A new literary gem shines a light on the rich story of Douglas Lake Ranch.

Nestled in the heart of the Nicola Valley, the Douglas Lake Ranch started operating in 1884 and it stretches as far as the eye can see, and to many people, a place they call home. 

‘Douglas Lake Ranch – Empire of Grass’ takes readers on a journey through time, exploring the ranch’s origins and its evolution into a thriving hub of agricultural activity in the Nicola Valley.

Donna Wuest, writer of the book, spoke very fondly of the opportunity to write about the Douglas Lake Ranch Company.

“I love that I got to write a book on the largest ranch in Canada, that to me it’s a real privilege,” she said.

“I think (people will get) an understanding of living and working on a ranch and that it is a lifestyle, and it’s not just a job. These are the people who work there, if you worked there for four years or 50 years or however many years, you love it.”

Wuest added that she couldn’t have written the book without Joe Gardner’s journal entries, who has worked at the Douglas Lake Ranch as a general manager for 40 years.

“I really think that when you can get that kind of historical information recorded, it’s the best kind of history that you can document and it’s preserved forever,” she said. “Those 40 years of the ranch’s history are now recorded and will never be lost and I think that’s really important.”

For Gardner, who retired from his job as general manager of the Douglas Lake Ranch in 2019, his journal entries were just meant as a way for him to look back with details on what happened in his daily routine at the ranch.

“If I didn’t keep some notes, I wouldn’t even remember what day it was last week that I did something,” Gardner added. 

As the book unfolds, it becomes clear that ‘Douglas Lake Ranch – Empire of Grass’ is not merely a historical record but a celebration of the deep connection between the people and the land of the ranch.

“Between Kamloops and Merritt everybody knows somebody who worked on the ranch, so I think there’s a lot of interest in the book,” Wuest added.

“We didn’t often have to refer to the notes because it was mostly about the people that work there and the things and the guests,” Gardner said. “Certainly, when Donna got interested in doing it, I made sure she got to talk to those people and if they were willing to talk to her, she was getting straight from the ‘horse’s mouth’.” 

Gardner feels glad that the history of the ranch is documented.

“The fact that it’s a huge piece of private property, largely open natural grasslands that have been looked after for certainly the 40 years that I was there and by the managers before me and before them, so it’s in very good shape,” he said. “The result is that we’ve got natural grasslands that are highly productive and make a profit for the company and will in the future do that as a ranch raising cattle naturally.”