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The ranch in the 1930's 

History of the Australian Ranch

The Yorston family is not from Australia; however, there is an Australian connection with the men who pre-empted this land in the 1860’s.  These men were Andrew Oleson (Olson?), who was Swedish, George Cook, who was Australian, and William and Stephen Downes, who were English.  There are slightly different versions of the history involving these men and this ranch--the following seems to make the most sense.  What is known is that Mr. Oleson had travelled from Europe to Australia in the search of gold at the age of 23.  He had worked in New Zealand and Tasmania for ll years before leaving in 1861 in pursuit of the Fraser River Goldrush.  Mr. Oleson had met Mr.Cook and the Downes brothers in Victoria where they spent a few months helping rebuild the Cary Castle.  In 1863, these men formed a partnership and headed into the Cariboo with their newly designed 2-man wheelbarrows.  They arrived at the current location of the Australian Ranch in June of 1863.  Mr.Cook had enough of the hard life in the Cariboo and left the partnership after only one year.  The other three men continued to work hard to clear farm land to grow crops.  Initially they had cleared a parcel of land which is located on the east side of Highway 97, behind the Cariboo Place Campground.  This area is referred to as the Old Ranch.  A stagecoach stopping house, called the Paradise Hotel, was built on this land.  It is my understanding that this log structure was moved to the present day farmyard, near the corn maze, when the Cariboo Road was completed in 1865.  The new stopping house, was known as the Australian’s Place, and became a popular stop for weary travellers, including Judge Begbie.  Since the time of the stagecoach stopping houses, this small area in BC and the creek that transects this property both bare the name Australian.


Here is a link to a newspaper article from 1904 about Andrew Olson (Oleson?):