt Pro Photo

The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association operates and maintains grounds that host not only the annual professional rodeo but also the little britches rodeo and everything in between. This venue is  perfect for equine and outdoor events. It offers stalls, bucking chutes, announcers, box seating and even a covered grandstand.

Rodeo History

Rodeos in the Nicola Valley area started with people just wanting to have fun! We still do!

July 1st always brought out crowds eager to see the Cowboy Race, Hurdle Race and the Ladies’ Race.  not to mention any other entertainment on offer!

Victoria Day was always a major celebration. It included horse racing, gymkhana events, athletic sports and of course,  the big parade! There were marching bands, floats and huge crowds!

Lower Nicola offered special train fares for any events held there. Of course, people took full advantage of these deals and lined up for tickets! They looked forward to these early stampedes for months ahead!  They also prepared for them months in advance! The annual Bachelors’ Ball was the gala event!  Personal invitations were sent out to the valley’s single ladies who hoped to find that “special someone”.

It began as a Stampede

The Rodeo began its life as a Stampede 1934.  Workers scrambled to build corrals and chutes right in Voght Park. Zack Walker became manager, Leo Morrissey secretary-treasurer. Hans Richter brought a string of bucking horses from Kamloops Reserve to challenge the riders. The real action took place on August 3 and 4, 1934.  John Guichon, Harry Ferguson, Sid Brueke and Tom Shuter were the judges presenting prizes.  Winners took home prizes up to $100 for bronco riding, steer wrestling and other events.

Storekeepers decorated their windows, restaurants offered ‘Stampede Specials’.  Pioneer families held mini reunions.  And, of course there was the giant parade! No one missed that unless they were unconscious!

Advertising for the 1935 event at the Voght Park Stampede Grounds guaranteed “a fast, snappy exhibition” as well as “a clear view from the grandstand”. Admission was 50 cents. Of course, the parade was as big a draw as the stampede.

In 1941, the Stampede was cancelled due to the second world war. It was revived in 1959 by the Nicola Valley Riding and Roping Club. Vern (Blondie) Ellingson, Gordon Walker and Ted Spencer took the reins  in 1966 and ran the Stampede as a private enterprise. The organization and volunteers helped wherever they could.

The Stampede soon grew beyond an amateur rodeo and attracted high calibre professional cowboys. Soon, it became a 3-day Labour Day weekend event. When Ted Spencer was killed in an accident in 1969, his widow, Larein, handed the venture over to the community.

The Rodeo Association is formed

The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association was formed and then renamed the NV Memorial Rodeo Association in honour of Ted Spencer. John Collett managed it over the next decade. Furthermore, with a lot of donated material and man hours, the rodeo arena was erected at Collettville.

Scaled back to two days, the 1978 rodeo saw 196 competitors, including 46 of the top 50 Canadian Rodeo Cowboys. They were  vying for $10,000 in prizes!

The 1981 joint Rodeo Fall Fair land purchase started the task of building new facilities.  All levels of government and many local businesses contributed. 1982 saw the first official Rodeo Fair Days.

This Labour Day Weekend we will enjoy the Nicola Valley Fall Fair in addition to the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo, and the parade! 

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Enjoy Camping in Canada – Nicola Valley

Enjoy Camping in Canada

Experience Lundbom Lake in the Nicola Valley!

You may never want to go home!

Camping in Canada! Lundbom Lake West Recreation Site, in British Columbia, is an awesome fishing, horseback riding, and camping location!  Add the surrounding area which provides excellent mountain biking and ATV/dirt bike riding and you may never want to go home! 

Check out some exciting ways to experience Lundbom Lake!

  • Fees:$12.00 Camping
  • Fee Applies: Apr 27, 2018 – Oct 8, 2018 All Days
  • Campsites: 37
  • Access: Road
  • Facilities: Boat Launch
                       Tables
                       Toilets

Come in the summer, come in the fall, this lake is fabulous any time at all.

Each time I experience Lundbom Lake, I fall in love with it all over again!  I know I’m just 15 minutes from downtown Merritt, but I feel like I’m miles away in the wilderness. Super easy to get to, it is just off Highway 97c on an easy-to-travel gravel road!  Each summer I spend many weeks there enjoying all it has to offer, and even travel back and forth to work from my campsite!

The occasional lightening storm rolls through as seen from the west campground

The short drive on the gravel road takes your breath away!  Rolling hills covered with wildflowers,  sparkling lakes, and  rich grasslands. Gorgeous! If you are planning on experiencing  Lundbom Lake, you can also take the the back road through pine and fir forests and grassy, open meadows. There are a few extra bumps on this road, but is it worth it!

Camping in Canada? Great camping in the southern interior of BC 

 Lundbom Lake camping will add additional camp sites this year, as the demand is growing! It is usually full on weekends and holidays, so reserve early.  It’s pretty easy to find a nice camping spot during the week. This is a forestry campsite so there is a small fee for camping.

Two areas to choose from – East and West

Camping in Canada

Even the horses smile at Lundbom Lake

Most of the sites are spacious and private, great for large RV’s, tents, and trailers! I have even seen motorcycle groups come and stay for overnighters. Several sites are right on the lake.  Others are nestled in the forest. There are two areas for camping at Lundbom Lake,  East and West.  Stay on the main road to access the East side or cut through the west campground and take the back road thru the forest! You’ll find the campground hosts, Cathy and Clint, on the West site.

Click here for a quick timelapse of the sun setting at Lundbom Lake! Beautiful!

Excellent Equine Camping Experience

Horse people love it here! The West campground includes horse corals. “Build it and they will come.”, someone said. And they do!

The draw? The never ending trail riding. And the trails really are never ending! Trails thru the grasslands up the mountains, by the lakes, and into the forests. Spectacular!

 

Experience Lundbom Lake Fishing

Camping in Canada

My friend Joanne caught a beauty at our site.

Be prepared to catch “the big one”! I have seen them as big as 9 lbs and  they can get even bigger!  The lake is stocked with rainbow trout each year and there are plenty of fish to be caught here!

Some days are a little tricky but when the bite is on, it’s on! Lundbom Lake can be challenging so the more fishing skills you have, the better your luck will be.  I don’t consider my self a “pro”, but I’ve had pretty good luck right off the shore!

Brian Chan  & Phillip Rowley are fish experts and can provide excellent information and details on fish and fishing

To get specific information on the types and quantities,  visit Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.

Did you Know?

  • Fishing in the shoals on the west end of Lundbom Lake is a popular pastime.
  • Lundbom Lake at it’s deepest is about 80 ft.
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History of  Lundbom Lake

To find the history of Lundbom Lake, I reached out to Nicola Valley Museum and was thrilled with the response! They rock!!  Special thanks to Emmanuelle Dugas!

I had heard that the lake was named after a Lundbom. The lake is actually named after an early Nicola Valley settler, a Norwegian bachelor named Agustus William Lundbaum.  

In 1871, Lundbaum settled north of Nicola Lake.  He was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1880 and a judge in the Court of Revision and Appeal under the Assessment Act for Nicola 1n 1881. 

What did  Lundbaum do?

Camping in Canada

Overlooking Lundbom Lake

Lundbaum was a great fisherman and is credited with introducing the angleworm into the district. Lundbom Lake was mainly known as Fishermans lake.  It eventually became popular for just lazing around or hiking.  Early campers said it was crawling with all kinds of insects, snakes, frogs, moles and coyotes. They said the fish were “small, silvery and saucy”.

Sometime before Lundbaum left in 1885 or 1886, he declared the Nicola Country was “going to the dogs” and “the grass was about done”. He rode the range, with his rifle, shooting down his heifer calves so that as he put it, “ there would be enough grass grow” for those he allowed to survive. 

Lundbaum was so concerned about the overgrazing of the Nicola Rangeland that it is said he went out of his mind and was taken out of the valley, never to return. He apparently recovered and farmed in the Fraser Valley.

Lundbom Commanage

Ridley and Pooley staked a claim and  applied to purchase the open country.  This action resulted in the Stockmen from Nicola Lake signing a petition to the government to have the area declared a commonage reserve under the Commonage Act. 

The commonage bearing Agustus William Lundbaum’s name still exists as established in 1887 and is a fitting monument to this early environmentalist.  It is a commonage reserve to this day. 

Lundbom Commanage contains 100 acres.  Lundbom Head, sometimes called Sugar Loaf Mountain, stands in the Lundbom Commons.

Now visitors from far and wide enjoy the Lundbom Lake experience!

Turquoise waters at Lundbom Lake?

Camping at Canada, at Lundbom Lake! Lots of fun…

But always be careful and be safe! Wildfires are always an issue during the hot summer months.

Check the Fire Bans and Restrictions

I remember when Lundbom Lake used to be turquoise waters.

Anyone else remember that? And know why it’s not anymore?

And want to read about why I love living in Merritt? Read my blog

Julie

Camping in Canada