Elder Voices - Apr. 2018

Nonie and Rod Hesketh moved to the Shuswap River Valley in 1952, shortly after they were married. Nonie was born in the ranch country around Merritt British Columbia. She was always, and remains, a horse girl. Rod was born on a ranch in Manitoba and moved with his family to British Columbia where he met Nonie in 1952.

Rod’s dad had purchased the Kit Carson Guest Ranch on Mabel Lake Road, which is now Cedarstein Farm where the Langs live and farm.

Rod and Nonie worked on the Ranch catering to teenagers, mostly from private schools in Vancouver. They would have up to 20 children at a time; each of them paying $4.20 a day to experience fresh food from the garden, picnics, swimming in the river, riding horses every day, and going on an overnight horse camping trip up the Shuswap River. At that time Kit Carson Guest Ranch boasted a residence, bunk houses, a store and gas pumps where they sold gas. Besides the children coming to the guest ranch they would take in highways and hydro crews who were working on the local roads and the Wilsey Dam on the Shuswap River.

Back in those days the Kit Carson Guest Ranch had 160 acres on Mabel Lake Road, and 160 acers on Shuswap River Drive, commonly known as River Road. That’s an acreage the Heskeths refer to as ‘Arkenstall Place’ and is currently owned by Gordon and Colleen Gudeit and is recognized by the first big field on River Road as you are driving up stream. On the Ranches overnight camping trips they took groups of 15 – 20 children riding from the home place on Mabel Lake Road, up Mabel Lake Road and up River Road to camp along the banks of the Shuswap River. In those days there were no fields, it was all open forest. Speaking about those days, Rod and Nonie commented on how things had changed so much, how these days you would have to have permits and some kind of education to be running these trips, while then you just had to have the means and the opportunity. They said they would lead the string of horses and have a return guest ride at the back to warn the others if a logging truck was coming behind them.

Back then Mabel Lake Road was just a gravel road with grass growing in the center. Speaking about the logging trucks passing the groups of children riding, Rod said at that time they were using old 6x6 army trucks to haul logs out of Squaw Valley and at that time they were hauling a lot of logs out. He stopped when he was telling me about that and said “but they sure weren’t hauling as many logs as they are hauling these days”.