In 1984, my wife Wanda and I, along with our children, Oak 11, Clayton 9, Heather 8, Leaf 9 months, and Brome 7 months from being born, traveled from our family dairy farm in Michigan in search of a life filled with adventure in the remote wilderness mountains of northwest British Columbia, Canada. The decision to leave our thriving family farm that had been in my family for generations, and where I had worked daily since childhood with my dad, brother, grandfather, and great uncle, was an extremely difficult one to make. But, the desire to build a homestead in the scenic wilderness mountains of British Columbia, where there are glaciers and grizzly bears, was calling us with such intensity that we couldn’t ignore it. Having been raised on our family dairy farm I had acquired an intense work ethic and many skills including construction, cement work, wiring, plumbing, growing crops, and raising livestock. While living on our farm I had effectively taught myself subsistence living skills including making a flintlock rifle and pistol, tanning hides and making buckskin clothing by sewing hides together with sinew, building a log cabin using only an axe and knife for tools, making soap by leaching lye water from wood ashes, making stains from wood bark, building fire using flint and steel, making glue by rendering rawhide on a slow fire, making sugar by tapping maple trees, and delivering our third son. I delivered our fourth son in December of 1984 and our fifth son, Hawk, in 1991 in one of the cabins that we built in Moose Valley. Wanda also learned the pioneering skills of cooking on a wood cook stove, sewing, churning cream into butter, canning fruits and vegetables, making all of our breads, and making homemade meals from scratch.
Hunting on the farm was Boiling down maple sap Thrashing wheat to grind into flour done with my flintlock to make sugar
In May we loaded our team of mules into our trailer along with harness, a walking plow, and hand tools and we headed for British Columbia; the beginning of our adventure. Soon after arriving in British Columbia we found just what we were looking for. We purchased the exclusive right to guide big-game hunters in Moose Valley and the surrounding 1000 square miles. Owning the guiding rights to the 1000 square mile area also gave us the opportunity to build our homestead wherever we wanted to within that area. The closest town to Moose Valley was Fort St James (referred to as the “Fort”) 270 miles to the southeast. The snow in the pass, near Moose Valley, where we would cross from Arctic to Pacific watershed melted out of the narrow trail in late June. I was warned by some of the local town’s people that if I took my family into that remote wilderness of Moose Valley some of us wouldn’t live to return to civilization. Despite the warning, we left the Fort and headed northwest for Moose Valley with our team of mules, 5 horses, and enough supplies to last until mid October.
May 1984, leaving the farm May 1984, arrival in B.C. Home in our guiding territory, 1985
We survived and thrived here in Moose Valley and over the years we’ve built many cabins, and our homestead including our lodge/home. We made the lumber for all of the buildings with an Alaskan Mill attached to a chainsaw. We cleared land by cutting trees down, chopped stumps out with an axe, hauled the stumps to a fire with horses, and broke the ground with a walking plow pulled by our horses. We used horses to prepare the seedbed, seed the grass, and later cut, rake, and haul the hay to the barn for storage. Wanda home schooled our children and washed all of our clothes, including diapers for our three youngest, in a washtub with a scrub board. Our children did very well academically, and received honors for their academic achievements, but their greatest education came from growing up here in our wilderness guiding territory. Building our homestead and guiding business here in the wilderness gave them their work ethic, survival skills, hunting skills, common sense, and their skills at many trades. We worked together in harmony to build our homestead and develop our horse trails and camps for guiding. Ingenuity and improvising come natural for all of us and they’re essentially instinctive. Oak married several years ago and moved to a rural area in Missouri where his wife is from. Heather married a few years ago and she and her husband live in Montana. Clayton, Leaf, Brome, and Hawk are all very much committed to our guiding business and the wilderness. Due to their lives of growing up in, living in, and sustenance lifestyle in the wilderness their guiding and survival skills are second to none. Each year we continue to develop our guide territory by cutting more horse trails, building new cabins, and scouting more mountains and valleys for game. We’re all committed to providing our guests with the most memorable experience of their lives.
Ron and Wanda Steffey - Oct. 2000
Brome, Oak, Heather, Hawk, Clayton, Leaf - 1996 Heather, Hawk, Brome and Leaf - 2004
Clayton - 2006 Leaf - 2006
Brome - 2006 Hawk - 2006