John Ware named “person of national historic significance”
John Ware’s contributions to the Canadian west are as numerous as they are significant. And now, the federal government is recognizing the pioneering black cowboy as a person of national historic significance. Ware came to Canada to escape the slave trade in 1882. He arrived with the North West Cattle Company, driving thousand of head of cattle to what it now known as Bar-U Ranch in southern Alberta. He helped to erect the Saddle Horse Barn – which stands on the site to this day. Ware worked at the Bar-U until 1884 and then took on a ranch of his own, becoming successful in the face of racism and the tough conditions that came along with ranching in the 1880’s.
Ware’s connection to Heritage Park comes from the Mackay Cabin, a pioneer log cabin, built in 1884 or 1885. Ware’s in-laws are believed to have rented the cabin at one point and Ware’s first child Nettie (Janet) may have been born in the cabin in 1893.
You can learn more about John Ware in the NFB documentary John Ware Reclaimed by filmmaker Cheryl Foggo.
“John Ware and team of horses at Red Deer river, Alberta.”, [ca. 1901], (CU1107895) by Unknown. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.
“John Ware, rancher.”, [ca. 1902-1903], (CU174691) by Steele and Company. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.