World Wildlife Conservation Day – It Began With Teddy Roosevelt


World Wildlife Conservation Day — It Began With Teddy Roosevelt!




“Here is your country! Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” Teddy Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first world leader to not only talk passionately about Conservation, but to act on it.  Teddy began the movement to proactively protect our wilderness areas and the wildlife that inhabited it.

“It is also vandalism to wantonly destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird.” Teddy continued.  “Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals — not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening.”

While many countries faltered through the 20th Century, a handful of world leaders were able to pick up the torch and carry on Teddy’s essential fight.

Canada’s Greenest Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, for instance…

In 1987, Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney spearheaded the The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer  — signing nations that committed to reducing, and eventually completely stopping, production of chemicals such as CFCs that contribute to breaking down the ozone layer.  Remember CFCs — Chlorofluorocarbons?  Our refrigerators, air conditioners and spray cans used to be full of them.

And Remember Acid Rain?  Brian Mulroney began negotiations with President Ronald Reagan in 1986 on the deadly phenomenon.  The Canada-US Acid Rain Treaty was signed by Prime Minister Mulroney and President George H W Bush in 1991.  Our Great Lakes are showing sure signs of recovery.

The legacy of Brian Mulroney, Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush to the environment is a proud one.  And a surprise to many.

teddy-roosevelt-climate-changeHistorically, the whole concept of Conservation came from the Right, not the Left.  The very word “Ecology” was coined by German traditional conservative landowners who were fighting the massive destruction of their beloved woodlands and their rich ancestral soil by the new international liberal forces of Progress and coal-fed industrialism.  Valiantly protecting what Wilhelms Riehl called the “mythic darkness of the primordial forest.”

And President Teddy Roosevelt was warning Americans about “Climate Change” and “Deforestation” way back in 1908, in his prophetic  “Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives” —   See Teddy Roosevelt Called it Climate Change in 1908!


“Live Free, Mon Ami!” – Brian Alan Burhoe



Title: World Wildlife Conservation Day — It Began With Teddy Roosevelt

Keywords: Teddy Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt, Climate Change, Deforestation, Conservation, conservative, greenest prime minister, Brian Mulroney, World Wildlife Conservation Day, Quotes




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Canada’s National Bird: Grey Jay, Whiskey Jack – Loon?


Canada’s National Bird: Grey Jay, Whiskey Jack – Loon?



You’ve probably read the reports:

“When news broke that Canadian Geographic had picked the diminutive Grey Jay, also called the Whisky Jack, as its nomination for Canada’s official National Bird, it touched off a cacophony of tweets.”

Well, yes, it was a surprise for those of us who care about such things, eh?

And care we should.  Canadian Culture has been under siege since the 1920’s.  Our enemies have always understood the most basic of facts: destroy a nation’s culture and you destroy that nation. [1]

And our animals are our national totems.  They tell us and they tell the others who we are.  National animals reflect our Sacred Culture.  National animals reveal our souls…

I’ve written elsewhere that I agree that Canada’s National Animal should be rebranded from the Beaver to the Polar Bear. [2]

But I’d always thought that our national bird was the Loon.  Other choices may have been the Canada Goose or Snowy Owl.  Ravens are almost worldwide, but I love the dark eyed Raven.  Much surprised when Canadian Geographic announced it should be the Whiskey Jack (aka Canada Jay or Grey Jay).

Not that I didn’t know about the Whiskey Jacks.  Grey Owl had told me about the notorious wilderness companions/tricksters/camp robbers.  The adventurous birds had eaten out of his hand.  And I believe I have seen and heard them in my boyhood New Brunswick forests.

These birds had accompanied hunting parties, explorers, trappers, canoeists from earliest days in the Canadian wilderness.  The black headed jays were always there for a food hand-out.  A bother to some — a welcome companion to others.  Whiskey Jacks are part of our mythology.

I still think of the Loon first.  I’ve heard them calling across lone Canadian lakes.  What true Canadian hasn’t?  Their call always brings back fragments of my fave boyhood poem, Scott’s UNNAMED LAKE: “It sleeps among the thousand hills where no man ever trod, and only nature’s music fills the silences of God.”

But I could accept the Whiskey Jack, I guess.

Dipping into TALES FROM AN EMPTY CABIN, I listened again to my friend Grey Owl, who had first told me of the Whiskey Jacks, “those companionable, impertinent grey brigands who appear, soundlessly like ghosts from nowhere, at the first stroke of an axe or first wisp of smoke from a camp fire.

“They contrive to make themselves welcome by an ingratiating amiability that may, or may not, be counterfeit.  Their antics are amusing and they provide considerable light entertainment at times that might otherwise be dull.  A man feels that their companionship at a lonely camp fire is worth a few scraps of bannock or meat…

“Gourmands and thieves they undoubtedly are, but they are cheerful, good-natured pirates and good company withal, and these engaging rascals have a pleasant, plaintive little ditty that they sing, as if to please the hearer, but which I gravely suspect is but a siren song used only to charm contributions from reluctant prospects.”

Grey Owl has spoken on the subject.

– Brian Alan Burhoe


lone-wolf-storyDo you love wild animal tales?




WOLFBLOOD, a Northwestern yarn in the Jack London Tradition, FREE to Read ==> CLICK HERE  WOLFBLOOD: A Wild Wolf, A Half-Wild Husky & A Wily Old Trapper


[1] “Canadian Culture has been under siege since the 1920’s…” Canuck Movies – Mounties, Nell Shipman & the Canadian Spirit

[2] “Canada’s National Animal should be rebranded from the Beaver to the Polar Bear…”   What is Canada’s National Animal? The Polar Bear!

Keywords: animal story, Canada’s National Bird, Canada’s National Animal, Gray Jay, Grey Jay, Grey Owl, Loon, polar bear




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Bob Dylan Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature


Bob Dylan Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature




Yes, it’s true.  For my generation — us Boomers — most of our great writers are our Singer-Songwriters.  They sang our lives.

So I cheered at the Announcement.

Nobel Prize for Literature for Bob Dylan.

And a week later “the elusive, reclusive artist acknowledged his win” by adding “WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE” on his website.

But what was all that indignant muttering about?  Some thought that Bob was just the wrong troubadour, is all — maybe it should be Leonard Cohen.  Others thought that the choice of any singer-songwriter was someone just not “literate enough.”

Me, I cheered and sang a few legendary lines and said, “It’s about time.  The next ten winners should be the Great Ones.  Our Singer-Songwriters!”  Leonard.  Gordon,  Buffy.  John.  Paul.  Pete.  Elton.  Bruce.   _______.  _______. [1]

As I’ve said before, most of my boyhood heroes were writers.

Sir Charles G D Roberts, creator of the Realistic Animal Story, who I met in our elementary school readers.  Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, who I met everywhere else.

Then wilderness writers like Jack London and Grey Owl.

Later, Andre Norton, Will Henry, Ian Fleming, George Orwell, Edgar Pangborn, Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Ross Macdonald, Kurt Vonnegut…

Didn’t think of it at the time, but I was inspired by writers born before my time, men and women of our parent’s and grandparent’s generations.  In the case of scribblers like Fielding and Dickens and Twain and Conan Doyle, even further back.

Then (for me) came Lightfoot.  And Buffy Sainte-Marie.  Dylan.  Lennon and Jagger.  Singing about my own life.  Poets of our own time.

Actually, some of these weren’t Boomers, but War Babies.  Some remembered the crump of bombings and the nightmare of firestorms.  They wrote about it in differing ways.  One was “born in a crossfire hurricane.”  Another said “give Peace a chance.”

And Dylan.  “Come gather ’round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown…”

And then the younger Boomers.  I’ll get on my knees and pray we don’t get fooled again.  Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.  Who are you — what have you sacrificed?

YES!  For our generation — us Boomers — most of our great writers are our Singer-Songwriters.

Dylan deserves noble prizes.

That very awarding acknowledges their Métier.  They sang our lives.  Hallelujah!

==>> “The first artists to blow the old stuff off the airways for me, who I was aware of as speaking directly to me about my own life, our own times, were…”  To read more go to Life & Works of Brian Alan Burhoe – All About Us & More

Live Free, Mon Ami! – Brian Alan Burhoe


[1] Add your own favourites…

Title: Bob Dylan Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature

Keywords: Bob Dylan, Boomer generation, Boomers, Charles G D Roberts, Jack London, Leonard Cohen, lyrics, my generation, Nobel Prize Literature, singer-songwriters



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The Walter Lantz Story: Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy & the Beary Family


The Walter Lantz Story: Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy & the Beary Family – A Tribute



Guess who?  Ha-Ha-Ha Haaa Ha!”

“Everybody thinks I’m crazee-ee-ee.  Yessiree, that’s me, that’s me.  That’s what I’m cracked up to be.  I chop a hole in ev’ry tree-ee-ee.  Knock on wood.  Well, knock on wood-ood-ood.  So I’m crazy.  So what, what can I do?  So are you!” Woody Woodpecker

“Anything for a laugh. That was the kind of picture we used to do, the kind I’ve always done. We never tried to do a cartoon that was abstract, or arty, or difficult to understand, or with some kind of hidden message…  All we ever wanted to do, all I ever do want to do, is make ‘em laugh.” Walter Lantz

Robin Meets Woodpecker: “On behalf of the Academy, I’d like to give you this award for doing strange and wonderful things with a laughing bird.” Robin Williams, on presenting an Honorary Academy Award to Walter Lantz at the 1979 Oscars.


A recent trending hashtag on Twitter — “#MyFavChildhoodCartoon” — sure brought back memories.  Folks young and old had sent out hundreds of wonderful heart-felt postings.  I had to throw in my own Tweet: “LONG TIME AGO, I LOVED KINDLY OL’ WALTER LANTZ’S INTROS TO HIS OWN CREATION WOODY WOODPECKER.”

Yes, stirred memories.

Way back when, I learned to read on Dell comic books.  Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories.  Walter Lantz New Funnies.  Walt Kelly’s Pogo Possum.  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.   Zane Grey’s King of the Royal Mounted…  Dell even put out a version of my fave Weekend Comics colour feature: Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant.

And also learned from the beginning that all those characters were created by real people, even the capricious cartoon characters.  The creators — writers and artists — enchanted me.

We met kindly ol’ Walter Lantz on the original Woody Woodpecker TV Show.  I was fascinated as a kid by those “Moment with Walter Lantz” clips when he would talk about creating his characters, even show us the drawing and animation process.

walter-lantz-creator-woody-woodpecker5And his animated folk.  There was Woody the Woodpecker, of course.  And Woody’s rambunctious niece and nephew.  Remember their names?  Allll right! [1]

And Andy Panda.  Oswald the Rabbit.  Chilly Willy.  Charlie Chicken.  The big bully Buzz Buzzard.  Homer Pigeon.  Wally Walrus.  Gabby Gator.  Elmer the Great Dane.  Sugarfoot the Horse.  Maw and Paw the Humans.

And, among my later favourites, the bear family named Beary — do you remember their names? [2]

And those fond thoughts made me wonder if Walter had ever written his own memoirs.  Or had anyone penned a full bio?  Well, yes.  Look there.  THE WALTER LANTZ STORY: With Woody Woodpecker and Friends.  Published by Putnam in 1985, while Walter was still alive (Walter Lantz lived to be 95, Bless him).  Hardcover, 254 pages.  “Copiously illustrated with photographs and drawings.”  Written by Joe Adamson, who had also authored TEX AVERY, KING OF CARTOONS and BUGS BUNNY: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare.  Joe Adamson knows his stuff. [3]

So I logged onto Abebooks and sent for my own used copy (ex-library) through Better World Books.  It arrived in the trustworthy mail the other day.  Yup, it’s out of print, but here’s my GoodReads Book Review telling you some of the reasons why this wonder-filled book should be newly reprinted…


The Walter Lantz StoryThe Walter Lantz Story by Joe Adamson – a Book Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever wondered, like me, who voiced that joyous, rascally, in-your-face Woody Woodpecker Laugh? Film historian Joe Adamson answers that — and more.

If, also like me, you love memoirs and biographies of creative men and women, then I recommend THE WALTER LANTZ STORY. With input from Walter Lantz himself, Adamson has written an astute study of a great artist and the moving life of a warm and kind man.

At age 12, Walter Lantz dropped out of school to work for his father at a mining company commissary deep in the green Northwoods of New England.

While he enjoyed hunting and fishing, he still yearned to educate himself.

Wanting to follow his artistic dreams, the young Walter enrolled in two correspondence courses. One was in the popular field of newspaper cartooning. The other course was in a new art form, “something called Animation.”

Walter Lantz literally started his career at the beginning of animated motion picture shorts — his story is the history of the feature cartoon. And it’s all here in this book — complete with photos and artwork on nearly every page.

And the kindness I spoke of… While Walter lost his mother at an early age, and his father lost the use of his legs, and it became a family struggle just to make a living, Walter kept his warm sense of humour and his deep love of family and friends.

From his early days drawing cartoons for Randolph Hearst’s newspapers to his creative experiences in the newly formed Hollywood animation studios, Walter built a career.

When he first arrived in Hollywood, the animated silent cartoon had fallen on hard times and Walter found himself starring in short two-reel live-action comedies. Working first for Hal Roach, then Canadian Mack Sennet, Walter learned the basics of movie comedy: slapstick and gags.

When the arrival of sound and a young Walt Disney made cartoons a hot item again, Walter Lantz was ready.

First came Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, voice provided by a kid named Mickey Rooney.

Then Andy Panda — inspired by the sudden love affair of North Americans in the Thirties with the Chinese Panda.

And then Woody Woodpecker — inspired by an obnoxious woodpecker tapping noisily on the roof of the lakeside cabin where Walter and his new bride Gracie were attempting to enjoy their honeymoon.

Followed by Chilly Willy, Homer Pigeon, Wally Walrus…

Oh, yes. Who performed Woody’s voice? In 1940, it was Mel Blanc. By the Fifties, Mrs. Gracie Stafford Lantz did Woody’s voice — and that famous laugh.


Five Out of Five BEAR HUGS!

==>> To see another Tribute to a boyhood hero, see Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Tribute to Tarzan’s Creator, A Personal Hero


walter-lantz-creator-woody-woodpecker3Footnotes & Monikers:

[1] Splinter & Knothead.

[2] The put-upon papa bear was Charlie Beary, with mama bear Bessie Beary.  And big Junior and his little sister bear Suzy.  Ah, the memories.

[3] Joe Adamson has also written GROUCHO, HARPO, CHICO AND SOMETIMES ZEPPO: A Celebration of the Marx Brothers & a Satire on the Rest of the World.  And a number of interviews and articles in Film Comment magazine (like “Well, For Heaven’s Sake! Grown Men!”) and The American Animated Cartoon (“Interview With Chuck Jones”), among other television and movie-related projects.

Note on Artwork: Colour photo of Walter Lantz at top of page is a detail from the front jacket of THE WALTER LANTZ STORY, drawing and design by Frank McSavage.

Title: The Walter Lantz Story: Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy & the Beary Family

Meta Description: Read a loving write-up about the well-lived life, worthwhile works and wonderful wacky worlds of Walter Lantz, creator of Woody Woodpecker — and Wally Walrus!

Keywords: animated cartoon, book review, cartoon, Dell comics, Edgar Rice Burroughs, fav childhood cartoon, Joe Adamson, Robin Williams quote, Tarzan, Walt Disney, Walter Lantz, walter lantz cartoons, walter lanz, woody the woodpecker, woody woodpecker episodes, woody woodpecker laugh, Woody Woodpecker song lyrics

chilly-willy-walter-lantzDID YOU LIKE THIS POSTING?  




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L Sprague de Camp’s ZEI Novels in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tradition


L Sprague de Camp’s ZEI Novels in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tradition



“On a fine clear morning, the sun rose redly over the rim of the Banjao Sea.  The rising sun, which the Krishnans call Roqir and the Earthmen call Tau Ceti, cast its ruddy rays slantwise across a vast floating swamp…”



The Search for Zei/The Hand of ZeiThe Search for Zei/The Hand of Zei by L Sprague de Camp – a Book Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Edgar Rice Burroughs was a favourite fantasy writer in my youth. Besides all that swashbuckling adventuring and exotic worldscaping, I loved the lightness of his story telling, the humour. Not too many could out-do Burroughs, but L. Sprague de Camp accomplished that deed.

De Camp’s “The Search for Zei/The Hand of Zei” is his best. Set on the medieval-level planet Krishna, the Zei stories remain a long-time fave. In addition, this Ace Double edition had wonderful cover art by Emsh.

“Twenty-five degrees north of the equator on the planet Krishna lies the Banjoa Sea, the largest body of water on this planet. And in this Sea is found the Sunqar, home of legend and Mystery.  Here under the scorching rays of the hot high sun, the beaked galleys of Dur and the tubby round-ships of Jazmurian slowly rot in the unbreakable grip of a vast floating continent of sea vine.”

The writer of these words, Dirk Barnevelt, didn’t know that he would soon be venturing across this “barbaric planet” himself.

He was a writer, not a hero.

Rollicking adventure!

==>> To Read More About Science Fantasy Adventuring in the Burroughs Tradition, see Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Tribute to Tarzan’s Creator, A Personal Hero


Brian Alan Burhoe



L Sprague de Camp’s ZEI Novels in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tradition

Keywords: Ace Double, Book Review, Emsh, Hand of Zei, Brian Alan Burhoe, L Sprague de Camp, The Search for Zei, Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Celebrating P G Wodehouse & The Whimsical, Witty World of Jeeves


Right Ho!  Celebrating P G Wodehouse & The Whimsical, Witty World of Jeeves





“I’M BITTEN.  WHAT A DIVINE ITCH!” Brian Alan Burhoe


The World of Jeeves (Jeeves, #2-4)The World of Jeeves by P G Wodehouse – A Book Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve stumbled upon P.G. Wodehouse late in life.

Knew about him, of course. Knew about Jeeves and Bertie. Probably read some of Plum’s short stories in various humourous collections over the years. Yes, I know I have. When I read “Uncle Fred Flits By” in WHAT HO! THE BEST OF P G WODEHOUSE, I said (out loud and with joy): “I know this story. What a riot!”

Why I’ve taken so long, I don’t know. Because Terry Pratchett is gone? Tom Sharpe? Douglas Adams left us in 2001 and the shock wave’s just struck? Can’t find any new classic Britcoms on the telly? (Wake up PBS!)

Wake up, Brian.

I’ve been reading THE WORLD OF JEEVES on and off, one delicious short story at a time. Maybe comedy works best in short form — I don’t know. Just know that this book is smegging great! (Oh, smeg – I’m referencing a different universe, aren’t I – sorry.)

This big fat omnibus, this “trackless desert of print,” gives us all of the short stories collected in CARRY ON, JEEVES and THE INIMITABLE JEEVES and VERY GOOD, JEEVES as well as two more stories, “Jeeves Makes an Omelette” and “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird.”  A smorgasbord of sprightly stories.  A groaning table of flippant fables.

Could London between the world wars have really been this much fun? Especially if you have all those fearsome Aunts? Although I’ve fallen in luv with Aunt Agatha….

If you’re an aging Boomer like me, and all you’ve known about the elegant London Clubs is what you read in Ian Fleming, let Wodehouse give you a lighter view of that upper crust (and crumbling) society — via the Drones Club.

And let him show you what finely crafted comic stories are really like.

And let Jeeves solve all your problems.

Right Ho!

Brian Alan Burhoe



Celebrating P G Wodehouse & The Whimsical, Witty World of Jeeves

Keywords: An Aging Boomer Discovers P G Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster, best of P G Wodehouse, book review, Brian Alan Burhoe, Britcoms, comic stories, Ian Fleming, Jeeves, performing flea quote, P G Wodehouse, Wodehouse quote, World of Jeeves review


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Nell Shipman Nude Scene

This gallery contains 4 photos.

  Nell Shipman Nude Scene — Complete Moving Picture World & Vancouver World Ads   WARNING: This page contains images of nudity.  Some modern viewers may be amused, bemused or even tickled pink.       Early in the silent movie … Continue reading

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Teddy Roosevelt Called it Climate Change in 1908


“THE CLIMATE HAS CHANGED AND IS STILL CHANGING.” President Theodore Roosevelt, 1908





Teddy Roosevelt Called it Climate Change in 1908


As a Canadian, I’ve never had much to do with party politics.

OK, I’ve posted the occasional Patriotic Rant, but then, being a big teddy bear by nature, moved on to laughter, love and a good cold glass of Moosehead Ale…

My favourite Canadian Prime Minister remains Conservative John Diefenbaker. As a boy, I loved his fierce loyalty to country and his sense of personal independence. I’ve mentioned elsewhere his historic speech introducing his Bill Of Rights (“We must vigilantly stand on guard within our own borders for human rights and fundamental freedoms which are our proud heritage”). [1]

I’ve applauded Conservative Brian Mulroney for his work on the environment, earning him the title “Canada’s Greenest Prime Minister.” Although I’ve also lamented his joining with Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher in that whole Free Trade thing. Still unsure about FT after all these years.

I’ve celebrated Justin and Sophie’s appearance on the world stage, not for political reasons, but because of the cred they’ve given Canadian culture. As of this writing, there’s a number of women positioning for leadership of the Conservative party — a good sign for the Dominion.

My Mom is an English war bride and I lived in Yorkshire from ages 4 to 8, so I’ve followed all things British over the years. Those old Britcoms still break me up (“Are you free, Mr Humphries?”). Cheer for England in the FA Cup. The Brexit thing — well, I kind of agree with it, sort of, but it’s not my place to go on about it either way.  Except to cheer: “God Bless England!”

American politics?  I keep out of it.  There’s one exception. Teddy Roosevelt.

teddy-roosevelt-climate-changeI read a library book about him as a kid and he earned a respect that has stayed with me. Probably the Rough Rider charge up San Juan Hill first caught a youngster’s imagination. Ranching out in the Wild West. Exploring the Amazon jungles. A young asthmatic growing up to lead a Strenuous Life outdoors. Bully stuff.

Later, it was his dedication to Conservation and National Parks that kept my interest. He later said that these were his proudest achievements.  A true outdoorsman to the end.

In his “Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives” of Tuesday, December 8, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a long and astute summary of the State of the Union and, in fact, much of the world. [2]

Among detailed accounts of Finances, Business, Law, Education, Public Health and Soldiers’ Homes, he certainly caught my attention with his Forests, Inland Waterways and National Parks sections.

“The climate has changed and is still changing? And Teddy wrote that in 1908?”

Well, yes.  There it is.  Word for word.

Today, when it’s taken for granted Fossil Fuels are the primary cause of extreme climate change, I’ve drawn some fire by saying, “No. Deforestation is the Number One Cause of global climate change.” Not that I’m letting Fossil Fuels off the hook. Three and a half centuries of coal-fed industrialism, with oil and gas following along, have added immensely to real eco-callapse. [3]

Thing is, many petrochem industries are now beginning to invest in Green technology. The recent announcement that Japan has now “more electric car charging stations than gas stations” caught our own Green Techies by surprise.  Our Green tech and Green Energy sectors are already scrambling to catch up.

But Humankind has been busily hacking down those thriving magnificent forests for the entire Age of Civilization — for over 5000 years. And the destruction has been clearly affecting the Earth ever since. The Industrial Age has seen a gigantic leap in that forestland destruction.

The cure is no longer “Plant A Tree” but PLANT ENTIRE FORESTS – OR ELSE!

And Teddy Roosevelt gave us the reasons why in his 1908 Message:

“If there is any one duty which more than another we owe it to our children and our children’s children to perform at once, it is to save the forests of this country, for they constitute the first and most important element in the conservation of the natural resources of the country,” Teddy said.

“Shortsighted persons, or persons blinded to the future by desire to make money in every way out of the present, sometimes speak as if no great damage would be done by the reckless destruction of our forests…

“All serious students of the question are aware of the great damage that has been done in the Mediterranean countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa by deforestation. The similar damage that has been done in Eastern Asia is less well known.

“A recent investigation into conditions in North China by Mr. Frank N. Meyer, of the Bureau of Plant Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture, has incidentally furnished in very striking fashion proof of the ruin that comes from reckless deforestation of mountains, and of the further fact that the damage once done may prove practically irreparable…

The climate has changed and is still changing. It has changed even within the last half century, as the work of tree destruction has been consummated….”

Teddy concluded: “What has thus happened in northern China, what has happened in Central Asia, in Palestine, in North Africa, in parts of the Mediterranean countries of Europe, will surely happen in our country if we do not exercise that wise forethought which should be one of the chief marks of any people calling itself civilized.

“Nothing should be permitted to stand in the way of the preservation of the forests, and it is criminal to permit individuals to purchase a little gain for themselves through the destruction of forests when this destruction is fatal to the well-being of the whole country in the future.”

Well said.

teddy-roosevelt-bearI really recommend that you read Teddy’s entire Forests report. And the Waterways and National Parks sections that follow.

Maybe you’re not an American and all you know about Teddy is that he once spared the life of a bear while hunting — and a stuffed bruin was named after him.  Entire generations have grown up with fond memories of their childhood teddy bears…  No matter — you should read it.

Here’s an unquestionable fact, my friend: Just over a Hundred Years after Teddy Roosevelt gave his impassioned warning, we’re seeing the global climate change effects, the results of inattention, indulgence and inactivity are here…

It will be the entrepreneurial free enterprisers who will put in the hard work and reap the rewards of our new Green Economy.  For a look at these issues from a Conservative voice,  SEE  Global Climate Change Facts: COP21 Climate Change Conference Paris 2015


[1] For more on Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights, see Old Stock Canadian vs Newcomer: A Patriot’s View

[2] To Read the Complete “Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives” by President Theodore Roosevelt, Dec 8, 1908: Click Here  (Note: if page doesn’t immediately load, you may have to click on Reload)

[3] Besides investing in Green Tech, the Petrochem industry could really up their public relations game by explaining the disastrous results of Deforestation — and Planting New Forests!

Brian Alan Burhoe


Teddy Roosevelt Called it Climate Change in 1908

Keywords: climate change, climate change effects, deforestation, forests, destruction of forests, global climate change, global warming, greenest prime minister, patriotic rant, teddy bear, Teddy Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, wilderness



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Canuck Movies: Mounties, Nell Shipman & the Canadian Spirit


Canuck Movies: Mounties, Nell Shipman & the Canadian Spirit — A Patriot’s Rant



Nell Shipman & Brownie in BACK TO GOD’S COUNTRY

“The leading man wasn’t a very good swimmer and when we got into that wild, white water, he forgot what little he knew.  I was lucky enough to reach him and we made that big rock out there in the middle…  Well, I’ve never been doubled — yet!  But, Gosh!  It sure makes me sore to sit in a picture theatre, watching myself pull some crazy stunt, and hear people say, ‘She didn’t really do that!  It’s a trick!  They do it with a camera!'” – Nell Shipman

“Canada gave her all in this war and I think that our understanding of what it means to be Canadian was actually forged in the crucible of the Western Front.  And yet, mysteriously, our cinematic record is all but silent on this subject.” Paul Gross


cameron-royal-mounted-movieIn 1921, Canadian independent film producer Ernest Shipman released a rousing silver screen version of Ralph Connor’s best selling novel CORPORAL CAMERON OF THE NORTH-WEST MOUNTED POLICE.

Retitled Cameron of the Royal Mounted, it quickly became one of the top moneymaking movies of that year worldwide, drawing long line-ups of excited film-goers in every town and city throughout the Dominion — and beyond.

Books, magazine stories and movies about Canada’s Mounties were immensely popular with the public and Cameron of the Royal Mounted was the latest product of that success.

The huge popularity of Shipman’s earlier Canadian-set movies, like Baree, Son Of Kazan and The Black Wolf and Back To God’s Country (all of which starred his wife Nell Shipman), coupled with the rise of nationalistic fervour that burst out like a bonfire during the emotion-charged “Free Trade” Election of 1911 and our patriotic entry into the Great War of 1914, fueled the demand for popular Canadian-made movies based on our own Canadian stories.

When Liberal Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier had signed the Free Trade deal with President William Taft of the U. S. in 1911, Canadians remembered Sir John A MacDonald’s vehement “Free Trade is Treason!” and had voted Laurier out in a landslide victory for Nova Scotia-born Conservative Robert Borden, killing the “Taft Deal.” [1]

Canadians at that time passionately believed in cultural independence and an abiding love of the Mother Country, England.

And we stormed the recruiting stations to join the battle in Europe to defend the Empire.

Patriotism ruled the True North Strong and Free.

We wanted stories that reflected this.  The most popular movies with Canadians were The Battle Of The Long Sault (1913 – a realistic re-enactment of the Châteauguay battle with the Iroquois), The War Pigeon (1914), The Pine’s Revenge (1915), Self Defence (1916), The Black Wolf (1917), The Scorching Flame (1918), The Great Shadow (1919), God’s Crucible (1920), The Girl from God’s Country (1921), Cameron of the Royal Mounted (1921), The Rapids (1922), The Man From Glengarry (1922), The Grub-Stake (1923) and The Trail of the North Wind (1924).

Nell-Shipman-Back-To-Gods-CountryErnest Shipman’s 1919 production of Back To God’s Country (his wife Nell wrote the screenplay based on a James Oliver Curwood short story and starred as the heroine, including a scene where she swam naked in a waterfall-fed northern river [2]) eclipsed all other made-in-Canada productions in box-office ticket numbers and popularity, before or since, becoming our biggest motion picture success of all time — and that’s well-nigh a hundred years ago!  

By the mid 1920’s, the Hollywood Movie Moguls had begun their ruthless destruction of competing independent movie makers and theatre owners throughout North America.  The U.S. government — spurred on by what Ernest Shipman called “New York financial interests” — imposed a “special tariff on the importation of Canadian films” into the States.

The Ottawa governments of Arthur Meighen and then William Lyon Mackenzie King refused to respond to Ernest Shipman’s impassioned public plea for a “retaliatory tariff” against Hollywood films.

Thus the pertinacious extermination of Canada’s vibrant nationalistic film industry was a done deal.  The new Canadian Spirit that had been born during the fiery 1911 election — and in Flanders Fields and the bloody battles of Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge — was crushed by a closer enemy.  Ernest Shipman was among the first of our cultural casualties.  No major Canadian motion picture producers survived the cold-blooded pogrom.

Although Nell Shipman bravely carried on by herself for a brief but brilliant time, writing, acting in and producing her own independent wilderness films…

Known today as “an early pioneer of Hollywood film-making,” the British Columbia actress Nell Shipman achieved overnight success as the star of the 1916 silent movie God’s Country and the Woman.  She turned down an offered seven year contract from an ambitious motion picture producer from Poland named Szmuel Gelbfisz (who was in the process of changing his name to Samuel Goldwyn).  Instead, Nell choose to make a series of popular independent Canadian movies, first with her husband, then on her own.

A passionate believer in animal rights, she created a sanctuary of over a hundred animals, who often starred in her movies as friends who would save her from “men of prey more heartless than the beasts of the forest.”

Nell’s silent movies became a passionate visualization of her love of the free creatures of the wilderness, the Canadian Spirit — and the first ecofeminist art.

Over two decades later, a much older and wiser William Lyon Mackenzie King, again Prime Minister, had the opportunity to restore nationalistic movie enterprise in Canada.

In the years just after World War II, nations around the world were pouring scarce resources into building their own national film industries.  England, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Japan and so many more were all rebuilding movie production companies that would soon thrive.  And represent their unique cultures.  (Is there anything more British than the Carry On films?)

With that in mind, Prime Minister King established the National Film Board — and then allowed it to be gutted by his own Minister of Trade, American-born C D Howe, in favour of continued foreign control.  (See “Canadian  Co-operation, Hollywood Style,” Part Four of Pierre Berton’s essential HOLLYWOOD’S CANADA, in which Pierre describes what has to be one of Canada’s worst acts of cultural treason.)

Today, nothing has changed, eh?

3-Passchendaele-Canadian-movie-paul-grossDue South‘s Paul Gross has written, starred in, directed and produced two major Canadian films — Passchendaele, about the WWI bloody battle in Flanders, where Canadian soldiers took huge losses but fought to victory over the Germans — and Hyena Road, a true story of a Canadian military unit in Afghanistan.

Neither movie was given much distribution in our foreign-controlled theatre system.

Passchendaele still won three Gemini Awards, including Best Picture of 2009, The Golden Reel Award and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role to Paul Gross.

And Afghan veterans still continue to call Hyena Road the most realistic and authentic depiction of what they really went through, including young vets I’ve talked with.

“My experience with Hyena Road and the many, many, many soldiers I came to know quite well in the course of making that film, they did talk to me,” Paul said in a recent interview with Jim Day of The Guardian. [3]

“And I suppose one of the greatest things I ever heard about the film was a veteran from the conflict came up to me and was quite moved and he was crying and he shook my hand and he said  ‘I thank you a lot and now I can show this to my family because I’ve never been able to tell them what it was like.’  And I think that is a struggle with a lot of the soldiers.”

There’s a genuine Canadian sentiment and reality to both movies, especially Hyena Road, that foreign reviewers didn’t get — which is my whole point.







==>> To Read More About the Life and Art of Nell Shipman, See Women Pioneers of Animal Rights

==>> To learn more about the essential place our Mounties once had in Canadian Culture, go to  “The GREATEST WRITERS OF NORTH-WEST MOUNTED POLICE FICTION”

==>> A WILD WOLF, A HALF-WILD HUSKY, A WILY OLD TRAPPER!   If you want to read my free story in the Jack London & James Oliver Curwood Tradition, Click Here to Read My Popular Online Northwestern WOLFBLOOD! 


[1] Perhaps the fatal shot came to the Taft Deal for Canadian voters when Democratic House Leader Champ Clark gave a speech in the United States House of Representatives supporting Free Trade and concluded with his much-quoted: “I look forward to the time when the American flag will fly over every square foot of British North America up to the North Pole!” — revealing the real forces behind Free Trade.


[2] Back To God’s Country.  Nell later admitted that she was surprised that the nude scene wasn’t cut when shown in America.

Taking advantage of the moral outrage from some groups who wanted the film banned, the Shipmans bombarded the American motion picture theatre owners with full page ads in Moving Picture World that announced: DON’T BOOK “BACK TO GOD’S COUNTRY” — Unless You Want To Prove That The Nude is NOT Rude.

Because her tame bruin cub Brownie was also with her in the river during that shot, she later joked that she wanted to title that scene “In A Dark Pool With A Bear Behind” but knew that those words would get the film banned for sure.  Hey, it WAS 1920.

Click on “Is The Nude Rude?” Image above to see the complete controversial Moving Picture World ad — as well as the more sensational Vancouver World ad.

[3] “Actor and director Paul Gross says Canadians should honour soldiers”


– Brian Alan Burhoe



Canuck Movies: Mounties, Nell Shipman & the Canadian Spirit

Keywords: Brian Alan Burhoe, canadian spirit, canuck movies, first ecofeminist art, Hyena Road, jack london, james oliver curwood, mounties, nell shipman, north-west mounted police, nude scene, patriots rant, Paul Gross, Paul Gross quotes, Pierre Berton



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Greatest Writers of Mountie Fiction








“To the sweet-voiced, dark-eyed little half-Cree maiden at Lac-Bain, who is the Minnetaki of this story; and to Teddy Brown, guide and trapper, and loyal comrade of the author in many of his adventures, this book is affectionately dedicated.” – James Oliver Curwood


On July 1st, 2013, Turner Classic Movies decided to celebrate Canada Day by showing “Canadian Classics” like Men of the North, an MGM “Northern” starring Gilbert Roland as the falsely accused trapper Louis the Fox; Rivers’ End, based on a 1920 bestselling novel by James Oliver Curwood; Peg O’ The Mounted, a parody of Hollywood’s vision of Canada written by Bert Sterling and starring child actress Baby Peggy; Rose Marie (of course!) with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy; God’s Country and the Woman (1937) with George Brent, also based on a Curwood novel [1]; Northwest Rangers, with William Lundigan as the tormented Mountie who must arrest his boyhood friend, played by James Craig; Northern Pursuit starring Errol Flynn as the RCMP officer tracking down Nazi spies; and Cariboo Trail with Gabby Hayes and Randolph Scott.

All of them were Northwesterns, with lots of Mounties, horses, dogsleds and the Great Northwoods…

My favourite Northwestern movie, The Wild North, based on the true story of Constable Albert Pedley, wasn’t shown.  And I grumbled about that.

Today, except for Jack London’s writings, the Northwestern genre is mostly remembered because of those Hollywood movies.  Over 300 of them.

But it wasn’t always that way.

The Northwestern genre first appeared in published book form.  Then in popular fiction magazines.  And it thrived! [2]

The best, like Ralph Connor’s CORPORAL CAMERON OF THE NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE: A Tale of the MacLeod Trail, sold millions of copies each. [3]


grey-owl-original-sajo-book-cover2Since early boyhood, I’ve been given, borrowed, bought and collected the great writers of the Canadian wilderness.  Writers like Sir Charles G D Roberts, E Pauline Johnson, Jack London, Grey Owl, Ernest Thompson Seton (WILD ANIMALS I HAVE KNOWN) and (later) Farley Mowat.

When older folks heard of this, they began to give me treasured old copies of books by writers I’d never heard of, such as Ralph Connor, Samuel Alexander White, James Oliver Curwood, George Marsh, H A Cody, William Byron Mowery and James B Hendryx.  Most were tales of our own legendary Mounted Police.  And those red-coated Mounties had heroic adventures that kept you glued to the pages.  I still have most of those books…

And, luckily, there were still authors struggling to keep the bright flame burning…

So here, mon ami, is a look at my personal Top 10, my favourite WRITERS OF THE SCARLET SERGE:


IAN ANDERSON   “By age six, the Australian Ian Anderson had already decided what he wanted to be when he grew up — a red-coated Canadian Mountie. By the age of seven, he also knew he wanted to be a writer.” These words began the author’s bio in Seal Book’s first printing of CORPORAL CAVANNAGH in 1983. With the publication of CAVANNAGH, Anderson had achieved both dreams.

Ian Stuart Anderson was born March 3, 1930, on the outskirts of Melbourne, which lies on the temperate southern tip of Australia.  Amid the bustling city streets lined with Victorian Age stone buildings with “gargoyles and cast-iron lacework” and the “idyllic views across the Yarra River” he lived a typical Depression era boyhood.

He grew up at the height of the Northwestern movie craze: films like Call of the Wild (with Clark Gable), O’Malley of the Mounted, King of the Royal Mounted, Red Blood of CourageNorth of the Yukon and Cecil B DeMille’s North West Mounted Police packed local theatres in Caulfield and Melbourne.  Ian saw and thrilled at them all.

Besides loving the wilderness and sports, Ian was an avid reader…

Ian began his quest of becoming a Mountie by serving with the South Australian Mounted Police, where he “learned to ride a horse, fight bush fires and battle with sword and bayonet.”

ian-anderson-rcmp-writer2In 1948, age 18, he journeyed to Canada, where he achieved his dream of joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Regimental Number 15812) a year later.  His postings were in Alberta: Corporal in Charge of Jasper Detachment in the soaring Rocky Mountains, as well as Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, Coutts and Medicine Hat — the very settings of the early exploits of the NWMP.  He was an RCMP officer until 1965.

After serving as a sub-inspector in the Royal Papua-New Guinea Constabulary, including a stint at the Bomana Police College in Port Moresby — Ian returned home to Australia.  There, he and his wife Mary settled into life in Melbourne.  As well as working as a private investigator, he sat down to write.

In 1982, he began writing his Scarlet Rider Series, starting with CORPORAL CAVANNAGH. “After leaving the U.S. Seventh Cavalry, John Tarlton Cavannagh rides north, where he joins the newly-arrived North-West Mounted Police.” The novel was first published by Seal Books in Canada, who published his next two:



BEYOND THE STONE HEAPS dealt with arrival of Sitting Bull’s Sioux in Canada after the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

When Zebra Books of New York bought the World rights to the Scarlet Riders Series, they republished his first three titles and put out four more up to 1988:





ian-anderson-scarlet-ridersThe character of Sergeant Hugh O’Reilly “who hailed from Halifax… was loosely based on Inspector Fitzgerald — or perhaps inspired would be a better word — of the Lost Patrol of 1911 fame,” Ian explained in a letter to this writer.

While working on an article about the friendship between Sitting Bull and Inspector James Walsh of the Mounties for Wild West Magazine, Anderson decided to “broaden the article into a book.” The result was SITTING BULL’S BOSS: Above the Medicine Line with James Morrow Walsh, an excellent study of the subject.  He had first happened upon the story of Major Walsh while visiting the RCMP museum in Regina.  “As for Major James Walsh, I feel as though I knew him personally,” wrote Anderson.

Ian passed away on April 10, 2013.  He was 83.  See

His SERGEANT O’REILLY remains one of my favourite adventure yarns, any genre.  I treasure my well-read copy…


RALPH CONNOR   When Charles William Gordon (1860-1937) first began to publish articles about his experiences in the Northwest during the mid-1890’s, he didn’t know that he was embarking on a literary career that would make him one of the best selling authors of the early 20th Century.

ralph-connorEducated at the Universities of Toronto, Canada and Edinburgh, Scotland, he was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1890. After three years of missionary work in Banff, he returned to Winnipeg, where he began to write and publish stories under the pen-name “Ralph Connor.”

His stories, published in Westminster Magazine, reflected his belief in “red-blooded Christianity.” When they were collected in book-form as BLACK ROCK: A Tale of the Selkirks, he gained an international readership.

His next book, THE SKY PILOT, became a best seller. His life after that was divided between that of writing and of serving Church and Country. During the First World War, he served overseas as Senior Chaplin of the Canadian Armed Forces in France and the 9th Brigade British Expeditionary Force.

It was the publication of three adventure novels that made his reputation as an author.

THE MAN FROM GLENGARRY told of the rowdy Highlanders from the Glengarry region of colonial Ontario — their exploits in the lumber camps of the Northwoods, their fights with wolves and men, the joyful maple-sugar parties, the passionate church meetings… They were men, as he wrote in his autobiography, “as wild as the wild creatures of the forest in which they lived, fearing no man or beast or devil.”

The other two adventure novels were



corporal-cameron-ralph-connorBoth told of the exploits of Allan Cameron of Her Majesty’s North-West Mounted Police. Connor based the character of Cameron on the real-life Sergeant William Fury. In fact, the first book recounts a fictionalized version of Fury’s arrest of the violent railroad strikers at Kicking Horse Pass in 1885.

SUNDANCE TRAIL deals with the unrest of the Blackfoot Nation during the bloody Northwest Rebellion. Connor’s technique of using real cases and real Mounties as the basis for his stories became common for Canadians writing about the NWMP.

“Ralph Connor,” as Dick Harrison puts it in his BEST MOUNTED POLICE STORIES, “did more to create the literary image of the Mountie than any other writer, probably because he had a gift for telling uncomplicated adventure stories.”

Two Canadian-made movies based on his adventure trilogy — Cameron of the Royal Mounted (1921) and The Man from Glengarry (1922) — dominated the box offices worldwide.

In these three classic novels, Conner would establish many of the essential archetypal characters of the Canadian Northwestern: the stalwart red-coated Mountie, the independent heroine, the wild Anglo Saxon lumberjack, the avaricious fur baron, the good hearted French Canadian trapper, the wise old priest, the endangered Aboriginals, the passionate Metis (although these last two groups were ofttimes depicted with little understanding)…   Adding these to the already established Klondike era characters such as desperate prospectors, saloon girls with hearts of gold, ruthless outlaws, devious bankers, crooked Eastern politicians, not to forget the ferocious huskies and wolves and the savage Northcountry itself — and these characters would play out their stories in print and on film for decades to come.

Ralph Connor’s autobiography is POSTSCRIPT TO ADVENTURE.


RIDGWELL CULLUM  Englishman Sidney Groves Burghard (1867-1943) had already lived an adventurous life when he arrived in the Canadian Yukon Territory to try his hand at trapping and trading.  In Africa, he had been involved in diamond and gold mining and fought in the Kaffir Wars.  After leaving the Yukon, he tried his hand at ranching in Montana and became embroiled in the Sioux uprisings at the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations.

one-who-kills-ridgewell-cullumAfter returning to England in 1904, he began to write Westerns and Northwesterns, using the pen-name “Ridgwell Cullum.”  His adventure fiction quickly gained a popular following, both in book form and pulp magazine short story form.

His first novel, THE STORY OF FOSS RIVER, was set in southern Alberta and involved a murder investigation.  His second novel, THE HOUND FROM THE NORTH, caught on with a public eagerly seeking more adventure yarns in the Jack London tradition and a best selling literary career was launched.

Although he didn’t create a continuing Mountie character, Cullum’s Mountie novels were among his most popular, including:











Cullum also wrote traditional Westerns based on his Montana experiences such as TWINS OF SUFFERING CREEK and THE WAY OF THE STRONG as well as some stories set in Africa, such as THE VAMPIRE OF N’GOBI.


JAMES OLIVER CURWOOD    When James Oliver Curwood (born in 1879) was expelled from school in his birthplace of Owosso, Michigan at age 16, it was a blessing in disguise. It began a wandering life that took him to the wilds of northern Canada.

He traveled by canoe, by snow shoe and by dog sled, throughout the Peace River country, the Hudson Bay wilderness and the Arctic tundra.

He spent as much as six months out of a year in the Canadian wilderness, even building log cabins to live in.  He enjoyed hunting for meat and for sport — until an encounter with an enraged grizzly bear that could have killed him — but didn’t. [4]

First as a reporter, then as a short story writer and novelist, he would spend the rest of his life telling of his wilderness travels.

back-to-gods-country-james-oliver-curwoodHis translation of the Cree meaning of Manitoba — “God’s Country” — would become a world renowned phrase.

While best remembered for his masterwork KAZAN THE WOLF DOG, his many other Northwesterns were best sellers in the 1910’s and 20’s.

His popular BACK TO GOD’S COUNTRY was a collection of many of his best short stories.  Six of them were Mountie stories, including “The Fiddling Man,” “The Case of Beauvais,” “The Match,” “The Mouse” and “Wapi The Walrus.”  The last was made into the 1919 box office smash hit Back To God’s Country, a silent movie starring Canadian Nell Shipman.

Among his best selling Mountie novels were




ISOBEL: A Romance of the Northern Trail


THE RIVER’S END: A New Story of God’s Country

THE VALLEY OF SILENT MEN: A Story of the Three River Country

and THE FLAMING FOREST: A Novel of the Canadian Northwest.

james-oliver-curwood-bioBy 1922, Curwood’s writings had made him a very wealthy man.  He lived out a youthful fantasy by building the “Curwood Castle” in Ossasso.  Built in the style of an 18th Century French chateau, his castle overlooked the Shiawassee River.  In one of the home’s two large turrets, Curwood built his library and office, where he would do the rest of his writing.

His fiction, Curwood once explained, “is eighty per cent fact so far as country, environment, geography, customs and manners go.”

After an adventurous and sometimes arduous life, James Oliver Curwood died in 1927, at the age of 49.  His autobiography is SON OF THE FORESTS.


JAMES B HENDRYX   James Beardsley Hendrix (1880-1963) was born in Sauk Center, Minnesota. Hendryx worked as a traveling salesman, insurance agent, tan bark buyer, sheepherder in Montana, and a cowhand on a Saskatchewan ranch, before heading for the gold fields of the Klondike.

james-b-hendryx-authorIt was Hendryx’s experiences in the Klondike that inspired him to write Northwesterns. While working as a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, he began his career as a fiction writer.

With the publication in 1915 of THE PROMISE: A Tale of the Great Northwest, his career was launched.

DOWNEY OF THE MOUNTED (1926) gave the world one of the great Mountie characters. Told with humor, at times wry, Hendryx’s vision of the Northwest was closer to reality, and a canoe-load of fun.

As well as Corporal Cameron Downey, the author also created Black John Smith, leader of an outlaw community at Halfaday Creek, just inside the Alaska border.

His popular fiction, both full-length novels and short stories, was published in the top fiction magazines of the day, including Adventure, All-Star Weekly, Short Stories and Western Story Magazine and then published in hard cover books.

Among his best works of Mountie fiction are:

OAK AND IRON: Of These Be the Breed of the North








The short story “Routine Patrol,” originally published in Western Story Magazine, was reprinted in Dick Harrison’s BEST MOUNTED POLICE STORIES.

downey-of-mounted-james-b-hendryxOnce he became a full-time author, Hendrix worked and lived in two homes in the magnificent Northwoods on both sides of the Canadian-US border: one on Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan and one in Thessalon, Ontario.

An avid fisherman, hunter and poker player, he still made time to write.

Family members remember the sound of him at work — alternately tapping away on his old typewriter and laughing out loud at a new scene.

All in all, he published 36 Northwestern novels and story collections.


W RYERSON JOHNSON  Walter Ryerson Johnson (1901-1995) was born in Divernon, Illinois.  He attended the University of Illinois and worked as a coal miner, warehouse manager and seaman, as well as travelling extensively throughout the US and Canada.

At age 21, Johnson sold his first short story “Nimble Fingers,” published in the February, 1923 issue of Detective Tales, a pulp magazine. [5]

Under his own name, he became a prolific author in the western, horror and mystery magazines.  He also published works under the names Matthew Blood, Peter Field, Brett Halliday, Robert Wallace and (with Lester Dent) Kenneth Robeson.

His writing career really exploded when he took the advice of popular Northwestern writer William Byron Mowery to “write Mountie stories!”

Johnson said, “I didn’t know a mounted policeman from a uniformed doorman, but Bill loaned me books and I got more from the library. Official Mounted Police Bulletins and a book by Wasburn Pike — The Great Canadian Barren Lands — supplied fundamentals.” Soon he published his first Northwestern, “Cougar Kelly Gets a Break” in Wild World Adventures, May, 1930, and his career was picking up.

complete-northwest-w-ryerson-johnsonHe published a number of Mountie yarns and “Northerns” in the pulp magazines, producing some of his best work.  Among them were “The Avalanche Maker,” “The Carcajou and the Loup Garou,” “All Trees and Snow,” “The Eskimo Express,” “The Phantom of Forgotten River” (Complete Northwest Magazine, Dec 1938), “Webs for One,” “Caribou Gold,” “Back Trail Shadow,” “Mountie Trick,” “Wood on the Snow” and “The Dangerous Dan McGrew.”

You’ll find Northwestern stories by Ryerson Johnson, as well as other writers mentioned here, reprinted in THE NORTHERNERS, edited by Bill Pronzini & Martin H Greenberg, and in SCARLET RIDERS: Pulp Fiction Tales of the Mounties, edited by Don Hutchison.

He also wrote a number of Doc Savage novels, under the pen name Kenneth Robeson, including LAND OF ALWAYS NIGHT and THE FANTASTIC ISLAND.

He won the The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in 1963 for his popular children’s story THE MONKEY AND THE WILD, WILD WIND.

Ryerson Johnson once described pulp fiction as “A never-never land that existed only in the glowing imagination of the writer and the transient ‘suspension of disbelief’ of the reader. Bigger than life. Adult fairy stories.”


T LUND  Trygve Lund (born in Norway, September 10, 1886) traveled to Canada in search of wilderness adventure, actually becoming a member and serving in the Royal North-West Mounted.

With the outbreak of WWI, Lund left the Force to join the newly re-mobilized Lord Strathcona’s Horse (of Boer War fame), rising to the rank of Captain.  Members of Strathcona’s Horse shipped out for England in October of 1914, joining the battle in France a year later and eventually becoming part of the 1st Canadian Cavalry Brigade.  As part of that brigade, they took the lead in the victorious “Last Great Cavalry Charge” at the Battle of Moreuil Wood.

Lund finished off his active military career as a Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, 1918 – 1920, returning to temporary duty in 1922 at the rank of Flight Lieutenant to help establish the new RAF training centre in the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire. [6]

t-lund-lone-trail-mountiesFollowing that, he settled in the UK for a decade and a half, and spent those years writing well-received Northwesterns.

His novels garnered good reviews in England and beyond:

“Capt. Lund, late Strathcona’s Horse, has written a good story of police work in the lumber camps of the North-West.” – Times Literary Supplement

“Capt. Lund’s characters are thoroughly alive; his dialogue is particularly good; and he vitally suggests the atmosphere of Manitoba…  Adventure and excitement there are in plenty, and Capt. Lund has an ample fund of humour.” – Bookman

“IN THE SNOW is a most entertaining description of the life of a trapper in the frozen North-west of Canada by Mr. T. Lund, whose novels of the North-west and the ‘Mounties’ have earned for him a well-deserved reputation.” The Brisbane Courier

Unlike other former members who had turned to writing fiction based on their own personal careers [7], Lund set his stories further north from where he had actually served (although he often visited) — along the northern reaches of the Saskatchewan River and in the Great Northwoods.

Like fellow Norwegian writers Sigrid Undset, Per Petterson, Mikkjel Fønhus and the great Knut Hamsun, Trygve Lund loved and understood the Northlands and the effect that living there had on the human soul.

Lund brought a sure knowledge of the day-to-day life and duties of a Mountie to his adventure yarns (unlike many pulp writers who got everything from our police routines to our proud history so wrong).

And his love of the Northcountry, so much like his own Norway, was there in his writing:

“They paddled up lakes, rivers and creeks, which were always bordered by the silent, majestic pine and spruce forests, with a belt of birches, poplars and willows.  They forced the minor rapids and portaged around the bigger ones, but even the hard work involved in packing their outfit and canoe on their heads across those often miles long portages was a delight to Weston.

“He loved the camp at night and the aromatic smell of the camp fire.  He loved the calm, clear mornings when only the ripples made by rising fish disturbed the glassy surface of the water, and when only the weird melancholy cry of a loon would break the vast silence.  Then the sun would rise, and the western banks would be bathed in gold…”

Trygve Lund’s series character was Richard Weston, of the Portage Bend RNWMP detachment, who would appear as the central character in eight published stories.  Five of those were full-length novels:


UP NORTH: A Tale From Northern Canada




In his yarns of Richard Weston, Lund followed the life and adventures of one Mountie from young Constable to seasoned Inspector, in much the same way that C S Forester would later recount the life story of Horatio Hornblower. The first three Weston novels were collected in the eagerly sought-after THE LONE TRAIL OMNIBUS, published in 1936 by T Werner Laurie of London.

1-blood-in-the-snow-t-lundThree other Richard Weston tales — the novelette  “Beyond The Barrens” and short stories “Blood In The Snow” and “Red-Coated Law” — appeared in 1937 editions of the American pulp magazines Real Northwest Adventures and Complete Northwest Novel.

Other published books by T Lund are IN THE SNOW: A Romance of the Canadian Backwoods (a story about Northcountry trappers, their lives, loves and battles, in which Richard Weston of the Mounted makes an appearance) and STEELE BEY’S REVENGE, a mystery novel set in Egypt and England.

Lund’s last known address was back in Canada, in Ontario, in 1935.  Except for his 1937 magazine appearances, nothing is known of him since…


WILLIAM BYRON MOWERY   William Byron Mowery (1899-1957) was known as “The Zane Grey of the Canadian Northwest.”

A mentor, naturalist and novelist, Mowery was born in the village of Adelphia, a farming community of Ross County, in the forested Appalachian region of Ohio.  From earliest boyhood William was dissatisfied with what he called his “backwoods” existence.

In an article in a 1933 edition of the Auburn, New York, Citizen-Advertiser, introducing their upcoming serialization of a Mowery Northwesten novel, the paper wrote:

william_byron_mowery_biography“William Byron Mowery, writer of stories about the woods and out-doors, was himself born in the ‘backwoods’ country but throughout his childhood wanted to escape from an environment he thought cruel and barbaric. He is the author of the Citizen-Advertiser‘s serial, FORBIDDEN VALLEY.” [8]

“At the age of 11,” the article continued, “he left his family’s migratory ‘chicken-wagon’ home and started out to see the world. For eighteen months he tramped about the country…

“After a winter’s trapping in the Athabasca north country of Canada, he roamed the United States for another two years and then entered high school at 18.

“His writing career started when he read a ‘North Woods’ story in which description and details were so inaccurate that Mowery determined he could do better himself. Editors seemed to agree and in three years he produced more than 400 published stories. He did not receive wide recognition as an author, however, until he began taking more time on stories and sharply curtailed his output.

“The Mowery family, headed by the man who once wanted only ‘Civilizing Influences,’ now spends the major portion of the year in out-door activities, exploring, mountain-climbing and camping.”

Mowery served in the Tank Corps during the last year of World War I.

Graduating Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he taught English and creative writing at the universities of Illinois, of New York and of Texas.

william-byron-mowery-northOne of his students, Mary Higgins Clark, later described Professor Mowery as “an elfin-sized man who wore a tie so long that it gave the visual illusion of scraping the tops of his shoes.” [9]

Clark added that “His talents as a teacher, however, were huge and he set my feet firmly on the path that I had been seeking all my life.”

“Take a dramatic situation from real life, one that sticks in your mind,” Mowery would advise his students.  “Ask yourself two questions — ‘Suppose’ and ‘What if?’ and turn that situation into fiction.”  In 1953, Thomas Y Crowell published his PROFESSIONAL SHORT STORY WRITING: An Authoritative, Practical Guide to Basic Problems and Craftsmanship.

Besides the newspapers, Mowery’s 450 short stories appeared in a number of popular American magazines.  His first published work was “Be Sure He Is Green” in 10 Story Book, October, 1921.  He also appeared in Argosy All-Story Weekly, Adventure, Munsey’s Magazine, The Blue Book Magazine, Short Stories, North-West Stories, Redbook Magazine, The Country Gentleman, Complete Northwest, Liberty and The Saturday Evening Post.

It was his hardcover books that brought him his fame.  From 1929 to 1948, William Byron Mowery published fifteen novels and short story collections that, as a total work, may be the most literate and realistic of the Mountie genre.  His stories were set throughout the Canadian Northlands, from towns and villages to the wildest places.

Some of his best works are:









Mowery’s THE LONG ARM OF THE MOUNTED (1948) collected some of the best short Northwesterns ever written, including “The Long Shadow,” “The Constable of Lone Sioux,” and “A Lamb and Some Slaughtering.”


HARWOOD STEELE  Harwood Elmes Robert Steele (1897-1978) may have been in the best position of any would-be writer to tell the story of the Mounties — he was the only son of the greatest Mountie of them all: Sam Steele. [10]

Harwood Steele in the Arctic, 1925

Harwood grew up in a household hearing all the adventures and tribulations of being a Mounted Policeman in turbulent times.

He got the inside scoop of Sam Steele’s life and character, as well as hearing the stories of police vets and serving members who “took time out for a chat about old days or for a rest from a tough patrol,” and later wrote it down in fictional form.

Harwood’s own life was almost as adventurous. After growing up in Fort MacLeod, Alberta and in rural Ontario, he joined the Canadian Army, rising from Captain to the rank of Major in the 17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars during the First World War.  He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.

His non-fiction dramatic account THE CANADIANS IN FRANCE 1915-1918 became an essential military history of the Canadian involvement in WWI.  Reflecting some of his own experiences during the Great War, he described our soldiers’ part in the deadly battles from the Somme and Ypres to Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Mons in taut, immediate prose: “The grey, heavy-winged dawn at last came slowly over the far-flung Canadian line and found a gaunt, haggard little handful of men still making an incredible stand in the path of enormous forces of the Kaiser’s best…”

After working as a journalist and as a press representative for the Canadian Pacific Railway, Harwood was part of the historic Canadian Government Sovereignty Expedition into the High Arctic in 1925.

Harwood began writing Mountie fiction in the early 1920’s.

His first short story “Rufus, the Outlaw” was published in the February 7, 1924 edition of The Popular Magazine (Street & Smith, New York), which published five more of his narratives, including one of his best: the novelette “To Effect an Arrest.”  During that time, he also published in ArgosyShort Stories, and Prize Story Magazine.

He would later collect his stories in book form.  One of those books, TO EFFECT AN ARREST, for instance, collected stories like “Horse de Combat,” “Storm Child,” “Snow Blind,” “Rufus, The Outlaw,” The Boundary Line,” “Old-Timers Played Straight,” “The Prestige of the Scarlet,” “The Force Can’t Fail,” “The Ace of Huskies” and others, all of them appearing first in popular American magazines.

Harwood’s technique was to take actual police cases and characters and fictionalize them, “to present fact in the form of romantic fiction.”

Two novels, SPIRIT-OF-IRON: An Authentic Novel of the Northwest Mounted and THE MARCHING CALL, were based on the life of his father.

Harwood’s 1950 novel GHOSTS RETURNING dealt with the early days of the first Mounted Police detachment at Fort MacLeod.

Based on “an almost forgotten official report of the U. S. government” about the forbidden Indian Ghost Dancers, and personal accounts told to Harwood by retired Mounties and Blood Indians such as Chief Joe Bull Shields, this is the rousing story of the pursuit of a murderer and kidnapper into the Land of the Long Knives.

Sergeant “Scarlet” Grier, Constable John Mayne and (“ex-war chief and medicine man of the Bloods”) Mounted Police scout Calf Shirt lead the chase…

Other Mountie novels and collections appeared between 1923 and 1961:



TO EFFECT AN ARREST And Other Stories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police


THE RED SERGE: Stories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

harwood-steele-red-sergeTHE RED SERGE contained dramatizations of the harrowing Northern experience of Constable Pedley (“Lunatic Patrol”), early exploits of the Police Service dogs (“Pal” and “A Dog Won’t Lie”) and Yukon Gold Rush incidents (“The Race For Molly Scott”).

In his Foreword to SPIRIT-OF-IRON, Harwood Steele laid down his philosophy of all of his fiction: “to present the Force as it was and is and not as portrayed by well-meaning but ignorant writers of the ‘red love, two-gun’ variety, and it is my hope that, through this book, the reader may obtain a clearer conception of the marvellous devotion to duty, the high idealism, the splendid efficiency which have made the Mounted Police famous than any to be derived from these inaccurate romances.”


SAMUEL ALEXANDER WHITE  Son of Canadian naturalist James White, Samuel was born in the community of Edmonton (later renamed Snelgrove), Ontario, in September of 1884.

After graduating the Brampton Model School for Teachers, Samuel taught for five years until 1907.   During that time he began to publish song lyrics, poems and short stories in a number of papers and magazines, including The Toronto Mail & Empire, The Toronto Globe, Saturday Night, Outing Magazine, Toronto Star Weekly and later the popular American pulps Adventure Magazine and North-West Stories.

"The priest noticed the pistol's muzzle thrut deeper into the gunpowder." EMPERY

“The priest noticed the pistol’s muzzle thrust deeper into the gunpowder.” EMPERY

Samuel published his first novel, THE STAMPEDER, in 1910, followed two years later by THE WILDCATTERS.

In 1913, White published his first novel to get good reviews and sales, EMPERY: A Story of Love and Battle in Rupert’s Land.  It was published first by Musson Book Co. of Toronto; and was reprinted a year later as LAW OF THE NORTH by Outing Publishing Co. of New York.

EMPERY introduced a common theme and setting in White’s work: the Hudson Bay country, the Fur Brigades, wild voyageurs boldly paddling the whitest of rivers (“Vive le Nor’westaire!”), greedy fur company factors — and spirited women.

With these sweeping, thrilling, detailed adventure stories of the savage Northcountry, editors were soon calling White “the Jack London of Canada.”

In 1914, he began to sell his stories to Adventure and other popular pulp magazines.  As well as Northwesterns, he started writing short stories and novels in his second major theme: the Sea Story.  He impressed his readership with tales like “The Ocean-Borne” (Adventure, June, 1916), “The Bank’s Fleet” (Sea Stories, April, 1927) and “Gold of the North” (Pirate Stories, July, 1935).  Hardcover books in the nautical genre included THE FOAMING FORESHORE and GRAY GULL WINGS WESTWARD.

Some of White’s Sea Stories, THE WONDER STRANDS is just one, were set in the Canadian North, combining both of his favourite genres.

He would continue to publish short works and complete novels in magazines including Hunting and Fishing in CanadaMaclean’s MagazineComplete Northwest Magazine, Sea Stories, Western Action and Wild West Magazine.

White’s New York literary agent was Otis Adelbert Kline, who represented a number of popular pulp writers of the day, including Robert E Howard.  Kline was also an accomplished adventure author in his own right.  At Otis Kline’s suggestion, Samuel began to concentrate more on the “stories that readers really want from Canada.”

White-His-Majestys-mailWith NIGHTHAWK OF THE NORTHWEST (Phoenix Press, New York, 1938), Samuel began his third major theme: the North-West Mounted Police.

Although he had long published short stories that featured Mounted Police characters (such as “His Majesty’s Mail” in the December, 1910 issue of People’s Ideal Fiction Magazine, and “Ambush” in the April, 1918 Adventure Magazine), it wasn’t until the late 1930’s and through the 40’s that he concentrated almost exclusively on Mountie fiction.

NIGHTHAWK OF THE NORTHWEST tells the story of Alex Nash, a former buffalo hunter who joins the newly arrived NWMP as a scout.

White’s most popular Mountie novels were:









After the death of Otis Kline in October, 1946, White began to find it difficult to sell his adventure stories in the fast-changing post-War market.  All those glorious pulp magazines were suddenly gone, replaced by paperback books.  Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer was the hot new cultural hero: tough, street-wise, cynical, violent, at times a sadistic killer.  With Hitler and Hiroshima still in the rear view mirror, tales of romance, green wilderness, traditional rural values, chivalry and honour no longer suited the times.  This, of course, applied to the Northwestern genre as a whole.

Samuel’s last two published novels in his lifetime were NORTHWEST RAIDERS (1945, a Mountie novel) and FLAMING FURLANDS (1948, a Fur Country yarn).

samuel-alexander-white-french-editionLike a number of other Canadian wilderness writers, White’s northwestern novels continued to find a receptive readership in northern Europe, especially France.  His Paris publisher kept reprinting his popular titles through the Fifties and into the Sixties.  They are still avidly collected in French translation today.

Samuel Alexander White died in Toronto, on October 3, 1956, survived by Vennie, his beloved wife for 44 years, as well as their two daughters and two sons.  And the manuscript of an unpublished autobiography with the intriguing title CANADIAN SAGALAND: Wild Editors I Have Met — By Letter, Telephone, Telegraph, Cable, Word-Of-Mouth, and Hand-Shake.


==>> To see more about our Canadian Mounted Police in popular media, from published books to Hollywood movies, go to THE GREAT PULP FICTION MOUNTIES: From Corporal Cameron to Sergeant Preston



1-short_storiesA NOTE: This article, of course, deals with authors who wrote about the historic North-West Mounted, at least in part.  The Mythic Age of our Mounties, if you will.

The many great authors of literature dealing with our modern day RCMP would take another article.  Laurie York Erskine, Jack O’Brien, Charles Stoddard, Alisa Craig, L R Wright, Don Easton, Roy Innes, Mike Martin, come to mind.  There are more.



[1] God’s Country and the Woman.  The 1937 Warner Brothers release shown on Turner Classic was a lesser remake of the classic silent movie version 0f 1916, made by Vitagraph Studios.  Although the Vitagraph offering was the first feature film appearance by Canadian stage actress and script writer Nell Shipman (as “the Woman”), she was such a hit in Hollywood that Samuel Goldwyn offered her a seven year contract.  The independent Nell turned down Goldwyn and set out to make her own Canadian movies.  An act that would lead to both triumph and downfall.  (See Nell Shipman)


1-northwest-stories-mountie-fiction[2] Other writers contributed to the fictional Mountie Myth.

The pulps saw the success of a number of writers who specialized in Northwesterns, making a living at it.  Among them were Victor Rousseau, Robert Ormond Case, Harry Sinclair, George Marsh, H H Matteson, Jack Bechdolt, Leslie McFarlane, A DeHerries Smith, LeRoy W Snell (John G Rowe), Frank Richardson Pierce and Frederick Nebel.

Even Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage, wrote a series of Northwestern pulp stories featuring Constable Andy Frost and the Silver Corporal.  Science fiction writer Sewell Peaslee Wright occasionally dipped his paddle into the genre with tales like “Pards of the Snow Frontier.”

Under the pseudonym Luke Allan, Canadian writer William Lacey Amy (1877-1962) wrote a series of novels about Blue Pete, a mixed-blood former cattle rustler who served as an undercover agent for the Mounties in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Blue Pete first appeared in a short story in the January, 1911 edition of The Canadian Magazine, entitled “The Sentimental Half-Breed”.


north_west_stories_1930-mountiesNorth-West Stories first appeared on the magazine stands in May, 1925.

Soon, each issue of North-West Stories was eagerly awaited by thousands of fans.  A typical issue was the June, 1930 edition, which included yarns like “The Phantom Pack” by Jack Bechdolt, “Sheriff Bill — Peacemaker” by E R Vadeboncoeur, “Peril Claim” by Samuel Alexander White, “Northland Magic” by H S M Kemp, “Fightin’ Wages” by Walt Coburn, “Ghost Grizzly” by H F Miners, “The Devil’s Luck” by Richard A Martinsen, and “Trail Tales of the North: Shaman Trek,” an article by T C Casey.

Other magazines were produced to cash in on the “Northwestern craze.”

An example of Real Northwest Adventures is the Table of Contents of the March, 1937 issue, which contained the stories “Red Water” by Frank Richardson Pierce, “The Wolf Trail” by Victor Rousseau, “Roaring Bill” by William Byron Mowery, “White Magic” by Samuel Taylor and “The Runt” by Cliff Campbell.

And the April, 1937 issue of Complete Northwest Novel Magazine, presenting “Red-Coated Law” by T Lund, “Lost Catch” by William Byron Mowery, “In Spring Thaws” by Will F Jenkins and “The Private God” as by Murray Leinster (Will Jenkins).

Authors such as Alberta-born Harold F Cruickshank and American Dan Cushman wrote well-received Mountie yarns, but also published stories in many other genres.  While best known for his serious books like THE FIGHTING MEN OF CANADA and his darkly comic MR GUMBLE SITS UP, Canadian professor of literature Douglas Leader Durkin also wrote some well-crafted Northwesterns such as “Haunted Valley” (Action Stories, Dec, 1924) and “Scarlet and Gold” (Flynn’s, Jan, 1925).  Ontario-born mystery writer Hulbert Footner published a number of Mountie stories, often based on his own adventurous canoe trips in the Northcountry.

While women made up half the loyal readership of the Northwestern genre — especially of the romances of James Oliver Curwood and Samuel Alexander White — few women published in the genre.

But there were some wonderful Northwestern stories by women.  And one magnificent classic…

mrs-mike-freedmanWith her husband Benedict, Nancy Freedman wrote the Literary Guild selection MRS MIKE, a fictionalized first-person account based on the real life of Katherine Mary O’Fallon, a Boston woman sent to the Canadian Northwoods to recover from pleurisy.

There, she met and married Sgt Michael Flannigan of the RNWMP, living with him in his northern outpost.

The First Nations people around them were soon calling her “Mrs Mike.”  She made friends with many of the natives  — including a tragic girl named Oh-Be-Joyful.  Two sequels are THE SEARCH FOR JOYFUL and KATHY LITTLE BIRD.

American writer Ethel Smith Dorrance published her first short story, “The Lucky Thirteenth,” in the August, 1910 issue of Ainslee’s Magazine.  Ethel gained some notoriety in 1924 over the risqué content of a screenplay based on her own novel DAMNED: The Intimate Story of a Girl, “a girl who was so beautiful that she meant ruin for any man who beheld her — even for Satan himself.”  But her most popular novels were her Northwesterns — such as GET YOUR MAN, BACK OF BEYOND, NEVER FIRE FIRST and LONG ARM OF THE LAW.  Many of her stories were coauthored with her husband James French Dorrance who, after her death, reprinted them under his own name only.

Canadian writer Muriel Denison found success with her novels about young Susannah Winston.  Denison’s novel SUSANNAH, A LITTLE GIRL WITH THE MOUNTIES was made into a 20th Century Fox movie starring Shirley Temple.  Sequels included SUSANNAH OF THE YUKON and SUSANNAH RIDES AGAIN.

In late 1937, with sales slipping slightly because of the increased competition on the stands, North-West Stories was renamed North-West Romances, ensuring its place as the most popular and longest in-print pulp of them all.

The issue shown here is the second under the new title.  Cover art was by Norman Saunders.  Born in “the northernmost wilderness of Minnesota,” his mother was part Iroquois.  Saunders was known for his authentic depictions of the Northcountry — and of strong female characters.  His cover illustrates “The Golden Girl of Whispering Valley” by Jack Bechdolt.

While North-West Romances continued to publish men’s action yarns, more stories featuring women, romance and undying love were printed.  Writers like Eli Colter (May Eliza Frost), Helen Castle and Donna M Newhart appeared.

North-West Romances was one of the last great pulps, publishing its final issue in Spring, 1953.

In the genre’s heyday, even writers of traditional American Westerns saddled up and rode North of the Border.  Zane Grey, of  course, created King of the Royal Mounted.

And William MacLeod Raine, Charles Alden Seltzer, Max Brand, Les Savage Jr, Luke Short and — later — three of my all-time fave Western writers, Will Henry, Louis L’Amour and Giles A Lutz, all headed north.

Under the pen name Wade Everett, Ballantine Westerns published Giles A Lutz’s THE WHISKEY TRADERS in paperback in 1968. THE WHISKEY TRADERS tells the story of “half-breed” Brent Bargen. Conscripted by a US Federal Marshal, Brent is sent as an undercover agent north into the lawless Canadian Northwest Territories to infiltrate the notorious whiskey traders, wolfers and outlaws at Fort Whoop-Up. During the story, the newly-formed North-West Mounted Police arrive. Major James Macleod plays a featured role.  Brent, who had lived a lifetime of being ashamed of his native blood, is surprised at the even-handed and honourable way the Red-coated policemen treat the Native Peoples.

While Ian Anderson may have been the last writer to contribute major works to the North-West Mountie genre, a number of present day authors have helped keep the flame flickering.

Terrance Dicks, best known as an early writer on the BBC series Doctor Who, published a North-West Mounted trilogy in 1976, starting with THE MOUNTIES: THE GREAT MARCH WEST.

Alberta-born Janette Oke has included Mounted Police in her Christian novels of the Frontier.  WHEN CALLS THE HEART is her modern masterwork.

Tim Champlin, bless him, has appeared with stories like “Color At Forty-Mile” and “Maintien Le Droit” — the second story was published in Jon Tuska’s ODYSSEY OF THE NORTH: North-Western Stories, Five Star, 2003.

North-West-Mounted-Police-badge[3] WHAT’S IN A NAME?

A Short History Note:  Shortly after Prime Minister John A MacDonald led the Confederation of our new Dominion of Canada in 1867, he was made aware that Rupert’s Land (an area as big as Europe, soon to be renamed the Canadian North-West Territories) was falling into a state of chaos.

Upon Confederation, the small number of red-coated soldiers of the British Army who had patrolled Rupert’s Land, keeping peace and good relations with the Native Peoples on behalf of “The Grandmother” (Queen Victoria), were recalled to England.

By 1870, First Nations tribes were being devastated by a smallpox epidemic, losing an estimated fifty percent of family members.  Every village, every tipi, echoed with their death songs as the people suffered fever, delirium and death.

American whiskey traders were moving into the emptied land to build fortified trading posts offering potent trade whiskey for furs, buffalo robes and hides to an anguished, desperate native people.  And then…

Fort Whoop-Up, Canadian Northwest Territories, 1872

Cyprus Hills, June 1, 1873.  A ragtag group of drunken whiskey traders, wolfers, buffalo hunters and outlaws calling themselves the “Spitzee Cavalry” (based in Fort Whoop-Up, in what is now southern Alberta) massacred a band of Assiniboine men, women and children.  When news of the atrocity reached the East, the Catholic Church and Protestant newspapers hotly demanded that MacDonald finally do something.

MacDonald announced that a field force to be named the “Canadian Mounted Rifles” would be created and sent west.

President Ulysses S Grant informed MacDonald that if Canada sent that military field force west, it would be considered an Act of War against the USA.  This was the time of Manifest Destiny — in the late 1860’s, Secretary of State William H Seward, who was purchasing Alaska from the Russian Empire, had spoken publicly about “next annexing British North American territories.”  American trading posts in the Canadian northwest, including ruthless outposts like the stockaded Fort Whoop-Up, Fort Stand-Off, Fort Slide-Out and Robber’s Roost, were already flying the Stars and Stripes.

Prime Minister MacDonald took the Act to Create the Canadian Mounted Rifles out of his desk, dipped pen into inkwell, scratched out some words, and renamed the force the “North-West Mounted Police.”  The name change, he explained in Parliament, reflected the non-military goals of the new force, adding that a company of “fewer than 300 brave men” was no danger to our neighbour to the south.  The new force’s motto — “Maintien Le Droit” — meant Uphold The Right.

President Grant read his ambassador’s report from Canada, then the old soldier looked at the map of US and Canadian western territories.  He knew that he had already sent over 2000 soldiers — infantry and cavalry — just to counter the “Sioux problem” and that he had thousands more troops throughout the Wild West.  US Marshal Charles Hard, based in Fort Benton, Montana  Territory, had reported that “over 5000 American toughs and outlaws” were hiding over the Canadian Line.  And there were thousands of native Blackfoot, Blood, Cree and Assiniboines just as hostile as the Cheyenne and Sioux.

Grant lit up a stogie and watched the rolling smoke thoughtfully.  This Canadian Field Force, or whatever MacDonald was calling it now, had to march over two thousand miles just to get to the Canadian West.  And then fight for control of a wild lawless territory bigger than Alaska.  “Fewer than 300 men,” he concluded.  “Let them go.  They will never make it.”

NWMP Long March 1874

NWMP Long March 1874

The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) began their historic Long March west to bring the Queen’s Law on July 8, 1874.  They reached their goal — the treacherous Fort Whoop-Up — on October 9.  (For more, see “Sam Steele” [10] below…)

In 1904, their heroic achievements received recognition when King Edward VII granted the Force the prefix “Royal” and it became the Royal North-West Mounted Police (RNWMP).

In February 1920, the Mounted Police were amalgamated with the Ottawa-based Dominion Police, which had carried out federal policing and security in eastern Canada, and given their modern name, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

(A Heart-felt thanks to American writers Burt Kennedy, George Sayre, John C Higgins, Gil Doud, Frank Fenton and William Beaudine — all of whom inspired my love of history and true national mythology, and showed me how to write it.)

From their beginning, fictional stories have been told of our Mounties.

John Mackie, who had served as a Mounted Policeman from 1888 to 1893, published popular romances from 1894 to 1913, such as THE RISING OF THE RED MAN, CANADIAN JACK and THE LAW BRINGERS.

Another ex-member, Welshman Roger Pocock, who had served as a Constable in the Force during the 1885 North-West Rebellion, also published early stories based on his experiences, his best being THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD (1896), a tale told with barracks humour.  His autobiographies are THE FRONTIERSMAN and CHORUS TO ADVENTURE.

Pocock drew some official fire when he criticized the government for its treatment of the First Nations people.  On his return to England in 1905, Pocock formed the patriotic Legion of Frontiersmen, which proudly survives even today.

It was Roger Pocock who convinced his reluctant friend Sam Steele to begin writing his own memoirs — they were published to much acclaim in 1915 as FORTY YEARS IN CANADA: Reminiscences of the Great North-West by Col S B Steele, CB, MVO, Royal North-West Mounted Police.

Canadian-born writer of historic novels Gilbert Parker, who in the first decades of the 20th Century battled with writers like Edna Ferber and Booth Tarkington for top spot on the New York Times best seller lists, published an early literary work of the Mounties, THE PATROL OF THE CYPRUS HILLS, in 1893.

Robert W Service’s ballad Clancy of the Mounted Police (“In the little Crimson Manual it’s written plain and clear, that who would wear the scarlet coat shall say good-bye to fear; shall be a guardian of the right, a sleuth-hound of the trail— In the little Crimson Manual there’s no such word as ‘fail’—”) appeared in 1909.

Then came the man who called himself Ralph Connor…

[4] When that bear spared Curwood’s life, he gave up hunting for life, except with a camera.  The harrowing bear encounter inspired his 1916 bestselling novel THE GRIZZLY KING, which was made into the Jean-Jacques Annaud movie L’Ours (The Bear), released in France in 1988.  Annaud had already achieved international fame with his production Quest For FireThe Bear won four Feature Film awards, including the 1990 Genesis Award.

In his Introduction to THE GRIZZLY KING, Curwood wrote: “It is with something like a confession that I offer this second of my nature books to the public — a confession, and a hope; the confession of one who for years hunted and killed before he learned that the wild offered a more thrilling sport than slaughter — and the hope that what I have written may make others feel and understand that the greatest thrill of the hunt is not in killing, but in letting live…”

[5] Most sources reference “The Squeeze,” appearing in the March 20, 1926, issue of Adventure, as Ryerson Johnson’s first published short story.  But recent researchers list the 1923 Detective Tales appearance.


NORTHERN TRAILS OMNIBUS: Three Complete Novels of Adventure in the Northwest

[7] Such as Ralph S Kendall (1878-1941), a retired Sergeant in the RNWMP, who set his novels in the Calgary area, where he had been posted.

After serving in the Boer War, Kendall returned to Canada and joined the RNWMP (Reg #4351).  In 1910, he left the Force to join the Calgary City Police Force mounted unit until 1924.

Kendell’s novels were BENTON OF THE MOUNTED and THE LUCK OF THE MOUNTED.  BENTON rose to #3 on the Canadian best seller lists.

Along with Samuel Alexander White’s LAW OF THE NORTH, Kendall’s “Mounted” novels were collected in the NORTHERN TRAILS OMNIBUS: Three Complete Novels of Adventure in the Northwest, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1920.

[8] The Citizen-Advertiser, Auburn, New York, November 11, 1933.  “FORBIDDEN VALLEY is a story of the Canadian forests, packed with action, drama and a full-sized helping of romance. The first installment will appear in The Citizen-Advertiser Monday, November 13.”

[9] KITCHEN PRIVILEGES: A Memoir by Mary Higgins Clark, Pg 85, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2002

[10] Sam Steele.  As every red-blooded Canadian knows, Samuel Benfield Steele is one of our true-life mythic heroes, perhaps our greatest.

As a Staff Constable, Sam was one of the 275 original members of the North-West Mounted Police Force, riding with them on their arduous 2000 mile Long March westward to establish the Queen’s Law in a lawless land the size of Europe.  His Regimental Number was 2.  Each of those 275 few good men would forever have the honour of calling himself an “Original.”

Sam-Steele-Canadian_Mounted_PoliceDuring his quarter century as a Mountie, Sam trained new horses and acted as a riding instructor, arrested whiskey traders in their fortified posts, fought outlaws who hid like rats on the Canadian side of the Medicine Line, met with Sitting Bull when the Sioux sought refuge in “The Land of the Grandmother” after Little Bighorn, tracked down cattle rustlers who raided the ranches that had grown with the Mounties’ arrival, patrolled the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, led the building of Fort Steele in the Rocky Mountains, and during the bloody Northwest Rebellion, he formed Steele’s Scouts —  a cavalry unit of Mounties and volunteer Texas cowboys from local ranches.

He had reached the rank of Superintendent when he led the Yukon Detachment north during the frenzied Klondike Gold Rush in 1897.  He kept Law and Order in Dawson City and the vast, rich goldfields, earning the epithet “Lion of the Yukon.”

Sam took leave from the NWMP to take command of Lord Strathcona’s Horse, a Canadian mounted unit formed to fight in the Boer War, and stayed after the war to form the South African Constabulary, essentially a mounted police force.  After serving as a Major-General with the 2nd Canadian Division during World War I, he was knighted by King George V for his years of heroic service to Crown and Country.

Sam Steele lived a Life, eh?



Since first putting this article online, I’ve been asked “What would you recommend…” and “What are the best…”

All I can list are a few of my favourites — those books I love to pick up and reread passages.  You might want to start with one of these…


Benedict & Nancy Freedman – MRS MIKE




Now this next one’s a surprise title.  A lot of the old pulp writers got Canada, our history, our mythology and our Mounted Police routines wrong.  Just plain out wrong!  And that’s continued with those more modern paperback action-packed Western series  — as soon as our gun-totin’ hero crosses north of the border, he leaves the real world behind.  Basic research doesn’t apply.  The author doesn’t give a damn.

But a good read that not only gets our Mounted Police right but is a great old-fashioned adventure (well, a bit steamier) is LONGARM AND THE MOUNTIES (Longarm #16) written by Lou Cameron under the house name Tabor Evans.

Part of this book’s charm is, as James Reasoner has said, Lou Cameron’s distinctive voice: “it reminds me of the dialogue in the TV series DEADWOOD, without all the cussin’.” Rough Edges –

And there are a number of Northwesterns that don’t feature Mounties as central characters, but are just downright faves:

James Oliver Curwood – THE GRIZZLY KING


George Marsh – THE WHELPS OF THE WOLF  (See Wolf Whelps & Lead Dogs: Tribute to Wilderness Writer George Marsh)

And if you want to read a passionate non-fiction account of our Mounties and our history, try Pierre Berton’s KLONDIKE: The Last Great Gold Rush 1896-1899.  Pierre knew his stuff.  He was born in the Klondike.

So there’s my Top Ten, mon ami.

– Brian Alan Burhoe


Update: Jan 5, 2017

Greatest Writers of Mountie Fiction

Keywords: bear encounters, Bio, Biography, Harwood Steele, Nell Shipman, North-West Mounted Police, NWMP, passion for books, pulp fiction mounties, Ralph Connor, RCMP, RNWMP, Samuel Alexander White, William Byron Mowery, William Byron Mowery Biography




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