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Ware, John

Few people stand out in the ranching history of early Alberta like John Ware. Born into slavery in the American South, Ware spent much of his youth picking cotton on a plantation in South Carolina. When he left the plantation as a young man, he spent several years working the round-up in Texas before heading north to Alberta, rising to fame thanks to his great horse riding talents. John Ware was a true pioneer, making his reputation in society with actions rather than words. His skills on a horse, honesty, and hard work earned him the respect of fellow cattlemen at a time when acceptance of racial minorities in Alberta was not common.

John arrived in Alberta on a cattle drive from Idaho in 1882. In 1892 he married a local girl by the name of Mildred Lewis. By 1900 the couple had five children and, although he had worked for both the Bar U and Quorn Ranches, Ware moved his family from the Calgary area to a spot along the Red Deer River in 1902. There he bought a large piece of land and built a cabin of spruce logs right on the riverbank.

Life on the prairies in the early days was tough. Shortly after the cabin was built, the river flooded and his home was swept away. Saving what logs he could, John re-built the cabin on higher ground overlooking a stream, now called Ware Creek. But the family did not live on the new site for long. In the spring of 1905, Mildred died of pneumonia. In September of the same year John himself was killed when his horse tripped and crushed him. His funeral, held in Calgary, was the largest in that young city's history. Afterwards, the children left to live with their grandparents and the property was sold.

John and Mildred Ware

John and Mildred Ware

John Ware with his dog

John Ware with his dog