In 1920 Orm Braisher began his life in the valley he would call home for the next 92 years.
“I was born 21 miles up the valley on the bench land. There was only dense forest, my father homesteaded out there,” said Braisher. His father left the army after he was injured in France in 1917, and came to the Rockies to homestead on the land that remains in the family today, almost a century later.
“The ranch is still there. It will be the biggest ranch now between here and Cranbrook, my son has had it now for 40 years,” said Braisher.
Being that far out of the main community, Braisher had some tough times growing up. He was eight years old before he made it to school because there was no way to get him there. Then he had to play catch-up.
“I had a very able young lady teaching, and I got through school,” he said.
Even though his family was that far away from Golden, they still felt the warmth of the community. Braisher had a sick younger sister, and the doctor would travel all the way up there to treat her.
“It was good of him… He would often come out to deliver babies, and lots of times he wouldn’t get any money for it,” he said. And when his sister passed away, neighbours would walk for miles to come visit his mother.
After going as far with school as he could, Braisher started working on his father’s ranch full time at the age of 13. It was hard work pulling stumps and working the land, but he developed skills that have stayed with him his whole life.
“I learned how to fall trees very young, and I did that most of my life, until I had to stop,” said Braisher. In his mid forties he was forced to slow down when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“That ended my work in the bush. That was really a setback. My boys were growing up then, and it was hard on them. They did a lot of work that boys that age shouldn’t have to do, but later in life it did them a lot of good. They learned how to do everything, fix anything,” said Braisher.
Before this setback, Braisher was able to bring an important element to the ranch. Something his wife appreciated very much.
“I put my own electricity into the ranch. It took three years, but we got it in in 1960. We put up 21 poles from the valley to the farm… I put in an awful lot of labour, but only a few hundred dollars and we had power,” he said.
His wife, having been born in New Westminster, was happy to see an end come to her 17 years on the ranch without electricity.
“The first thing she did was get an electric washing machine.”
Braisher now lives at Mountain View Assisted Living, and is grateful to live in such a supportive community.
“Very small communities can get pretty childish sometimes. But on the other hand, if a serious thing comes up, they’re all there,” he said.
He spent many hours of his life travelling to Calgary for work, but isn’t thrilled to see how much it has grown.
“I dealt in Calgary, all my life really. And I remember when it was 66,000 people there, and you could say hello to people on the streets… It’s growing like a weed. There’s no mountains to stop it, it’s just sprawling all over the prairies,” said Braisher.
“Golden is a nice town, just the right size. Everybody is friendly and neighbourly. That’s the best part of a small place, the kinship between people.”