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Oregon State University
Special Collections and Archives
Research Center

Oral Histories of the James Cant Ranch (John Day Valley, Oregon), 1982-1985View associated digital content.

The Oral Histories of the James Cant Ranch are comprised of interviews with fifteen individuals that tell the story of James and Elizabeth Cant's successful agricultural operation - established in northeast Oregon on the John Day River in the early 1900s - and of rural agricultural life in the region where the Cant Ranch was located. The Cant family raised irrigated crops and livestock for over sixty years on a tract of land that came to encompass over 11,000 acres. In 1975 the Cant Ranch complex was purchased by the National Park Service for incorporation into the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
ID: OH 025
Extent: 0.5 cubic feet
More Extent Information
Scope and Content Notes
Biographical / Historical Notes
Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.
Arrangement
Preferred Citation: Oral Histories of the James Cant Ranch (John Day Valley, Oregon) (OH 025), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Acquisition Note: These oral histories were originally part of the Horner Museum Oral History Collection (OH 10). In 2013 they were separated out and described as a new collection.
Languages of Materials
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Container List

Series 1: Audiocassettes, 1982-1983 Add to Shelf
The arrangement of audiocassettes established by the Horner Museum has been maintained in this series. Horner Museum accession numbers are included with each set of audiocassettes. All interviews were conducted by Royal Jackson. Biographical information and interview topics, as available, are included below.
Extent: 31 items
Box-Item 1.1 - 1.2: Humphreys, Rhys, May 13, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-1a-b. Rhys Humphreys (1913-1983) of the Humphreys Ranch was one of six Humphreys children - a family that grew up in close contact with the Cants. Rhys Humphreys spent his entire life raising livestock, especially sheep, in the John Day Valley. Topics discussed include sheep raising; the Cant family; early transportation routes; wild horses; Native Americans; range wars; medical care; coyote trapping; social life; male-female roles; recreation; fossil collecting; and unusual happenings such as floods. Interview conducted at the Humphreys Ranch, Kimberly, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.3 - 1.4: Humphreys, Rhys, June 6, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-1c-d. Interview conducted at the Humphreys Ranch, Kimberly, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.5 - 1.6: Murray, Alexander, May 22, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-2a-b. Interview conducted in Drewsey, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.7: Murray, John, May 23, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-3a. John Murray (b. 1904) of the Murray Ranch maintained a long association with the Cant family, beginning with James Cant's arrival at the Murray Ranch when John was one year old. Interview topics include the Murray and Cant families and ranches; sheep raising in the John Day Valley; wild horses; Native Americans; federal land management; environmentalists; uses of the John Day River; changed social patterns; transportation; and the Scottish subculture in the John Day Valley. Interview conducted in John Day, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.8 - 1.9: Murray, John, June 5, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-3b-c. Interview conducted in John Day, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.10: MacDonald, John, May 23, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-4a. Interview conducted in John Day, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.11 - 1.12: Jackson, Kathleen (Bales), May 24, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-5a-b. Kathleen Bales (b. 1912) was born in the John Day Valley at the Bales Ranch and spent much of her life in the area. The Bales and Cant families interacted on many occasions and had much in common. Interview topics include the Bales and Cant families; childhood school days; Native Americans; the Chautauqua; women's roles; trailing sheep to the Strawberry Mountains; movies in Dayville; teaching school; and the many uses of the John Day River, including swimming, fishing, irrigating, cutting ice and gold dredging. Interview conducted in John Day, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.13: MacArthur, Linda, May 24, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-6a. Interview conducted in Dayville, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.14: Moore, Charles, May 25, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-7a. Interview conducted in Dayville, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.15: Humphreys, Dollina (Stewart), May 25, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-8a. Dollina Stewart (b. 1927) grew up on the Stewart Ranch in the John Day Valley and knew the Cant family well. In 1960 she married Rhys Humphreys and moved to the Humphreys Ranch. Interview topics include the Scottish subculture of the John Day Valley, including the Cant family's participation in this subculture; the sheep-raising industry; women's roles; transportation developments; Dayville community life and entertainment; fossil collecting; gold dredging in the John Day River; changes in the local economy during and after World War II; and rural social customs such as "rubbernecking" on the telephone. Interview conducted at the Humphreys Ranch, Kimberly, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.16: Humphreys, Dollina (Stewart), June 7, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-8b. Interview conducted at the Humphreys Ranch, Kimberly, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.17 - 1.18: Mascall, Lillian (Cant), June 8, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-9a-b. Lillian Cant was the youngest of four children born to James and Elizabeth Cant. Interview conducted at the Cant Ranch.
Box-Item 1.19 - 1.20: Murray, Eva (Officer), June 9, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-10a and 984-1-10c. Eva Officer (b. 1909) was born into the Officer family, noteworthy early settlers of the John Day Valley who sold the original 700-acre plot of ranch land to James Cant in 1910. Topics discussed include the Officer and Cant families; the Cant home; the livestock industry including predator problems and trailing sheep; community recreation and school athletics in Dayville; early medical practices; Doc Hay of Kam Wah Chung; rural courtship patterns; changes in the Valley, including the area's first sawmills; and rattlesnakes. Interview conducted in John Day, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.21 - 1.22: Weatherford, Walter, June 9, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-11a-b. Interview conducted at the Cant Ranch.
Box-Item 1.23 - 1.24: Munro, Robroy, June 23, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-12a-b. Interview conducted at the Humphreys Ranch, Kimberly, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.25 - 1.26: Munro, Stella M. (Pigg), June 24, 1982 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-13a-b. Stella (Pigg) Munro (b. 1900) was the first teacher at the Cant School, which was housed on the third floor of the Cant home and opened to the area's children in 1919. Interview topics include the Cant School; the Cant family; work, education, recreation and social patterns in the John Day Valley. Interview conducted in Portland, Oregon.
Box-Item 1.27: Cant, Freda (Erikson), June 23, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession numbers 984-1-14a. Freda Erikson was born in John Day, Oregon in 1912. In 1932 she married James Cant, Jr. and moved to the Cant Ranch, where she raised four children and helped to manage ranch operations. In 1977 she and her husband moved out of the John Day Valley to Imbler, Oregon. Interview topics include the arrival in the Valley of the Erikson family; life-long associations with the Cant family; rural patterns of work and leisure; male and female roles; the Scottish influence; social and cultural activities; sheep-raising; Native Americans; federal land management; and the place of the John Day River in the life of the community. Interview conducted at the Cant Ranch.
Box-Item 1.28: Cant, James, Jr., June 23, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-15a. James Cant, Jr. (b. 1909) was the oldest of James and Elizabeth Cant's four children. He spent virtually all of his active working years in association with the livestock industry and helping to manage the affairs of the Cant Ranch. He and his wife Freda raised four children of their own on the Cant Ranch. In 1977 James and Freda left the John Day Valley for Imbler, Oregon. Interview topics include James Cant, Sr.'s experiences before emigrating to America; James Jr.'s childhood years at the Cant Ranch; historical uses of ranch buildings and structures; the Native American presence in the John Day Valley; and the sheep-raising industry in the valley. Interview conducted at the Cant Ranch.
Box-Item 1.29 - 1.30: Cant, James, Jr., July 10, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-15b-c. Interview conducted at the Mascall Ranch.
Box-Item 1.31: Cant, James and Freda (Erikson), June 22, 1983 Add to Shelf
Horner accession number 984-1-16a. This interview session focused principally on the uses of the Cant home and exterior structures such as the barn, fields and lambing facilities. Other interview topics include the construction and original appearance of the Cant Ranch infrastructure; its sheep-shearing facilities; and ranch activities associated with specific locations on the property. Interview conducted at the Cant Ranch.
Series 2: Monographs, 1984-1985 Add to Shelf
The monographs held in this series include an introduction to the project and the interviewee written by Royal Jackson, edited transcripts of each specified interview, and facsimile copies of Gift and Release forms signed by the participants. The series includes two copies of each monograph with the exception of the two-part interview with James Cant, Jr. and Freda Cant, for which only one copy remains. Copies of each monograph are also available in the OSU Libraries general book collection.
Extent: 8 folders
Box-Folder 2.1: "Rhys Humphreys." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 1, by Royal Jackson, Winter 1984 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.2: "Stella Munro." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 2, by Royal Jackson, Spring 1984 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.3: "John Murray." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 3, by Royal Jackson, Spring 1984 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.4: "Kathleen Jackson." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 4, by Royal Jackson, Spring 1984 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.5: "Eva Murray." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 5, by Royal Jackson, Spring 1984 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.6: "Dollina Humphreys." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 6, by Royal Jackson, Spring 1984 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.7: "James and Freda Cant, Jr. - Part I." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 7, by Royal Jackson, Summer 1985 Add to Shelf
Box-Folder 2.8: "James and Freda Cant, Jr. - Part II." Cant Ranch Oral History Program, Monograph No. 8, by Royal Jackson, Summer 1985 Add to Shelf
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