From its origins as a cattle ranch to its transition to hay production, Gavelin Ranch has much to celebrate as it receives its Century Farm Award from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The Gavelin family’s story is a great reminder of the deep roots agriculture has in our province and how it is both a challenging and rewarding way of life,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Congratulations, Gavelin family, on your historic contribution to Merritt and B.C.’s agricultural community.”
The story and the farm began in spring 1911. Eric Gavelin and his brother-in-law purchased a somewhat risky plot of undisturbed land in the lower Nicola Valley. Eric had a dream, to establish a ranch where his family could grow and prosper. He was told that creating a ranch out of that land would be a hopeless venture. With hard work, perseverance and love for the land and his family, he worked to bring his dream to life.
Eric passed in 1923, leaving ownership of the ranch to his wife Henrietta. Now a single mother of five children, she managed the cattle operation on her own until she remarried to Axel Ellison. As Henrietta’s children grew and began to move away, she continued to live at the ranch with Axel, keeping Eric's dream alive.
In 1947, Sett Gavelin, Henrietta’s son, along with his wife Winnifred and their children Lloyd and Faye, returned to the family ranch to begin working the land and continue the family dream. Sett was passionate about his land. He worked hard for many years to keep the river from flooding the ranch. He is remembered for being on his tractor in the fields, including the day before he died in 1990.
Winnifred and her son Lloyd became co-owners of the ranch after Sett passed. Lloyd became the sole owner after his mother’s death. Lloyd and his wife Sybil continued to work the land as a cattle ranch until 2016, when the difficult decision to disperse their beloved herd was made.
In summer 2017, Gavelin Ranch transitioned to a successful hay operation with a rustic beauty that captured the attention of the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission, which scouted the location. Today, Lloyd happily continues his work maintaining the family ranch.
“The ranch continues to give me a challenge," said Lloyd. "This year, I am working to re-establish the ranch from the river flooding of 2018. I enjoy spending my days planning how to protect the hay fields and how I can make things more efficient for the next year. As long as I am able, I plan to keep ranching. I have been at the ranch since I was three years old. This is my home, my life and what I know. I have spent the better part of 70 years watching the land change as I worked to improve it one day at a time.”
Century Farm Awards honour agricultural organizations that have been active for 100 years. Each award celebrates the rich heritage of farming and ranching families and organizations in British Columbia. The Century Farm award program was created in 1994 to mark the centennial of the Ministry of Agriculture.
To learn more about the Century Farm program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/century-farm-awards