The fifth title in our provincial histories series, Mavericks is an idiosyncratic and episodic history of what is arguably Canada's most unconventional province. From mapmakers to ranchers, Stampede Wrestling to Stockwell Day, acclaimed writer Aritha van Herk brings the drama and combative beauty of this irascible province to stunning life.
van Herk's portrait of her home province embraces all its extremes, from deadly and spectacular weather to dinosaur graveyards, and from oil gushers and geysers to barnstorming social reformers and political haymakers. Bronc-riders of boom and bust, Alberta's people are a beguiling mixture of opinionated extremists, hardy pioneers and gentle sinners.
Alberta is a province that most Canadians simply don't understand, the province most Canadians love to hate. It is regarded as a land of reckless, redneck and ignorant individualists. But it is also the province where the Famous Five fought the landmark Person's Case, giving Canadian women the same status as men in the eyes of the law, a province that truly believes in free speech. Albertans tolerate in their midst people whose extreme views on any manner of subjects would make them outcasts elsewhere. And Albertans practice the creed of western neighbourliness, giving assiduously to charity and always lending a hand where help is needed. They are a tough, tender bunch, squinting into the wind of determined difference.
If you're an Albertan, you'll recognize yourself and your home in this book. If you're not an Albertan, this book will be an education for you. Mavericks will open your eyes to the real Alberta, as she was and is.
Aritha van Herk's books include Judith, The Tent Peg, No Fixed Address: An Amorous Journey, Places Far From Ellesmere and Restlessness. Her essays are collected in In Visible Ink and A Frozen Tongue. Both her creative and critical writing have been widely published, and her work has been translated into ten languages.
Aritha van Herk is a professor of Canadian literature and creative writing in the Department of English at the University of Calgary. She has lived in Edmonton, Vancouver, Australia and Spain, but finds that Calgary suits her best.