The Frontierado Holiday coming up on Friday August 2nd is all about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.
PRETTY PIERRE – Created by Canadian author Gilbert Parker, Pretty Pierre was a Canadian version of fictional American Western Pulp Heroes like Deadwood Dick and many others. Pierre was a smuggler and gambler/gunslinger whose adventures took place in Canada and Alaska in the late 1800s.
The very first Pretty Pierre story, The Patrol of the Cypress Hills, was published in The Independent in 1890. Many stories followed and were published in two collections: Pierre and His People (1892) and Pierre, A Romany of the Snows (1896).
That second collection was published in England under the title An Adventurer of the North in 1898, often leading to the mistaken belief that there are actually three separate collections of Pierre short stories but this is not the case.
Pierre was the son of a Canadian woman and a Native American of no specific designation. The Pretty One was raised by his father’s people for a time then began moving in white Canadian circles. His good looks and elegant clothing earned him his nickname but he made his living as a gambler/gunslinger and as a smuggler (Think of the real-life Montana Kid, covered previously here at Balladeer’s Blog).
I love the fact that the Klondike Gold Rush era was still raging when the Pierre stories were being written. It’s fascinating to read a contemporary depiction of an antihero whose greatest enemies are the revered Mounted Police.
Women find Pretty Pierre very attractive but he has an Athos-level of indifference to them, feeling betrayed by the wife he left behind him. Ultimately Pierre learns that his wife had not really cheated on him but by then the distance between them – enhanced by our hero’s wandering, often criminal lifestyle – makes a reconciliation impossible.
PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE (1892) – Consists of the stories The Patrol of the Cypress Hills, God’s Garrison, A Hazard of the North, A Prairie Vagabond, She of the Triple Chevron, Three Outlaws, Shonn McGann’s Tobogan Ride, Pere Champagne, The Scarlet Hunter, The Stone, The Tall Master, The Crimson Flag, The Flood, In Pippi Valley, Antoine and Angelique, The Cipher, A Tragedy of Nobodies, A Sanctuary on the Plains
PIERRE, A ROMANY OF THE SNOWS (1896) – Consists of the stories Three Commandments in the Vulgar Tongue, Little Babiche, At Point o’ Bugles, The Spoil of the Puma, The Trail of the Sun Dogs, The Pilot of the Belle Amour, The Cruise of the “Ninety-Nine”, A Romany of the Snows, The Plunderer
In most of the stories Pretty Pierre is the main character but in others he is on the fringes of the main action.
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