the history of douglas lake ranch

A story that spans over 125 years

Douglas Lake Ranch expansion

Two other ranches of great historical significance have also become a part of the Douglas Lake Ranch. Alkali Ranch is BC's oldest cattle ranch, while Quilchena had a very diverse past including turn-of-the-century tourism. Visit the pages below to learn more about their fascinating history!
Historical Quilchena Ranch
Historical Alkali Ranch


douglas lake ranch was founded in 1884

The history of Douglas Lake Ranch spans a period of some 125 years dating back to the mid-1880’s.  In fact, Douglas Lake Ranch itself traces its name back to 1872 when John Douglas Sr. homesteaded his first 320 acres (130 hectares) along its shore. In 1884, John Douglas Sr. sold this property to Charles Beak, who, along with Joseph Greaves, Charles Thomson and William Ward, founded Douglas Lake Cattle Company on June 30, 1886; a date which coincided with the first transcontinental train trip of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

the beginning of the ranch

Charles Beak was a cattle rancher who had already amassed some 22,000 acres (8,900 hectares) in the Nicola Valley, whereas Greaves, Thomson and Ward were members of a cattle syndicate that purchased cattle with a view to obtaining the Canadian Pacific Railway beef contract. In 1892 Charles Beak sold his interest to the remaining shareholders. Greaves and Thomson both remained until 1910 when Ward purchased their interest. By this time, the Ranch had grown to over 110,000 deeded acres (44,000 hectares), establishing it as the pre-eminent ranch in Canada. The Ranch remained under the ownership and management of successive members of the Ward family until 1940. Throughout this period, the Douglas Lake Ranch’s fortunes rose and fell repeatedly.  From the highs of World War I to the depths of the Great Depression there were turbulent times. Revenues rose and fell whereas the costs of ranching continued to rise by early 1900’s standards. Additionally, ranching was changing as horsepower began to be replaced by combustion power.

DLR Changes Hands

The Ward family sold to Colonel Victor Spencer and William Studdert in 1950. However, during the period to April 1951, Frank Ross (later to become Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia) joined Spencer and Studdert as a third owner. Studdert subsequently sold to Spencer and Ross. By then, the deeded acres had increased to over 145,000 acres (58,000 hectares). In 1959, Spencer and Ross sold Douglas Lake Ranch to Charles (Chunky) Woodward and John West.  West’s ownership continued until his death in 1968 at which time Woodward became the sole owner. In April 1990 Chunky passed away and left the ranch to his children, John, Kip, Wynn and Robyn. July 1998 the Woodward family sold to Bernard J. Ebbers, a Canadian born resident of Jackson, Mississippi, who then sold the ranch in 2004. Our present owner E. Stanley Kroenke is a Missouri and Colorado based businessman with a commercial real estate and sports based business. He also has other ranches in Montana and Wyoming.

the ranch today

Life at the Ranch fosters teamwork between management and some 75 full and part time employees. This has created a strong culture and considerable employee loyalty, The employees value their way of life far more than the financial rewards. In fact, Douglas Lake has a history of employees who have spent their entire working
careers at the Ranch and seldom found the need to leave its boundaries. At present the ranch is managed by Mr. Joe W. Gardner who received his Masters Degree in Agriculture from the University of British Columbia and has managed Douglas Lake Ranch since 1979 and more recently Alkali Lake Ranch too, since its purchase by Douglas Lake Cattle Company.