History at The Flying U Ranch
Before British Columbia was settled and even before the gold rush, the Flying U Ranch had set the simple timeless principles of cowboy life. It turns out that the cowboy traditions struck a chord with people from all walks of life for generations that followed. The iconic cowboy represents the best of Canada — the courage, optimism and plain hard work. Cowboys are heroic not just because they do a dangerous job, but also because they stand for something — the simple, basic values that lie at the heart of the cowboy way. Even though the way of life has changed over the last 150 years, cowboys still honor and live by their code: Three square meals a day delivered hot and on time, a bottomless coffee pot 24 hours a day, respect for the herd and every wild animal who lives in the forests, living each day with courage and commitment regardless of weather, keeping our word, talking less and saying more, total discretion, and always finishing what is started.
The Flying U Ranch tradition is alive and well.
“It’s healthy, homespun, and fun, carrying the romance of Canada’s Old West.”
- Anne Mayhew,
The Western Horseman
The Flying U ranch, located in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, was established in 1849 by an initial Crown grant made by the Queen of England. It has been in operation ever since, for 172 years! We believe this makes the Flying U Canada's oldest continually running ranch. The property was first used as a stopover for trappers and fur traders on their way along the Alaska Trail going to and from the Yukon Territory and Alaska. A major trail used by the Cariboo Fur Brigade is the same trail our guests use to ride out of the corral today.
Shortly after the original Crown grant, several of the original log buildings buildings that remain on the property were constructed and used as roadhouse facilities. Around this time the Hudson Bay company erected a trading post on the site of the present say lodge. Later, vegetable and crop production commenced and continued until the turn of the century. In the late 1800's the ranch slowly evolved into a working cattle ranch.
In 1922, a legendary and colourful character, Jack Boyd, took over operations at the Ranch. He was to change the course of the ranch forever. Jack Boyd was a member of the family that founded the Flying U Ranch, and he developed a reputation as a maverick that spread from Western Canada to points all over the world. Jack was a champion rodeo cowboy, who loved to entertain people and tell tall tales of his card playing, dangerous exploits and other adventures. His good friend was Tom Mix, the cowboy Hollywood star. With the financial backing and ideas of Tom Mix combined with Jack's larger than life personality the Flying U Guest Ranch was born. It became the first guest ranch in Canada.
Development of the guest business took place gradually in the1920's and early 30's, and visitors included people of Europe. Most people came to learn the rancher’s way in the open and wild country of the Cariboo with its moderate summer weather and mild winters. Some came just for a chance to see Jack Boyd and his sidekicks, who to them, represented a living example of the Wild West. The ranch and its traditions are a mainstay of the ranch and little has changed in over a century. Our guests today sleep in the same cabins: now 100 years old, answer to the same meal bell, relax in the saloon and ride on the same trails. On a quiet summers afternoon as you ride through the trail you might still imagine the spirit of Jack Boyd riding beside you.