Ponder John Ware

Following the George Zimmerman verdict my thoughts turned to considerable ponders of the differences between the United States and Canada .Slap you in the face points like gun legislation, healthcare, employment standards or education have been beaten to death. I searched my mind for just the right angle to approach the subject from a different perspective.  The name John Ware kept floating to the surface; not one to discount a gut feeling, John Ware stands as my attempt to clear rather muddy ideological waters.

John Ware was born a slave on the cotton plantations of South Carolina.  A free man after the civil war he made his way to Texas, finding work as a ranch hand. In 1882 he was part of a cattle drive moving 3000 cattle across the border to the North West Cattle Co. Bar U Ranch outside Calgary Alberta. Ware decided to stay in Canada; in 1884 he found work at Quorn Ranch, and put in charge of raising horses destined for the English market. The legend of John Ware was born.

In 1885 Ware took part in a massive cattle round-up from Fort Macleod  to the Montana border. An article in the Macleod Gazette wrote “not only one of the best natured and most obliging fellows in the country, but he is one of the shrewdest cow men, and the man considered pretty lucky who has him to look after his interests. The horse is not running the prairie which John cannot ride”

Hard work and saving every penny allowed Ware to register his own cattle brand; by 1890 he had his own ranch. Two years later he married Mildred Lewis.Their first home was wiped out in the flood of 1902, they resettled with their five children near Brooks, Alberta. In 1905 Mildred died of Pneumonia, the next fall Ware died when thrown from his horse after it tripped in a Badger hole.

Held in Calgary, the funeral of John Ware was the largest in history up to that point. The minister is quoted as saying – “John Ware was a man with beautiful skin. Every human skin is as beautiful as the person who wears it. To know John Ware was to know a gentleman – one of Gods gentlemen”

Ask yourself, in what corner of 1905 America would a black cowboy have received this tribute?


John Ware stamp

John Ware stamp issued by Canada Post in 2012

5 thoughts on “Ponder John Ware

  1. That would be easy the answer is none. The only tributes the black American cowboy are famous for in this country is outlaws. During World War 2 the Tuskegee airman were famous for flying bomber support.All of the white American bomber pilots wanted them for air cover.Then after the war they wanted nothing to do with them. Sadly there are still many states in the south where a African American dare not go out after dark. Is it right I say no but because I live in this country I don’t see any changes coming in the near future.

  2. What a nice tribute to a great Albertan!
    I think William (Bill) Pickett from Texas came close to being as respected. Famed humorist Will Rogers announced the funeral of his friend, Bill, on his radio show.

  3. Thanks. I was not aware of John Ware. But let’s not kid ourselves that Canada is a race-tolerant utupia. Our native reserves are shameful. I suspect that the John Ware postage stamp may have been commissioned by our Alberta-based PM Harper in order to profile more local heroes from his Western constituency 😉

  4. Pingback: Justin Trudeau | notestoponder

  5. Been reading some of your notes. This is a good story. However, got to agree with artinpublicplaces, Canada is far from a non-racial utopia. I’ve borne some vitriolic and discriminatory racism from students and teachers simply for being of a non-Canadian origin. The problems of racism, misogyny and religious superiority are endemic to man’s global civilization.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s