Red Allison at the Gang Ranch during a photoshoot for Marlboro cigarettes in June 1985. Photo courtesy of Chris Kind.

Cariboo Calling: Portrait of a cowboy: Red Allison

“Old-timer” Allison was inducted into the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2003

R.M. Allison, known best as “Red”, is almost famous in the Cariboo. If the little village of Clinton were to have a true celebrity roster, this small-town cowboy would make the top of the list.

Born in Kamloops in 1926, Red has worked throughout the Cariboo and Chilcotin for most of his life. Before joining the army as a young man, he worked on the Harper Ranch and the 57 Mile Ranch. Later in life, he worked at a variety of other ranches in the area, including Cherry Creek, Alkali, Circle S, Gang Ranch, Tranquille Farm, and Fintry Estate.

In 1944, Red began his rodeo career in cow riding, but he also competed in bareback broncs and saddle broncs. He later began team-roping and participated in rodeo sports for most of his adult life. In 1960, he bought the Riske Creek Store west of Williams Lake with his wife Dionne, and while operating that store, he worked at the Becher Prairie and Bald Mountain round ups.

During his lifetime, Red also oversaw the Gang Ranch steer range and sorted stock for BC Livestock sales in both Williams Lake and Quesnel. In the 1970s, The Allison family moved to the OK Cattle Company on the Fraser River west of Clinton, where Red managed the ranch.

He was a founding member of the Interior Amateur Rodeo Association in the 1960s and has also served as a past president of the Clinton Cattlemen’s Association and as a director for the BC Cattlemen’s Association. He helped to introduce 4H to the Chilcotin and supplied stock for BCRA rodeo events for over 20 years. In 1981, he and Dionne bought the Lazy A Ranch in Clinton, where they trained quarter horses and ran cattle. In 2003, Red was inducted into the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame.

More on Red:

“The name Red Allison is known and respected across the province of B.C. From all his years in the ranching and rodeo business, he has in his head, a wealth of stories to share with family and friends. Red is a man who requires only good food, a good horse, a good dog, and his family around him. He is a true horseman and a working cowboy.”

B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society, Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, 2007

“One of my favourite old boys and one of the few left from my childhood stopped by today to pick up a steer of his that came home with our cows. An old school cowboy with a long history in the area. Always with enough time for a smile and a story. Today was the story of his last steer or any cattle for that matter. He was headed to Kamloops to sell this animal and that’s it. He’s done, he said it was time. I’d like to say that he was going out on a high note but that doesn’t happen often in the cattle industry. That steer was part of a twenty head package he tried to make some money on but like a lot of others he lost a considerable amount in an industry that’s been beating up cowboys and ranchers for generations.”

Greg Nyman, Clinton rancher, 2016

“Grandpa cowboyed his whole life in different places for different people all through B.C. He was big in the rodeo world, cutting world, penning, breeding, training, and selling horses. He raised purebred border collies, and was a go-to as a cattle buyer as well. Then with four boys, he had them at many 4-H and rodeo functions all over the Interior of B.C. so the Allison name got heard a lot. I could go on and on and on but I’ll leave it at that. So many people crossed paths with him in many different businesses.”

Russell Allison, B.C. auctioneer and Red’s Grandson, 2019

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Gang Ranch cowboys at Dog Creek. From left to right, Frank Tiechrabe, Gilbert Harry, Bill Gardner on Sparky, Tom Desmond on Rhumba, Red Allison on Ace, Dale Jefferson, Antione Harry, and Philip Camille. Photo courtesy of Chris Kind.

Red Allison pictured at the 88th Williams Lake Stampede at 88 years old. Bob Samchuck photo.

Red and his grandson Russell Allison. Photo courtesy of Russell Allison.

Young Red Allison pictured in an old photograph. Photo courtesy of Russell Allison.

Delmar Jasper heading and Red Allison heeling during a team roping event. Photo courtesy of Chris Kind.

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