Frontier Cattle Ranching in the Land and Times of Charlie Russell
By Warren M. Elofson. Hardcover, 226 pages.
Frontier Cattle Ranching in the Land and Times of Charlie Russell is an engaging, sprightly comparison of ranching experiences in Montana and Alberta/Assiniboia from 1880 to 1920. Elofson argues that these two frontiers had much in common. Montana is revealed to have a more sedate, and less wild, cultural tradition than is remembered. Alberta/Assiniboia is shown to have a rowdier, more "western" ranching culture than is typically acknowledged. The regional stereotypes―of American individualism, lawlessness, and self-reliance, and of Canadian law and order―are exaggerated.
Elofson examines the lives of cowboys and ranch owners during the short-lived free-range era with its oversized spreads. He looks at the prevalence of drunkenness, prostitution, gunplay, and rustling in both localities and contact with the supposed civilities of tennis courts, grand pianos, ostentatious dinners, and fancy balls in both regions. Elofson drawns upon the artwork, short stories, and legend of Charlie Russell, a cowboy and rancher who moved between the regions, to illustrate his point.
Hardcover, 226 pages.