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In the early years of 1921 to 1928 the country between the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the Pacific Great Eastern Railroad west of Wetaskiwin was barely settled. This foothill country was excellent range land, and many head of horses and cattle grazed and roamed in those parts. Each year the ranchers would round them up to brand them. The Battle River ran through this lovely ranch country in the foothills and on through to eastern Alberta.

The ranch I worked for was situated on the banks of the beautiful Battle River. This ranch always had a herd of at least 60 horses and 80 to 90 cattle. A lot of wild horses ranged in the country west of this ranch in those years, and we used to rope and break these wild cayuses for plow and saddle horses. We would use the wildest ones for stampedes.

It was while looking for strayed cattle in a wilderness along this beautiful river that I met Anastasia, the beautiful red-headed girl who was to cause an important part of my life in later years. The memory of her splendrous beauty even today lives on.

One day while working for this ranch I was sent to round up a herd of cattle that broke out of the corral that we had used for branding. They had broke out in the night and their tracks were headed west along the Battle River to wild unsettled country.

I left at daylight on my Indian pony, Scrubert, taking with me a coffee can, bread and bacon, a 30-30 carbine rifle and two 38 six-shooters. The country there was teeming with game of all kinds -- grouse, rabbits, prairie chickens, deer, moose, elk, and bear. Most people at that time lived off the game.

It was late in October and the first frost had set in, leaving the countryside in extremely beautiful golden colors. I rode all day till the full moon came up at night, shining on the golden countryside and making the night one that I will never forget.

I still had not found the cattle at one in the morning, so I tethered my horse and bedded down for the night. I arose at daylight, saddled up, and continued to ride west, following the high bank of the river. At about two o'clock that afternoon I found the cattle lying down in a large meadow. They had ate their fill and did not want to move until I emptied my rifle and revolvers in the air and yelled my head almost off.

I herded them toward the ranch in a slow walk, but toward midnight I got them going at a lively pace. The full moon was in the middle of the sky and as I rode along singing I was admiring the beautiful scene. The moon was shining on the rocks of the shallow river when I spotted a saddled horse tied to a tree near the river bank. As the country was unsettled around those parts I decided to ride down the steep bank and see what was going on.

At first I could only see the saddled horse. Then I spotted this beautiful red-headed girl sitting on a rock about 20 feet away. As I stood watching her, her charming beauty took my breath away. I could hardly bring myself to speak.

She also was startled by my sudden arrival and she seemed to be frightened and bashful. Finally after a few minutes she told me she had ran away from home three days before and she was hopelessly lost and very hungry.

I got busy and made a fire with dry brush, made her some coffee, and fixed her bacon to go with the bread I had in my saddle bag. She was a beautiful red-headed girl of about 16 years old and her long hair hung down almost to her knees. Her beautiful brown eyes shone like stars in the moonlight, and when she stood up I could see she was slim and graceful.

After she ate her meal she moved closer to me and sat on a rock and I told her many stories of my young life in B.C. and Alberta. Then I pulled out my mouth organ and played a few cowboy tunes, which she seemed to delight in.

Then it happened. I was looking into her eyes admiring her when we fell into each other's arms, whispering beautiful words of love. How long we held to each other I hardly remember, but I was brought back to my senses by approaching hoof beats and soon was confronted by my angry boss.

He told me the cattle had run home to the ranch, and since I was not with them he had thought I had come to some trouble or accident. He also presented me with a letter from my Dad, who had moved to Hornby Island, B.C. the year before. In the letter he stated he had bought lots of land there and needed me home to help clear it.

In those days parents were strict and we were brought up to obey. So I had to leave my beautiful Anastasia behind, but not before promising her I would return to her the next fall to marry her. I gave her directions to find her way out, and there in that beautiful Battle River canyon she cut a long lock of her lovely red hair with my hunting knife. With a final hug and kiss we said goodbye. I didn't know it, but I would never ever see her again.

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George dePape
aka Sammy Sammy

Research Project

For those who have never heard of him, Sammy Sammy was a poet, philosopher, troubadour, cowboy who made sculptures out of reinforced concrete that were "suitable for decorations in flower beds or lawns." He worked with cement, moss, concrete, and paint (among other things) to create raw, stark pieces of folk art.

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