Douglas Lake ranch
In the Beginning
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.
Charles Beak was a cattle rancher who had already amassed some 22,000 acres 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, establishing it as the preeminent 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 1900s standards. Additionally, ranching was changing as horsepower began to be replaced by the combustion engine. 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.