Sid Marty’s writing is strongly associated with the Rocky Mountains,
where he previously worked as a park warden in the mountain national
parks. Since l978, he has earned his living as a freelancer, writing
about natural and human history for national magazines. Sid Marty is
also known as a poet and musician and as the author of five
nonfiction titles and four collections of poetry, as well as two CDs
of original songs. His poems have appeared in a long list of school
textbooks, literary magazines and poetry anthologies such as The
Oxford Book of Canadian Verse and Colombo’s Poets of Canada. As a
musician and singer, Sid performs on guitar, mandolin and harmonica.
The Edmonton Journal, responding to Switchbacks (l999) calls him
“… a magnificent storyteller. Like a bush-camp cook, he throws
everything into the pot–high adventure-comedy, tragedy, even the
lyric adjective…” Sid Marty’s third prose title, Switchbacks
(l999) was on the National Post bestseller list for 47 weeks while
Leaning on the Wind (l995) and The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek
(2008) another bestseller, were both short-listed for the Governor
General’s Award in Nonfiction. His award-winning book Men for the
Mountains (l978) has been cited by the National and Provincial Parks
Association as one of the influential books in the Canadian
environmental movement. Sid and Myrna Marty live in southwestern
Alberta at the foot of the Livingstone Range. He is currently at work
on a long MS of new and collected poems tentatively entitled Bull
I was a newly minted Calgary bookseller in 1978, the year Sid Marty published his award-winning book, Men for the Mountains. I’m sure he came by the store to do a signing. I didn’t really get to know Sid though until much later when we were both involved with the Fernie Writers’ Conference. He led a workshop on non-fiction writing. One memorable evening during the conference, in a local Fernie watering hole, we all gathered around to witness a “poetry duel” between Sid Marty and poet/publisher Ron Smith. The challenge was that a poem was read by one of the men, then the other had to respond with one of his own poems that echoed the final line of the first poem. And on it went, for quite a while that evening, too! A lot of hilarity for the audience as well as for the two poets! I believe they agreed on a truce by the end of it all. At library conferences, I also displayed a couple of reprints of Sid Marty’s poetry books that had been re-released by Frontenac House.
While I was never a sales rep directly for any of Sid Marty’s books, I remembered just now while writing this promotion for him that I did rep for Red Deer College Press when they published the anthology, Riding the Northern Range: Poems from the Last Best West, edited by Ted Stone. Four of Sid’s poems are included in this book and he was among the contributors to read at a launch of the book held at The Longhorn Saloon in Calgary.
It wasn’t until well after that book was published that I noticed this mention on the copyright page: The publisher gratefully acknowledges … Special thanks to Patricia Roy and Susan Toy for their assistance in the preparation of this book. Unbeknownst to the two of us, Pat (now Couture) and I had been badgering Dennis Johnson to publish a book of cowboy poetry, because we knew it was hot at that time! Pat told me later that Dennis said something like this to her: “You and Susan Toy! You’re both driving me crazy about this need to publish cowboy poetry!” That was actually the extent of our “assistance” though – badgering! But it did feel good to eventually prove to Dennis Johnson we were correct about something! The book sold well!
The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek
Many citizens of Banff, Alberta, valued living in a place where wildlife grazed on the front lawn; others saw wild bears as a mere roadside attraction. None were expecting the bear attacks that summer, which led to one man’s death. During the massive hunt that followed, Banff was portrayed in the international media as a town under siege by a killer bear, and the tourists stayed away. The pressure was on to find and destroy the Whiskey Creek mauler, but he evaded park wardens and struck again and again. When the fight was over, the hard lessons learned led to changes that would save the lives of both bears and people in the coming years.
Sid Marty’s The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek is an evocative and gripping story that speaks to our complex and increasingly combative relationship with the wilderness and its inhabitants.
About Sid Marty’s music: Sid Marty began playing folk music and original songs in Calgary long before there was a Calgary Folk Music Club or an Edmonton Folk Festival. People in those days were indifferent to local songwriters, to put it mildly. Sid is a fourth generation Albertan and a former park warden who worked in the mountain national parks for many years. The songs on his second album, entitled Elsewhere, range from laments for third world child soldiers to a celebration of Alberta’s vanishing ranching culture to passionate love songs and up-tempo celebrations of Rocky Mountain days and nights
For more information about Sid Marty, his books and his music, please visit his website.