The West will never vanish

0005As long as we have stories, songs and paintings, the West will continue to live. Bayeux Arts has been fortunate in having discovered the great Twin Butte, Alberta, storyteller who is a writer, painter, musician, and real-life cowboy all wrapped in one.

We now have Don’s captivating sketches and stories in three separate titles, for all ages, in “A Young Adult’s guide to the Canadian West”, “Cowboy Memoirs: Postcards and Sketches”, and “Cowboy Embers”, a wonderful accompaniment to evenings by the campfire.

Most of all, we treasure “Spirit of the West: the Art of Don Brestler,” showcasing a collection of Don’s exquisite paintings of the Canadian West, with an excellent and perceptive essay on Western art. The book’s cover art introduces today’s post.

The Canadian West was always a less “roaring” and dramatic west compared to its US counterpart. The landscape may be just as dramatic, the plight of the First Nations just as sad, but the Canadian West has a mysterious quality best captured in song and in films like “Brokeback Mountain”, shot largely in southern Alberta.

When my family and I decided to move from Boston to Calgary in the 1970s, we were reinforced in our decision by Gordon Lightfoot’s “Alberta Bound”, a song we listened to over and over and over again, like a ‘mantra’.

Ostentatious acreages, booming developments, multinational farm companies, even shopping malls, continue to eat away at the Canadian West, slowly but surely. Still, it is possible to escape to the wonder that is embodied in Gordon Lightfoot’s lyric –

‘Oh the prairie lights are burnin’ bright
The chinook wind is a-movin’ in
Tomorrow night I’ll be alberta bound….

Or, better still, in Paul Brandt’s lyric-

I’m Alberta Bound
This piece of heaven that I’ve found
Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground
Everything I need beneath that big blue sky
Doesn’t matter where I go
This place will always be my home
Yeah I’ve been Alberta Bound for all my life
And I’ll be Alberta Bound until I die.

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They fought the dogs and killed the cats,

And bit the babies in the cradles,

And ate the cheeses out of the vats,

And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles,

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