O’Keefe Ranch- A Fun and Fascinating Escape to The Past
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Our visit to O’ Keefe Ranch was a first-time ranch experience for me and my girlfriend, Chelsea. Leaving the sounds of the highway behind, just north of Vernon, B.C., and stepping onto the soft dirt pathways of the working historic ranch was such a refreshing experience.
A day of fun activities was planned for us, which we happily took on with newbie gusto! We learned so much along the way, from how to drive a stagecoach, to blacksmithing, to everything there is to know about the O’Keefe family who established the ranch in 1867 and celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Pieces of history from the ranch are scattered all over the property.
Expert horseman, Clyde, welcomed us and shared his expertise and love for horses. Harnessed to the stagecoach they responded to his every action. It reminded me of how professional mountain bikers are with technical details. Perhaps back in the day I would have raced horses!
Clyde even gave me the opportunity to practice driving the stagecoach solo.
These horses are not just a form of transportation, the ripping fast ride is a thrilling and cool way to explore the landscape, much like on a mountain bike. The stagecoach experience is just one of the ways to step back in time - in real time - at O'Keefe Ranch.
Another favourite part of the visit was the introduction to the art of blacksmithing. Patrick, of The Dancing Scot Forge, is the metal wizard working at ranch. We came in during the middle of a class and was patient enough to teach me some skills. I could see his passion for forging steel, not to mention that his creations are inspiring. Learning the basics on how to forge a taper was a fun challenge which made me appreciate this craft even more.
Even the beginner skill set of blacksmithing is still challenging.
For Chelsea, the best part of our visit was the chance to see the ranch animals. “I fell in love with every horse I met. You could tell they're all friends by the way they neigh at each other as they pass. Same with the ducks. They’d quack in response to a greeting and the peacocks have no issue showing off their feathers. I felt like I had been transported to a magical fairyland and I never wanted to leave!”
Strolling through the old homestead under big shady trees and past heirloom plants and flowers was so relaxing. We had a gorgeous, hot June day to learn about the ranch and it couldn't have been more perfect.
Every person working at the ranch was so pleasant; it was plain to see they love working here. You could see their passion not only for the ranch, but for its fascinating history.
Touring via stage coach was a fun way to explore the property.
Though this is a working ranch, everyone seems so happy and the whole atmosphere is peaceful. We'll definitely be returning on our next trip to Vernon. It's a special piece of paradise in the Okanagan with inspiring history.