Settlement and Ranching
The Development of Ranching
Noontime Cattle Round-Up, Osoyoos Museum Collection
Ranching in the Okanagan Valley got its start in the 1860s when Osoyoos customs officer Judge John Carmichael Haynes levied duties on the herds of cattle that were being driven from the United States to the Cariboo gold fields. Many of the cattle drovers could not afford to pay these duties, and thus paid Haynes with cattle. Haynes kept some of the cattle for himself, and sold some to other early settlers like Tom Ellis, the Krugers, the Richters, and the Lowes.
Over time, Judge Haynes expanded his land holdings to over 22,000 acres and increased his herd to over 2,000 head of cattle.
Tom Ellis also went on to start his own ranch in Penticton in 1865; eventually it grew to encompass over 30,000 acres of land from Naramata to Osoyoos.
An official report issued in 1892 put the number of head of cattle in the Okanagan and Similkameen at over 20,000.
Until the construction of the Kettle Valley Railroad in 1915, the cattle had to be herded over the treacherous mountain trails in order to reach the markets. Once the K.V.R. was constructed, the cattle had only to be driven to Penticton, where they were loaded into boxcars and shipped to the meat processing plants in Vancouver.
The ranching process was facilitated further in 1943, with the establishment of the first stockyard in Okanagan Falls.