Antoine (Ann-Twan) Boitanio
Antoine Boitano learned to ride before he learned to walk. He was born on the Alkali Lake Reserve in 1885, and by the time he was seven he spent all his waking hours working on the ranch alongside the native crew and his older brother Lawrence, a superb horseman, idolized by young Antoine.
He was sent to St. Joseph’s College in New Westminster but for such a young man he had already experienced more adventure and tragedy than those twice his age, so school was a bore. He learned to write and do arithmetic but when he got home for the summer holidays, he never returned to school, his heart was in the Cariboo.
When a vicious mule crushed Antoine’s ankle, the doctor said his leg would have to be amputated if the wound became infected…Well it did, but the women of the Alkali Lake Reserve healed him using natural herbs and native remedies, and within a year he had fully recovered and was back in the saddle.
He fell in love with the nurse who’d been hired to help his mother and aid in his recovery, and he married May Hamilton the next May and took over the operation of his father’s ranch on the Springhouse Prairie.
A fine horseman, fiddler, rancher, packer, hunter and rodeo rider, Antoine beat out men decades younger winning the calf roping title at a special rodeo for Princess Margaret in the ‘50s.
From his humble beginning as the son of an Italian immigrant, Antoine was revered as a true “son of the Cariboo”.
In Williams Lake the Boitanio Mall, Boitanio Park and Boitanio Lake all bear his name.