Early fences in British Columbia were durable, stable and easily maintained.
The Russell fence, long considered the favourite amongst ranchers, once criss-crossed the countryside in the Cariboo-Chilcotin ranching areas. Pioneers built these fences using only an axe from jackpine trees in the nearby forests. The fences didn’t require fence posts to be sunk into the ground which allowed for it to be quickly built and able to be constructed over hills and valleys.
Logs were put together to form a tripod and the resulting “V” supported a log set lengthwise. The rest of the rails hung by wire from the top rail. One leg of the tripod, the ‘tie piece’, was staked into the ground. The other legs, all above ground, were wired or nailed to the stake. This stake kept the rail fence from collapsing off into the distance like a string of dominoes. Most of the fences were between six and seven feet high.
Stake fences also known as Stake and Rider fences, were not as common. It was a temporary fence used in situations where trees were available for the riders. Stake and Rider fences were raised on the open flats of the Anahim Lake country, but seldom elsewhere in British Columbia.
One pioneer farmer claimed to have cut 400 rails in an hour!