Rocking P Ranch

and the Second Cattle Frontier in Western Canada

Reviewed by Brooke Campbell

Posted September 18, 2019

Rocking P Ranch and The Second Cattle Frontier in Western Canada provides an intimate look at one of the largest and most ambitious cattle ranches in southern Alberta. Written as a collaboration between University of Calgary historian Warren Elofson and rancher Clay Chattaway, the book shares the story of the Rocking P Ranch, founded by Chattaway’s grandfather Roderick Macleay.

While the first half of their book describes the establishment and growth of Macleay’s ranching operation, it is in the second half of the book that the stories of the Rocking P Ranch really shine. In this section, Chattaway and Elofson introduce and analyze the Rocking P Gazette, a monthly newspaper handwritten and published between 1923 and 1925 by Macleay’s teenaged daughters, Dorothy and Maxine.

For seventeen issues, they chronicled the happenings on the ranch. As editors of the newspaper, they wrote articles, provided nearly all of its illustrations, and gathered contributions from ranch hands and other employees. Filled with stories, cartoons, poems, and more, issues of the Rocking P Gazette provide insight not only into the daily happenings of this cattle outfit but also into the overall social, cultural, and economic aspects of family ranching operations in the Canadian foothills.

Especially given their young ages, Dorothy and Maxine offered astute commentary about their life on the ranch that is both entertaining and informative. Their impressive artwork, poetry, and writings are scattered throughout the new book, contributing to a lively read and a captivating account of the Rocking P Ranch.

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This article originally appeared in the October-November 2019 issue of Canada’s History.

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