Donna Alward on Alberta…Welcome to Stampede Country!

I lived in Calgary for twelve years.  In fact, Calgary, Alberta was my address until May 28th…when we moved all the way across the country, about a five-hour drive from where I grew up.  But I’ve spent the bulk of my marriage in Calgary…we moved when we were married less than a year, had a small car, mostly hand-me down possessions, and no kids.


The first year we arrived too late for the Stampede, but just ahead of the beginning of hockey season. (Go Flames Go!)   It was a heat wave, and we couldn’t believe how HOT it was.  One of my first memories was going to a WalMart by where we lived, and seeing an oriental man, in a cowboy hat and boots, talking on a cell phone! 


The second week of July, there are no hotel rooms to be had in Calgary.  It’s Stampede Week, complete with Princesses, a parade, and free pancake breakfasts all over the city.  We did make it to Stampede the next year, and I was pregnant with our first child…just pregnant, like about 8 weeks along and sick.  It was hot and all these people were drinking cold beer in the stands and I was stuck with water.  I had beef on a bun…red meat was a must while I was expecting, apparently…and laughed at the mutton bustin’ kids, admired the dexterity of barrel racing, and oohed and aahed over the broncs and bull riding.  I still love the smell of mini-donuts and hate the crush of people on the C-Train.  But I liked the Rodeo so much that I knew I had to have one in my second Romance, Marriage at Circle M.  Complete with a sexy ex-bronc rider.


We fell in love with the mountains, being able to see them from the city (there’s a great view from the Calgary Tower if you get a haze-free day), driving to them, skiing in them, hiking…I always thought when we moved away what I’d miss most was the mountains.  But I was wrong.


It’s the prairie.


It’s the wide open expanse.  Because truth be told, those cowboys and girls that make it to Stampede don’t live in Calgary.  They live in Longview, and Caroline, and Madden, and Wetaskawin, and all sorts of small towns that hardly appear on the map.  They live on the land and farm it, raise their stock and travel around during rodeo season.  Those towns mean something.  And I fell in love with one of them – Sundre – a few years ago.


Sundre is a typical western town – a hotel, a grocery, a department store (I love browsing around the V&S!), a library, a few restaurants…the amenities you need, but still a bit of a drive to Red Deer and about an hour and 20 minutes to Calgary.  When you take the highway in from Olds, you crest a hill and if you hit it at the right time, the sun is setting over the mountains and it’s spectacular.  It’s ranch country. And maybe a little oil and gas country.  And it’s beautiful.


When I wrote Hired By The Cowboy, it was a natural choice for the setting, and so Windover Ranch was born, and featured again in Marriage at Circle M.  I was a little homesick after that so I wrote The Soldier’s Homecoming and set it in my east-coast hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick.  But I wasn’t done with the characters or the setting from my first 2 books yet, and so that became Falling For Mr. Dark and Dangerous.


I went slightly south of Sundre to the community of Bergen for this story, where the main feature is the General Store.  I’d e-mailed for some info, and one weekend when we were camping in Elkton Valley, we popped in and I introduced myself.  It was so much fun…I got to see the store, drive the roads…and knew exactly where Maggie and Nate would park in the parking lot!


Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous is out this month with Harlequin Romance, and in some ways it takes me back to my other “home” where I can see for miles and feel the blustery warmth of a Chinook on my face.


Is there a place that calls to you?  Have you moved, and what part of that home stayed with you the most?


I’ll select one person from the comments after the weekend to win a copy of FALLING FOR MR. DARK AND DANGEROUS…guess what I’m doing this weekend?  I get to witness a real-life love story.  My mum, who is 75, is getting MARRIED.  Seems genetics might have played a part in my romantic heart!!!





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30 thoughts on “Donna Alward on Alberta…Welcome to Stampede Country!”

  1. So lovely about your Mom. My mother-in-law who will be 78 on the 8th is still a newlywed – she and her hubby (who just turned 79) have been married only 5 yrs!

    I think it is WONDERFUL when God gives us a second (or 3rd or whatever #) chance at true love….just goes to show….

    Love really IS what makes the world go around.

    Makes it a much better place to live too.

    Congratulations on your books!


  2. Congratulations to your Mom!

    And of course on your new book! Mr. Dark and Dangerous is someone I will definitely want to read about!
    Thanks for sharing the gorgeous photos.

  3. Congrats on your Mom’s marriage. My widowed mother foung a boyfriend when she was in her eighties after 52 years with my father and we couldn’t have been happier for her.

    I love the Rodeo too! I don’t know when I became addicted to it–maybe it’s just seeing handsome cowboys all in one place–LOL. Even in the Eastern US, in my small town, we have a yearly rodeo and I take lots of pics. Otherwise I follow the standings via google alerts and catch it on TV when it plays. I’d love to see the Calgary Stampede though. My favorite Saddle bronc rider, Cody Wright, won it two years ago and what a bundle of money it was! My hero in Re-ride at the Rodeo is, of course, a saddle bronc rider too. Those bronc riders are real cowboys!

    Enjoyed seeing your pics–beautiful country!And now I’ll have to check out your books!

  4. Beautiful pictures! I miss the mountains in PA. Hugs to your mum – may she have many happy years.

  5. And the thing that Donna did not know about when she wrote this — Hired by the Cowboy won the Bookseller’s Best Traditional Romance. The winners were announced at the RWA AFTER she had left for her mum’s wedding…

    I adore Calgary. My dh and I went to the Rafter 7 ranch for our honeymoon. It is where Marilyn Monroe et al stayed when they were filming River of No Return.

  6. Hi Donna,

    Welcome to P&P! I hope you have a good time while you’re here. Half of us Fillies are in California at the RWA Conference so can’t be here. I’m sure they’re with us in spirit though.

    I would dearly love to see Calgary. I just bet it’s a gorgeous place. Somehow I pictured all of Canada as mountains. Never entered my mind that there would be plains and farming. You have changed my perception of the country.

    Colorado is the place that calls to me. I love the mountains since I grew up in the desert. I love to breathe that clear fresh air. Everything just seems so crisp. The atmosphere seeps into my soul and snuggles down when I’m there. I just hate that I don’t live there though. I’m a Texas gal and probably always will be. Nothing wrong with Texas except that it’s not Colorado.

    Your books look great. And the title of “Falling for Mr. Dangerous” really does hook me. I’ve got to get a copy when it gets in the bookstore here.

    Thanks for guest-blogging!

  7. Congrats to your mom, and a big congrats to YOU for winning the award for Bookseller’s Best Traditional Romance! WooHoo! 🙂

  8. Congrats to your Mum on her big day!!! I love the picture of the mountains… breathtaking!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing today!!! 😀

  9. I have been to the Calgary Stampede and thoroughly enjoyed it. I live one province over in Sask. and we have cowboys, rodeos, fairs, brandings and trail rides.
    That is so true that many of the cowboys/girls come from the small towns where they own a ranch or farm. I have a cousin who barrel races or used to.
    Congrats to your Mom and all the best.

  10. Hey Donna – so happy for your mother. My dad re-married last Sept. He’s 79 and still going strong.

    Since I lived in 20 different houses by the time I was 18 and 7 more since I’ve been married, I’m gonna have to think about a place that calls me back. 🙂

    Actually, that’s not true – I spent my 12th summer at my grandmother’s farm in Northern Ontario. We’re talking moose and bear country. Papa taught me how to drive the tractor – you know the kind with the small wheels about a foot apart on the front? I remember walking down the CPR tracks, filling a cup with wild strawberries and our weekly sauna at the neighbors farm. Most of my days were spent upstairs reading with the cotton curtains billowing in the hot summer breeze. Lazy days of freedom. I loved it.

  11. Congratulations to the newly-weds!

    Donna, I’ve lived in Houston, TX for all of my almost 72 years. We lived in several places in the northern part of the city until we bought this home
    in 1969. What was a nice sized place is now a bit
    crowded when we get the whole family together! But since it is just Honey and I most of the time, it
    is nice-sized for us again!

    Pat Cochran

  12. Lovely photos and post today,Donna. Thanks for this glimpse and enjoyable post. Congratulations and enjoy your mother’s special day.
    I adore Calgary, Kamloops and the Rockies. The scenic beauty is incomparable and this area is so special for me. Years ago when we lived in Montreal we took a vacation out West and it is still dear to my heart.

  13. Hi Donna,
    Congratulations to your mom. It was great reading the post about your trips and feelings for these places. I loved the photos very much. My favorite place is Calgary, Moraine Lake and Vancouver. Such unique and great spots to live and visit. Many years ago I said I would move West and I did. It is a dream come true.

  14. Congratulations to your Mom. Wonderful pictures. I love the cover to Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous.

  15. Congrats to your mom!!!!! I really do not have a special place. But I would love to travel and find someplace to start again.

  16. Congratulations to your Mom!
    Great pictures,I love mountains, maybe because here in the archipelago we don’t have them! But my favorite place is right here where I am, in the archipelago with thousands of small islands.

  17. About 5 years after we were married, we took a car trip from Wisconsin to Banff/Jasper to go camping. I remember crossing into Canada north of Minot, North Dakota…. endless miles and miles of flat land, wheat fields, small towns, graineries…beautiful but once we saw the mountains it was just so amazing!

    Hope you continue to adjust to your new surroundings! Your books sound interesting so Iwill look for them!

  18. Congratulations to your mom! The great thing about reading is that you travel to so many wonderful places through the stories.

  19. Calgary is one those places where I’d like to visit one of these days. I’ve only been in Toronto and Vancouver so far.

  20. Great for your mom.
    You live in a beautiful area that I have yet to visit. I have traveled all over the United States and the place that really calls to me is Taos, New Mexico. It seems like the really old West-the culture, the attitudes of the people, and the architecture. I am a watercolor painter and the light there is glorious.

  21. Anite Mae, I live in SW Sask. I have been trying to find an e-mail addy for you so I could contact you once I saw you were from Sask. A small world, lol.

  22. Just had to say congratulations to your mom and your family! What a wonderful thing to be celebrating this weekend!!

  23. Hi Donna! Congratulations to your mom and to you for winning the Bookseller’s Best Traditional Romance award! What a wonderful weekend for you! I’ve never been to Calgary but I would love to see it! Thanks for blogging here at P&P.

  24. Oh, thank you all so much. I apologize for being so late to comment….the wedding celebrations ended last night, and we picked up a new addition to our family this morning! A 5 yr old Nova Scotia Duck Toller. Her name is Dreamer. 🙂

    I couldn’t choose one comment…I’m still overwhelmed from hearing about the BBA and all the emotion of the weekend that they all made me squishy. SO the winner randomly picked is…..Diane!!!!!!!!!!!

    Diane I’m not sure if you send me your address or if the fillies look after it, so I’ll find out. 🙂

  25. I have read Jodi Thomas every since she started writing. I have met her and have several autographed books from her, I have enjoy her so much with the writings of Texas from a womans side. This was the second book I have read where she works wtih other writers on the same story ( her Christmas book). IT WAS WONDERFUL, I have picked up on 3 new author’s I have never read, I am looking forward to starting to read their books also.

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