The 2008 Williams Lake Stampede Lifetime Pass award is being awarded to Bronc and Liz Twan of Alkali 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.
Bronc and Liz Twan’s names are synonymous with ranching and rodeo in the Cariboo and British Columbia. You won’t find many western events in this area, or rodeos where they are not involved in some way, whether it’s behind the lens of a camera or behind the chutes. Bronc has managed the Alkali Lake Ranch, B.C.’s oldest cattle ranch, for many years (he has lived there his whole life), and he has been a continuous competing member (in tie-down roping and team roping) of the British Columbia Rodeo Association since 1965.
He competed in the Williams Lake Stampede each year for more than 30 years, and has served as chute boss for many years, as well as supplying calf-roping stock. He still volunteers to help sort and pen roping stock during the Stampede. In 2005, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the BCRA. In the same year, wife Liz was named the association’s rodeo person of the year for her stories and photographs promoting rodeo.
Liz, who grew up in Williams Lake before making the ranch her home after university. has been involved in the Williams Lake Stampede for more than 20 years. With Courtney Smith and Rob Moon, she helped co-ordinate the Ranchers’ Challenge, and then organized the competition for more than a dozen more years before stepping down. “Stampede is a heritage event in Williams Lake,” Liz says. “It began when the town began. It recognizes the important contributions of ranchers.” She has helped produce the Stampede guide for the past 20 years, and photographs the event for local, provincial, and national publications. Her work - rodeo photographs, photographs of cattle and horse drives, First Nations powwows, and other subjects - has appeared in the Williams Lake Tribune (for which she has won provincial and national awards), and magazines Canadian Cowboy Country, Country Life, Beef in B.C., among others. She is also an official BCRA and CPRA photographer.
Bronc and Liz also helped organize the Stampede horse sales a few years ago, which created an annual bursary for Columneetza Secondary School students. The Twans serve on the Canadian High School Rodeo Finals committee, which is organizing the finals in Williams Lake August August 8th - 10th, 2008 and August 7th - 9th, 2009. In May, Liz will publish a book of stories and photographs on ranching in British Columbia with the working title “The Life and Times of a British Columbia Cowboy.”
Through decades of participation in the Stampede, Bronc and Liz have seen a number of changes. “It has grown tremendously,” Liz says. “When you mention Williams Lake to people, they say, ‘Don’t you have the big rodeo?’ The Stampede used to be about coming to Williams Lake to visit for a week. People are in a hurry these days. “But the Stampede has a tremendous draw and impact, and we do not want to lose it in the dust of progress.”
Congratulations, Liz and Bronc – on having your contributions to the Williams Lake Stampede recognized by the Stampede Association and your hometown!