This article was originally published 39 years ago on Tuesday, May 31, 1983, in The North Thompson Journal.
By Murray Mitchell
Ludwin Proulx, better known as Lude, has a reputation like that of no other.
As far back as most can remember, and probably further, Lude has been this area’s unofficial veterinarian. Whether it’s the middle of the day or middle of the night, when an animal gets sick, Lude gets called.
Though never claiming to be a registered vet, he’s doctored more animals than most can count. Lude loves the animals, and has always liked working with them. Learning from his father, area vets and his own experiences, he has also acquired an extensive knowledge of veterinary procedures.
It takes a lot of getting used to.
Lude remembers how he fainted and fell into a creek the first time he saw a horse being castrated.
Since that time in history, Lude has castrated 100-150 horses himself. He also recalls helping with the first cesarean in the valley, but notes, “It was either help or get sick. They don’t do it now like they used to!”
Lude says he’s seen many advances in the veterinary field, and just as many changes in the territory around him.
The Proulx family first came up the North Thompson Valley in 1918, and in that same year moved their belongings by full horse team to settle in Blackpool. They then moved to Kamloops for the early 1920’s, and finally settled in Barriere around 1928.
Lude says he spent the winter of ’29 in Langley, but decided to return to Barriere for good in 1930.
Through all these moves he was becoming more and more educated about working with animals. He’s very smart, though only ever received eight months of formal schooling.
When asked about his knowledge of animals, Lude stated, “It’s all by my own learning, it sure as hell wasn’t by schooling.”
In 1944, Lude bought himself a farm on Boulder Mountain Road and at the age of 45, fate made it clear that Lude would not remain a bachelor. In 1956 he married Angela, whom he had met through a friend in Vancouver.
Together the couple are happy with their three daughters, two sons, a few dozen chickens, horses, dogs and about 300 head of cattle. But life is not always easy, with the family continuously having to work hard at getting every penny out of their land.
Lude says because he was not a registered veterinarian, he could not have any set rates for his services and monetary rewards were often not possible.
“Sometimes they would pay for the medicine, sometimes more, and they would sometimes come to work for me or offer hay, “ he recalled, “Everybody was good.”
He was also more than just a good Samaritan as he, “used to go up to Clearwater, Vavenby, Vinsulla and other areas to castrate horses and such – and most of those trips were made by horse.”
Lude’s deeds did not go unnoticed though, as on Oct. 26, 1976, a surprise 65th birthday and recognition party was held in his name. Even a daughter who was living in Victoria at the time was able to come up as part of the surprise.
The event was held in the Fall Fair Hall and over 500 people were in attendance. At the party. Lude was presented with a reclining chair and an envelope containing $400 – a pretty nice surprise. Also presented was a very large cake topped with plastic animals of every sort.
Lude tells he had no idea what was going to happen, and as he looked back on the event he commented, “I thought I was going to a 4-H meeting.”
Lude has broke many horses in his time, and also cured hundreds of animals of everything from constipation to milk fever. Now in his seventies, Lude is still doctoring animals of his own and other people, and he still holds the same devotion for his work. The people of Barriere and area hold a similar devotion for him.
Editor’s note: Ludwin Proulx was born Oct. 26, 1909, and passed on Dec. 22, 1994. The Proulx family continue to live on the Boulder Mountain Road farm.