Artisans of the West – Shawna Whiteside

Shawna Whiteside, silversmith and owner of the Sweet Iron Silver Co.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue 

Whiteside’s Bronc Pendent, represents the symbolism of the West.

For silversmith Shawna Whiteside, working from her studio near Didsbury, Alberta, creating the feel of the West involves color, creativity and her passion for life. In her work, she combines intricate designs and a splash of color to create a unique western flavor. Whiteside feels she has a passion to create innovative and expressive jewelry, which offers whimsical detail with a modern twist. Her work specializes in the bright cut style western engraving and she also is fond of making custom work, incorporating logos, brands or initials.

“I have a passion for anything that will make a piece a one-of-a-kind or an heirloom. I love adding color, which is why I’m always putting pendants on colorful turquoise, amethyst, or other stones. I also try to mix copper, gold, silver and other metals together to make things pop.”

Whiteside relates she has always had a passion for jewelry, but it wasn’t until she turned 30 that she decided to pursue her passion.

A beautifully crafted silver ring, inspired by western design.

“My mother started doing bronzes around that time. She is an amazing artist and she has always taught me to follow my dreams.”

Inspiration for her jewelry comes from different ideas that might have not been done in the western style. Whiteside says she keeps a notebook in her purse and does quick sketches whenever a new idea comes to life. “I’m always looking in magazines and trying to figure out new ways to wear and engrave, keeping the traditional methods, but putting a colorful or modern twist on them.”

Recently she has gone to Washington to meet and train with Mark Drain, founder of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. “He is a hero of mine and a brilliant silversmith. He continues to inspire me to try different things and make every piece the best one I can possibly make it.”

For seven years, Whiteside has been juried into the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. “I was one of the first artisans they let into the Western Showcase.”

She said the opportunity to show at the Stampede is like winning an Academy Award. “I try every year to incorporate something new or different in my work. It really makes me try to evolve and improve.”

Custom brand bracelet with 10 karat gold scroll.

Visit the Sweet Iron Silver Co. to see more of Shawna’s work.

~ story by Deanna Buschert

Artisans of the West – Shelagh Blatz

Shelagh Blatz, silversmith and owner of Designs By Shelagh.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we'll profile some of the talented artisans we met and whose work we fell in love. To see the full feature, order the back issue

Stamped Sterling Silver surrounds this 1930's Buffalo nickel, the iconic symbol of the West, surrounded by turquoise stones. Complimented by matching beads.

Shelagh Blatz “fell” into silversmithing. After convincing some friends to take an Introduction to Silversmithing class with her in Okotoks, Alberta, Blatz fell in love with the craft. She continued to take classes from her mentor, Shirley Paradis, and also at the Alberta College of Art & Design.

In 2002, Blatz started making pieces that she couldn’t find anywhere in Canada and began taking orders from people who were interested in her unique pieces. Working out of her home studio on her family’s ranch southwest of Calgary, Blatz draws motivation for her jewelry from her western lifestyle – she strives to create unique pieces that reflect her life.

A beautiful grouping in striking Spiny Oyster, a shell that has been used for adornment since ancient times and worn by Aztecs, Anasazi, Mogolion and Hohokam.

“I draw a lot of inspiration directly from the stone; the color and shape usually indicate where I start with the design,” says Blatz. “I start with a sketch book and a shape and fit a stone into the design or sometimes I begin with a stone and draw the design around it.”

Blatz finishes all of her designs off with her trademark Buffalo nickel clasp. “It’s great to be able to pick out one of my creations from afar.”

A striking turquoise stone surrounded by small beads of silver and on a silver beaded chain.

Suspended on a silver chain, and adorned with a light turquoise stone, this feather is light and easy to wear.

Silver feathers adorned with precious stone, and complimentary earrings.

Visit Designs By Shelagh to see more of Blatz's work.

~ by Deanna Beckley


Happy Trails From The BC Cowboy Festival


BC Cowboy Festival

The 2013 BC Cowboy Festival buckle, crafted by silversmith Richard Tenisch, from Merritt, BC. Photos by Deanna Buschert

For many talented cowboy entertainers, artisans and Western lifestyle addicts, the Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival is a March tradition. This year marked the 17th edition of the Kamloops, BC, festival, which hosted an extensive list of the hottest performers of today’s country western entertainment. The star studded stage line-up included Canada’s Tim Hus and Gary Fjellgaard, American’s Dave Stamey and the half-cracked humour of Australian Champion Bush Poet, Carol Heuchan.

Kamloops is historically considered to be ranching country. Throughout the second weekend in March, the BC Cowboy Festival’s objective is to honour the legacy of the working cowboy and promote the unique heritage, which follows this way of life.

Shirley Field Allen Christie  Mike Dygert

Mike Dygert of the Gordy West Band, Shirley Field and Allen Christie, took the stage during the Friday evening performance.

The music, poetry and artisans which decend upon Kamloops during the March cowboy gala, are second to none.

“It’s not what you expect sometimes- it is genuine and real,” explained festival co-founder and entertainer Hugh McLennan.

According to McLennan, the Kamloops Cowboy Festival is considered by everyone in the genre, the place to be.

The 2013 BC Cowboy Heritage Society’s Hall of Fame Artistic Achievement, was awarded to the late Cowboy Poet Mike Puhallo- co-founder of the BC Cowboy Festival.

This year’s BC Cowboy Heritage Hall of Fame honourees included Artistic Achievement winner, (the late) Mike Puhallo, Century Ranch recipient the Pooley Ranch, Working Cowboy award winner Steve Archacan (Hyde) and the annual Family inductee went to the Pozzobon (Sammy) outfit.

BCCHS Pooley Ranch

The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, honouring the Pooley Ranch family with the BCCHS Century Ranch award.

The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lietenant Governor of BC, was on hand to congratulate the 2013 BCCHS Hall of Fame honourees. Guichon knows the cowboy life first hand. The Governor owns and operates the Gerard Guichon Ranch, a large cattle operation in the Nicola Valley, BC.

The Joe Marten Memorial Award winner, Don Lowen of Cowboy Classic Equipment

The Joe Marten Memorial Award winner, saddle maker Don Lowen of Cowboy Classic Equipment and his family.

This year’s Joe Marten Award winner was Merritt BC’s Don Lowen. Lowen is a talented craftsman, who once worked on the famous Douglas Lake Ranch and for several decades has been one of BC’s most respected saddle makers.

“I remember having this desire to build saddles,” said Lowen. “Then I gave it all that I had.”

The Joe Marten Award is honoured to those who have worked the ranges and continue to preserve the Western heritage in BC.

Country 103's Louis McIvor congratulating Rising Star winner Rae-Lee Faser of Barriere, BC.

Country 103’s Louis McIvor congratulating Rising Star winner Rae-Lee Faser of Barriere, BC.

Finishing off the weekend’s festivities, was the crowning of this year’s Rising Stars. In the poetry division, BC’s Rae-Lee Fraser of Barriere, BC took home first place and the $1000 grand prize. The Rising Star competition is a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and gain exposure to the Western performance scene.

For more information on the 2013 Kamloops Cowboy Festival and its extensive list of entertainers and award recipients, go to

A Cowboy Love-In


Dave Stamey flanked by two of Shannon Lawlor’s newest works, Friday night.

Foretelling of a vicious southern Alberta storm couldn’t even keep hardcore western music fans away from the historic East Longview Hall last Friday and Saturday night.

It was a beautifully planned event by Delilah Miller, showcasing the likes of Californian western singer Dave Stamey, Turner Valley, Alberta cowgirl poet Doris Daley and Nanton, Alberta famed equine artist Shannon Lawlor. Held within the walls of the East Longview Hall, we knew we were in for a special event.

Dave Stamey

A down to earth gentleman, Stamey took time to sign cd’s and fraternize with the locals.

In a sea of expertly shaped hats and well-worn boots, the show couldn’t have pulled off western authenticity better. Doris Daley kicked off the

show reciting a small collection of some of her melodic tales, covering everything form the great love story of Flores Ladue and Guy Weadick to the conundrums of being a not-so-punchy cowgirl.

But we were all thrilled when the great Dave Stamey strolled up the aisle to take the stage. His very first time performing north of the 49th, Stamey’s performance kept the audience enthralled and giggling, with the perfect amount of both. His words flow like a hot knife through butter and, maybe most importantly, are truly authentic, ringing true to every fan there. It would be hard to pick a favourite of the night, but his Buckskin Horse song had a comical introduction, with a poignant message…

East Longview Hall

The historic and revered East Longview Hall.

“…and she always wanted a buckskin horse and though life, can push a dream aside within the ranges of the heart there are miles and miles to ride if you ask, she’ll say it’s nothing, just a fantasy of course but like a secret hidden just behind her eyes there’s a buckskin horse”

But with all of the artistry flowing Saturday night, we were allowed a special treat when Ian Tyson meandered up the aisle to join Stamey in an impromptu rendition of the great ‘Bob Fudge’, flanked by two of Lawlor’s newest works. Two legends of western music before us, we all just sat and listened.

Shannon Lawlor Doris Daley

Shannon Lawlor and Doris Daley, standing in front of Lawlor’s painting Casey.

If Stamey ever decides to venture up our way again, make sure you get yourself a ticket and be in that room… and the trip out to the East Longview Hall isn’t that bad, either.

March is Out!

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September/October Sneak Peek

Coming soon to your mailbox and newsstand, I’m excited to preview the September/October issue for y’all here.

When I watched seasoned chuckwagon driver Chad Harden’s lead horse collapse and the subsequent pile-up of horses, humans and wheels during a heat of the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby on July 12, my heart leapt to my throat. Reviewing it on film, it was unimaginable the humans escaped injury, but fortunately they did. Three horses however, were lost; the Harden family and his barn subsequently devastated and heartbroken. Those immersed in the chuck racing circuit culture know and understand the level of care and love that goes into these animals, where horses are truly a part of the family.

Chad Harden racing at the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby. Photo by Deanna Buschert.

 Just three nights later on July 15, after the last heat of the races, 40-year veteran driver Grant Profit, sold his entire outfit including horses, during a retirement auction at the same barns Harden’s team had pulled out of three days before. A highlight of the sale was the right and left lead of Profit’s team – Forever Grand and Anglian Prince, a pair of former race horses. The 13-year-old Thoroughbreds sold for a combined $179,000 to another experienced driver, Kelly Sutherland. He later stated he felt the two horses who had been “barned together” for many years should stay together, illustrating the value these horses represent to their owners – not only in monetary means, but emotionally as well.

I spoke with Shelly Profit after the sale and she reiterated their devotion to their animals:

“All of our horses that we sold meant the world to us and we spent hours every day with them. Caring for them, feeding, brushing and training, each one of them have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. Even in the winter we would just go out in the pasture with them and they would all come up to us for a pet on the nose, and most of them loved peppermints and that was their treats. They were truly a part of our family, and we miss them dearly.”

A study on chuckwagon horses during races is currently in progress by a University of Calgary researcher who was on the scene at this year’s Rangeland Derby conducting a series of medical trials on the horses. Deanna Buschert’s piece, Scientific Experiment, reveals how that research may help not only chuckwagon horses, but other equine athletes as well.

Max Gibb is confident of the Balzac racetrack’s future. “It will make us the Woodbine of Western Canada,” he says. “And, it will be a big, big boost for horse racing.” Photo by Jessica Patterson

The remains of a track of another sort stands abandoned in a field northeast of Calgary. The Balzac racetrack was destined to restore and nurture the growth of horse racing in Alberta. Instead it dissolved into a field of unrealized dreams. Writer Jessica Patterson spent a good month researching the timeline of how this dream went down for her story, Field of Dreams. There is a faint hope the track will move forward, though on a much reduced scale and with mini-steps. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

When we came across this photo of Chantal Sutherland in a recent issue of Vanity Fair, we knew we had to include the Ontario born jockey in Jenn Webster’s feature piece, Generation Y Cowgirl. 

With numbers estimated as high as 70 million, Generation Y (those born 1981-1994) is the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce. This group of achievement-oriented individuals are both tech-savvy and conversely, uninterested in the fast track. They’ll gladly trade in the security of a job for a flexible work schedule and doing what they love. They are attention-cravers and motivated by praise and reassurance, whether by mentors or a much larger audience. Outside of the baby boomers, they are the most influential demographic group in our population. I love Jenn Webster’s interviews with four such incredibly driven females, including Chantal, in her story.

 This feature quickly came forward as the subject for this issue’s cover. Thanks to photographer Neville Palmer for his conceptualization of this cover shoot.

Also in this issue, Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia, also takes a up close and personal look at the relatively underground sport of polocrosse.

Photo by Krista Kay.

Western Lifestyle Editor, Deanna Beckley, together with photographer, Krista Kay, put together an eight page Fall Fashion feature, which simply wowed us all.

Photo by Deanna Buschert.

Deanna Buschert and I enjoyed a positively lovely afternoon hanging out with this gal and her Corgi’s in her incredible western home, and I was able to write about it in my feature, Western Retreat. 

With show season in full swing we covered some of the very many events already completed, took a look at the Calgary Stampede’s Cowboy Challenge champion Jim Anderson’s favorite bit and kicked off a new regular feature, Show Ready, this issue showcasing must-have items every reiner has on their list.

In the realm of horse health, don’t miss our Equine Practitioners Guide, showcasing a selection of the top professionals in the business. As well, we take a look at five favorite equine supplements, get yourself versed on how to recognize and understand lameness, and develop an understanding for why some two-year-olds are shod.

Photo by Larry Wong.

Writer Melissa Sword penned a fascinating piece on barrel racer Gaylene Buff, in her piece, Driven to Succeed. As you will read, this is a competitor with a hard working attitude and intense determination to succeed.

Finally, it’s sale time! Check out the best sales of this fall in our annual Fall Sale Guide. (Be sure you are subscribed to our e-newsletter feed to catch updates on these sales and heads up of late additions.)

We hope we’ve hit the right mix of horsemanship, western culture and style for y’all with this issue. I hope you love reading it, as much as we enjoyed building it.

100 Years of Thunder

Not long ago I received a wonderful gift in the mail. An advance copy of a brilliant compilation dedicated to the rich Alberta ranching heritage and the Calgary Stampede.

Four Calgary-area artists, each an award-winner in their respective fields of historical writing, music, photography and western poetry, have collaborated on a CD project called 100 Years of Thunder: a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.

If there is only one 100 year Calgary Stampede Anniversary memento to collect, this would be it.

Singer songwriter Bruce Innes, author Wendy Bryden, photographer Neville Palmer and poet Doris Daley have produced a fantastic collection of stories, poetry, music and photos.

The CD itself features 10 original poems (Daley) and 10 original songs (Innes) that salute iconic Calgary Stampede themes like pancake breakfasts, Guy Weadick and Flores LaDue, the white hat, Outlaw the Bucking Bull, chuckwagon races, Indian Village, cowboy fever, the Big Four – it’s all here and then some. Bryden has written historical essays based on each of the past 10 decades of the Stampede, illustrated by Palmer’s breathtaking photographic art in the CD liner note booklet.

100 Years of Thunder photo by Neville Palmer.

Innes aptly describes it as a “power-packed, emotional and entertaining ride through 100 years of Stampede history. Wendy’s essays and Neville’s photography add an historical and visual element not typically found in your average CD project.”

It’s true – this is so much more than just a CD. The voices within and visuals combine to fashion a whimsical and beautiful work of art, capturing the essence of the heartbeat of the Calgary Stampede. One hundred years of western spirit and rodeo history is worth celebrating, and 100 Years of Thunder serves it up with history, art, music, stories, emotion and cowboy spirit all rolled into one.

100 Years of Thunder photo by Neville Palmer.

Here’s the great part. We have a special offer just for the Western Horse Review audience. Order either the CD or the limited edition boxed set (only 200 copies: first come – first served) and enjoy a 20% discount on your purchase. Just enter WHRFRIEND and automatically score a 20% discount when you order at 100 Years of Thunder.

As one viewer writes: “This is such a wonderful CD! A storytelling masterpiece of historical significance that will stand the test of time. EVERYONE that has ever been to the Stampede and experienced the greatest outdoor show on earth should get a copy.”

Calgary Stampede Posters

At the log house, the first day of the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede is decidedly quiet. Still, even, after the thunderous lightning storm which flowed through this part of the prairie for most of last night. In complete juxtaposition, downtown Calgary, at this minute is likely an organized mayhem of music, cheering and visual delights, as the Calgary Stampede Centennial Parade is winding its way through the streets, led by our own western icon, Ian Tyson.

If you didn’t catch the Screen Doors & Saddles post yesterday revealing the 2013 Calgary Stampede Poster, be sure to have a look at it. It features a working cowboy many consider another icon of our Canadian West, Vern Lonsberry.

So many little surprises at this year’s event.

We had a chance to gather up some shots of past Calgary Stampede posters, which we intended to run in our July/August issue, but didn’t have a chance to, so I thought I’d share them with you today.

Still thinking of iconic westerners, the 1912 poster was of course, painted by Charlie Russell. This one, two years later in 1914, featured less of a Wild West look and more of a cultured theme.

The Australian National Band and newly constructed Banff-Windermere Highway, as well as the famous chuck wagon races were the highlights showcased in the 1927 poster.

Although it was only 1935, this poster claimed a half century of the show. I’m sure there’s a story behind this.

Full color photography, depicting the “famous chuck wagon races” was introduced in 1946.

I love that rodeo and agriculture is true to center of these older posters.

One more vintage poster – Canada’s Centennial year. These posters are fantastic works of art, but each also gives us a snapshot of history in a fashion, often chronicling what was matter most to the culture of the day.

What I found really interesting is the fact there are a number of years for which a poster is unavailable. According to Aimee Benoit, archivist at the Calgary Stampede, we are missing posters for 1922, 1926 and 1930. The Stampede didn’t establish their own archives until 1999, so everything they have has been acquired since then. Incredible to think these three links to the Calgary Stampede history may never be found.

The art itself is a huge aspect of the poster and we’ve been granted so many artists vision for the event; it’s always an awe-inspiring surprise to see the next one, and so difficult to pick favorites, but this would have to be one of mine.

Finally, the millenium poster.

Whether it’s Stampede-flavored or not, hope you enjoy the beautiful weekend. Be sure to enter the Iron Horse jeans giveaway if you haven’t already. We’ll be drawing and announcing a lucky winner later on this afternoon.


The Cowboy Artist

In Without Knocking (1909 oil on canvas), is considered by some as the best western work ever painted. It will be on loan from the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas to the Glenbow Museum for the duration of the Charlie Russell Exhibition.

At the 1912 Calgary Stampede, there was a rodeo, a parade, and a Charlie Russell Exhibition. Next to the rodeo the artwork of Charlie Russell was perhaps the highlight of the inaugural Stampede. For Russell’s career it was a defining moment, both critically and financially. He not only sold 13 of the 20 paintings he brought to the Exhibition, his work gained international attention and a host of new and wealthy patrons, including the titled Englishman who bought four, and the wealthy Torontonian, who took home three.

That year, Russell’s artwork was also featured on the first Calgary Stampede poster.

For eight weeks from June 2 to July 29, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary will be featuring 18 of those 20 works showcased at the 1912 Calgary Stampede, for a special exhibition, titled “Charlie Russell and the First Calgary Stampede.” 

Aspiring journalist, Jenny Antonenko is currently interning with Western Horse Review, and yesterday she caught up with Glenbow Senior Curator, Lorain Lounsberry to ask her a few questions about the Exhibition. She discovered one of the greatest challenges of tracking down 18 (for the Glenbow already held two of the original 20) 100-year-old paintings was following the trail of title renamings over the past century.

As Lounsberry related to Jenny, “Not only are they scattered in private and public institutions over nine states and one province, the names kept changing on those paintings, so to be able to match up those paintings with the title that they now exist under was a bit of a challenge.”

The Glenbow crew worked with Dr. Brian Dippie, a Russell scholar, based out of Victoria, B.C., and they now have most of them nailed down, although, “there a couple that may not be the exact ones but they are very similar. We’ve been very careful; we do have a companion book [for the Exhibition], and Dr. Dippie in his essay indicates that it’s not one hundred percent certain, but it’s so close and so compelling an argument that we feel that if this painting wasn’t the one, it’s a good stand-in.”

Call of the Law, 1911 oil on canvas, is on loan from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City for this Exhibition.

The paintings were gathered from private lenders and such leading galleries as the Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), the C.M. Russell Museum (Great Falls, Montana), the Tucson Museum of Art and two works from the Glenbow’s own collection.

Undoubtedly this collection of Russells’ represents his greatest work, and all of his passions – the landscape, the wildlife, the ranches, the First Nations people, the cowboys. The Old West as Russell viewed it.

I believe we have been gifted with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view this collection of iconic art from the Cowboy Artist.

Stolen Horses, an original Russell held by the Glenbow is part of the Exhibition.

Russell’s links to the Canadian West were many, and his work is forever a testatment to his love of the land and people. After he died in 1926, A. E. Cross – one of the “Big Four” of the Calgary Stampede expressed what Russell’s passing meant for western Canadians with a note to his wife, Nancy. Within it, he penned this sentence:

“You have not only my entire sympathy, but the sympathy of all the old cow men in this country.”

Perfectly put, I’ve always loved that quote. And, I can’t wait to visit the Glenbow for this Exhibition.