Celebrating Our Exhibitions, Fairs & Rodeo Roots

Even though the Calgary Stampede, Edmonton’s Klondike Days and Winnipeg’s Red River Ex have ended for the year, it is the season for stampede and exhibition-style competition and fun. On the horizon is Regina Buffalo Days (July 30-Aug 3), but countless stampedes, rodeos and summer fairs draw crowds until fall. Of course, those are followed by other equally great community events.

In my mind, it is a season to thank and celebrate competitors, volunteers and others who make these events happen. Not surprisingly, I plan to do it with books and writing. My book, Awed, Amused and Alarmed is based on the history of fairs, rodeos and exhibitions. In fact, I always considered such events as some of the most important popular culture highlights in the West. Today’s events are fascinating to the crowds and rewarding to competitors. But it takes hard work to make them happen.


Need gifts? Get two for the price of one.

So, this is my way of saying thanks. For anyone who helps organize such events, competes in them or works with the dozens of volunteers needed for success, I am offering a special price for Awed, Amused and Alarmed. Go to my website and purchase one copy, and I’ll mail you an extra for the same price. The concept is similar to Buy 1, Get 1 Free; or Two for the Price of One. You can request as many as you wish, but order a specific number, and I’ll add your free copies to the package (eg. order 2, I’ll send 4, but you will pay for 2). I will even cover any extra shipping due to the added weight.

My special applies only to Awed, Amused & Alarmed, and you have to order through my website and pay with Paypal. The only other option is to email me with your order, and we will discuss payment and delivery. As well, this special ends October 1. Obviously, trust is important. I trust that you are buying them for organizers, participants and volunteers involved in our wonderful community events. And, when you place your order for the books on my website and pay with Paypal, you have to trust that I=ll mail you the number that you ordered plus the extra books. You can order other titles at the same time, but you will receive extra copies only for Awed, Amused & Alarmed.

It’s important to say thanks and to share the fascinating history of our events. Come back next week, and you will see an excerpt from the book, both for your enjoyment and to encourage you to say thanks and share out history.

What’s New, What’s Not, What’s Next?

Yes, it is a cliché, but life happens, and life gets in the way of life. But here I am again. What’s new? Well, I have definitely been preoccupied, and writing has not been my preoccupation. However, it is possible that writing is again on the horizon.

This year, my 90-year-old mom fell and broke five ribs. For her and for the family, nothing has been easy. My husband has had continuing health problems, too, and for me, family is first. Friends are second, and the rest of life, including books and writing comes somewhere after those. In fact, I am not expecting circumstances to change in a dramatic manner. However, my experience is that when we understand what is happening, we are better able to manage situations.

But here I am—at least for now. And I do have plans for the blog and other writing projects. As for blogging, I am going to be flexible, with a new posting every few weeks. Maybe it will be every week for a while, but then again, who knows? Also, I will embrace flexibility regarding topics. They will still focus on those pursuits I love, but I am not saying which topic will be which week. You might see three posts about history, a few about writing, others about photography, and some just because I or someone I know feels like talking about a subject.

Finally, I am having events/news on my website updated, too. So, if you are in the Calgary area and interested in knowing about sales in the area, I have information there. Also, there you will find the descriptions of some upcoming writing workshops. One is even online, so it doesn’t matter where you live. Here, I’ll post more on those later, too.

Given all that, here I am. Next week, we’ll talk summer events: rodeos, stampedes, fairs and exhibitions, and I have a special offer for you concerning one of my books. It is a vote of thanks, and it is buy one, get one free event. So, check back soon.

Treasured Books

Books have always been part of Christmas for many of us. There are the books we buy for others, the books we receive from others, the books we read to our children and the Good Book. All are important though for such different reasons.

I admit my own personal reading habits keep changing. Some books I will always keep, not because I will ever read them again but because they are a reminder of things I have treasured, beliefs I have held or continue to hold, have been gifts to me by friends or have been written by friends. And some books have become keep sakes because they have seemingly been in the family forever.

Most of us have copies of The Night Before Christmas, and if it is an old copy and we read it to the young ones in the family, carrying on a tradition that was past from parents or grandparents to ourselves. It is particularly reassuring to pick up the book. For those reading from a family Bible, the meaning goes far beyond the significance of those childhood favourites.

Nothing I have ever written or could ever write comes close to such experiences. However, when I glance through Western Canadian public history books that I gave my father for birthdays and Christmases, I feel closer to him. He enjoyed those books, and after his passing, they returned to me. In fact, in glancing through those books and making selections for him over the years, I became more and more captivated by the same topic.

One of my favourites

One of my favourites

Important ones for me were Salt of the Earth: The Story of Homesteaders in Western Canada by Heather Robinson, and A Harvest Yet to Reap by Rasmassen, Rasmussen, Savage & Wheeler. I loved these books, and I return to them often when doing my research. Both are available on Amazon, and I realize how important online availability has become.

I have also decided to register and sell my books on Amazon. There is a time when it is important to move ahead, move along with contemporary technologies and new ways of doing things. What better time than with Christmas and the upcoming new year. As a result, if you are looking for something about the “old days” in Western Canada, I might have the gift book for the seniors in your life. You can find them on Amazon.ca or my website.

Beginning Again With Christmas

I’m sending my best wishes to you for a happy holiday season. Since it is the festive season, to acknowledge its importance, I am coming back to  my blog. As I have said before, life fills up, and there never seems enough time for everything. However, after a long time of not finding the time in life to write, I am hoping this effort takes me back to my continued passion for our shared past and the process of writing. For this blog, I am starting with our public history, and the following is an excerpt from Sharing the Good Times: A History of Prairie Women’s Joys and Pleasure, a book intended to balance our views about our pioneer women. Yes, they endured seemingly endless hard work, but also, they knew how to celebrate the occasions that were so very special to them. I am publishing some of the section throughout the holiday season. Have a look and come back next week for more on the holidays.

Our friend’s Christmas village conveys a sense of community. Photo by W.H. Holt

Holiday Festivities

In the past, the calendar was filled with festive days for ordinary people, too.  The special holidays mean good times for the entire family. The fall harvest was celebrated at fall fairs and Thanksgiving, but even more important festive occasions were all the other traditional, religious holidays.

The holidays, their dates and the traditional activities associated with them varied with the homeland and cultural background of families. The exact dates for Christmas festivities varied for Eastern Orthodox and other Christians; but for most of the population, there were Christmas and Easter celebrations. Jews observed Passover, Hanukkah and other dates of religious significance. The Chinese celebrated New Years on a different day than most other western Canadians.

Special church services, gatherings and sometimes concerts were part of the religious and observances, but the good food and special, traditional dishes were highlights of the day. And food was in the realm of women’s work and women’s culture. Cooking for such occasions was a great deal of work, but to many, the role was a form of participation in the religious and family life that was treasured. Even the baking of bread became more than part of physical well-being. For important religious observations, bread–whether leavened or unleavened, a plain loaf or a braided one–was essential as a symbol.

And symbols are important to all of us at this very special time of year.

sharing72From: Sharing the Good Times: A History of Prairie Women’s Joys and Pleasures (To purchase or for further information, see my updated website: www.wordsandhistory.ca or go to Amazon.ca and search for me or the book title)