Author Tags: First Nations, Health, History
Mary-Ellen Kelm is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University specializing in settler colonial and medical histories of North America. Her first book, Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia 1900-1950 (UBC Press, 1998) won the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize and the Clio award for British Columbia both awarded by the Canadian Historical Association. In 2007 she received the second place award in the BC Historical Federation’s annual history writing competition for editing The Letters of Margaret Butcher: Missionary-Imperialism on the North Pacific Coast (University of Calgary Press, 2007), which tell the story of the Elizabeth Long Memorial Home, an Indian Residential School in Kitamaat, BC, from the perspective of an English teacher and nurse at the school. Her history, A Wilder West: Rodeo in Western Canada (UBC Press, 2011) is an illustrated examination of rodeo’s small-town roots, and a look at how the sport brought people together across racial and gender divides. She is currently examining the ideas and methods medical researchers brought to the study of Indigenous health in North America from 1910-1990. She is co-editor of the Canadian Historical Review.
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia, 1900-50
The Letters of Margaret Butcher: Missionary-Imperialism on the North Pacific Coast
A Wilder West: Rodeo in Western Canada
Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia, 1900-50 (UBC Press, 1998)
Edited, The Letters of Margaret Butcher: Missionary-Imperialism on the North Pacific Coast (University of Calgary Press, 2007)
A Wilder West: Rodeo in Western Canada (UBC Press, 2011) 978-0-7748-2029-5 $85.00
[BCBW 2017] "Health" "First Nations" "Missionaries"
A Wilder West
Press Release (2016)
SFU history prof kicks off Women’s History Month with cowgirl talk
Simon Fraser University history professor Mary-Ellen Kelm will help kick off October as Women’s History Month with a free public talk, Frontier Femininity: Rodeo Cowgirls in B.C., on Oct. 2, 7-8:30 p.m. at Herstory Café. The café is located in the City of Vancouver Archives Office.
“A controversial sport, rodeo is often seen as emblematic of the West’s reputation as a white man’s country,” says Kelm, the author of A Wilder West, Rodeo in Western Canada.
"But from Quesnel to Kamloops, Clinton to Lac La Hache, and Merritt to Vancouver, women actively participated in stampede rodeos, parades, pageants and a wide variety of competitions."
Critics have described the Windsor, Ontario native’s rodeo research as imaginative, simply brilliant and full of aha moments.
During her talk, Kelm will explore rodeos as contact zones in colonial Canada where gender, race and culture intersected in fascinating ways. The SFU alumna will explain how as places of encounter — between men and women, and settlers and Aboriginal peoples — rodeos featured rivalry, competition, friendship, display and intimacy.
As members of the cowboy world, B.C. women distinguished themselves in various aspects of rodeo culture. Many young Aboriginal and white settler girls grew up on ranch lands and in the saddle.
Some learned fancy riding and rope tricks while others competed for prizes in steer riding, bronco busting, and horse and barrel races. Stampede Queen contestants competed on the basis of beauty, personality and dress, but also at times, on their horse skills and riding ability.
Rodeos also put cash in women’s hands, for example, prize winnings and money earned from selling handicraft goods such as buckskin clothing, beadwork, and baskets.
“Rodeos also had well-known female celebrities,” says Kelm, Canada Research Chair in History and an associate dean of graduate studies at SFU. “At Williams Lake, women became headliners, with Ollie Curtis claiming the B.C. All-Round Champion Cowgirl title in 1927. Curtis was the first woman to ride in the iconic and dangerous Mountain Race down Fox Mountain in the Central Cariboo-Chilcotin region of B.C.”