Author Archives: Brian Brennan

Check out my new blog

This blog section of the site is no longer being updated. To view my latest posts, please check the blog on my new website, HERE. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for your patience and consideration. In the digital era, everybody’s online presence is a moveable feast – or perhaps a moving target.

Smashwords interview

I’ve just published an in-depth Q&A interview at Smashwords, the publisher of my e-books, Scoundrels and Scallywags and Songs of an Irish Poet: The Mary O’Leary Story. You can find the interview by clicking HERE. Feel free to comment and suggest any additional questions you would like me to answer. Thanks!

Scoundrels now available as e-book

Scoundrels cover.pdf

I am thrilled to announce that, after being out of print for more than three years, my most popular collection of biographical sketches, Scoundrels and Scallywags: Characters from Alberta’s Past, is now available as an e-book. You can find the iPad edition in the iTunes Store (sorry, no browser link for that) and the other formats by clicking HERE.

Here’s a description of what you will find in the book:

Adventurers, criminals, eccentrics, rogue politicians and other scandalous types all come to life in the pages of Scoundrels and Scallywags.

Meet Bill Peyto (pictured on the cover), the legendary mountain man who once let a lynx loose in a saloon to see how quickly the drunks could escape. Or Calgary’s notorious prostitute Pearl Miller, who left such an impression with Canadian soldiers in the Second World War that they responded to the American sign “Remember Pearl Harbor” with “To hell with Pearl Harbour, remember Pearl Miller.” Or Elizabeth “Sweaty Betty” Abbott, an Edmonton slum landlord known for punching out abusive husbands and taking care of their battered wives. Or the reluctant Lord, Fred Perceval, who inherited the title Earl of Egmont but decided after living in his English castle for a few years that he really wanted to be a rancher after all.

They come from all corners of the province and they’re a wild and unruly bunch, but Alberta couldn’t be prouder of them. Scoundrels and Scallywags is a salute to those who have lived within Alberta’s borders – but outside the boundaries of convention.

And here’s what the reviewers said about it:

A collection of riveting tales about the adventurers, eccentrics and outlaws who dared to be different, and who definitely would not tolerate being ignored.” – Western Living magazine

Here is Alberta history in bite-sized, easily digested portions, a lively and entertaining romp through the years.” – Calgary Herald



Scoundrels sequel coming in 2015

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the long-awaited sequel to my 2002 best-seller Scoundrels and Scallywags will be published in 2015 by University of Regina Press. It will be titled Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Western Canada’s Past. The 32 featured characters will include:

  • Peter Pond. A brutal and murderous Yankee fur trader implicated in the deaths of three rival traders but never successfully prosecuted. The first white man to cast eyes on those valuable tarry sands that are now the driver of the Alberta economy.
  • Winnifred Reeve. A successful romance novelist in New York who threw it all away for the love of an Alberta cowboy. Born into a Chinese-Canadian family, she made her mark by assuming a fake JAPANESE identity and publishing novels under the pen name Onoto Watanna.
  • Edward Arthur Wilson, a.k.a. “Brother XII.”  A notorious cult leader who set up shop on Vancouver Island in the 1920s, attracted 2,000 wealthy followers, and left an estimated $400,000 in gold coins behind when he fled the island in 1933. Fortune hunters and beachcombers still flock annually to the island hoping to find the missing gold.
  • Mike Mountain Horse.  A Blood reserve resident who didn’t have to fight in the First World War because Natives were exempt from military service. But he enlisted anyhow to honour the memory of his younger brother who died as a result of being gassed three times during the war.
  • Margaret (“Ma”) Murray.  A widely read community newspaper editor in Lillooet, British Columbia, who achieved a kind of mythic status in provincial and national political circles by putting out a folksy paper that broke all the conventional rules of journalism, grammar and syntax.
  • Clyde Gilmour. A broadcaster with a vast and eclectic collection of albums who parlayed his love of classical arias, train whistles, novelty songs, animal sounds and comedy routines into a 40-year career with CBC Radio.
  • Stu Hart. The patriarch of Canada’s most famous wrestling family. A professional wrestler turned promoter who raised a family of wrestlers and founded Stampede Wrestling, a popular long-running television program produced in Calgary and syndicated around the world.
  • Melvin Crump. An Alberta-born black musician who fought racial discrimination through his work with the Alberta Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and broke the colour barrier at the Palliser Hotel to play for the wedding reception of future premier Ralph Klein and his bride Colleen.
  • Gladys Arnold. A reporter from Saskatchewan who became the sole accredited Canadian journalist writing from Paris during the first months of the Second World War.
  • Jack Webster. A Scottish-born newsman and broadcaster who pioneered in Vancouver the kind of hard-hitting, politically oriented style of talk radio later popularized in Western Canada by the likes of Charles Adler in Winnipeg and Dave Rutherford in Calgary.
  • Hal Sisson. A criminal defence lawyer in Peace River who tried to have as much fun in the courtroom as he did performing as an amateur burlesque comedian. A prolific writer of books of humorous essays, his last piece of published writing was his own obituary!
  • Billy Cowsill. The lead singer of a wholesome 1960s’ family band that inspired The Partridge Family television series. In Western Canada, where he lived for the last 27 years of his life, he left his mark as a performer who conjured up the musical ghosts of the past with his pitch-perfect renditions of hits by Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and other 1950s’ greats.

Meet Your Local (Calgary) Authors

This Saturday, October 4 2014, is Meet-Your-Local-Authors Day at the Parkdale Community Association, 3512 5th Ave NW, in Calgary. Here’s a link to the Facebook Page publicizing the event. We’ll be there between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., 45  of us, talking about our books, selling and autographing copies.

I’ll have six of my titles available for purchase. They are:

Songs of an Irish Poet: The Mary O’Leary Story. The biography of a 19th century Irish folk poet, with translated editions of all her known poems. I’ll be giving away free copies of this book (a $20 value) to everyone who buys one of my other titles.

Building a Province: 60 Alberta Lives. My first published book. Biographical sketches of 60 remarkable Albertans who helped make the province what it is today.

How the West was Written: The Life & Times of James H. Gray. The biography of a great Prairie social historian whose best-selling books included Red Lights on the Prairies and Booze.

Leaving Dublin: Writing my Way from Ireland to Canada. My autobiography, published three years ago when I was 68. The story of how and why I gave up a well-paying job in the Irish civil service to establish a life for myself in a country where I had no friends and no family connections.

Romancing the Rockies: Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn & More. A collection of stories about various individuals who came to the Rocky Mountains to explore, climb, take photographs or make movies.

The Good Steward: The Ernest C. Manning Story. The biography of the Alberta premier who served the longest (25 years) and oversaw the evolution of the province from a farming region into one of the western world’s most significant suppliers of oil and gas.