By Mark McMillan
On Friday, March 11th, four more inductees will be added to the list as they enter the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place during the main evening feature show at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival, in the Calvary Community Church on Rogers Way.
The Cunningham Family:
In 1891 Jack Cunningham, from Scotland, pre-empted land on the southwest side of Loch Lomond near 70 Mile House, BC. He married Margaret Clark in 1896. Jack and Margaret had four children, ran a successful roadhouse, and developed a large cattle herd.
Reita, Jack and Margaret’s oldest daughter, was born at the 74 in 1901. At the age of 10, with the loss of her older brother and father, she and her surviving brother Norman took over ranch chores.
Reita is best knownfor horse racing and horsemanship.
Norman married Mary (Molly) Wilkinson in 1930 and they continued to live at the 74. They had four sons, Kenneth, William (Bill), Gordon and Earl. Norman died in 1975, passing the ranch on to son, Bill.
Margaret, Jack and Margaret’s youngest child, was born in 1905. Margaret was an accomplished horsewomen and spent much of her time riding. Margaret married Len Sadler-Brown, in 1929. They had two daughters, Rita and Pat. Pat now resides in Barriere and is married to William Brown.
Norman and Molly’s children Bill, Gordon, and Earl were all involved in the ranch when they were growing up, but it was Bill that carried on with the ranching way of life at the 74 Mile Ranch.
At the age of 20, Bill worked breaking horses at the Flying U Guest Ranch where he met Olga Rust. They were married two years later, in 1954, and had six children; Bryan, David, Lee, Keith, Ross, and Heather. When Norman passed away in 1975 Bill took over the ranch.
Bill and his sons and grandsons continue to raise cattle at the 74 Mile Ranch, and some of his children have their own cattle. His sons and grandsons have all competed in rodeo over the years. His grandson Wade was the 2010 BC Rodeo Association Saddle Bronc champion.
The Cunninghams are a resourceful, united, family, who manage to keep ranching through all the ups and downs with the cattle industry.
The family has “cattle in their blood” and they have the stamina and courage of their Scottish forefathers who pre-empted the 74 Mile Ranch property back in 1891.
Jesus Garcia – Ranching Pioneer
Jesus Garcia was born in Hermosillo Mexico in 1832 and came to British Columbia in 1858. He brought his small family to the “Forks” (Merritt, BC) over the mountains on pack trails and settled on land he pre-empted in 1871. He married Marie, a native woman boern in Spuzzum, some fourteen years later. They were married by the well known Priest, Father Le Jeune. The Garcias purchased stock and raised good animals, especially horses. The Ranching Pioneer category is where Jesus Garcia will be inducted.
Jocko Creek Ranch – Century Ranch
Jocko Creek Ranch – is a family operated cattle ranch located 12 km south of Kamloops along the Lac le Jeune road. The ranch has been in the Michell family since 1903 and is currently being run by Noel and Katy Michell and their family. The ranch’s brand is a lazy J connected lazy M on the right hip and it was bought by JR Michell in 1904. This brand is still used to identify the ranch’s cattle. Jocko Creek Ranch is an obvious Century Ranch.
Five more inductees will be recognized on April 17th at the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo, after a reception at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake; Bill Downie for Artistic Achievements, Bruce Watt for Competitive Achievements, Gordon Woods for Artistic Achievements, the Wright Family as a Ranching/Cowboy Family, and Doug White as both Artistic and Competitive Achievements.
For additional biographical information and a photo of these inductees, or for information on the Kamloops Cowboy Festival, please see the BC Cowboy Heritage Society web site at www.bcchs.com. BC Cowboy Hall of Fame nomination information can also be found on the web site.