image of the book cover of Ranching Women in Southern Alberta

Ranching Women in Southern Alberta

Rachel Herbert

$29.95 CAD / $29.95 USD

212 pages, 40 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

Hardback: 1552389111

Paperback: 978-1-55238-911-9

Epub: 978-1-55238-914-0

Library PDF: 978-1-55238-913-3

September 2017

Buy Now

Carefully researched and thoughtfully presented, third-generation rancher Rachel Herbert tells the histories of Alberta’s ranching women, challenging stereotypes and illuminating the realities of lives richly lived.

Settler ranching in southern Alberta conjures the image of a lone cowboy riding through the foothills or a stoic ranch hand roping errant cattle. But women have always played an integral part in the cattle industry, often working without recognition or support to meet the challenge of the frontier.

Ranching Women in Southern Alberta examines the rhythms, routines, and realities of women’s lives on family ranches. As these ranches replaced the large-scale cattle operations that once covered thousands of acres, women were called upon to ensure not only the ongoing economic viability of their ranches, but also the social harmony of their families and communities. At the same time, ranching women enjoyed personal freedoms and opportunities unknown to their urban and European contemporaries.

The great-granddaughter of pioneer ranchers, Rachel Herbert brings a unique insight to the stories of these brave and talented women who carved a role for themselves and their daughters during the dawn of the family ranch.

About the Author

Rachel Herbert raises grass-fed beef and chases her two free-range kids at historic Trail’s End Ranch near Nanton, Alberta.

Praise for Ranching Women in Southern Alberta 

Herbert’s look at the real life of ranch women from about 1874 into the 1940s is an eye-opener. It not only fills out the historical record, it makes a reader think in new ways . . . a rewarding read.

—Marc Lisac, Prime Times 

Ranching Women in Southern Alberta is a much-needed addition to the study of rural women in the West . . . a thoughtful study of Albertan ranching women.

—Amy L McKinney, Canadian Journal of History 

Herbert presents a carefully researched and thoughtful history of ranching women.

—Rob Alexander, Canada’s History Magazine

Herbert’s engaging account critiques conventional gendered binaries—bachelor cowboy, nomadic farmhand or sacrificing, thrifty wife—that frequent popular sources, while uncovering how women ensured the continuity of Alberta’s family ranches . . . With Ranching Women in Southern Alberta, Herbert delivers a radical redress of ranching history and grants girls hope for a more equitable future.

—Carol Williams, AlbertaViews

This is the first book to recognize the women who played a crucial role in establishing the family ranch in the foothills of southern Alberta from the late nineteenth century forward. One of the crucial attributes of Rachel Herbert’s work is that it enables ranching women to speak for themselves, to tell us who they were and how they viewed their world. Ultimately, it provides convincing evidence not only that women were true partners on the land and in the household during this frontier period, but also that they gained a sense of fulfilment as a result. Sacrifices were numerous but the rewards generally speaking made them worthwhile.

—Warren M. Elofson, professor in the Department of History, University of Calgary 

Table of Contents


Introduction: Women on the Ranching Frontier

Chapter 1. Independent Women Ranches in an Emerging Industry

Chapter 2. The Family Ranch: Women in the Barnyard and Beyond

Chapter 3. Gender Roles and Working Partnerships on the Ranch

Chapter 4. Childbirth on the Ranching Frontier

Chapter 5. Clothing and Saddles: Manifestations of Adaptation

Chapter 6. The Significance of Horses to Women’s Emancipation

Conclusion: At Home on the Range

Appendix: "My Sunset Childhood" by Constance Ignes Loreee