Richardson Ranch is celebrating 100 years and seven generations of family history and growth — from being a source of local beef on Haida Gwaii, to including a veterinary clinic and agricultural supply centre, and becoming a source of bulls for ranches throughout B.C.
“Ranching is entrenched in the history of B.C.,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Century Farm awards are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that history and the ranchers who have been providing so much to their communities, and communities across the province.”
Richardson Ranch began in 1919, when Eric Richardson travelled to Tlell River meadows on Haida Gwaii to purchase 320 acres of property. An avid fly fisher, Eric fell in love with the ranch — not for the working beef ranch that it was, but for the coho salmon which were abundant in the Tlell River meandering through the property. Eric made the journey with his family from Vermillion, Alta., and they worked together to create a home on the B.C. coast.
Eric had a son named Francis who married Dorothy in 1929 and raised three boys on the ranch. Their oldest son Doug obtained the ranch’s first horned Hereford bull in 1951 from Guichon ranch, located just outside of Merritt. This marked the beginning of the Richardson’s famous Tlell Hereford herd.
Since its inception, each generation of the Richardson family has added something unique to the ranch. From the two fishing cabins built by Doug and his wife Alice, the boarding kennels and grooming services that Alice provided, the veterinary hospital that was opened in 1980 by their son Don, and the feed and pet supply store opened by Don’s wife Leslie in 1983, the ranch is constantly evolving to support the needs of the family and their community.
Don has fond memories of his parent’s selling beef on Haida Gwaii — of his father processing the beef, his mother wrapping each cut of meat, as well as the family’s truck lined with cotton sheets with beef ready for sale. As a child, Don (or “Donny Paul” as he was called by community members) remembers going down long boardwalks to small cabins to ask the owner if they might want to buy fresh beef.
“We are not isolated, we are just geographically challenged,” Don said. “Although a veterinary hospital, along with a farm feed and pet store are major diversifications, the core that binds us all together is still the ranch.”
Don and Leslie have two children, Dane and Jamie, who represent the sixth generation of Richardsons to have lived at the ranch. Dane graduated from veterinary school in 2013 and purchased the animal hospital on the ranch shortly after. Jamie focused her education at college on beef management. She worked on the family ranch with her husband Bill and son Jesse, who represents the seventh generation. Jamie and her family are currently managing a large registered Hereford ranch in B.C.’s Interior.
Today, the ranch is a hot spot for visitors to Haida Gwaii, offering two cabins affectionately named Grandpa’s Guest House and River View Guest House. It has a reputation for creating a welcoming, family-friendly place to explore. The family's famous Tlell Polled Hereford herd continues to win awards and are sought after for their strong genetic traits. The Richardsons have been selling bulls at the Vanderhoof bull sale since 1986, and the Williams Lake bull sale since 2000. They also host online sales where Hereford genetics are sold to customers as far away as Uruguay and Sweden.
While the ranch requires a tremendous amount of work, there is no shortage of family who contribute to keep their ancestors’ dreams alive.
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
To learn more about Richardson Ranch, visit: http://www.richardsonranch.ca/