Your Dude Ranch Host ~ Tracey O'Connell
Tod Mountain Guest Ranch is owned and managed by Tracey O’Connell, a modern day lady pioneer who immigrated to Canada from the UK in 2007 with big dreams and huge passion. Her dream was to build and open one of British Columbia's finest Guest Ranches and offer unique horse riding holidays to guests from around the world.
Tracey was born in Dublin, Ireland, and as a teenager moved with her family to Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. Her career with international organisations saw her spend time living and working in some of the world’s busiest cities.
She was born with itchy feet. From getting her first passport at aged 18 she spent the next 20+ years of her life travelling all over the world, some of it for work but a great deal of it for pleasure. It was during one those trips that she sat on a horse for the first time whilst visiting family in Texas and her love affair with horses began. She started to take riding lessons at stables close to her home in England and took her first Dude Ranch Vacation in the early 90’s.
Since then, she has travelled to all corners of the world on horseback riding vacations. She experienced many different countries and cultures, various breeds of horses and several different riding styles. From galloping with zebra and giraffe in Africa to pushing a slow lazy herd of cows though the bush in Wyoming. Always during these trips she would think ‘wouldn’t this be a great way to live…’
In the summer of 2007, Tracey took a career break and came to Canada for a 6 month visit. During this visit she bought Tod Mountain Ranch, an 80-acre former cattle ranch in the Louis Creek Valley, British Columbia, surrounded by thousands of hectares of Crown Land and began to build her guest ranch.
She survived forest fires and several amazing winters with temperatures down to minus 40°C and 6ft snow drifts. She’s learned to drive a tractor, build and mend fences, chop firewood and break ice on the creek. She’s proud to have swopped her kitten heels and silk shirts for gumboots and Carhartts and her beloved 2-seater sports car for a pick-up truck.
Call her crazy or brave, she’s certainly unique and loves to share this amazing place with visitors from far and wide. It’s not unusual to find her serving breakfast, followed by guiding the morning ride and then hosting lunch! Her favourite time of day is relaxing on the porch as the sun sets, glass of wine in hand, reliving the highlights of the day with her dude ranch guests.
Tracey is a current Director and Past President of the BC Guest Ranchers’ Association (BCGRA), Chair of the Lower North Thompson Tourism Society, Past Director of the Barriere & District Chamber of Commerce, Stakeholder Member of Wilderness Tourism Association and Stakeholder Member of Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association