Chilancoh Ranch – The Bayliff’s
Hugh Peel Lane Bayliff immigrated from England when he was only 18, working first for the Cornwall brothers in Ashcroft and then at Cherry Creek Ranch. He was delivering horses in the Chilcotin when he got his first glimpse of the vast Chilcotin and its autumn splendor that ignited his passion for the Chilcotin area. In 1886 he began the historic cattle ranch called the Chilcancoh Ranch starting with 160 acres overlooking the Chilcotin River. In those days, everything was done by hand and with horses. In the winter, animals were mainly pastured in the river valley, and in swamp meadows, with a little extra hay fed in the deepest of winter.
Hugh went to England in 1891 and brought home his bride, Gertrude Tyndle who was a skilled rider. She rode side-saddle to help round up cattle, ride the range, and enjoyed competing in local horse races at Becher’s Prairie and Riske Creek, often bringing home trophies. Gertrude had some medical knowledge and helped ranching and native neighbours in times of need.
Their only son, Gabriel (Gay), returned to the ranch after serving in WW1, and together the two generations built the Big House on the ranch, which they still live in today. Gay married Dorothy Dyson from Kent, England, moved into the new house and they settled down to continue ranching. Dorothy was an excellent rider and helped with cattle, and fed large crews of as many as 16 workers, very hungry after haying by hand and with horses and wagons. Gay and Dorothy had two sons, Timothy (Tim) and Anthony (Tony). After serving in WW2, Timothy came home to help with the ranch, while Tony took over the neighbouring ranch owned by old friends, the Newtons.
Tim met Dorothy Merle Glenny, the Red Cross Outpost nurse, at Alexis Creek when he was slightly injured, and they were married in the Big House in 1954. Following the tradition of earlier Bayliff wives, Merle pitched in to help with every aspect of the ranch. She rode, drove tractors, helped with haying, and, of course, cooked for the hay crews, as well as keeping all the ranch books. They had three children: Elizabeth who now works in Williams Lake, Hugh who recently passed away, and James who built up a logging business but died in an accident in 1994. Hugh’s wife Helen, and children are currently running the ranch today in its second century.
During Tim’s lifetime he was passionately involved with the BC Cattlemen’s Association and the BC Grassland Conservation Society. His love of and knowledge about grasslands was great, and he was involved in many research projects that investigated, monitored and evaluated grassland health on the ranch and its range lands, a passion which he passed along to his son Hugh, daughter-in-law Hellen and family.
The family lost Tim in 2007 and Merle in 2012.
The legacy of the three previous generations’ struggles, hardships, successes and innovation is being carried on, as family members continue to work to improve the health and sustainability of the environment, ranch, and family today and into the future.