Monday, July 11, 2011

Harry and The Horse

Harry Ezra Balfour was born April 26, 1893, at Gore's Landing, Ontario, the only son of the very dour Reverend David Balfour of the local Methodist Church.  Harry chafed under the stifling religiosity at home.  (Once he broke his nose in a fist fight - a real transgression for the son of a minister - but it stood him in good stead later in life.)  Educated at various southern Ontario locations, he completed Grade 12 at Albert College in Belleville at age 16.  He immediately departed his rigid religious upbringing (having attended church services four times every Sunday all of his young life), and embarked on some training as a teacher.  (Thus he always said he was "paid up" re: church attendance through age 64, and never attended services again except for marriages, christenings, and funerals.  Furthermore, as the brilliant intellect he was, he became a lifelong fervent atheist.)  But he ran out of money for teacher training, and headed west as did many others swept up in the great western migration of 1900-1915, when more than a million people immigrated and settled in the three prairie provinces of western Canada.  He took a "harvester's special" train west in 1911 and got off at Fort Walsh, Alberta, where he found work as laborer on a harvesting gang, ranch cook, and cowboy near Irvine, AB.  (Alberta was only four years old herself, formerly known as the Northwest Territory until provincehood was bestowed in 1905.)  Later, when it was discovered that he was "educated" he stayed on at Walsh as a school teacher before heading to Calgary.
In this 1911 photo, Harry and "L. Cruess" are seen practicing their roping skills on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta.  Below he is playing the guitar while a fellow cowboy cleans a firearm.

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  Harry and his son, Sig, live on in our hearts!