Okanagan Explosion

Final Task . Ranchers

History of Ranchers in the Okanagan Valley


In Early 1860, a large number of cattle drivers took up land along the Cattle trail to the Caribou and was close to the gold fields. This was an ideal spot to hold there Cattle till the price was at its best. Also, it was located near the "bonaparte river" where there was said to be long grass perfect for grazing on.

In the same time this was happening, another settling group of ranchers were moving in around Fort Kamloops because of its proximity to the Fort as a supply center. In the next few years, the area was becoming very busy. Especially on the grasslands between kamloops and cache creek for its usable land.

The last place to be occupied by the ranchers was the Okanagan valley because of its distance from the markets. But once discovered and occupied by white settlers, the Okanagan was found to be a great place to settle and raise cattle because of the native amount of bunchgrass that was naturally well watered by streams running through the mission and by the lake itself.


There was many factors that led ranching in Early B.C and even specifically in the Okanagan valley to be significantly important to growing the valley to where it is today. The main reason being that in the time period of the Okanagan explosion, there were several groups of minors who were in search of gold throughout the valley. Obviously the minors were first brought to the valley by the hot claims of gold findings, but once brought into the valley, minors had found that it was in fact the hospitality and food that kept them there and encouraged them to extend there search. All the this Hospitality was offered by the ranchers. As more settlers were introduced to the valley, and space was being filled. In 1871, the demand for beef was on the rise and was soon to reach its all time high, making the cattle business amazingly successful. The Okanagan comes into play later, because although it took a few years for the cattle drivers to reach, once they decided to settle, famous ranches started to appear all over the land and the valley was now known for being the perfect cattle raising area. At that time, the Okanagan was actually the biggest supply of cattle goods in the province. Some of the ranches still stand today to honour there importance like O'keef Ranch, Fintry ranch, cold stream ranch, A.B knox's ranch and may others.

Role of the Fur Brigade Trail

The Okanagan Fur Brigade Trail played a large role for the early ranchers of the valley because it allowed them an easy access into the valley. Without the Fur brigade trail, the Okanagan may have not been discovered by settlers and therefore, the ranchers would have never followed to the valley and it would be seldom known of how amazing and rich the area is for raising cattle. To Add, the minors would have also not made it to the Okanagan and the minors are the biggest customer for cattle.

Early European Profile

Cornelius O'Keefe

Early History

Cornelius O'keefe had started out as an early cattle driver. His original intrest in settling in the Okanagan valley was actually because of the gold rush. When O'keefe had next to no luck with finding any gold, he saw potential in the ranching buissness.

Reasons for Settlement

O'keefe took notice to the large demand for beef at the time and gave up mining to instead raise and sell beef to the local settlers. Exspanding his newly formed ranch had also opened opportunity to ship beef out east with the creayion of the canadian pacific railroad. He had found himself a profitable buissness and found no reason to leave the valley.

Early Accomplishment

Conellius O'keefe had little acomplishments in his life beafore settling in the Okanagan valley. You may consider having a local education and cattle driving exsperience an acomplishment

Accomplishments in the Okanagan

O'keefe had found his spark in the valley, athough he accomplished little to none with gold mining, he had tons of luck in the ranching business. O'keefe was a very successful rancher, owining one of the biggest ranch in the valley (O'keefe ranch) but on top of that he was also the first settler to open a post office in the valley. This was the first means of mail contact in the Okanagan. Cornellius had also owned a convient atore and payed major contribution in building the 115 mile house.

Legacy Today

Cornellius's ranch was such a big succession and large part of Okanagan history that it is preserved to this day. In fact, you can still visit the ranch as it is maintained and run by tour guides along with the post office and convient store. They often take school children on feild trips for a hands on learning about the ranch and its importance to Okanagan ranching history.

Driving Question

What was the impact of the early Europeans on the growth and development of the valley?

Ranchers on their own had a huge impact on the development and growth on the Okanagan, but Cornelius O'keefe played a significant role in doing so. O'keefe was not only a Huge success in the ranching industry, but was the first to open a post office. O'keefe's actions had encouraged more cattle ranchers to come to the valley which supported the creation of the Canadian pacific railroad and the Okanagan gold rush. He had also impacted the vally with the helping hand to create the 115 mile house.

Interesting Facts

- O'keefe's general store still stands today where you can visit and purchase candy!

-O'keefe worked as a postman for 40 years successfully