History Slam Episode Twenty-Four: Mary-Ellen Kelm and Rodeo in Western Canada

By Sean Graham

After the devastation of the floods in Calgary, it has been nice to see the positive reports coming out of the first weekend of the Stampede. While there is still a lot of work to be done, the city’s signature event provides an escape from the hardship and an opportunity to celebrate. In its 101st edition, the Calgary Stampede may be Canada’s biggest rodeo, but it certainly isn’t the only one.

In this episode of the History Slam podcast, I talk with Simon Fraser University’s Mary-Ellen Kelm about her A Wilder West: Rodeo in Western Canada, one of my favourite books of the past couple years. We chat about the rise and professionalization of rodeo, its role in western Canadian development, and the treatment of animals. We also discuss the creation of contact zones in local rodeos and the inclusion aboriginal and women athletes. 

Sean Graham is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa where he is currently working on a project that examines the early years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has previously studied at Nipissing University, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Regina and like any red-blooded Canadian his ultimate dream is to be a curling champion while living on a diet of beer and poutine.

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