I’ve just learned via Facebook that two icons of the Cariboo have passed on into the Great Immensity. One is a rancher—Red Allison of Clinton—and the other is Terry Morgan, a former chief of the Bonaparte Indian band.
So much history deserves an epitaph. Yet where would such an epitaph come from, that could possibly describe the lives of men who made so significant an impact on their communities, their families?
They were humble men, yet dignity was the hallmark many might envy. There are no photo ops, no public recognition of their lives. Strange how such significant men who are larger than life could remain unknown to all but a relative few of us.
I knew both men. I wanted to write an article about Red, but he declined the offer. I wanted to write about his life as a rancher in the Chilcotin, and later in the area of Clinton. I knew he had a great story that people would enjoy reading about; an affirmation of a life that was hard and tough, that took guts and determination to wrest a living from. Ranchers, like farmers, depend on so many things that remain out of their control, yet they succeed in building lives that are truly remarkable in resilience and courage.
Red Allison: a name that means a great deal to this journalist. Any journalist. Paul St. Pierre knew the greatness of men like Red, and wrote about them in his columns in the Vancouver Sun.
Terry (Felix) Morgan’s image will haunt the pages of South Cariboo history for many years to come. Sure, that sign he had erected on the boundary of the Bonaparte and the Village of Cache Creek—“Welcome to Trash Creek”—didn’t earn him any accolades. Quite the reverse. But he fought for the rights of the land, as many other First Nations are doing. Land and nature were sacred trusts.
Some day, the planet will be considered in the same light. Not by the force of numbers, but the force of self-preservation. The astronauts saw the Earth’s singular loneliness in the black emptiness of space, as Terry recognized the sacredness of life on Earth in the land he was born and raised in.
I see these two men who were quite different in appearance, and probably in character, as icons. No more, and no less.