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From British Columbia To New South Wales - The Gang Ranch

Updated on August 31, 2010

Although I have titled this part of the family history from British Columbia to New South Wales the Gang Ranch I could just as easily chosen from a number of other titles as it covers a wide range of the activities undertaken by my ancestors. Not the least of these is Sir Harold Boulton's writing of such songs as 'The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lommond' or 'The Skye Boat Song' published in his book, 'Songs Of The North'. Another choice could have been 'First Balkan War' or The Women's Convoy Corps as Mabel Boulton Stobart organized and led the corp from the outbreak of that war in 1912. Whatever title I chose I could not possibly have encapsulated the adventures and contributions of my ancestors prior to the outbreak of World War 1.

Skye Boat Song - Sir Harold Boulton

The Stobart Family

Because both Aunt Phyllis and my father married into the Stobart Family, and because there was a marriage between cousins, it is hard to describe this side of the family tree.

I will start with my maternal great-grandfather, the Reverend Henry Stobart (b.`1824). As a young man of 28, Henry Stobart, under the patronage of the Fifth Earl of Buccleuch, set sail on 'The Resolute' for Australia in November 1852. He has left an interesting account of his travels in Australia, notes of which are in my possession.

From Jane's Gold Coast (Australia) Homepage:

"The Reverend Henry Stobart, in August 1853, visited the South Coast and commented on the fear of the local Aboriginals at the sight of the Government boat suspecting 'perhaps, that we were constables in search of some of their tribe who had committed depredations'. There were the years when the infamous Lieutenant Frederick Wheeler and his eight native police troopers regularly patrolled the district, the complaints of squatters who had lost stock to Aboriginal spears. Such patrols continued as late as the early 1860s."

Not long after this, he married Annie Mulholland (b. 1831), of a well-to-do Irish family. The family lived in Totteridge, Hertfordshire and he became an important person in that community. They raised two sons, St. Clair and Henry John, and nine daughters, one of whom, Annie Stobart Laing, is our maternal grandmother. I hope in the future to write about this fascinating family. (she did)

St. Clair Mulholland Stobart (b. 1861), married Mabel Boulton (b. 1862) in 1884. They had two sons, Eric (b. 1885) and Lionel (b. 1887). As St. Clair died early in the twentieth century and his life did not touch mine or that of my immediate family, he remains a shadowy figure except for some photographs in Aunt Mabel's albums. Aunt Mabel on the other hand is a larger than life figure, for a number of reasons which this narrative will make clear. Among other talents she was a well-spoken authoress, publishing a number of works both fiction and non-fiction. I have read two works - "Miracles and Adventures", an autobiography and "War and Women".

She came from a distinguished and wealthy family. Her father, Sir Samuel Boulton, was an engineer and head of a large company with business interests in the United Kingdom. One of his daughters, Beatrice, married Sidney Galpin whose father, Sir Thomas Galpin had founded the Western Canadian Ranching Company in 1888, having interests in umber and ranching in British Columbia. Sir Samuel's son, Sir Harold Boulton, was a prominet figure in England and Scotland in his day. He was a philanthropist and poet. Out of his deep love of Scotland he published "Songs Of The North" which included "The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond" and "The Skye Boat song". Sir Harold's daughter, Kythie, was the mother of Tony Younge who lives on Vancouver Island and supplied me with much of this information.

Aunt Mabel reports that she experienced a happy and privileged childhood with her five sisters and two brothers. When she and St. Clair were first married they lived in Falmouth in Cornwall - a pleasant life with their young family.

However, in 1903 they suffered severe financial losses and emigrated to the Transvaal, sailing from England on April 18, 1903. for the next four years they lived a pioneer life of many hardships, all with great courage and energy on the part of Aunt Mabel. In 1908 they contemplated a move to German East Africa and St. Clair accompanied by Lionel, went there to appraise this possibility. Meanwhile, Aunt Mabel returned to England for some financial consultations with her father. Later that same year, 1908, St. Clair also set sail for England but died and was buried at sea. The exact meaning of these events and the cause of St. Clair's death are not explained. Aunt Mabel recounts:

"There was no wireless in those days and I knew nothing of what had happened until the vessel arrived in England without him."

Thus, a new phase commenced in the life of the family. Eric joined the Boulton family firm. Lionel attended Circencester Agricultural College and then joined the Galpin family company and oversaw the managing of the Gang Ranch in central British Columbia, which was one of its holdings. Aunt Mabel married Judge John Greenhalgh. She is known to my generation as 'Gran', 'Old Gran' or 'Muz' or 'Aunt Mabel' according to one's position in the family.

Lionel made a success of his position with the Gaplin family company, The Western Canadian Ranching Company, in addition to his duties to the Gang Ranch he also had responsibility for the Harper and Perry Ranches. His duties took him often to Ashcroft. Thus he got to know the Christie family and often stayed at their home at 612 Brink Street when on his travels.

In 1913 Aunt Mabel and Eric visited Lionel who met them at the station in Kamloops. He showed them around the province, including Vancouver Island. A good photograph remains of the two brothers on the steps of the ranch house at the Gang Ranch. Aunt Mabel reports:

"We were staying with the C's and the next day they and their daughter P. took us to their mountain ranch in the Marble Canyon."

The Gang Ranch - 1913

Lionel & Eric Stobart
Lionel & Eric Stobart

Mabel St Clair Stobart

First Balkan War

It was at this time that Aunt Mabel began to emerge as the prominent figure that she was to become. Here is her motivation:

"It is extraordinary how, in this world, wherever you chance to be, there is always something that badly needs doing, and still more extraordinary is it that, however inappropriate you yourself may seem to be to do the work, you can by shear steadfastness of purpose, get it done."

The opportunity for service was made possible by the outbreak of the First Balkan War, wherein the Balkan peoples - the Bulgarians and the Serbs - were attempting to free themselves from the yoke of the Ottoman Empire.

Aunt Mabel organized and led the Women's Convoy Corps, under British funding, providing medical field hospital assistance in the first lines of the conflict. The Corps consisted of a number of nurses and doctors - all women. In spite of the tradition established b Florence Nightingale, Aunt Mabel had to encounter and deal with many levels or resistance to women working in this way. In contrast to her rather cursory referral to personal matters - mentioning people in her personal life by initials only - Aunt Mabel, in her writings, deals in great detail upon her encounters both with the British and Bulgarian establishments, and also with the soldiers and citizenry she associated with. She was a person of great courage and compassion, of an active rather than introspective persuasion, to whom physical discomfort, in spite of her upbringing, meant little.


In contrast to these experiences, full of physical danger and distress, Aunt Mabel accompanied this time by the Judge, returned for a second visit to British Columbia - this time to attend the marriage of Lionel to Phyllis Christie on March 10, 1914. This event took place in St. Albans Anglican Church in Ashcroft and was described as a fashionable one in the Ashcroft paper, with a full account of all the extensive wedding presents. The picture of the guests holds pride of place in several family albums.

Family impressions have it that Aunt Phyllis was a very pretty and vivacious girl who was gifted and artistic. Her specialty was playing "Humoresque" on the piano and even today hearing this work is a powerful experience for me. When she died, she seems to have taken some of the gaiety out of my grandparents' lives. It seemed that Uncle Lionel was of a quieter disposition. However, only a few photographs survive and Joanna reports she knew little of her parents when she was growing up.

Lionel and Phyllis had two daughters, our first cousins, - Phyllis (b. 1915) and Joan (Joanna b. 1917). The two girls called our mutual grandparents "Guga" and "Gampa" and these names were later shortened by my brothers and me to "Gugs" and "Gamps".


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    • profile image

      Marja 7 years ago

      So interesting isn't it! Small world ! Amazing that both you and I lived some of those BC places..Love the Gang ranch!

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Very much appreciated Rebecca E. Thank You.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      as always this is awesome writing, and of course I am stumbling it.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I am delighted that you enjoyed it and appreciate your visit and your comments!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I like something about history and I find this through your hub. I agree with fetty. Your family was awesome. Very well written. I enjoy read this hub. Thanks for share with us.


    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I must admit fetty I have found myself pretty amazed. Not only by what my ancestors did and went through but the fact that in the 21st century their 18th and 19th century tales are as close as my keyboard and google. Just think, our ancestors may be finding our hubs a hundred years or better into the future. Mind boggling. Just wait until you read the one about the kidnapping. Wild family and that is just one half of one side of it! Thank you for taking the time to visit and read!

    • fetty profile image

      fetty 7 years ago from South Jersey

      Amazing people are in your family tree. I especially admire the spunk of Mary Stobart. Beautifully written and the videos are just perfect. Thank you for a wonderful read.