Heritage Sites of the West Chilcotin
The Gang Ranch was established in the early 1860s by Jerome and Thaddeus Harper, two Americans who had come north in search of gold but then saw the value in establishing a cattle ranch near the gold fields. In the Gang Ranch`s heyday it was as large as 4 million acres (including leased lands) stretching from Kamloops to Cache Creek and deep into the Chilcotin. At the time, it was known as the largest working cow ranch in British Columbia. The name `Gang` comes from being the first in the area to use the large double- furrow `gang’ plow. While today there is a public road running right through the property across the suspension bridge at Churn Creek Provincial Park on the Fraser River, don`t disturb the cowboys. The ranch is a working ranch to this day, still using the historic JH brand dating back to 1869.
At Hanceville, locally known as “Lee`s Corner,” one can visit the most recent of four stores that have inhabited the site since 1893. In 1891, Norman Lee bought a trading post on the site, named it Beaver Ranch and developed it into a cattle ranch, as well as maintaining the store as a gathering place and supply stop. Norman Lee is best known for his disastrous attempt at taking 200 head of cattle north to the Klondike in the dead of winter. Seeing the cows floundering along the route, Lee decided to butcher them and take them on rafts farther towards their destination. The bad luck continued and the rafts broke apart and all the cattle were lost. Norman Lee returned home penniless, but soon built up his ranch again. Despite changing owners and even being rebuilt, Lee’s store has lasted the ages and still retains his name. At the corner of Highway 20 and the roads leading to Nemiah Valley and Big Creek you can still visit “Lee’s Corner.”