Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Some Cow History for Stampede Week

Cow history sounds like a caption from The Far Side. As Friedrich Neitzsche memorably put it in the opening line of On the Use and Abuse of History ( (full text here), "Observe the herd which is grazing beside you. It does not know what yesterday or today is."

But in recent years some western historians and the University of Calgary Press has been making a nice mix of economic, political, environmental, and cultural history out of the yesterdays and todays of cattle. There's been Simon Evans's handsome book on the Bar U Ranch, a collection of essays by Evans with Sarah Carter and Bill Yeo called Cowboys, Ranchers, and the Cattle Business and, just out, Warren Elofson's Somebody Else's Money: The Walrond Ranch 1883-1907. Maybe it's just the pictures of those great foothills landscapes, but I'm a sucker for this stuff.

Calgary Herald 1884: "The rough and festive cowboy of Texas and Oregon has no counterpart here... the genuine Alberta cowboy is a gentleman." (picked up actually from David Breen's earlier work on The Canadian Prairie West and the RAnching Frontier)
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