It gives me great pleasure to announce that the long-awaited sequel to my 2002 best-seller Scoundrels and Scallywags will be published in 2015 by University of Regina Press. It will be titled Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Western Canada’s Past. The 32 featured characters will include:
- Peter Pond. A brutal and murderous Yankee fur trader implicated in the deaths of three rival traders but never successfully prosecuted. The first white man to cast eyes on those valuable tarry sands that are now the driver of the Alberta economy.
- Winnifred Reeve. A successful romance novelist in New York who threw it all away for the love of an Alberta cowboy. Born into a Chinese-Canadian family, she made her mark by assuming a fake JAPANESE identity and publishing novels under the pen name Onoto Watanna.
- Edward Arthur Wilson, a.k.a. “Brother XII.” A notorious cult leader who set up shop on Vancouver Island in the 1920s, attracted 2,000 wealthy followers, and left an estimated $400,000 in gold coins behind when he fled the island in 1933. Fortune hunters and beachcombers still flock annually to the island hoping to find the missing gold.
- Mike Mountain Horse. A Blood reserve resident who didn’t have to fight in the First World War because Natives were exempt from military service. But he enlisted anyhow to honour the memory of his younger brother who died as a result of being gassed three times during the war.
- Margaret (“Ma”) Murray. A widely read community newspaper editor in Lillooet, British Columbia, who achieved a kind of mythic status in provincial and national political circles by putting out a folksy paper that broke all the conventional rules of journalism, grammar and syntax.
- Clyde Gilmour. A broadcaster with a vast and eclectic collection of albums who parlayed his love of classical arias, train whistles, novelty songs, animal sounds and comedy routines into a 40-year career with CBC Radio.
- Stu Hart. The patriarch of Canada’s most famous wrestling family. A professional wrestler turned promoter who raised a family of wrestlers and founded Stampede Wrestling, a popular long-running television program produced in Calgary and syndicated around the world.
- Melvin Crump. An Alberta-born black musician who fought racial discrimination through his work with the Alberta Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and broke the colour barrier at the Palliser Hotel to play for the wedding reception of future premier Ralph Klein and his bride Colleen.
- Gladys Arnold. A reporter from Saskatchewan who became the sole accredited Canadian journalist writing from Paris during the first months of the Second World War.
- Jack Webster. A Scottish-born newsman and broadcaster who pioneered in Vancouver the kind of hard-hitting, politically oriented style of talk radio later popularized in Western Canada by the likes of Charles Adler in Winnipeg and Dave Rutherford in Calgary.
- Hal Sisson. A criminal defence lawyer in Peace River who tried to have as much fun in the courtroom as he did performing as an amateur burlesque comedian. A prolific writer of books of humorous essays, his last piece of published writing was his own obituary!
- Billy Cowsill. The lead singer of a wholesome 1960s’ family band that inspired The Partridge Family television series. In Western Canada, where he lived for the last 27 years of his life, he left his mark as a performer who conjured up the musical ghosts of the past with his pitch-perfect renditions of hits by Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and other 1950s’ greats.
Copyright 2014 Brian Brennan - Writer