In the summer of 2009 curiosity and the company of good friends, took me to two small rodeos in Alberta and southern Saskatchewan. I set up a studio with lighting and a backdrop in the beer garden at both venues and offered to take formal portraits of all interested individuals. The Wood Mountain Stampede, located in southern Saskatchewan provided the lions’ share of the portraits subject material represented in this collection.
In the summer of 2010 I returned to the Wood Mountain Stampede and used the same process to take more portraits of the rodeo participants. The Wood Mountain Stampede is the oldest running small rodeo in Canada with over 120 years of history. Wood Mountain’s history is rich. The town of Wood Mountain was settled by Métis families in the 1870s after the failure of the Red River Rebellion. Sitting Bull and as many as 5000 of his followers took refuge in Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan after the Battle of The Little Bighorn in 1876. Many of the people of Wood Mountain and the surrounding area today claim heritage to this history.
I have spent most of my life living and working in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I love my home. The openness of the landscape seems to inform the sensibilities of the prairie people. In many ways the subjects of these photographs are much like the prairie landscape itself. At a glance, cowboys look the same. Their difference, like the prairie, lies in the nuance. Their strength lies in their ability not to tame the wildness of the land but rather to have formed a symbiotic relationship with the prairie.