John Ware’s Importance in Canadian Agriculture
Agriculture is a significant part of Canadian heritage and identity as it feeds us and our economyi. A key component of Canadian agriculture is beef cattle farmingii. Canadian agriculture is not only a natural resource of Canada, but it is also a lifestyle for many Canadians. I was born and raised by my parents, Jennifer and Richard Dorval, on my family farm, D over D farms. The farm is located roughly 7 miles north of the village of Glaslyn, Saskatchewan. We raise commercial beef cattle. I was unaware of the significance of black history behind cattle farming in Canada until doing my research and learning about a man named John Ware, who, as a black man, successfully established himself in the Eurocentric society of 19th-century Canada.
In 1845, John Ware, a man famous for helping to create Alberta’s important ranching industry, was born a slave on a cotton plantation. He apparently grew up on a small ranch in northern Texas, but the historical record of his life isn’t fully documented. He drifted west once he gained his freedom at the close of the American Civil War in 1865iii.
In 1882, John Ware met Tom Lynch in southern Idaho, this is the beginning of how he helped create the strong cattle industry that Canada has today. Tom Lynch hired John Ware to help move the great herd of 3000 head that Lynch purchased as a foundation herd for Sir Hugh Allan’s North-West Cattle Company (commonly known as the Bar U). These were some of the first herds of cattle to be brought to Canada. The drive began in May, and in September, Ware arrived with the herd at the ranch, in the District of Alberta west of the High River area. Seasoned cowboys were in short supply on the Canadian range in the early 1880s, and Ware was persuaded to stay at the Bar U. He remained until 1884, when he went to work at the just-established Quorn Ranch nearby Sheep Creek.
On May 25th, John Ware had registered his own cattle brand, 9999. In 1902, he sold his foothills property and for $1 000 purchased an isolated homestead on the Red Deer River northeast of Brooks. He could expand his herd here and better support his growing family, which consisted of two daughters and two sons. Two more sons, one of whom died in infancy, were born shortly after the moveiv.
Ware thrived in the small ranching community south of Calgary due to his abilities with horses and cattle. But he was also known as a good neighbour and a natural leader. He was one of the first ranchers in the area to develop irrigation systems and was an early adopter of dipping cattle in a parasiticide that prevents mange – a burrowing mite disease. His ranch was a focal point for the treatment of mange in cattle.
In Canada, Mr. Ware often had to fight racism – sometimes literally. At one point, he asked the government why he was being charged almost twice the price for land that his white neighbours were paying. A legendary story came from Joe Standish, a ranch hand employed by Mr. Ware, who said that when confronted with a Calgary hotel bartender who refused to serve him and called him a derogatory term, Mr. Ware "dumped him across the counter and served drinks to everybody." The bartender called the policev.
Ware’s dream of a ranch on the Red Deer River was short-lived. In April 1905 his wife died of typhoid and pneumonia, and most of the family were sent to live with her relatives in Blairmore, Alberta. In September, tragedy struck again, while attempting to cut a steer from a herd of cattle, John Ware was killed when his horse stumbled in a badger hole and fell, crushing him. On September 14, his funeral was held in Calgary which many journeyed from distant ranches to attend. The ranch country mourned one of its most respected cattlemen that dayvi.
There are several places in southern Alberta named for John Ware, including Mount Ware, Ware Creek, and John Ware Ridge. Calgary is home to John Ware Junior High and at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the John Ware Building houses the Four Nines Cafeteriavii. Overall, John Ware contributed to Canadian agriculture, a significant part of Canadian identity, by helping to create Alberta’s important ranching industry, and developing important techniques used in agriculture today.