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Panhandle Phillips

Under a clear blue Cariboo sky in 1934, Floyd Eugene Phillips first laid eyes on the endless expanse of Cariboo grass that lay west of the mountains. 

He was born in Illinois in 1910 and had been a cowboy, a packer and a legendary hand with horses, and even a sheepherder in Wyoming.  It’s been said he never cared for his real name and was happy to be known by everyone he met as Pan, short for Panhandle. 

Pan Phillips and his partner Richmond Hobson had nearly died crossing mosquito infested muskeg in the unforgiving wilderness, but their colourful adventures carving out a living raising cattle, horses and freighting would be immortalized in Hobson’s books. The books helped contribute to the legend of Pan Phillips, especially after the 1969 CBC television documentary about his cattle drive to Quesnel.  

Pan and his third wife Betty operated their version of a convenience store, to make critical extra dollars, from a 12’ x 16’ log building on the ranch.  Furs were gladly accepted in lieu of legal tender, and cattle were sometimes traded for goods. Ranch life in the Blackwater was a matter of survival – cattle first, people second.

After many years of ranching and freighting, at the age of 60 Pan set up a back country fishing camp as a brand new project, after selling the ranch in 1970.

Over 350 people gathered in Quesnel’s LeBourdaise Park on June 1st, 1983 to say farewell to this legend of Canadian Cowboy Country Panhandle Phillips.

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