Robert J. C. Stead
The Cow Puncher


With the outbreak of WWI, Stead's writing took on a decidedly patriotic tone and gained world-wide prominence with the publishing of the poem "The Death of Kitchener." Propelled by that reader attention, The Cow Puncher found itself in 2nd Edition within a month of its initial publication.

Its merits as a novel well justify that huge initial response, and its homely title belies the philosophic depth and historical breadth of Stead's focus.

While its hero, Dave Eldon, was indeed a cow puncher, the plot takes him from the range at an early age and presents his earlier moves from coal drayman through import warehouse worker; news reporter; real estate king-pin at the centre of one of the prairie boom/bust cycles (which by 1914 brought both growth and misery); and ultimately as foot soldier on the killing fields of Europe.

Today's reader gains therefrom valuable perspective on early prairie experience as well as prairie opinions/responses to the Great War while it raged in Europe. Of note is Stead's analysis of the implications of political struggle due to emerge between socialist and capitalist ideals.