Land Without Limits

Alkali Lake

Deer | Thomas Drasdauskis

Alkali Lake is the location of one of the most touching stories in BC. For more than 35 years, the Esk’etemc (ess-ke-tem) First Nation People have invited Alcoholics Anonymous members from around the world, to their annual Pow Wow Arbor for a rodeo and conference to share inspirational stories. Alcohol addiction almost destroyed the Esk’etemc a half-century ago. How they saved themselves and how the community took control of their lives and created an atmosphere of dignity and hope, was made into a film in 1985. The film, The Honour of All, is still shown at international festivals. BC’s oldest ranch was established in this attractive valley by a German-born settler named Otto Bowe, who, in 1858, built a ‘stopping house’ alongside the river trail that made its way through the Cariboo to the northern goldfields. Bowe married a daughter of the Alkali Band Indian Chief and had four children with her. Bowe’s 10,117 hectare (25,000 acre) ranch stayed in the family until 1908, when it was purchased by Englishman Charles N. Wynn-Johnson. He was the grandfather of Charles N. ‘Chunky’ Woodward, who later became the multimillionaire owner of B.C.’s iconic Woodward’s department store chain and a world-champion cutting-horse rider. At the peak of its operation, the Alkali Lake spread had more than 4,000 head of cattle and horses and employed dozens of working cowboys. The ranch, now 14,973 hectares (36,999 acres), continues as a working ranch.