bison

I’m reading a book called Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life by Kingsley M. Bray right now.

In both Canada and the United States, the disappearance of the buffalo was the biggest humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that you’ve never heard of. Scientists are only beginning to recognize now that cattle also introduced diseases into wild herds that weakened them.

The American government wanted the bison gone — it had two transcontinental railroads to build and dealing with freedom fighters like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull was impossible as long as they had access to the food and shelter supplied by those big herds.

Here in Canada, the situation was slightly different. The government knew the bison would be gone eventually but their priority was not to be financially responsible for the First Nations people in western Canada. They thought they had time, and if you had ever seen one of those massive herds you would have understood why they believed that.

Let’s say you and I are standing on a rise in the prairie. We say to each other, “Do you hear that?” But that isn’t exactly what we mean. What we mean is do you FEEL that … the sound is coming out of the ground up through our feet. An hour later … look to the north as far as you can, look to the south as far as you can. That herd is a mile wide, and it passes us by for an hour. You would never, ever forget a sight like that.

Only two years after Treaty 7 was signed in 1877 (the agreement the Crown signed with the indigenous people and settlers in my area) the bison were gone from southern Alberta and the people here were starving. We talk about the bison on the tour of Chestermere that’s happening tonight — did we have bison herds in this area? Come to find out how glacier rocks and a natural prairie spring offer us some clues.

free historic walking tours

So, I have pretty big news … I’m going to be leading guided walking tours sponsored by the Chestermere Historical Foundation this summer! And also, doing some contract work for my buddies over at Walk the YYC (more on that soon).

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend Paul made this comment on Twitter after I posted some photos of the Metis cabin in Inglewood. I had visited it that day for no particular reason. There was no historic festival happening, I stayed for a few minutes and then went on with my day. He said,

I like your idea of fun Shelly. Historical places over bars any day.


@PaulWestenberge

I must tell you that my whole entire life I’ve felt uncertain about the things I like to do. I like to sleep in my own bed every night. I like old places. I like quiet things. I need my experiences to have meaning, not intensity (the world is quite an intense place for me already).

When I travelled to Europe, I felt so nurtured by the options to tour cathedrals (“cathedral” is my favourite word, by the way), go for walking tours of many varieties (my personal favourites will come as a surprise to no one … I loved book/literary tours the best).

I keep wishing that there were more quiet things for us introverts to do. And, since I can’t find many, I’ve decided to make some. Some of us are happiest when we spend time in nature, take daily walks, have moments to reflect, and stories that bring us context, meaning and hope. That’s the kind of story I want to tell (there will be some fun ones too). My role here on this planet is to give people new eyes, to help them to see their surroundings in layers, and to fall in love with their own homes — feeling grounded and regulated and even more loving.

History, especially local history, is so helpful with this!

I should add that when Paul originally made that comment, our amazing friend who goes by Baron Von Awesome responded with this,

I like historical bars.

Yes! And, pub walks are great fun for a lot of people and believe me, I can see why they are so popular. I love an awful lot of extroverts! Some of us would prefer a tea or coffee stop though. And, I think after the tours are over, you can decide for yourself what would make the end of your night just perfect.

My tours are free, and you’re welcome to come along!