- The largest ranch in Canada is situated in Nicola Valley in British Columbia, the most western province in the country.
- Douglas Lake Ranch includes 1.2 million acres (almost 1,900 square miles) of land.
- The cattle raised on the ranch include Hereford and black baldies.
Cattle ranching in Canada got its start in the late 1850s. And, the industry boomed when the Canadian Pacific Railway connected the interior of Canada to America’s prairie lands. Although only about 7% of Canada’s land is suitable for crop farming, Canada’s climate and native grasslands make it perfect for raising cattle.
Because of its immense size and open space, Canada has some massive cattle ranches. But what’s the largest ranch in Canada? Read on to find out all about it.
What is the Largest Ranch in Canada?
Douglas Lake Ranch is the largest ranch in Canada, stretching over 1.2 million acres of land in British Columbia. While 271,000 of those acres is deeded land, the total acreage includes grazing lands for cattle and lakes. The total acreage of the ranch is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
Douglas Lake Ranch was founded in 1884 and has been a working ranch ever since. The name can be traced further back to 1872 when John Douglas Sr. settled on his first 320 acres along Douglas Lake in British Columbia.
Over the years, the ranch has acquired several nearby historical ranches, helping it to grow into the largest ranch in the country. Some of these ranches include Gang Ranch, Quilchena Ranch, and Riske Creek Ranch.
About Douglas Lake Ranch
The current cattle herd on the ranch is around 20,000. The ranch employs 120 full and part-time employees to maintain its extensive operations. Cattle is the top producer of Douglas Lake Ranch. However, over the years, the ranch has diversified into other agricultural and tourist operations. These include producing crops for cattle feed, such as grass, barley, oats, corn, and alfalfa.
The ranch implements sustainable practices by managing its native grasses for grazing, including the native bluebunch wheatgrass. This is a particularly resilient grass from the Pacific Northwest, and it’s able to survive Canada’s harsh winters. However, the grass can be destroyed by overgrazing. This is why Douglas Lake Ranch employs grazing programs to maintain the hardy grass throughout its land.
Recreation on the Ranch
Taking advantage of the variety of private lakes on the land, the ranch offers anglers stillwater fly-fishing in its cold, pristine lakes fully stocked with Kamloops rainbow trout. The Kamloops trout is native to British Columbia and can weigh up to ten pounds.
The ranch also offers accommodations for anglers, including lodge rentals, cabins, private camping, and lakeside yurts. Also, the historic and luxurious Quilchena Hotel is available for private rental as a non-staffed facility.
And finally, the ranch even has a general store that has been selling to the local community since 1912. Originally, it sold stagecoach-related supplies. Today, you can buy the ranch’s iconic Douglas Lake Beef steaks, ground beef, and beef jerky. The store also sells unique items such as local art and jewelry, cowboy hats, and outerwear.
Douglas Lake Cattle and Horses
Breeds of cattle on the ranch include Hereford and black baldy cattle. Hereford cows come from the English County of Herefordshire, while black baldy cows are a crossbreed between Hereford cattle and a solid black breed.
The ranch has also been raising quarter horses since the 1960s. Today, the horses on the ranch are raised to be ridden by the ranch hands during daily operations. The ranch employs around 20 cowboys responsible for maintaining the herd of 20,000.
Where is Douglas Lake Ranch Located on a Map?
Douglas Lake Ranch is located in British Columbia’s Nicola Valley. The ranch sits about 51 kilometers (32 miles) east of Merritt and 93 kilometers (58 miles) south of Kamloops.
What Other Wildlife Are Near the Largest Ranch in Canada?
Nicola Valley is comprised of rolling hills, grasslands, and freshwater lakes. Most days of the year are sunny, and the area is diverse with wildlife and vegetation.
Some of the nearby attractions include Monck Provincial Park, Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park, and Coldwater River Provincial Park. There are many things to do in the area including horseback riding, golf, hiking, fishing, boating, canoeing, biking, and camping.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jon Spalding/Shutterstock.com
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