330 pages, 44 illustrations, 3 maps
There are many points on which the western Canadian and northern Australian cattle frontiers evoke comparisons. Most obviously, they came to life at about the same time: the late 1870s-early 1880s. In both cases corporations were heavy investors and utilized an open range system in which tens of thousands of cattle roamed over thousands of square acres. Ranchers shared similar problems such as predators, disease, and weather, as well as markets. Ultimately, a nearly indistinguishable country culture developed in both of these geographically disparate and distant lands, which is still apparent today. Many similarities were in one way or another a reflection of frontier environmental conditions, that is, conditions associated with the very newness of society. However, the two ranching societies had their differences too. In the end, the natural environment pushed agricultural development in these two regions along very different paths. This book provides a comparative study of frontier cattle ranching in two societies on opposite ends of the globe. It is also an environmental history that at the same time centres on both the natural and frontier environments.
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Warren Elofson is a professor, and former head, of the history department at the University of Calgary, where he has taught since 1986. He has written several books on British and western Canadian history, including Somebody Else's Money: The Walrond Ranch Story, 1883-1907 (2009) and Frontier Cattle Ranching in the Land and Times of Charlie Russell (2004). Much of Dr. Elofson's expertise in western Canadian agriculture comes from many years of personal experience ranching and farming in Alberta.