The 2007 Williams Lake Stampede Lifetime Pass award was awarded to Amadee Isnardy of Williams Lake.
The recipients are chosen based on their association or contributions to the ‘World Famous Williams Lake Stampede’, either as participants, volunteers, sponsors, long time spectators, stock contractors, etc. In fact, there are many reasons why you might catch the selection committee’s attention as a potential selection.
Amadee Isnardy was born and raised a country boy, interaction with livestock was a part of his life from his first years onward. Evelyn (Jimmy) Isnardy gave birth to Amadee on November 19, 1929 – right in the heart of the depression years. Life was not easy in those days, everyone worked hard to get enough to eat and to clothe and shelter a large family, like the Isnardy clan was not an easy undertaking. Young Amadee was the namesake of his grandfather, Amadee Sr. who ranched in Chimney Valley on a spread located at the bottom of what is known to locals as the “A & P Hill’. For newcomers, the ranch is situated a few miles from town along Highway 20 – the large old green ranch house that Amadee Sr. built still stands today, now owned by Bill Stafford Sr. and family.
Amadee’s formative years were spent at Springhouse where his parents lived. He went school until Grade six when, he says, “The teacher kicked me out for something I did one day and I never went back.” He started work full-time at a very young age – first working for his neighbors, the Pinchbeck’s (about four years) doing anything there was to do on a ranch. He did menial chores, cowboyed, planted and harvested – whatever job needed done, Amadee did it.
Throughout his working career he either ranched or logged, alternating back and forth between the two occupations before settling in as a rancher, first with his brother Mike (BC Cowboy Hall of Fame) at Springhouse, then on his own first at 4 Mile Creek and finally at Spain Lake Ranch. While at Spain Lake he also ran his own guide-outfitting business, guiding many hunters for moose. Amadee married Shirley Twan in 1962, their first daughter, Jeannie was born later that year, then daughter, Jacquie in 1963 and son Roy, in 1967.
Amadee says, “I have probably only missed a couple of Stampedes in all of my 77 years here. For fifteen of those years I supplied all of the rodeo’s roping stock (1955-1970). I was also a competitor in the Team Roping event and was the winner of the Team Roping the first year that it was ever included as a rodeo event in the Williams Lake Stampede. I was the header and my partner (heeler) was Tommy Desmond.” Amadee has seen this community grow from a sleepy cowtown to a large and busy mid-sized city. He was born the very year that Williams Lake was first incorporated as a village.
He has been a rancher, a logger, a guide-outfitter (Spain Lake Guiding) and a mail-truck driver in his day – so there isn’t many parts of the Cariboo that he hasn’t seen. The mail-truck route that he drove is proof that he was the hardy, pioneering fearless type of man that helped build the very character of the Cariboo as we know it today. For seventeen years Amadee drove a 5-ton truck to Bella Coola every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – year-round. If you’ve ever seen the ‘Bella Coola hill’ – you’ll know that wasn’t a job for anyone but a pretty brave fellow with good, steady nerves and a low-panic threshold. If you live in Bella Coola and you ever wondered how your mail and freight (90% of the truckload) got there, now you know how – Amadee brought it. Amadee says, “In that entire 17-year span I think I only missed a couple of trips at the most.”
He’s retired now and lives just outside of town, near Chimney Lake – but he is still a regular fixture at all of the local cattle sales, rodeo’s and any other event that has to do with cattle or horses.
When you see him in his photo here or when he is introduced at Stampede – many of you will recognize him as ‘that nice quiet gentlemen in the cowboy hat’ – that you’ve seen at various places over the years but you never really knew who he was. Amadee’s a quiet man, a real gentleman – he is never the center of attention and he prefers it that way. He stands – for hours, in the same place along the hallway at every cattle sale – when he tires he might lean against the stair rail for awhile, but I seldom see him sit, except in the Stockyards Café to have a little lunch and a visit with old friends.
Congratulations, Amadee – on having your contributions to the Williams Lake Stampede recognized by the Stampede Association and your hometown!