With the wide open spaces of Alberta and Saskatchewan sitting just over the Rocky Mountains, you might be surprised to learn British Columbia was the first area in Canada to host cattle ranches.
In 1846, the Hudson Bay Company brought cattle from Oregon and established small herds at Fort Kamloops, Fort Alexandria (near Quesnel) as well as Fort Langley and Fort Victoria.
In 1858, the discovery of gold on the Fraser river brought further cattle development when General Joel Palmer brought cattle north from Washington state into the Okanagan and Thompson valleys, then the following year to Fort Alexandria.
During this time period, some well know ranches were established, including the Douglas Lake Cattle Co and 150-Mile Ranch in 1861 and the Gang and Alkali ranches in 1863. The first cattle used by early ranches were generally mixed breeds such as Shorthorns and Devons, with Herefords being introduced by the Douglas Lake ranch in 1888.
By 1900, Aberdeen Angus cattle became popular for use on ranches. Today, it can be said that the development of the British Columbia ranching industry has had a large impact on the heritage and character of such areas as the Cariboo, Nicola Valley, Okanagan and Thompson (Kamloops) Valleys.