Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2004


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 1, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Max Foran's Trails and Trials does a superb job of filling a conspicuous gap in Alberta's agricultural history. By covering the period 1881-1948, the book extends the standard accounts of Alberta's ranching history well into the twentieth century. And it expands on traditional ranch history themes with its clear and consistent focus on the importance of cattle exports in relation to Canada's small domestic market and on the importance of markets in understanding land use change. Foran periodizes and organizes his story clearly. Each chapter follows a similar structure with sections and subsections describing major market and policy developments and their land use implications, making the book easy to use as a research source and keeping the reader attentive to key themes. The book's thoroughgoing documentation shows Foran's mastery of Alberta's historical record and will prove useful for future Great Plains historians.