Black Cowboy John Ware Recognized as a Person of National Historic Significance

The federal government has recognized John Ware, a pioneer black cowboy in Western Canada, as a person of national historic significance.

Ware’s designation was commemorated today with the unveiling of a plaque at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site, south of Calgary.

Steven Guilbeault, the minister responsible for Parks Canada, said in a press release that Ware embodied the resilience and strength of Black Canadians.

Ware arrived in the Alberta District in 1882 with a trail party leading thousands of cattle to the site which became known as Bar U Ranch.

He fought herds of large herding outfits and then built his own ranch with his wife, Mildred, and their children, before he died in 1905.

John Ware was born into slavery and emigrated to Canada after the American Civil War. This photo is a recreation, taken by Edmonton photographer Dickson Obasuyi to portray cowboy life for Black History Month 2022. (Dickson Obasuyi/Doba Photography)

The government says Ware had a successful career in ranching despite “racism, harsh border conditions and being enslaved”.

The federal government, through its Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places and events that have shaped the country as a way to help Canadians reconnect with their past.

It accepts nominations under the program.

Black Cowboy John Ware Recognized as a Person of National
John Ware is remembered for his excellent horsemanship and agricultural skills, and for his great influence on the ranching industry in Alberta. This photo is a recreation, taken by Edmonton photographer Dickson Obasuyi to portray cowboy life for Black History Month 2022. (Dickson Obasuyi/Doba Photography)

Janet Annesley, who nominated Ware, said Canadians still have a lot to learn about the experiences of black cowboys in Canada.

“The National Film Board’s John Ware Reclaimed by Cheryl Foggo exposed some difficult aspects of Ware’s story, ones we don’t like to see because racism is not in line with our values ​​of freedom and justice. merit of Western Canada,” she said in the statement.

“I named John Ware as a positive reminder that anyone of any color or background can have a place in Canadian history. Our rich diversity has never been a threat to who we are. She makes us who we are.

Foggo, an author, playwright and filmmaker, said Ware’s recognition enlightened him and his family.

“It makes his accomplishments in agriculture and his skills as a horseman visible to all who read this plaque, while honoring the complexity of his life and circumstances,” she said.

“He also simply acknowledges that he was here. »

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