Family-owned and operated Australian Ranch is being recognized with a Century Farm Award for 100 years of ranching in British Columbia and contributing to the agricultural industry.
“Australian Ranch is a beautiful and productive ranch with a remarkable history going back over one hundred years,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. "The long-standing service from those who have worked on the ranch has helped ensure agriculture remains in the community and British Columbians have locally grown, raised and harvested products now and for generations to come.”
Popham joined Robert (Bob) and Lenore Yorston, two of their daughters, Holley and Kerri, and several members of the younger generations of the Yorston family to help celebrate the Quesnel-area ranch and present the family with the award.
“It is an honour to receive the Century Farm Award, but most of all the privilege of farming and ranching on such a beautiful, fertile and historic property in British Columbia, Canada,” said Lenore Yorston. “We have hosted many events here on the Australian Ranch, including opening the farm yard along with the family corn maze, so we can showcase this fertile Fraser River bench and all it offers. The fifth generation is addicted to farming, as were the four generations before them. No doubt, the Yorston family will be farming the Australian Ranch for many decades to come.”
In 1903, Bob and his brother John bought the 607-hectare (1500-acre) ranch. It was named after the small area in B.C. and creek that divided the property — both named Australian — by the men to first farm the land, who had followed the Australian gold rush to the Cariboo gold rush in 1864. The brothers took over running the farm and stagecoach stopping house that lodged travellers.
Bob and John eventually made the farm larger by clearing land with hand tools and horses to grow grain and hay crops.
In 1909, Bob was elected as the director of Quesnel's newly formed board of trade and was granted title to the land in 1914. John was instrumental in organizing the Cariboo Farmers' Institute in 1915, and both brothers became charter members. In 1916, a school was built on Australian Ranch for local children to attend.
In 1921, Bob and John built a dairy barn and specialized in cream production. In 1938, operation of the ranch was transferred to John's sons, John (Jack) and Donald Yorston. In 1974, Jack's son, Robert (Bob) James Yorston took over the operation.
Today, Bob and his family run a cow/calf operation on the ranch. Bob is hopeful that his young grandson and granddaughter will someday become fifth generation ranchers and follow in the Yorston family’s agricultural footsteps.
Century Farm Awards honour agricultural organizations that have been active for a century or longer, as well as pioneers whose farms and ranches have been in families for 100 years or more. Each Century Farm Award celebrates the rich heritage of farming and ranching families and organizations in B.C.
For more information about B.C.'s Century Farm program, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/century-farm-awards