The Bouffioux family of Fort St. John is being honoured with a Century Farm Award, recognizing its contribution and dedication to agriculture in British Columbia since 1916.
The family-run XY Ranch, named for the XY cattle brand of the time, began its farming story more than 100 years ago. Through the years, the ranch has won multiple awards for quality, including Best in B.C. at the AgAware B.C. competition and others, such as the B.C. Agricultural Council, Canadian Bison Agribition Show and Wildrose Bison Show.
It all started in 1913, when family patriarch George Bouffioux travelled through Fort St. John on his way to the Klondike from his home in Wisconsin. Old George is known to have said: “Anyone can see there is a gold mine in farmland here.”
In 1916, he made good on his statement and bought a quarter of land (65 hectares) for $10 and began raising cattle. Through trading and borrowing, he acquired 14 more quarters (910 hectares) of Peace River land. With money hard to come by in those days, George made ends meet by trapping, and used the money he earned to make improvements to the farm. In 1939, George married Elaine Cooper and raised four children: Betty Anne, George (Bill), Joyce and John.
At a young age, George (Bill), knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. After obtaining a diploma in farm mechanics at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and a second one at the University of British Columbia in agriculture, he and his wife Fayette purchased the farm from his father in 1965. Though the new couple struggled to pay the farm credit loan, they raised Hereford cattle, hogs, chickens and grain. They also sold milk, cream, butter and eggs to help support the growing family, which in 1964 and 1965, respectively, welcomed the next generation of ranchers, daughters Cyndy and Sandy.
With a keen mind and shrewd business sense, Bill acquired 530 hectares of land in 1984. He expanded the ranch, shifting its focus from cattle to bison, which require less labour, create less waste and are more disease-resistant. Bill’s knowledge and community leadership led to his election to the executive committee of the Canadian Bison Association, where he served as president for two years. Bill was instrumental in uniting the Peace Country Bison Association, B.C. Southern Bison Association and B.C. Interior Bison Association to create the provincial B.C. Bison Association. Bill was also a major contributor to the original Bison Code of Practice Manual, of which he is very proud.
In 2006, Sandy and husband Cole Busche bought 160 hectares from her father and began their own farming venture, while serving as the ranch’s bookkeeper and technician, respectively, and ever-present ranch hands. They were joined as landowners and ranch hands in 2009 by sister Cyndy, who serves as ranch manager, and her husband, Monty Donally.
“My father truly exemplified hard work and entrepreneurship,” said Bill Bouffioux. “I am grateful to him for struggling through the lean, mean Depression era to build something for himself and for the legacy of our family. I am proud of all we have accomplished, but my proudest achievement is having four generations continuing to live and work on the ranch, which I hope it will continue for another 100 years.”
XY Ranch continues its enduring legacy and the family hopes that it lives on for many more years with grandson Trent, daughter-in-law Kristen and their children Kohen and newborn Brielle at the helm.
“British Columbia’s agriculture industry is built upon the foundation of hard-working farming families,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “Congratulations to the Bouffiouxs on over 100 years of farming and ranching, and for being pillars in the community. My sincere thank you goes to the family for all they have done to feed our province and I wish them many more years of success.”
Century Farm Awards honour farms, ranches and agricultural organizations that have been active for 100 years or longer, as well as those 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 in B.C.