Does Canada have an "Old West" mythology of its own?

I don’t know why this just occurred to me but I was wondering whether Canada has a part of its history that in any way parallels the “Old West” period of US or the mythology surrounding it.
An Gadaí

Thank’s to what latter became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police most of the lawlessnes associated with the American West did not occur in Canada. The Canadians had this great idea of sending police and magistrates ahead of settlers.

Here is Heritage Park in Calgary.

Of course a great deal of the mythos of the Canadian west revolve around the North-West Mounted Police. They, of course, were the forerunner of the RCMP.

alphaboi867 is right. The move west in Canada was more Little House on the Prairie than Gun Smoke.

Hmm - towns without Miss Kitty & filled with Mrs. Olsens…

Yes, well, there was that little matter of the Riel rebellion ;).

We also have the whole mythology of the voyageur, though of course it’s not the same as the whole cowboy business, tending as it does to be set in the forests, not the plains.

They almost put a voyageur on the $1 coin, but they lost the dies in transit and substituted a loon.

But the voyageur WAS on the silver dollar from 1935-1966.


Yes, that’s why they were going to put it on the new $1 coin.

Indeed. I grew up just a few miles from the site of the Battle of Fish Creek (seems a tad grandiose name for an affair with ten fatalities), and not particularly far from Batoche. While our West might not have been Wild per se, it was certainly not entirely free from conflict.

You want to talk about grandiose names for minor affairs, have you ever heard of The Pig War?

This raises the question: Was there ever a gold rush in Canada? Was gold ever found in them hills that extend into our neighbor to the north?

Of course we did. The Klondike is in the Yukon. And, again, the Mounties are present, keeping order.

The lawlessness of the American West is mostly a Hollywood myth.

The geography of the situation just isn’t quite the same, anyway.


“There’s gold in them thar hills” is a quote often misapplied to the California gold rush, when in fact “them thar hills” were in north Georgia. The quote was uttered on the town square of Dahlonega, Georgia as a plea by a local bigwig for prospectors not to pull up stakes and leave for the California gold fields, but to remain in Georgia:


I could be wrong, but I think that the American “Wild West” was in part a fallout from the Civil War. Part of what made things so wild was that there were so many veterans with PTSD and/or a variety of unsettled moral questions wandering around trying to make sense of their lives. The rootlessness of America in the early 1970s could be considered a similar type of social hangover. There was a similar sort of wandering after World War II, though it was eclipsed by the desire for normality in the 1950s. Canada didn’t have any major conflicts in the late 19th century to cause this restlessness

The Fenian Invasion Of Canada was somewhat overstated too :slight_smile: .

so it was more of a Mild, Mild West?

Edmonton grew as a result of the gold rush. It was the last stop of any significant size on the trail through Canada and the population of the city tripled during the rush as a result.

I don’t have my cites handy, but I can see if I can find them again later. It’s really quite fascinating and it saddened me when they changed the local fair’s name (Klondike Days to Capital Expo) and the flavour of it as a result. Some of the people I saw discussing it online thought it had absolutely no relevance to the city at all and wondered why it had been called that in the first place.

You’re onto something there. A lot of Confederate veterans, finding there was nothing left for them back home, made their way west. So add to PTSD the bitterness of losing a war, and the fact that these men were inured to violence and accustomed to settling disputes with guns.

Union veterans might not have the same bitterness, but they were similarly accustomed to gunplay.

Having said all that, I think the violence of the American West is much-exaggerated in the public consciousness, thanks to Hollywood, and before that, dime novels. Gunfights were rare in reality.