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DeWinton storytellers share stories of cowboy life

Lorne and Diane Maull have assembled another compendium of stories from their years of ranching life, Tall in the Saddle III: Cowboys, Buffalo Dust, and the Open Range.
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DeWinton writer Lorne Maull (pictured at his home in 2019), along with his wife Diane, have penned "Tall in the Saddle III: Cowboys, Buffalo Dust, and the Open Range. (File photo Brent Calver/Western Wheel)
An old Foothills cowboy has wrangled a new compilation of stories from days gone by.

Lorne and Diane Maull have assembled another compendium of stories from their years of ranching life, Tall in the Saddle III: Cowboys, Buffalo Dust, and the Open Range.

“It’s a combination of stories that just haven’t been told that have been rattling around in our heads,” Diane said. “Lorne has told stories for years, he’s been what they call the master storyteller.”

In his time the 84 year-old retired rancher still has a story or two left to tell.

“So we started pulling these things together and we started with one book. Well we still had lots left and two and then three and then his grandmother’s story and the Big Gap story," Diane said.

A favourite of Lorne’s going into this compendium is that of cowboy Billy Brown and son Leo.

“Well we kicked this around quite a bit and we got into Leo Brown," Lorne said. "He really would be the Gretzky of rodeo, and nobody wrote anything about him. Well then when we got into Leo, we found out his dad was a rider up in Buffalo National Park.” 

As history has a way of doing, stories of the lineage wove a tapestry.

“Well one thing led to another and then we’ve had a few of our own stories, then we got stories in there about Billy and Leo," Lorne said. "When Leo was four his dad asked him what he wanted to be, and he said ‘I want to be a cowboy, just like you.’ and I thought that was great bonding for a son to say to his dad.”

He described the elder Brown having his son break and ride a pony.

“So he cut out this little Shetland pony, and you know how ornery they are. He got him saddled up, and Billy said he’d never seen a kid with his head so many times in the sand," Lorne said.

Diane describes how many of the ranch hands they worked with on their Sheep River Ranch in the Foothills were enthralled by the prairie tales.

“Lorne has always been a storyteller, and we had a good ranch with a lot of hired men, a lot of international trainees, and they were always interested because our country is so different than theirs,” Diane said, adding some of the stories seem far fetched for the modern day.

“The interesting part is these things actually happened, and people can’t believe these things actually happened. Well it was a different era.”

Publishing the stories was important, Diane said, as the two sat on a trove of stories that were never documented on paper.

“There were so many interesting stories,” she said. “Of course, there were a lot of stories that were just very factual, but there were an awful lot of funny stories, entertaining stories, yes some funny stories, but there were lots of things that of course weren’t in a proper book.”

Preserving the era is an important mission for Lorne.

“It’s changing so much, and the coming generation probably don’t believe a lot of things like how when I was four years old I was harnessing up calves,” he said. “I try to be very explicit in what I’ve written and hope that somebody will take it and run with it and understand it.”

For more information or to purchase Tall in the Saddle III or any of the Maulls’ other books, email eaglevista@gmail.com


Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and OkotoksToday.ca
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