Cariboo Calling: South Cariboo man finds a passion through ranching

Ranching has been integral to the Cariboo region but also to building character in those who call it home.

One local man was headed in the wrong direction as a teenager until he was sent to a ranch in northern British Columbia.

His name is Randy Brodoway and ranching changed his life for the better.

“As a teenager, I got into a lot of trouble and I knew I had to do something about it,” said Brodoway. “My parents considered sending me to a camp for boys but instead, decided to send me to my grandparent’s ranch. At the time, I thought it was going to be a cakewalk and boy was I wrong.”

The ranch taught Brodoway lessons he might not have been quite ready for but said whole experience humbled him. Along the way, Brodoway discovered a life long passion.

“I have been a cowboy all of my life and through that, I started doing leatherwork,” said Brodoway. “I have worked on a lot of different ranches throughout my life and generally, I would go and take care of the cattle.”

Brodoway is a leather smith and has spent the last 35 years crafting his technique.

He discovered an interest in leatherwork early on through repairing his own tack but it wasn’t until he began working with a friend of his in Mission, British Columbia where he really delved into the work.

“I started around 1985,” said Brodoway. “It’s been a lot of trial and error, but over time I began to understand the animals and learn what their bodies are like and what works.”

Brodoway crafts a lot of his work from scratch. Some of his work has included saddles, halters, repairing or restoring old tack and trophies for the Britsh Columbia Rodeo Association. His work has also been featured in movies, such as Lake Placid (the hoist that hovers the cow over the water to lure the crocodile).

Over the last five years, Brodoway has been having health complications that have made it challenging to keep up with the kind of work he used to do. For a while, he had a feed and tack shop in 100 Mile House but ended up selling the store and started to tackle small jobs from home.

“When I start on a project, I can’t let it go until I am done,” said Brodoway. “I have put in a lot of hours before I would ever take a break.”

Brodoway has been working on getting his health back up and plans to continue work from home. He has kept all of his equipment and wants to keep making his leather goods until his hands physically can’t do the job anymore.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Brodoway.

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Randy Brodoway discovered his passion as a leather smith through ranching. Here he is photographed at home inside of his workshop where he designs and manufactures leather goods from scratch. Millar Hil photo

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