Skip to main content

Intertwined legacies

Until most of BC’s small ranches were bought out and transformed into huge businesses, independent families worked their land and raised their stock. Francophones were among the original ranchers, and Indigenous women and men became their life partners and hired hands.

Though the French language did not long survive in most of these culturally-mixed unions, French names persisted on the landscape and in local lore. Some among them understated their mixed ancestry for a few generations, but later embraced their Indigenous heritage in a changing world.

Four musicians paying in a hall.

Second from the right, Jimmy Isnardy joins the dance band at Williams Lake, early 1960s.


Some of these families stood out as they brought in their new livestock breeds and plant cultivars, while some descendants seized other opportunities in which to thrive. We now see their descendants around the world, some having lived exciting lives, while some are never so happy as when peacefully sitting on the porch of their ranch house.

Two men at a forge

Guichon boys at the ranch forge, circa 1930s


The old saddles and rodeo buckles, war medals, heirloom gold nuggets and family albums remain treasured possessions, alongside valued souvenirs that crossed an ocean generations ago. Indigenous cultural objects are also proudly preserved as the legacy of elders.

The Boucherie, Guichon, Versepuech, Gaspard, Isnardy, Lequime, Minaberriet, Pigeon and Patenaude families sometimes appear only in the first pages of local histories, but they, along with their First Nations family members, allowed for the following chapters to be written.

Profile of log building before fenced field and mountains

The profile of Antoine Minaberriet’s barn against the Thompson valley landscape of the Basque ranch, 2019