Few Metis were disposed to undertake the drudgery of field crop cultivation on a large scale. Ranching was more compatible with their natural life-style.
Family records, kindly lent by the venerable Mr. Dave Calliou, formerly of the Flying Shot and Goodfare districts, show that running a herd of scrawny mustangs was not his ambition. Foreseeing the influx of homesteaders, and the demand for heavy work and freighter horses, he acquired and registered a pedigreed Clydesdale stud, “Dunure Frustee”, and a mare, “Lady Mary Paget”. With these as foundation stock he became a successful breeder.
Another Metis, who elected not to take Treaty, was Napoleon Thomas late of Dawson Creek area. He is reported to have been running a herd of “black cattle” (Aberdeen Angus) in the very early twenties over the range west of Dawson Creek and the height of land beyond Arras, all of which was free range at that time.
Dave Calliou was still resident in the area in 1980. His personal story appears in the books Pioneers of the Peace (Grande Prairie) and From Beaverlodge to the Rockies. Napoleon Thomas’ story appears in this part of History is Where You Stand.
These examples by no means exhaust the numbers of the many other Metis who contributed to our agricultural history.
Mr. Calliou raised between forty and fifty good Clydesdales over the years, and sold them to farmers for heavy work. Prices had dropped after the first rush of settlement was over. The highest price he received was in the neighborhood of $350, although he paid a lot of attention to matching up teams for size and colour to command a premium price. He feels that he did very well with his ranching enterprise.