There's a bison herd just outside of Edmonton that has a particularly noble lineage: the Elk Island herd traces it's earliest documented origins back to Samuel Walking Coyote, a Pend d'Orielle native who started out with four bison yearlings in Montana. From Walking Coyote, they were sold to Charles Allard and Michael Pablo, two Metis who grew the herd to more than six hundred in Montana, before the loss of land forced them to sell their animals. When a deal couldn't be reached with the American government, the Canadian government stepped forward to purchase the herd for the newly-created Elk Island National Park, just east of Edmonton. The animals, however, were not cooperative to the relocation efforts, and it took over three years for the animals to be rounded up - usually one at a time - and loaded onto heavily-reinforced trains. In just 30 years at Elk Island, the herd had grown nearly tenfold. So the herd was once again relocated, this time to the sprawling Wood Buffalo National Park, where the creatures now roam with their arboreal brethren. The herd that remains in Elk Island decend from the roughly 35 animals that could not be rounded up.
All of that history may have absolutely nothing to do with the Royal Bison craft & art fair. The Royal Bison was founded by Raymond Biesinger, a very talented illustrator (who contributed a piece to UPPERCASE Publishing's first book, The Shatner Show). The show features a collection of incredibly talented Edmonton artists and craftmakers. We're looking forward to meeting our fellow exhibitors and attendees, and sharing some of our discoveries here on the blog. If you're in Edmonton, stop by and say hello to us!