Born into slavery in the U.S. and migrating to Canada after the Civil War, John Ware was a trained cowboy whose skill and expertise influenced the early beginnings of ranching in the Alberta region.
After driving 3,000 cattle across the border in 1882 for the North West Cattle Company, Ware lived and worked in the Calgary area before setting up a ranch for himself in the foothills in 1900. His strength and ability with the lariat made him a champion in steer-wrestling at the Calgary Summer Fair, now the Calgary Stampede.
This stamp design features Ware in his characteristic cowboy hat with a lariat at his side. A silhouette of a man on horseback rises out of a landscape representing the foothills. Across the various materials, archival images, including the sale agreement for his land, an old map, and other photographs, bring his story to life. The intentional grittiness of the designed pieces alludes to the roughness of Ware’s situation and time. The choice of a horseshoe as the cancellation stamp makes reference to his experience as a horseman.