The Joe Marten Memorial Award
for the
Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC

About Joe Marten 




Nomination Form 

The Joe Marten Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC


About Us 

Hall of Fame 

Heritage Award 



Recipients of the Joe Marten Memorial Award

Past Years:
2000 - Bob Bohnenblust - Bit and Spur Maker
2003 - Bud Sharpe - Saddle Maker - photo and bio
2007 - Paul St Pierre - Author - photo and bio
2007 - Tony Parrott - Saddle Maker - photo and bio
2008 - Hugh McLennan - Broadcaster - photo and bio
2009 - John Schnurrenberger - Cowboy Art - photo and bio
2010 - Andy Knight - Saddle Maker - photo and bio
2011 - Liz Twan - Photographer - photo and bio
2012 - Mike Puhallo - Cowboy Poet - photo and bio
2013 - Don Loewen - Saddle Maker - photo and bio
2014 - Dave Longworth - Poet / Actor - photo and bio
2015 - Ken Mather - Historian / Author - photo and bio
2016 - Len Monical - Artist - photo and bio
2017 - Diana French - Author / Curator - photo and bio
2018 - Mark Denny - Saddle Maker - photo and bio
2019 - Mag Mawhinnney - Cowboy Poet and Songwriter - photo and bio
2020 - Richard Tenisch - Silversmith - photo and bio
2021 - Kathy and Mark McMillan - Organizers - photo and bio

Kathy and Mark McMillan
Kathy and Mark McMillan

Kathy and Mark McMillan

Kathy was born in 1963 and raised in Calgary. She moved to Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island with her family as a teenager, then when she graduated moved to Victoria. She'd owned a horse since she was nine years old and at the point she moved to Victoria her horse at the time was diagnosed with Navicular and she was told she probably shouldn't ride it but that she could drive it. This led to driving lessons and then, to put this new learned skill to use, she got a second job with Victoria Carriage Tours, working nights. It's here that she met Mark.

Mark was born in 1956 in Victoria and was raised on the Saanich Peninsula. He got the horse bug doing trail rides while on holidays with his family, and in 1978, when he moved to northern BC, started riding more. He owned his first horse in 1980 and in 1982 moved back to Central Saanich. Mark took on caretaking and cleaning up his grandmother's small acrerage and took on some boarded horses for Victoria Carriage Tours. He also took on the training, or at least re-training, of Standard Bred's from the race track as street carriage horses. When they were ready to work he'd hang around in Victoria to make sure the horse did ok ... It's here that he met Kathy.

Together they bought a team of Belgians and a carriage and started Peninsula Carriage Tours doing weddings and special occasions as well as some tours for tourists on the Saanich Peninsula. They were married in 1988 and left the church in their own carriage with an employee driving them.

They also ran a small hobby farm with some mother cows, a few breeding pigs, sheep, and chickens, but their main interest for years was the gental giants. They ended up with a six horse hitch of Percherons which they showed at all the Vancouver Island fall fairs as well as Munro Washington and Sandpoint Idaho. They also entered competition plowing matches on the Island, in Chilliwack and in Lynden Washington. Mark was a director and one of the main organizers of the Saanich Fair as well as president of the Vancouver Island Draft Horse Club.

In the early 1990s they sold their teams and got into saddle horses for pleassure riding. They were one of the founders of the Saanich Penninsula Penning club and hauled the cattle to the weekly penning. It was when they took a couple of young horses to a Bob Kaufman horse training clinic that they met Ian Maxwell who lent Mark a cassette tape of Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell and said "If you like what you hear you should go to a new event starting next Spring in Kamloops ..." the very first Kamloops Cowboy Festival in 1997. They loved it and never missed a year. They helped out at the second year and got totally involved for the third year, with Kathy becoming the secretary treassurer and Mark a director of the BCCHS. Shortly after, Mark was elected Vice President and worked with Mike Puhallo until Mike passed away in 2011. Mark then became president and still is today (2020). Kathy was secratary tressure every year since that first election at Butch and Connie Falk's and still is today (2020). Mark was also the chair of the Kamloops Cowboy Festival, the Student Scholarships, the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, and was instrumental in getting the Province of BC to proclaim "Cowboy Heritage Week in BC" annually.

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Richard Tenisch
Richard Tenisch

Richard Tenisch

Richard was born and raised on a small dairy farm in the Swiss Alps. Horses were his first love and it was easy for him to fall in love with the Cowboy way of life in BC. His first trip to Canada was in 1985. An article in Canadian Cowboy Country magazine said: Renowned horseman Larry Nelles of the Merritt area arranged for Richard to stay on the Douglas Lake Ranch for a time and he was given the opportunity to ride some of the country's best horses, work alongside seasoned hands and explore some of the finest grasslands in the world. Richard worked at Douglas Lake, Nicola and Pooley Ranches and one of his fondest memories was working with Stan Murphy and Rock Creek at Douglas Lake.

After this experience Richard decided to make Canada his new home. He travelled back to

Switzerland for 4-5 years to recharge his bank account. During this time, he met and married Monika, a Swiss girl that was equally adventurous. Richard became a permanent resident in 1989 and they headed to Banff in 1990 before heading to BC.

He managed the Quilchena Hotel in the tourist season of 1991 - 92 and spent the rest of the year taking in every horse training clinic that he could and learned from some of the best horsemen! In 1992 Richard discovered his second passion while attending a Silver Smith course in Pendleton, Oregon. During the long winter nights, he developed his silverwork craft to the point where he was able to make it a full-time career.

The unique crafting of buckles, earrings, money clips, pocket watches, and pretty much anything else made of silver, are treasured by many who own them. Richard has built the annual raffle prize Kamloops Cowboy Festival commemorative belt buckle for many years now, making a lot of winners, pretty happy folks!

A quote from the Merritt Herald: Cowboys are known for their ruggedness and their spirit of adventure. They are generally not known for their artistic sensitive nature, but somebody has to make the shiny buckles and the fancy saddle trimmings.

While not getting rich with his craft, Richard states he can make a living from one of his two passions in life.

The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association chose Richard as one of their 2019 Western Heritage Honourees and rightfully so!

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Mag Mawhinney
Mag Mawhinney

Mag Mawhinney

Mag was born in the area of Duncan, now the community of Caycuse, on the western end of Cowichan Lake. Eventually her Father purchased a homestead in what is now the Gateway Community between 100 Mile House and Forest Grove and Mag went to school in Forest Grove.

Her parents parted and Mag, with her mother and her two sisters, moved to Manitoba where she lived until completing grade 11. She then moved to Richmond BC to live with her sister and completed her schooling. Mag worked in a real-estate office and later at Alcan Aluminum. Then she met and married her RCMP husband, Vern.

They raised a son and daughter while moving with the RCMP to Hope, Agassiz and Richmond.

Following a transfer to Victoria and then a retirement move to Cobble Hill, Mag took up painting and also joined a writers club renewing her love of writing, poetry & short stories.

In 2001, while at a Cowboy Festival in Pemberton, Mag found her new love, "Cowboy Poetry". Weekend discussions around the campsite with the performers and audience encouraged Mag to direct her attention to writing and presenting "Cowboy Poetry". She's never looked back!

Since then Mag has shared the stage at many events in BC, Alberta, Idaho, and New Mexico. Everywhere she goes she promotes the Kamloops Cowboy Festival and encourages entertainers to get their performance packages to the Kamloops executive. She is proud of the many newcomers to Kamloops that she has helped.

In addition to poetry and songwriting, Mag has written many reviews of events attended and many articles for newspapers and magazines such as Saddle Up, Canadian Cowboy Country, The Cowboy Times, Cariboo Calling, etc.

Mag's first cowboy poetry book was titled "Dreams of Fast Horses". It was followed by a CD of Cowboy Poetry which also contained 4 songs, from her poems, that were put to music and sung by Abe Zacharias. This meant that Mag was now a registered songwriter.

In 2012 the Academy of Western Artists in Fort Worth Texas awarded her the "Will Rogers Award" as their Cowgirl Poet Of the Year. Mag then produced another book of her poems with a music CD inside called "Western Spirit". Eight musicians from the US & Canada created melodies for her songs on this CD. In 2013 "Western Spirit" was awarded Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year by the Western Music Association in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Mag was also a finalist for several years with the Western Music Association as their Cowgirl Poet of the Year. Since the book/CD project, Mag still writes poetry and songs but gets the most satisfaction out of hearing the many other artists singing her words.

Mag Mawhinney definitely deserves to be added to the list of recipients for the Annual Joe Marten Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC.

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Mark Denny
Mark Denny

Mark Denny

Mark Denny is the owner of Cariboo Saddlery located downtown Williams Lake in the heart of the Cariboo.

Cariboo Saddlery was established by Mark's parents, Tom & Dorothy, in 1977. Tom was a cowboy, harness maker & saddle repairman and provided inspiration and encouragement for Mark's apprenticeship with Paul & Dennis Banzet in Calgary, Alberta beginning in 1978. Following his training Mark returned to Williams Lake in 1980 and custom saddle-making was added to the family business.

Tom passed away in 1995 and, still working with Dorothy, Mark took over ownership of Cariboo Saddlery. Mark continues to serve the community of Williams Lake and area as well as folks across Canada, the USA, Australia and Europe. Dorothy is now retired and Mark's sister, Donna, has joined the team to help keep the cowboys, ranchers, loggers, hunters, sports enthusiasts, etc. of all sorts geared up and in good repair.

Mark is a true craftsman and maker of custom saddles, tack, scabbards, knife cases, briefcases, bags, purses and many other useful and decorative items that people need and want. Repairs to most anything made from leather and other heavy materials also make up a large portion of the business.

In addition to the sale of custom made goods, Cariboo Saddlery is a retail store for other tack, pack equipment, saddle blankets, leather, hardware, books and other leather-craft supplies for folks who like to do their own construction and repairs.

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Diana French
Diana French

Diana French

Diana French grew up on Quadra Island, attended high school in Victoria, normal school and UBC in Vancouver. She went to the Chilcotin in 1951 to teach at Chezacut, an isolated community of five families, three ranches. This was her first experience with ranching, horses, below zero weather and no running water. In the spring, when the roads were bad, she rode saddle horse to school.

At Chezacut she met and married Bob French, the son of a pioneer family. Bob left ranching and the couple left Chezacut in 1957 when Bob went to work for the Ministry of Highways. They lived in a number of Cariboo / Chilcotin communities before moving to Williams Lake with their five sons in 1970. Although they left ranching. the Frenches didn't lose their interest in it. In the 1950s and 60s, almost every Cariboo Chilcotin community held an annual stampede, ranging from the well known Anahim Lake stampede to smaller jackpot events. Bob's specialty was the wild cow milking event, Diana worked behind the scenes.

Diana taught school when the family first arrived in Williams Lake but in 1971 she joined the Williams Lake Tribune as a reporter and later editor. She still

writes a weekly column for the paper. She has always been active in community activities. She was a trustee for School District #27 for two terms, and has served on numerous municipal, provincial and federal boards ranging from the Salmonid Enhancement Commission to the Knowledge Network. After Bob retired in 1987, the couple were caretakers at the Stampede grounds for two years.

She became involved in the city operated museum in the early 80s, and when a non-profit society took over the operation in 1986, she was a member of the board of directors. Because of Williams Lake's ranching history, (stampede, stockyards, and many of BC's original ranches are in the Cariboo Chilcotin) the directors adopted a ranching / rodeo theme for the museum. Diana was the curator, a volunteer position, for almost 30 years. In 1997 she heard of the newly formed BC Cowboy Heritage Society and contacted founding member / president Mike Puhallo, indicating her interest. This led to the MCC becoming partners in the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the home for the Hall of Fame collection.

Diana has three published books, Ranchland, partnered with photographer Rick Blacklaws, is all about the history of ranching and cowboys in BC. Both the Road Runs West and Women of Fine Mettle, include stories of well known, and not so well known, women involved in ranching.

As an author of three ranch related books, the years as a curator of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, and as the push to give the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame an ongoing home for inductee's information and memorabilia, Diana French definitely deserves to be added to the list of recipients for the Annual Joe Marten Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC.

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photo by Peter Castonguay
Len Monical
Len Monical

Len Monical

Len was born in 1939, in Oregon, to a ranching family. He has never stopped living the cowboy way of life ... riding, training working dogs and cutting horses, and sharing that knowledge with the public through his art ... most notably with his bronzes. With the encouragent of a teacher when Len was young he began working at different forms of art including drawing, painting, and sculpting.

In 1962 Len's family bought 30,000 acres known as the 105 Mile Ranch. Len ranched / cowboyed with his father and brothers Robert and Wendell until the sale of the ranch to Block Brothers in the 1970's. He continued his work with horses, including training cutting horses that earned their way into the Canadian Cutting Horse Hall of Fame. He still spends time helping his neighbours and family whenever they need help moving cattle, branding, or even putting up hay, and he enjoys teaching his nephews and nieces and great nephews and nieces how to "read the cows" and to use "soft hands" when handling their horses.

In the 1980s Len started with sculpture ... first with a torch and brass rods. Realizing that this probably wasn't the best way to make bronze sculptures Len spent some time in Florida learning methods from respected painter and sculptor Eugene Shortridge. Len says he likes a challenge, and likes learning something new, so before long he'd perfected his technique and was commissioned to create several cast bronze trophies for equine events.

One of the most important to the BC Cowboy Heritage Society was the main trophy top for the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, but to others maybe the most important piece was of a cowboy and his cutting horse in action that was presented to Princess Philip in 1983.

Len Monical figures he's made about 50 pieces over the years, all of which show action! Len states, "If you can't capture the action, all you have is a statue." His bronze work includes horses, cowboys, rodeo, working dogs, ranch life, and wildlife.

The BCCHS is proud to display Len's work on their prestigious BC Cowboy Hall of Fame trophy and is also very proud to add the name Len Monical to the list of recipents for the Annual Joe Martem Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC.

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Ken Mather

Ken Mather

Ken was Manager/Curator at the historic O'Keefe Ranch from 1984 to 2004 and is still connected with the Ranch. He was involved in organizing BCs first cowboy festival at the Ranch in 1991 to showcase cowboy poetry, music, and art. Later, he was instrumental in including a Ranch Rodeo and Working Ranch Horse competition as part of the festival. The festival continues to highlight working ranch cowboys to the public.

Ken has researched the history of the cowboy in British Columbia for the past 30 years and has written four books on the history of ranching in BC. His first full-length book, Buckaroos and Mud Pups - The Early Days of Ranching in British Columbia, was published in 2006 and his second book, Bronc Busters and Hay Sloops - Ranching in the West in the early 20th Century came out in May of 2010. His third book Frontier Cowboys and the Great Divide - Early BC and Alberta Ranching appeared in April 2013 and he self-published Ranch Tales, a collection

of the regular columns that he writes for the Vernon Morning Star newspaper, in 2014. As Curator of the O'Keefe Ranch, Ken has researched and developed the Ranching Gallery of exhibits on early BC ranching history at the Ranch and traveling exhibits on the Native Cowboys of BC and the contribution of the Chinese to BC ranching.

Ken is a popular speaker on the history of ranching in British Columbia and the origins and development of the North American cowboy. He is also a writer and reciter of cowboy poetry and, for the past five years has been involved in the Cowboy Dinner Show offered at the O'Keefe Ranch every summer, reciting cowboy poetry and telling the history of BC ranching to thousands of visitors.

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Dave Longworth

Dave Longworth

Dave has a long history of preserving cowboy heritage in BC. We all know him as a poet but he started out in the folk and country music scene and then spent years as an actor. At the age of 16 he went on his own, working on farms and ranches. More recently Dave ranched just outside of Merritt.

In 1983 Dave stopped the music and started focusing on acting. He had no formal training as an actor but many years, and many feature roles later, he is now a very established actor! He has over 90 credits in film, TV, and stage performances over the past four decades.

Cowboy poetry has been in his live since he was young, in fact he credits his dad and uncle for getting him started as they both liked to listen to, and recite cowboy poetry. Dave has produced two CDs over the years and was one of the founders of a cowboy poetry festival in Princeton in 1990. In 1991 he was a feature poet at the Okeefe Ranch. He's also

been a huge part of the Kamloops Cowboy Festival since its inception.

Dave not only recites his own poetry but he also does a lot of the classics too, again making him a perfect candidate for the Joe Marten Memorial award for preservation of cowboy heritage in BC.

Dave ... congratulations and thanks for the years of work to help us keep the cowboy alive!

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Don Loewen

Don Loewen

Jody and I and our family of six children have lived in the Nicola valley for over twenty two years. My journey as a cowboy, saddle maker, and teacher began at a young age hearing the stories of the wild but romantic life of a Douglas Lake cowboy from my father and uncle. As a young boy of 12 I got my first leather craft kit from Tandy's. It started a passion in me for leather work. By the time I was fourteen I built my first saddle which I took to Douglas Lake Ranch at the age of sixteen. One year later I went to a saddle school in South Dakota for six months. After that it was back to Douglas Lake for another five years of living at the Raspberry and Dry Farm cow camps, getting up at three o'clock in the morning to run the horses in and saddle a bronc in the dark ... that is blowing snot in your face. The only horse whispering going on was me praying I wouldn't get killed, but that's what a young man's memories are made of. This is the backdrop that determined many of the decisions and career choices I made later in life such as becoming a logging contractor and high production tree faller, as well as dangerous snag faller on many large

forest fires in the interior and in the East Kootenays. I seem to thrive on that high risk environment. In 1995 an opportunity came my way to return full time to the risky place of a saddle shop where the worst that could happen was cutting myself with a razor sharp head knife or sewing my lips together on the harness stitcher while setting the timing.

That year I provided the BC High School Rodeo with 16 trophy saddles. I repeated this order for the next five years, all of which I built in my shop in Merritt. This meant that my family would help me out as much as they could. I had my first student, Jerry McKay from Princeton, in 1997 and then my son Benjamin built four saddles over the next few years. Ben went on to enter and win the 1st BCCHS cowboy craftsmanship student scholarship award. This was the start of many high school students coming to build their first saddle with me after school. Among these students were brothers Matt and Joe Roberson who also built saddles and then went on to win their own awards and scholarships at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival. This started a run on quite a number of high school students coming in to build their own saddles, with their John Henry on it, that they were proud to ride in. Many other students of all ages have gone on to receive awards and scholarships at the Cowboy Festival or start their own businesses. One of these is in Saskatchewan and another in Sweden of all places.

The friendships that have come as a result of this has been worth every bit of wasted leather thrown under the bench, broken awls, and oopses. This has become a great source of personal satisfaction ... to be able to pass on the art of saddle making, and the cowboy heritage, to the next generation, some of whom have become my close friends. Many real and somewhat exaggerated tales of the cowboy life can be heard over a good cup of coffee in the saddle shop if you care to drop on by.

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Mike Puhallo

Mike Puhallo

There could be no one person as deserving of an award for promoting and preserving cowboy heritage in the province of BC than Mike Puhallo. The space allotted here is not nearly large enough to go over the list of ways that Mike contributed to BC Cowboy Heritage.

Mike was one of the founding members of the BC Cowboy Heritage Society and the Kamloops Cowboy Festival. He was instrumental in starting the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame and the BCCHS Student Scholarship program and spent many years as president of the society. He was a cowboy, a rancher, an artist, a horse trainer, an historian, and of course we all know him as a cowboy poet. Mike performed far and wide ... he attended gatherings and festivals all over North America, performed in schools, libraries, community halls, brandings, coffee houses, stock shows, and even biker's

BBQs ... always spreading the word and educating people on the cowboy way of life, the culture and history of the real west.

Magazines, newspapers, TV shows, and web sites all l over North America carried stories that Mike had written. He always had something to contribute if an editor was looking for information about ranching or the western way. He also spoke at dinner functions and other events and took his poetry into school classes combining it in a fun and easy way for kids to learn ... including roping lessons in the class room (not meant to be used on teachers).

Mike is Canada's most published Cowboy Poet with six books and three CDs to his name. In 1998 Mike was nominated for Best Western Song (Cinnamon) as well as Best Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year. In 2001 Mike was voted in for the third year in a row as one of the finalists for Cowboy Poet of the Year at the prestigious Will Rogers Awards, in Fort Worth, Texas and was also nominated for Best Cowboy Poetry Book and Best Cowboy Poetry Album. His book "Piled Higher and Deeper" received the 2002 Will Rogers Medallion Award. In 2003 The Queens Golden Jubilee Medal was presented to Mike in recognition of outstanding community service. Mike was selected for the Artscan 2004 Showcase. This showcase features a dozen artists each year and is attended by educators from Western Canada. Mike was nominated for Parlimentary Poet Laureate in 2006. The PPL role is to encourage and promote the importance of literature, culture, and language in Canadian society. Then in 2007 his book "Rhymes & Damn Lies" was awarded the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Cowboy Poetry Books.

This is just inkling of the many accomplishments in Mike's life when it comes to promoting and preserving cowboy heritage ... the reason for his receiving the Joe Marten Memorial Award.

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Liz Twan

Liz Twan

In the heart of Cowboy Country, at the Alkali Lake Ranch in BC's Chilcotin, you can find an incredibly talented photographer and writer by the name of Liz Twan. You might also find her name on articles in various ranching and cowboy magazines like Canadian Cowboy Country, Beef in BC, and Country Life. Liz also writes a regular column called Cattle Fodder in the Williams Lake Tribune.

In 2008 Liz put together a coffee table book called "Cowboys, Characters, and Critters" which features over 170 of her ranch related photos, including a few

amazing wildlife shots. Two of her rodeo photos were chosen for the highly sought after collector series, Williams Lake Stampede Posters, in 2009 and 2010. At the Canadian Cowboy Country magazine sponsored Kamloops Cowboy Festival Art of the West Show and Sale, Liz took home 2nd place prize money in the photography section in 2008, and won the blue ribbon for 1st place in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Her photos have also been seen on Global TV's Weather Window, and have been put to good use on brochures to promote tourism.

All this just touches on Liz's talents and it was no surprise, except to Liz herself, that the BC Cowboy Heritage Society selected her as the recipient of the Joe Marten Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in the Province of British Columbia. With her pen and her camera she has done an amazing job of recording ranch life and local history to promote the cowboy way of life, in spite of her handicap with Parkinson's disease. Congratulations Liz Twan!

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Andy Knight

Andy Knight

Andy Knight has been building custom saddles for over three decades and since 1991 he's been building and using his own saddle tress. When asked how many saddles he has built Andy's reply was, "I am not sure but around the 700 mark." He also says this about his everyday job as a saddle maker, "I am so blessed to be able to earn a living working in a trade that I still find enjoyable and challenging. Going to work is still fun".

With his credibility in the world of saddle makers Andy could build, and has built, saddles for anyone; movie sets, professional horse trainers, clinicians, dignitaries, etc, but he still says that he enjoys making working cowboy rigs the most. I think this is probably because he knows that it's these saddles that will be used and appreciated the most.

Andy was born in England in 1956 and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1968. He moved to the Calgary area in 1973 where he worked for Tex-Tan Kenways and learned his basic saddlemaking skills. He built his first custom saddle ... for then Canadian Champion calf roper Jim Gladstone and spend some time with saddlemaker Ernie Polson. In 1975 Andy moved to Pink Mountain where he worked on a ranch. He continued to build saddles and work on different ranches and was married in 1977, to Ruth Roes.

At this time Andy was building saddles under the "Evergreen Saddle Co" name. He got his first trophy saddle contract in 1982 for the NRA year end saddle awards. 1986 saw the young Knight family (Andy, Ruth, Tracy, and Tania) move to the Nicola Valley where Knights Saddlery was officially established. In 1987 the saddle shop expanded to its own space in downtown Merritt and in 1989 Knights Saddlery bought its own premises.

During this period Andy had the privilege of getting to work with some of North Americas top horseman ... and continues to do so today. This helped him immensely with both his horsemanship and saddlemaking.

Having trouble getting quality saddle trees made Andy look into learning to build his own and in 1990 he went to Oregon to learn how from Todd McGiffin. Since 1991 all "Knight" saddles have been built on Andy's own trees. 1999 Andy started to get weary of the retail business as he found that it was taking too much time away from saddlemaking so he moved the shop to his home.

Andy's drive to improve and hone his skills as a saddlemaker are stronger today than when he started. He has made saddles for quite a few professional horse trainers, quite a few of his saddles have gone to Europe, and now it seems about half of his saddles go to the US.

When asked if he considered himself a traditional saddlemaker he replied, "I am not sure what you mean, however, I believe that everything in saddlemaking needs to be subject to constant review to consider whether it can be improved."

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John Schnurrenberger

John Schnurrenberger

Born in Switzerland in 1941, John Schnurrenberger grew up with an admiration of the cowboy lifestyle, a love of horses, and the example of his grandfather, one of Switzerland's last stagecoach drivers. This early influence has resulted in a widely collected and recognizable style in oils, which captures the heroic images of the working cowboy.

Although Schnurrenberger came to Canada in 1965 to pursue his dream of living and painting the cowboy life, he first worked as a commercial artist, draftsman and technical illustrator. He quit his job in a newspaper art department in 1974 to paint full-time, retaining his disciplined approach to art and extreme attention to detail.

Today the artist cowboys every chance he gets on ranches in BC's Nicola Valley, spending long days alongside working cowboys. He produces up to 30 pieces a year, including some watercolours and limited edition etchings, each testimony to his eye for authenticity and detail.

"My shows include a variety of media and sizes because it's important to me that my work be accessible to as many people as possible," says the artist. "In fact, most of the people who buy my work live a life far removed from the cowboy's. They find joy in the idea of living by your wits out in nature and being around animals."

Schnurrenberger's work is perhaps most appreciated by those who actually live the cowboy life, evidence he has achieved his goal: to portray the working cowboy as he really is.

For prints and posters check out the Horse Barn in Kamloops.

You can reach John Schnurrenberger by phone at (250) 375-2293
or by mail at: Box 30, Westwold, BC, V0E 3B0

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Hugh McLennan

Hugh McLennan

As a kid Hugh dreamed of becoming a radio DJ and in 1961 he made that dream come true when he signed on with CFRY in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, for $132 a month. He married Billie on April 13th, 1963 and they had two sons Spencer and Rod. The McLennans ended up in Kamloops in 1969 where Hugh worked for CFJC and did some part time cowboying for neighbouring ranches.

In 1992 Hugh spoke with Doug Collins, producer of JC55 radio in Kamloops with the idea of a grass roots, western, tell it like it is radio show about ranching. Collins liked the idea and the Spirit of the West was born! The first show aired June 17th, 1992. In early 1993 Collins suggested that other stations might also be interested in running the show. Almost instantly CJDC in Dawson Creek wanted to get on board and today the show can be heard on 18 radio stations, one cable station, and around the world on the Internet on two different web sites.

It wasn't long before Hugh set up his own studio and started building the complete show at home. It's been a big learning curve for Hugh, too, as technology has taken him from the old reel to reel tapes to everything being done on the computer! This new technology also cost a lot of money and the show is not a big money maker - the reason he does it? Because it's his first love ... radio and spreading the positive word about our ranching industry and keeping our western heritage alive!

Hugh has received numerous awards over the years - awards like; Best Agricultural Program from the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association in 1996 and 1999, Western Broadcaster of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists in 2001, and in 2002 he joined the likes of past award winners Ian Tyson, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Rex Allen, Gene Autry, and John Wayne in receiving the Founders Award, at the National Cowboy Symposium, for contributing significantly to Western Heritage and Cowboy Culture.

Anyone that reads Canadian Cowboy Country magazine will know Hugh from his regular columns "Music of the West" and "Spirit of the West". For those that have been able to watch the Cowboy Country TV series you'll have heard Hugh doing the "Trail Blazers" section.

Hugh's efforts are endless when it comes to helping preserve our western ways and it's these efforts that Hugh McLennan has put in over the years, that make him very deserving of the Joe Marten Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC (see He has now produced well over 800 weekly shows - without ever missing a week, or repeating a show!

Our western heritage is extremely important to Hugh McLennan, and he has been doing an incredible job of preserving it - through many different channels, and especially through his radio show, The Spirit of the West Radio Show, which can be heard on the Internet at:

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Paul St Pierre

Paul St Pierre

Born 1923 in Chicago, Paul was raised in Nova Scotia. He was briefly in the Royal Canadian Air Force as aircrew trainee, invalided out, and later trained as Merchant Navy radio operator. He has been a newspaperman in British Columbia since 1945 and has been a newspaper editor, columnist, politician, diplomat, police commissioner and playwright.

Paul is renowned for his tales of ranchers and Natives in BC's Cariboo region. His characters appear in a collection of books such as "Boss of the Namko Drive, Breaking Smith's Quarter Horse, Chilcotin Holiday, and Smith and Other Events". His characters are the everyday legends and cowboys on which the Canadian West is built.

His "Cariboo Country" CBC TV series launched the career of Chief Dan George. Here's what Paul tells us:

Cariboo Country has a way of living on half a century later and I am quite proud of it. It was the early days of television and the first of them were shot on what was called Kinescope which was a three walled set (including pine trees) erected in the television studios and shot in the hope they would look real. Later we had real film and, of course, much later, the easy digital systems of today which Cariboo Country never knew. The series was unusual, I as the originator and sole author had considerable power not known to script writers of today. I could remove my name from any show presented which had been interfered with unduly by CBC head office, whom we called "The Tittering Virgins of Toronto". I used the authority once.

We were the first in North America, to my knowledge, to use native Indians, now called First Nations and soon by some other name, as actors acting themselves instead of stereotypes. Tonto of The Lone Ranger was an Indian also but nobody ever pretended that he was representing real people as did Dan George, Leonard George, Nancy Sandy and a score of other natives did on mine. There were two or three series and I still hold copyright on all of them except one which was sold to Disney who was unable to do the job with millions of dollars that CBC actors had done for $35,000 a copy. I repeat, $35,000 each, the price of a half decent car. (I never saw the Disney one but mark my word of it, it was lousy.)

Paul St Pierre

Cariboo Country was one of the most imaginative, innovative, and evocative "series" ever broadcast by the CBC. It appeared on the CBC from 1959-1967, and was among the first Canadian television dramas to be filmed on location.

Paul St Pierre received the Western Writers of America Spur Award in 1984, and the BC Gas Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Married twice with four children and eight grandchildren, Paul is now partially retired with homes in Fort Langley, BC, Big Creek in Chilicotin, and Teacapan in Sinaloa, Mexico.

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Tony Parrott

Anthony "Tony" Parrott

Antony Parrott (Tony) was born in England in 1928, immigrated to Saskatchewan at the age of 19. He later travelled to Kamloops with a friend, arriving with two dollars between them. Tony found temporary work at the stockyards and the rodeo. He worked for a number of ranches as a cowhand, including Dog Creek Circle "S: Ranch, and managed the Bridge Lake Hereford Ranch.

Most people know Tony, though, for his saddle making which has been doing for over 54 years. Tony learned his craft from Claude Mills of Kamloops. He set up his first shop TP Traders, in 1952, in Williams Lake, borrowing money to buy his first sewing machine (which he still has). He later (in 1954) returned to Kamloops where he bought out Bradley's Rocky Mountain Harness Shop. He remained here for many years and was frequently involved in organizing and volunteering at the rodeo.

There was a saying in Kamloops in those days, "If the harness maker can't fix it, throw it out", because people used to take anything, and everything, to Tony's shop to get fixed.

Tony will acknowledge that many craftsman are better at tooling leather than he is, but few are as good at crafting a comfortable saddle. Tony's "seats" are praised as the most comfortable there are. Tony says, "We do it the old way".

Tony is credited with a number of inventions and innovations that have helped the cowboy, rider or cutter stay on and be comfortable in the saddle. One of the most practical creations is the three-strap breast collar which allows horses to pull a hevy load and keep the rider in the saddle. His original design, in consultation with Red Allison, was made in 1952.

For about a year Tony wrote regular articles, "Parrott's Picks" for Saddle Up Magazine - the first in the September 2005 issue. He wrote helpful hints and shared his knowledge about saddlery, rigging, and more. At the end of each article this is what Tony wrote:

My name is Tony Parrott and I am considered by many to be a Master Saddlemaker and Harness Maker. My saddle shop is the oldest shop in BC. It was started by Mr. Bradly in 1941 and I took over in 1954. After two years in my shop in Williams Lake, a man came in and for my good fortune, it was Claude B. Mills of Seattle, WA. He taught me the fine art of making a working saddle or show saddle. Today I continue the old style of the western cowboy's saddle and I hope to explain in this column the how's and why's of saddle making, fitting and use of the tack. My knowledge and working with horses started in 1939. Special acknowledgement to W.J. Bradly, Master Harness Maker, and Claude B. Mills (2nd place Bronc Rider in the 1912 Calgary Stampede) Master Saddlemaker. I thank both of them for the knowledge and expertise they have taught me.

At over 79 years of age, Tony continues to craft fine saddles, harness, and leather goods from his home on the Carlin Hill Farm in Sorrento, BC.

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Bud Sharpe

Bud Sharpe

was borne in 1927 near Battleford, Saskatchewan. From the age of 10 he owned his own horses and by 15 had nearly a dozen. His first rodeo he started with the cow riding and bareback riding and after quite a while he switched to saddle broncs. He traveled to rodeos all through the US and Canada. In 1950 - 51 he rode in Cody, Wyoming at the Buffalo Bill Show. "This was after Buffalo Bill ran out of buffalo." says Bud. In 1958 he won the bronc riding in Coffeeville, Kansas and it paid $710. $700 of that money bought his five acres in Cawston, BC. He turned from bronc riding to judging the bucking horses as a PRCA judge. Bud worked as a cowboy in Alberta for a year when he was 17 or 18 and in 1953 he worked as a cowboy for the Douglas Lake Ranch. The ranch had a lot of young colts to ride and Bud was sent out to the Springfield corral to break them. These corrals were a long way out and there was no one around so Bud and his partner flanked these colts and bucked them out. He said, "We needed the practice! I don't think management ever did hear about it." When he was a kid he would find old saddles and overhaul them, not really knowing what to do. He'd sent to Eaton's for his leather. One year in the US, Bud ordered a tree because he needed a saddle for the next weekend. A friend owed him some money that bought him some leather and sheep skin - the saddle was ready in time!

He has since sold it four times and bought it back four times. When he needed money to build his house he sold the saddle for $500 and bought it back a year later for $500. He then sold it for $750 and bought it back for $500. Sold it again for $950 and bought it back for $300. He sold that same saddle the last time for $1700 and bought it back for $400. One year he made $11,000 on the rodeo circuit using that same saddle, so that saddle has made him good money! Over the years Bud has made about 1200 saddles. One fellow in Pennsylvania ordered four saddles. Some of his saddles have been sent to Texas, Colorado, California, and as far away as Australia. Bud also makes a lot of chaps, panniers, saddle bags for horses and motorcycles, and rodeo gear, rigging, and spur straps - anything out of leather. Today rodeo is everywhere around Bud - in the saddle shop, in the horse corrals around the farm, and in their home. Rodeo photos from Madison Square Gardens, the Los Angeles Coliseum, and graceful bucking horses, highlight Bud's impressive career as a rodeo contestant, judge, cowboy, and saddlemaker.

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Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin
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Williams Lake BC V2G 2W4
Phone: 250-392-7404


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