Historical Ranches in BC: O’Keefe

Up Next in our Historical Ranch Series is the O’Keefe Ranch in the Okanagan Valley. This Ranch is now run by a non-profit society and no longer as a working ranch, which makes for a different experience. However, the history behind it is still just a rich. Like the Alkali Lake Ranch, it dates back to the mid 1800’s.

The O’Keefe Ranch was founded in 1867 and represents the very beginnings of European settlement in the Okanagan Valley. In those days, the Cariboo Gold Rush was at its peak and the miners’ demand for food inspired enterprising young men to buy beef cattle far to the south in Oregon and drive them north to the goldfields.  During the period 1858 to 1868 over 22,000 head of cattle crossed the border near present-day Osooyos and traveled up the former fur trade Brigade Trail through the Okanagan Valley, past Fort Kamloops and on to the Cariboo. These cattle formed the nucleus of herds that grew to become the British Columbia cattle industry.

On the O’Keefe Ranch website you can read the full story of the ranch’s history including how the ranch supplied food for the miners during the Cariboo Gold Rush and details on how the ranch grew with Cornelius O’Keefe purchasing land for as little as $1 per acre.

You can also explore online exhibits showing life as it was in the days that the ranch was in operation, find out more information about the key people working and living at the property and plan your visit for a real life tour of the historic site. Go to okeeferanch.ca to read more.

If you find yourself passing through Vernon during this time, stop in and experience the O’Keefe Ranch historic site! Learn what ranching was like in the 1800’s, what the history of ranching in BC was like more than a hundred years ago. Truly the start of cattle ranching in BC!

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