Western Home – Chilco Ranch

Janet Miller’s dream home in British Columbia’s interior illustrates why so many pioneers were drawn into the lure of the mighty Chilcotin area. 

By Deanna Kristensen

Miller's home is decorated by a diverse collection of modern and traditional styles of western artwork.

Miller’s home is decorated by a diverse collection of modern and traditional styles of western artwork.

Nestled on the property of the historical Chilco Ranch at Hanceville, British Columbia, Miller’s log home would tantalize the heart of any western romantic. Since the 1880’s, the Chilcotin has been home to the historic Chilco Ranch. Miller Ranches Ltd. (Miller’s parents Dean and Lorraine Miller) have owned and operated the ranch since 1992. The family goal was to purchase a ranch that had amazing water, grass and timber, where you could run a large scale cattle operation, right out its back door.

The kitchen table and kitchen cupboards are of Mother Hubbard's design built by Country Wood Workers (www.countrywoodworkers.com), in Powell River B.C. Miller's corner pantry was built from recylced elements from the ranch, including leaded windows from the old farm house.

The kitchen table and kitchen cupboards are of Mother Hubbard’s design built by Country Wood Workers (www.countrywoodworkers.com), in Powell River B.C. Miller’s corner pantry was built from recylced elements from the ranch, including leaded windows from the old farm house.

Repurposing the essence of the ranch was Miller’s approach to creating this magnificent 4500 square foot (including basement) log home assembled by High Mountain Log Homes of Clinton, B.C. Having 130 years of history to build upon, Miller incorporated all available elements of the Chilco, to bring character to this new gem of the Chilcotin.

Majestic views are certainly what sold early settlers on this area. As described by Richard P. Hobson, in his legendary novel, Grass Beyond the Mountains, the Chilcotin area is truly the “Last Great Cattle Frontier on the North American Continent.” The vast spectacle of this unspoiled landscape is right-off Miller’s front porch.

“I had to be able to stand out on my desk and see the Chilcotin River . . . the Davey Allen hayfield and the big rock face overlooking the river that turns gold purple and orange when the setting sun hits it,” smiled Miller.

A cup of coffee, a million dollar view of the Chilcotin River, is now part of Miller’s daily routine.

Ranching elements encompass the interior and exterior of Miller's home.

Ranching elements encompass the interior and exterior of Miller’s home.

Not only does Miller’s home have an amazing panoramic view of the Chilocotin Valley, it is also conveniently nestled adjacent to the Chilco’s ranch site. An addition to this property is a quaint 700 square-foot log cabin (built out of excess materials from the building project), which now facilitates renters and ranch visitors.

Hanceville is 97 kilometers west of Williams Lake on the Chilcotin-Bella Coola Highway and it is a small, isolated town. With contractors in short supply in the area, Miller and her family took on the project themselves.

“The easy part was picking the log package. It took three-and-a-half days to set up the house and the log cabin. We did the majority of the work ourselves. There weren’t any contractors who wanted to come out here.”

No cowboy home would be complete without a traditional claw-foot tub.

No cowboy home would be complete without a traditional claw-foot tub.

The building of this home became a true pioneering-style project.

Miller’s gallery styled kitchen is her favorite area and ultimately the heart of her home. Granite countertops and custom Mother Hubbard’s Cupboards kitchen cabinetry (built by Coutry Woodworkers of Powell River B.C.) – combines high-end design with many western decor items in this area of the home. The focal point of the kitchen is the dramatic view towards the home ranch, which can be seen from the windows above a traditionally styled farmhouse sink. The open arrow brand of the Chilco is branded into the tin cabinet doors below this area, punctuating the ranching nature offered up in the style of the decor. The home’s open floor plan allows the dynamic kitchen area to flow over in the living and dining areas, for entertaining during family gatherings and holidays. Miller’s kitchen is designed for those who not only enjoy cooking, but for those who love the character of life on this ranch.

Large windows in the 1,300 square foot loft frame the views of the Chilcotin landscape.

Large windows in the 1,300 square foot loft frame the views of the Chilcotin landscape.

Five years after Miller and her family began the building process, this log home now emits a new dimension to the Chilco Ranch estate. One that seems timeless and a natural progression to the legacy of the ranch.

“It’s home,” smiled Miller.

ChilcoRanchchair ChilcoRanchlogbed ChilcoRanchoven


  1. Laurie Chappell. says

    What a simply beautiful home. I Absoulity love the blues. Is that a heartland stove ? Thanks for sharing Darla.

  2. Love it all I love to get my kitchen like that..

  3. Lance baptie says

    I think it’s gorgeous. Some really nice work put into it.hope to come see it some day

  4. Judy Willness Slinn says

    Is this the old Chico ranch that was owned by John minor of Abbey, Saskatchewan back in 1960 to 1966 or so? The ranch house was elegant with dormers, etc.

  5. Roger Toogood says

    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Roger Toogood. From September 1,1960 until June 30, 1961 I was the teacher at the Chilco Ranch Elementary School. The school was a prefabricated building brought in the year before because there were just enough students warrant it. The first year there were two teachers: one lady until the Christmas break and another one until the end of the term in June,1960. I’m sure ranch life in the rugged Chilcotin was not to their liking. The school closed on June 30, 1961 and has never reopened so I have the record for years of teaching at the school. Whopee!
    When I arrived, the ranch was owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Wade. They made the young (20 year old) teacher welcome and set me up in a small shack that was just across the road from the shop that had a large storage room above it. My teaching assignment was simple: Grades 1 to 6 plus 2 grade 9’s taking correspondence, and 1 grade 12 for a little while. The school was located in a pasture that was on the south side of the road just below the hill. I have a number of photographs of my year there and of my return visit in 2005. If you are interested in having copies I’ll see what I can do.
    After leaving Chilco, I taught another 3 years, returned to the University of Victoria and then continued teaching another 31 years. Although I enjoyed all of my different location, I look back more fondly of my year at Chilco., maybe because I didn’t know enough to know that I didn’t know what I wasn’t doing.
    While on the ranch I joined in on as many ranch experiences as I could. I helped with the haying, branding, cleaned stalls, filled out tax returns, fed cows using a horse-drawn sleigh, etc, etc. I also enjoyed many hours just riding “Shorty”, a gentle horse for a greenhorn. Never did I accept pay for my involvement. That way I could not be forced to do jobs that were to tough for my 120 pound body.
    I was wondering were your beautiful home is in relation to the big white two story one. When my shack froze during the winter I moved into the bedroom above the dining room. That made it much nicer to go downstairs at 6:00 am for breakfast. Yes, I ate with the crew. Shucks, I was just one of the hands, but I did wear a jacket and tie to dinner at noon.
    I apologize for my rambling, but the memories Of the T 2 are still very vivid. I hope to hear from you.
    Happy trails to you….
    Roger Toogood, The Educating Cowboy.

  6. Kevin Yates says

    My great grandfather is John Minor. I have heard a lot about him and would one day like to visit the Ranch.

  7. Barry Ellis says

    In the early 1960’s my parents Grace and Alfred Ellis managed the trading store on the ranch at the time of John and Ruth Wade. I remember spending some great times there during my visits from Vancouver. Also spent time trail riding with Rene Hance from TH ranch in Hanceville. Unfortunately the store burned down some time after my folks left. Glad the ranch survived the 2017 fire

  8. Barry Ellis says

    My parents, Grace and Alfred Ellis managed the Trading store in the early 1960,s. At the time, John and Ruth Wade owned the ranch. The store was a gathering place for locals and had a great atmosphere, a bit smoky at times from the big wood stove. Spent some happy times there on my visits from Vancouver. Also enjoyed trail rides with Rene Hance from TH Ranch in Hanceville. Too bad the store burned down some time after my folks left. Glad the ranch survived the 2017 fire

  9. Russell Barstow says

    I believe it was the mid 60s I was there visiting my aunt and uncle who managed the store. Their names were Flo and Charlie Barstow. I don’t have many clear memories as I was quite young. I was wondering, am I right in my recollection? Can you tell me if I have the right place? Thank you Russ Barstow

  10. I posted a comment but it is not showing up on here~~ I used to live on the TH guest ranch in the 1950″s !! My mother was a cook on this ranch when the Hance boys ran it~~ Rene and Percy and Grover~~ My mother then moved over to the Chilco ranch when Mr. &Mrs Johnny Wade owned and ran it. I was wondering if it survived the horrible fires in 2017???? It was a special time in my young life and loved the country and people living there at the time~~

  11. Gail Simmons (nee Taylor) says

    I am a former student of Roger Toogood and lived near the Chilco Ranch where my family lived at a nearby sawmill. I would be very interested in getting copies of any photos mentioned by Roger Toogood in his story during his time teaching there. Any information I could receive regarding how to contact him would be greatly appreciated. I will always remember the fun we all had then.

  12. Stella Dodge says

    My mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Dodge took me to the TH Ranch when I was nine years old in 1962. My brothers and sister were dropped off at the Kit Carson Ranch in Lumby and mum and dad and me motored on in our Morris Minor car to the TH.
    I recall visiting Lee’s Corner and dad having a visit with Mr. Lee (?)
    We did not ride at the ranch but I do remember eating dinner with the workers who all seemed to be in their 20s to me. Someone braided my hair and I do not think it was mum!
    I have always wanted to return to this area, but never have. I do recall leaving and en route back to pick up my siblings being enchanted seeing some Indian children playing in a field and they seemed so happy I wanted to join them and not leave!

  13. Roger Toogood says

    I have just stumbled across the letter I posted to you on April 25, 2017. Is it possible for you to provide Gayle Simmons with my email address ( r2gud@telus.net ) or my address ( 307 – 750 Memorial Ave., Qualicum Beach, B C, V9K 2P6 ) ? I would take great delight in us sharing memories. When she was in my class, she was 15 and I was only 20. Now, I am just short of 82, so she must be about77. Gosh!

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