top of page
  • whytemuseum

Book Reviews - Ya Ha Tinda: A Home Place & Wild Horses, Wild Wolves: Legends at Risk at the Foot of the Canadian Rockies

Updated: Feb 2

By Kate Riordon, Collections Processor & Digital Technician

The Ya Ha Tinda Ranch gets its name from the Îyârhe (Stoney) people, and means “Mountain Prairie.” Aptly named since the ranch sits on a broad plateau on the eastern slope of the Rockies about halfway between Nordegg and Mînî Thnî (Morley) as the crow flies, protected on all sides by tall peaks and kept snow-free by frequent Chinooks. It is an ideal place to raise and graze horses.

Paddlenorth book by Jennifer Kingsley being held by a hand with brick background.
Image 1

Folks may know of the ranch due to its association with Parks Canada, but all parts of its storied history are covered by Kathy Calvert in Ya Ha Tinda: A Home Place.

Serving as a comprehensive history of the ranch, Calvert explores the individuals, agencies, and families who have made it what it is. Starting with Indigenous groups who used the region for hunting and trading, the story moves through the Brewster tenure, the formation of the Canadian Parks system, ownership disputes between the federal government and the newly minted Province of Alberta, and finally its ultimate calling as the heart of the Parks Canada Warden operation. The one true constant throughout remains the horses. Ever-present and always important, the Ranch’s horses are the steady, if sometimes flighty or cantankerous, heartbeat of the narrative as it takes its twists and turns through history.

Interspersed with photographs from the Whyte Museum Archives and more contemporary shots from

the collections of numerous Ranch tenants and employees, Calvert’s book is a quick and informative

read about a fascinating element of the National Park system not often seen.

Not only is Alberta home to ranches like the Ya Ha Tinda, it’s also the stomping ground for herds of wild horses. Maybe the descendants of Spanish mustangs, maybe horses turned out or lost by ranchers or Indigenous groups over time, these “ghost horses” are studied in depth by Maureen Enns in her book Wild Horses, Wild Wolves: Legends at Risk at the Foot of the Canadian Rockies.

An artist by trade, Enns’ book follows her years-long independent study of the wild horses that roam the Ghost River area near her home north of Cochrane. Fascinated by what differentiates these small herds from domesticated horses, Enns ends up following in the tracks of moose, deer, and the local wolf packs to see if their behavior has somehow rubbed off.

Accompanied by plenty of pictures Enns has taken in the field as well as photos from various wildlife cameras, charcoal sketches, and mixed media pieces, this book is part research paper, part art book. Come for the stunning stallions and adorable wolf pups, stay for the fascinating mystery that is their relationship, this book is sure to delight and entertain.

Pick up a copy of these reads for yourself at the Whyte Museum Book Shop - stop by to visit us at 111 Bear St. in Banff!



Image 1: Covers of Ya Ha Tinda: A Home Place and Wild Horses, Wild Wolves: Legends at Risk at the Foot of the Canadian Rockies. Photo by Katie Goldie.


bottom of page