The Canadian Rodeo Book
Contains Illustrations, Index
Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.
Rodeo as a sport has an oral tradition in Canada that spans nearly 100 years. The cattle drives up to the southern Alberta grazing lands from the United States in the late 1800s were the spawning grounds for modern professional rodeo. Informal competitions were held along the trails and in the towns along the way. Modern rodeo, according to the two Saskatchewan authors of this book, “grew from two main roots — the informal cowboy contest and the wild west show. From the former, rodeo took its skills and its strong sense of friendly competition. From the latter, it took showmanship and a touch of circus glitter.”
The Canadian Rodeo Book chronicles the development of rodeo as a sport in Canada. Starting with a historical overview, it moves into a detailed explanation of the different events — saddle bronc riding, bareback horse riding, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, and others. A section is devoted to the organization of professional rodeo, the circuit sponsored by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association leading to the Canadian Finals Rodeo, open only to contestants who are in the top ten in their respective events over the whole season. The authors take pains to emphasize the friendship and closeness developed by the performers. The men and women who follow the circuit (who “go down the road,” in the jargon of the sport) are a breed apart. Eamer and Jones succeed in humanizing the cowboys and cowgirls who live in this distinctive world. The book is copiously illustrated and well bound. It concludes with a dictionary of rodeo terms, a “who’s who of Canadian rodeo,” and a final chapter of Canadian rodeo statistics from 1945 to 1981. A worthwhile purchase for the public library.