Women Who Dig
University of Regina Press / 14 August 2019

Women Who Dig: Farming, Feminism, and the Fight to Feed the Worldby Trina MoylesPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Kris Brandhagen$34.95 ISBN 9780889775275 Trina Moyles traveled for three years to eight countries to conduct research for her book Women Who Dig: Farming, Feminism, and the Fight to Feed the World, upon learning that her great grandmother farmed singlehandedly in Saskatchewan while her husband and sons fought in WWI. Moyles thought that the stories of other female farmers might also be hidden, and felt passionate about bringing them to light. Moyles limited her research to specific areas and conditions, such as the Maya-Mam in the Comitancillo province in Guatemala, whose farms are threatened by the presence of a Canadian gold mine, and undocumented Mexican women in Sonoma County California who pick grapes all night long, facing possibilities of abuse, violence, rape, illness and injury. A goat farmer in Salt Spring Island BC uses loopholes to provide raw milk to her community; a woman in Peace County Alberta has started a community supported farm, where members pay for the product in advance; and an Edmonton urban farmer plants on vacant lots in exchange for produce. Farmers in the Rio San Juan…

Defying Palliser
University of Regina Press / 27 April 2016

Defying Palliser: Stories of Resilience from the Driest Region of the Canadian Prairies by Jim Warren and Harry Diaz Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-294-6 Everyone knows farming is tough. But how about getting just one truckload of grain out of 5,000 acres? That’s what happened to the Downie Lake Hutterian Brethren Colony in 2001. Colony member Sam Hofer recalled touring the field that year. He said the weather was so hot and dry that the crop “seemed to turn brown and dry up as we walked by.” This is just one incident related in Defying Palliser: Stories of Resilience from the Driest Region of the Canadian Prairies. The book could just as well be subtitled stories of resistance, since farmers and ranchers resisted the overwhelming forces of nature in the dry zone known as the Palliser Triangle. Named for 19th century explorer John Palliser, the triangle roughly comprises the southern part of the three prairie provinces. Palliser deemed the area unsuitable for agriculture because of its unfavourable climate. Indeed, this triangle can be as devastating to farmers and their crops as the Bermuda Triangle is to ships and planes. Farmers nevertheless stubbornly…

In the Temple of the Rain God
University of Regina Press / 20 April 2016

In the Temple of the Rain God: The Life and Times of ‘Irish’ Charlie Wilson by Garrett Wilson Published by Canadian Plains Research Center Review by Keith Foster $29.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-288-5 Reading In the Temple of the Rain God: The Life and Times of “Irish” Charlie Wilson is like getting two stories in one, or more precisely, a story within a story. The subject of this biography is one that author Garrett Wilson is intimately familiar with –his father. A family history, this book is also a history of Saskatchewan’s first 50 years as seen through the eyes of one man. In weaving a narrative of his father, Garrett quotes heavily from a combination of diary entries, correspondence, and tape-recorded reminiscences that his sister had the foresight to record. As a result, Charlie is able to tell his own story in his own words. Born in Ireland, Charlie immigrated in 1905, the year Saskatchewan became a province, and settled, appropriately, in Limerick, SK. He wore many hats in his lifetime – homesteader, businessman, politician, and debt adjuster. Charlie hobnobbed with prominent politicians of the new province. A genial host, he had all but one of Saskatchewan’s early premiers stay overnight…

Beyond the Farm Gate
University of Regina Press / 27 August 2014

Beyond the Farm Gate: The Story of a Farm Boy Who Helped Make the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool a World-Class Business by E.K. (Ted) Turner Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $29.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-334-9 You can see a lot from the farm gate. Ted Turner does just that, peering into the past of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. More importantly perhaps, the reader can also peer into the past of the farm boy who helped transform the Pool into the world-class business that it became. Beyond the Farm Gate serves a dual purpose – it’s both Turner’s autobiography and a history of that prairie icon, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. The two are so entwined that it’s hard to think of one without the other. The son of one of the original Barr Colonists, Turner was born in a farmhouse near Maymont, SK, and raised in the Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties. He tells how he “rescued” his wife from her 9 to 3 job as a bank teller so she could work on the farm, “where she had the privilege to work from dawn to dusk.” The book explores Turner’s own learning process, how he developed an…