Canada’s Wild West
What is The Last Best West?
Before Longfellow penned his old west adventure novel, The Last Best West, the phrase had a notable past. . . .The Last Best West was an advertising slogan used to attract immigration to Western Canada between the years 1896 – 1914.
The Canadian Government took out full page ads in British, American, and European newspapers to encourage immigration to Western Canada. Millions of settlers from around the world flooded Canada during these 18 years.
And then in 1912, Guy Weadick used the last best west to sell the first Calgary Stampede to his financial backers. More than a hundred years later it’s the world’s premier outdoor show and rodeo, and during the Stampede’s run of 10 days every July, over a million visitors pass through the turnstiles.
Canada’s Wild West
Canada’s connection to the myth of the Wild West includes several well known individuals, and many lesser known. Canadian figures from the Old West of the 1870s-1905 can really be broken into 2 categories: Members of the North West Mounted Police and Cowboys/Gunfighters.
Bat Masterson and Seth Bullock were two of the most noteworthy Old West Gunfighters/Law Men born in Canada. Buffalo Bill Cody’s father was born in Canada and American Old Bill Miner spent about half of his outlawing career in southern British Columbia.
Bill Miner was the outlaw who first uttered those immortal words, “Hands Up!”, and who on September 10, 1904 robbed the Canadian Pacific Railway Transcontinental Express No. 1, just outside of Mission Junction, British Columbia.
Inside was around $6,000 in gold dust, $1,000 in currency, and $150,000 in U.S. bonds. Old Bill and his two pards had picked this train because they thought it would be carrying a $62,000 gold shipment from the Cariboo gold mines. Although disappointed, they consoled themselves with the cash and gold dust and left without harming anyone. This was the first train robbery in Canada.
The Sundance Kid in Calgary
The legendary member of the Wild Bunch, and Butch Cassidy’s lieutenant, spent the better part of 3 years in the Canadian Old West, in and around Calgary, Alberta. 1891 Police records show that a Harry Longabaugh was charged with cruelty to animals. This was at the time he was working as a wrangler at the Bar U Ranch (currently a national historic site), about 50 miles south of Calgary.
If a cowboy hat is a regular part of your attire, and you think that black jeans are dress pants, then you are going to want to read The Last Best West.
Set in 1896 amidst the chaos of the Klondike Gold Rush, this western adventure tells the story of a lifelong grudge between Wasey Bruce and Poke Roberts. Their hatred travels the breadth of the North American West, and sets the men on different paths for the gold fields of the Klondike River, in the wilds of the Yukon Territories.
Two thousand miles of adventure are between the men and the Klondike and each will have their mettle tested before they arrive by different paths in Dawson City – where millionaires are a dime a dozen and horses are as rare as a pretty woman. $6.99 at Amazon.com/
Back in May, 2006 we were rounded up to work on a re-enactment of the moment when Jack McCall walked into Tom Nuttal’s #10 Saloon on Aug 2 1876, in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, and murdered Wild Bill Hickok.
This painting by Canadian artist Ken Dewar, was the end result of the afternoon of filming in Heritage Park, an authentic 19th century town, in Calgary. 130 years to the day that McCall did his cowardly deed the painting was unveiled in front of City Hall in Deadwood, South Dakota, on August 2, 2006.
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