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

4 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

It’s only a few days until the beginning of December, and at the log house, the preoccupation with Christmas decorating has come into full swing. Here’s how it goes: tubs of ornaments, glass balls, antiques and rustic stuff is hauled out of storage – we ponder it all and then take to the outdoors to cut the boughs, dig up the pinecones, wrestle pots, pails from their frozen beds and retrieve the well rusted horseshoes from the fences they’ve been resting on all summer and fall. Then we mix it all together to create our own version of country Christmas. Along the way, we create a few ornaments and greenery arrangements to give to friends. Because of their western touches, these often turn out to be some of my most loved gifts.

This year I’ve been gathering inspiration all year at the Western Christmas board at the magazine’s Pinterest page. Here’s a bit of inspiration for you.

4weeksbootarrangementIn the boot genre, try filling an old pair with greenery and a few ornaments . . .

4weeksccbootAttach a boot to a door or wall, fill it with decorations and greenery.

4weeksbootlightsOr, drape a string of lights, in and around a pair and set on a ledge. . .

4weekswreathWreaths provide a perfect attachable canvas for horseshoes, old tack and in this case, baler twine.

4weekshorseshoetreeHorseshoes find a great repurpose around here in wreaths, mantles and centrepieces, but here’s an idea we haven’t thought of yet, a horseshoe tree!

4weekshorseshoeornamentHorseshoe ornaments are easy to put together with a bit of glue and greenery.

4weeksbigornamentTake it one step further and create a bit ornament!

4weeksbwornamentEven I’m handy enough to bend old barb wire and turn it into a beautiful keepsake to attach to gifts or hang on the tree.

4weekslanternlightYou might need someone handy with electrical work to complete this project, stuff a string of lights into an old lantern and wire it up to warm up a front entrance or mud room.

4weekspoletreeA simple arrangement for a front gate or driveway.

4weeksrakeornamentRepurposing an old garden rake with pretty glass bulbs.

4weeksbarrelChristmas in a barrel with a Texas star touch.

4weekscalfpailOr, in an old pail – this one reminds me of the calf feeding pails we employed regularly at our farm.

4weekssimplearrangmenetOld containers hold so much character, and with a few candles and greenery make a beautiful and rustic centrepiece. For more ideas in this vein, have a look at this autumn centrepiece. 

4weekssmalltreearrangementSet a number of small containers together and stuff them with greenery from your shelter belt.

4weekswesternvignetteCreate an entire simple and soft coloured vignette with the simplest of items. Add lights.

4weekslariatwreathFinally, a lariat door wreath great for a barn or shop door.

For more western decorating ideas, visit the Western Christmas board at the Western Horse Review Pinterest Page. (You’ll also find the links for the sources for the photos I’ve employed here.)

4weekscavaliaAND – we’re giving away two tickets to Cavalia’s new production, Odysseo, soon to open in Vancouver, B.C.! All you have to do to be entered in the draw is comment below on what your favourite application of western, as depicted in the pictures above, is, or just mention one of your own.

To receive a double entry into the contest, just head over to the Western Horse Review Facebook Page, and enter there as well.