Aveley Ranch was established in 1906
when our grandfather homesteaded in the North Thompson
Valley. He introduced sheep to the ranch in 1913. Carving
out a home in the wilderness. Tam Moilliet was ready for
his bride when she arrived from England in 1909. Mary braved
blizzards and canoeing the North Thompson River to birth
and raise her family. On the premature death of her husband,
her 16 year old son, John, managed to develop what his
Aveley Ranch; a peaceful natural setting where hard work
produces abundance from the land. The Moilliet family has
always worked together, teaching skills to the younger,
respecting the wisdom of the older. Keeping with family
tradition, Grandfather's third and fourth generation continues
to shepherd and nurture the flock through life's seasonal
History of Aveley
history of Aveley Ranch and the challenges of operating
a sheep ranch.
Albert Moilliet, founder of Aveley Ranch,
emigrated from Worcestershire, England to Ontario
in 1899 at the age of sixteen. After threshing his
way west across the Canadian prairie, he worked for
one year at an electrolytic lead refinery in Trail,
BC. There he contracted lead and mercury poisoning
and pleural pneumonia. Heeding medical advice that
he move to the drier climate of the interior of Kamloops,
BC. After several years working
on ranches and convalescing in the upper Okanagan region,the
North Thompson River beckoned,
and he joined a survey crew headed for its upper reaches. Having
run out of all provisions except pickles and white
flour long before regaining civilization, a number
of expedition members failed to survive.
One hundred and thirty-five miles north
of Kamloops, TAM, as he became known, discovered a beaver
meadow along the North
Thompson, and opted to spend the winter there. After
having scythed a stack of hay for his horse and begun
construction of a cabin, he was besieged by a freak fall
flood which washed his haystack thirty-five miles down
river. He built a raft from his cabin logs and followed
his haystack 'down to a good country', filing homestead
applications on 320 acres by 1905.
He returned briefly to England to become engaged to Mary
Tregenna Stephens and, now aided by his uncle and his
brother, continued filing and 'proving up' on quarter
after quarter of land. In 1909 Mary came to Canada, meeting
TAM in Kamloops where they were married. In 1913 he purchased
his first flock of fifty ewes from north of Kamloops.
Thus began the history of sheep on Aveley Ranch, which
are now supporting the 4th generation of Moilliets, with
a flock of 1300 breeding ewes.
Of course there were
others who contributed to the building
of the ranch - the shepherds.
Riley M. LaDow was a shepherd at Aveley Ranch from 1918 to 1933. Also worthy
of note was Bill Gabry who lived on the ranch and herded sheep for close to 30
years. He was an inventor amongst many other things and perfected two humane
traps to catch fur-bearing animal. He had an ingenuity and ability to fix 'anything'.
Bill lived his life out on the ranch.
It started out as a family operation and still is, though without the help of
so many wonderful shepherds and farm workers over the years it would probably
not be in existence today. Even though much has changed over the years since
TAM first homesteaded in the valley, much has also stayed the same.