image of the book cover of To Be a Cowboy: Oliver Christensen’s Story

To Be a Cowboy: Oliver Christensen's Story

By Barbara Holliday, , As Told By Oliver Christensen

$24.95 CAD / $28.95 USD

164 pages, 53 illustrations

Hardback: 155238117X

Paperback: 978-1-55238-117-5

Library PDF: 978-1-55238-460-2

February 2004

Buy Now

The story of a father and son, their dreams of success on the farm and the range, and the realities of life in Alberta at the turn of the 19th century.

During a time of two world wars and a sluggish world economy, many Northern Europeans left their homelands to build the American and Canadian West with dreams of abundance and new life. Spanning a period from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, To Be a Cowboy recounts the dreams and realities of a father and a son.

Otto Christensen came to North America in the early 1900s as an indentured farm worker from Denmark with a dream of becoming a successful farmer in Alberta. His son, Oliver, grew up on his father’s farm during the Dirty Thirties and soon realized his dream of becoming a cowboy in the mid-1940s.

As a rider at the Bar U Ranch—the largest, most successful ranch in Canada at the time—Oliver discovered life as a cowboy could not be his for long. Based on oral history interviews and a treasure trove of family papers, To Be A Cowboy is a compelling memoir that paints a portrait of a dying way of life.

About the Author

Barbara Holliday was a historian on the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site development project for six years. Born in Manitoba, Barbara moved from one Canadian Navy base to another, dreaming of owning a horse and living in Alberta one day.

To Be a Cowboy was published as a part of Legacies Shared

Table of Contents

Foreword by Simon M. Evans
Map of Southern Alberta
Map of Denmark

Part I

Early Lessons
Off to a New Land
O Canada!
"Making Good"
Settling In
Six Good Years
"It left us just nothing"

Part II

School Days
Growing UP
Berkelow Farm
Away from Home
Close to the Dream
Life at the Bar U
Hammerheads and Other Horses
"You can call yourself a cowboy…"
Indian Cowboys
No Saddle, No Horse
Full Circle