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Hat Creek Ranch

4061 Sea to Sky Highway, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Subd. D, British Columbia, V0K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/01/01

Oblique view looking Northwest; BC Heritage Branch
Hat Creek 3 Bay Barn
Oblique view looking Southwest; BC Heritage Branch
Hat Creek House
Panoramic view looking East; BC Heritage Branch
Hat Creek Ranch

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/04/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Hat Creek Ranch, located 14 kilometres north of Cache Creek, BC, is a historic landscape which comprises some 130 hectares of farmyards, fields and range land, and includes twenty historic wooden domestic and farm buildings dating from 1861 into the 20th century. This historic place also includes the confluence of Hat Creek and the Bonaparte River, a portion of the original Cariboo Wagon Road, and prehistoric archaeological sites.

Heritage Value

Hat Creek Ranch is valued as an evolving cultural landscape associated with the development of farming and ranching in the Cariboo Region of British Columbia. It is also a valuable historic place because it is an excellent example of the legacy of commercial enterprise and settlement associated with travel and transportation along the Cariboo Wagon Road.

The value of Hat Creek Ranch lies in its collection of historic buildings and their surrounding landscape, which provide valuable insight into the social and economic roles of this place in its historic functions as a ranch and roadhouse. Evidence of the use of this place as a ranch and farm is fundamental to its heritage value, as these activities have remained an integral and constant part of the history of Hat Creek Ranch since its establishment in 1860 by former Hudson's Bay Company Chief Trader Donald McLean, through its ownership by wealthy brewery owner and industrialist Charles Doering and his extended family until 1977, and into the present day.

Furthermore, the location of Hat Creek Ranch is important because its connection with the Cariboo Wagon Road spurred the development of the roadhouse (Hat Creek House) here. Hat Creek House is valued as one of the few remaining roadhouses which catered to travelers en route between the interior and coastal regions of British Columbia along the Wagon Road in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The role of Hat Creek Ranch as an important travel and transportation hub can be seen in such elements as the additive form of the roadhouse, and in the substantial barn structures introduced for the Barnard's Express (BX) Stage Company, which operated freight and passenger service on the Cariboo Wagon Road from 1863 to 1913.

Additionally, archaeological evidence confirms aboriginal use of the ranch area in prehistoric times. Historically, members of the Bonaparte Band have always played an integral role in the operation of Hat Creek Ranch, and continue to be involved in ranching, transportation, and public presentation at the site today.

Source: BC Heritage Branch Properties Files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Hat Creek Ranch include:
- the ranch lands and hay fields which comprise much of the historic place.
- portions of the Bonaparte River and Hat Creek which run through the property and provide irrigation water for hay and grain fields.
- evidence of Donald McLean's flood irrigation system.
- the portion of the original 1863 Cariboo Wagon Road which runs through the property.
- the bridge over Hat Creek.
- the visual impact of the cluster of historic buildings and the unobstructed views of it from a distance, particularly from Highway 97.
- unobstructed views of the Bonaparte River valley and the surrounding hills from various vantage points including the Cariboo Wagon Road and Hat Creek House.
- the cluster of original pre-1915 buildings (interiors and exteriors) which comprises the core area of the historic ranch.
- the identifying features of the buildings such as scale, colour, detail, patina, fittings, locations and spacing, attributable to their time of construction.
- the variety of construction methods evident in the forms and materials of the historic wooden structures.
- the collection of domestic, farming, ranching and transportation artifacts relevant to the site's history, including a restored BX stagecoach.
- the collection of heirloom varieties of fruit trees located in the orchard immediately south of Hat Creek House, authentic to particular historic eras of the site.
- eighteen archaeological sites including subsurface historical archaeological materials under or adjacent to the historic structures.



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Province of British Columbia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Conservation Act, s.3(1)(f)

Recognition Type

Other Prescribed Heritage Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation
Peopling the Land
Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn
Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment
Food Supply
Farm or Ranch
Road or Public Way

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

BC Heritage Branch Properties Files

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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