John Ware 1845 – 1905
“John Ware (c. 1845 to 12 September 1905) was the best known black on the early Canadian Prairie. Born into a South Carolina slave family young John was often forced by the slave master to take part in organized fights between young black males. With the end of the Civil War came freedom, Ware left the Carolina’s bound for Texas. Finding work near Fort Worth he began his career as a cowboy and became skilled with horses and the lariat.
John Ware arrived in southern Alberta, Canada in 1882, bringing the first 3,000-head of cattle for the North West Cattle Company from Idaho. Born into slavery on a cotton plantation near Georgetown, South Carolina, the second youngest of 11 children, and when he gained his freedom after the American Civil War he left for Texas. There he became a cowboy and learned the skills of a rancher. Due to his large stature (over 6 feet and 230 lbs.) and dedication to hard work he was able to work his way up to Canada driving cattle. After his arrival in Calgary, Ware continued to work for the North West Cattle Company which had formed the Bar-U Ranch near Longview, Alberta south-west of Calgary. As a ranch hand he was paid a daily rate with room and board included. Riders were allowed to sleep in bunks above the warm kitchen.
In 1884 he went to work at the Quorn Ranch on the Sheep River, owned by members of the Quorn Hunt Club in Leicestershire, England, with a cattle herd and imported Irish hunters from Ireland. Ware’s position in charge of the horse herd manifested his stature in the ranching community. In late May 1885, Ware, as representative of the Quorn, accompanied a hundred riders, five hundred horses and fifteen chuck-wagons from Fort Macleod on one of the last big spring round-ups to comb the entire foothills country from the Montana boundary north to Calgary. The Macleod Gazette observed: “John is not only one of the best natured and most obliging fellows in the country, but he is one of the shrewdest cow men, and the man is considered pretty lucky who has him to look after his interest. The horse is not running on the prairie which John cannot ride.” (2 March 1892. Macleod Gazette (Fort Macleod, [Alta])
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AFRICAN LEGACY ALL OVER THE GLOBE
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