A controversial sport, rodeo is often seen as emblematic of the West's reputation as a “white man's country.” A Wilder West complicates this view, showing how rodeo has been an important contact zone -- a chaotic and unpredictable place of encounter that challenged expected social hierarchies. Rodeo has brought people together across racial and gender divides, creating friendships, rivalries, and unexpected intimacies. Fans made hometown cowboys, cowgirls, and Aboriginal riders local heroes. Lavishly illustrated and based on cowboy/cowgirl biographies and memoirs, press coverage, archival records, and dozens of interviews with former and current rodeo contestants, promoters, and audience members, this creative history returns to rodeo's small-town roots to shed light on the history of social relations in Canada's western frontier.
Mary-Ellen Kelm is a Canada Research Chair in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. Her previous books include Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia. She is an avid animal trainer, competing in agility and obedience with her dog, Rusty. She lives in North Vancouver with her husband, Don, and spends her summers outdoors, hiking and paddling in British Columbia.
By using rodeo as the central contact zone, Kelm provides a very interesting and nuanced way of examining settler and Aboriginal relations in Western Canada...Kelm's book makes an important contribution to Canadian history. She successfully demonstrates that Western Canadian settlers and Aboriginal peoples did not operate in a static fashion or interact solely along the rigid lines of the colonization narrative.
Mary-Ellen Kelm’s book is a welcome addition to a somewhat sparse scholarly literature on the history of rodeo in Canada…overall, this study is well conceived and filled with personalized stories to keep readers interested and to deepen knowledge about localities. Kelm fulfills her intent to demonstrate the palpable “linkages between cultural display and political action” in terms of colonial history and has also created a good resource for studies about masculinities linked to sport and identity...