Driving into J2 Ranch off Highway 93/95 is pretty nondescript until you come around the bend and the valley opens up to you — it is an awe-filled moment!
There are many areas in this valley that take my breath away, but this is one of my favourites, surrounded by mountains with the river to one side of a huge green pasture that is home to the bison. Gorgeous trees hug the roads throughout the property, and the mooing of the frolicking cows can be heard in the distance — it’s so beautiful and peaceful.
This ranch is now home to the Scott family, owned by siblings Susan, David and Jeff who fell in love with this parcel of land back in 2000. Growing up on a dairy farm as children, they longed to get back to their roots of ranch-living. They knew there was potential to expand this parcel of land into a business as there is something fascinating about this ranch. To top it off, Susan, who is a vegetarian, desired to work closely with the ranchers to ensure the animals are well-looked after.
With dynamic personalities and business knowledge, they sought this ranch to fulfill personal dreams of owning land that will provide for the people.
They enlisted Richard Larson as their Head Rancher. Richard has helped grow this ranch to include a herd of bison, a Wagyu bull, Angus cows, chickens, pigs, horses and even a few entertaining donkeys. With a degree from Burdekin Agricultural College in Townsville, Richard has over 24 years of experience behind him. He and the Scotts are grateful for their relationship, having met each other through word of mouth. With many skill sets between them, they are working towards turning J2 Ranch into a thriving business.
I spent quite a bit of time searching for history about this land and have found very little. What I did find is that Frank and Joe Johnson (grandfather and grandson team) bought the land in 1956 and developed it into the ranch layout. It was then sold in the ‘60s. The J2 brand was registered in 1930 by Joseph Levi Johnson (Joe) who owned the ranch into the ‘60s. However, this may have been used by Francis Marie, who was the daughter of Joseph Levi in earlier years.
I ask anyone with any knowledge on the ranch’s previous owners and who may have any photographs to contact the Windermere Valley Museum, as there are some holes in the land ownership history. The Scotts are very interested to learn of any history of the property.
J2 Ranch is proud producer of Wagyu/Angus beef that is for sale as halves, quarters or eighths, or smaller boxes of assorted cuts. This meat is inspected, and hormone- and antibiotic-free. The Scotts’ dream is to sell their meat locally to both businesses and families. They hope to expand their chickens and provide a “turkey on demand” service over the holiday seasons.
This business is starting to grow, with a Facebook page and website in the works. The ranch can be contacted directly at 250-349-5824 to place your orders.
I can tell you personally that this meat is amazing and some of the best quality we have encountered during our years of cooking. If you would like a sample, come and see us at From Scratch as we believe in promoting our local farmers who, in turn, make our valley sustainable by giving us amazing ingredients, jobs and a beautiful place to live.
It has been a pleasure to meet this family and to continue a relationship with Richard. They are so passionate about what they do and love this valley for all it has to offer.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch — A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs, where one can savour great seasonal food, sip from a selection of beverages, including B.C. wines, and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape.