FORT ST. JOHN – The Ardill family is celebrating 100 years of ranching in British Columbia in 2020 and will receive a Century Farm Award for its contribution and dedication to B.C. agriculture.
“British Columbia’s agricultural industry has a rich history, and the Ardill family has been an integral part of farming in the Peace region for multiple generations,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “I’ve had the incredible pleasure of visiting the ranch, touring the land with Renee and Karen, and sharing a coffee with the family in their home. My heart was full after a day at the Ardill Ranch and I look forward to a day when I can visit again. I wish everyone at Ardill Ranch, and the members of the Ardill family the best and congratulations on 100 years of farming in B.C.”
Jack Ardill was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada in 1909 at the age of 19. While serving in the First World War, Jack met his future wife, Betty, while in Holland as a prisoner of war.
The newlyweds, Jack and Betty, returned to Canada in 1919 and settled in Hudson’s Hope. They moved to Edmonton where their first son, John, was born in February 1920. In the spring of that year, Jack scouted for land in Peace River country and found what he had dreamed of.
On May 6, 1920, Jack and Betty filed a Homestead and Soldiers Grant for the ranch location in the Peace River District and brought with them the essentials for homesteading: a team of horses, a cow and calf, some chickens, a plow, a mowing machine and rake, some furniture, a tent and a year’s grubstake (materials and provisions).
The ranch boundaries grew as the years went by and more parcels of land were accumulated. The cattle population also grew as more land was put under cultivation. During those busy days, Jack and Betty’s family also grew, welcoming their daughter Betty, and sons Richard (Dick) and Tom.
After 100 years, the ranch is still family-run and is almost entirely self-sufficient for gardening and food – both for home and for livestock. Dick, along with his wife Irene, took over for Jack as ranch manager in the early 1960s, but retired approximately 10 years ago. John also lived and worked at the ranch with his wife Beth until his death in 1996. Renee, Dick’s oldest daughter, has taken over the ranch manager role and lives and works at the ranch, along with other family members Karen McKean (granddaughter-in-law), Don Ardill (grandson) and Sorrel Schroeder (great grandson).
When Dick was asked how he felt about celebrating 100 years of ranching, he laughed and said, “Well, it doesn’t make me feel any younger. It is quite an accomplishment to be celebrating 100 years and to have kept it in the family. I’m thankful the family wants to ranch, and although it may not be an easy life, it’s a good life.”
Today, the area is home to about 400 head of commercial Hereford cattle, who spend their summers on the range and winters in the valley. Approximately 60% of the total feed supply is put up in the form of grain and hay silage, while the rest is put up as round bales.
Horses remain an important part of life on the ranch. Some of the first quarter horses in the area were brought to the ranch from the Edmonton area. Horses are still the main access to summer range, used for salt packing, range patrol, cattle work, rodeoing and pleasure riding.
“I’m proud to be a fourth-generation rancher,” Schroeder said.
The ranch is a successful cow-calf operation, where hard work and fun go hand in hand. Ardill’s Ranch is proud to be part of the community and takes part in community events, such as high-school work-experience programs, forage tours, annual Hudson’s Hope preschool tours, rodeo and rodeo sponsorships, hockey sponsorships and Hudson’s Hope Fall Fair.
Century Farm Awards honour agricultural organizations that have been active for a century or longer, as well as pioneers whose farms and ranches have been in families for 100 years or more. Each Century Farm Award celebrates the rich heritage of farming and ranching families and organizations in B.C.