Empire of Dust: Settling and Abandoning the Prairie Dry Belt

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University of Calgary Press, 2002 - History - 316 pages
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2002 may prove to be the worst year in agriculture in southern Alberta history. In the southeast, the past two years have been drier than any two years in recorded history. With countless news stories about disappearing towns in the drylands, Empire of Dust is being brought back to print. With a new preface, this enduring historical account of the settlement of the Palliser Triangle region chronicles the disturbing fate of thousands of people who were forced to abandon their farms as a result of prairie drought. Describing the residual effects of prairie drought and examining what have become ghost towns in Alberta, Joness study has become more important than ever before, especially in light of current drought conditions that are once again plaguing the prairies.


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I had the most excellent fortune of taking Dr. Jone's university class that included "Empire" as required reading. Although it was many years ago now, it left an indelible mark on my psyche regarding the settling of the south eastern portion of Alberta refered to as the Palliser Triangle. So much so that I made a pilgrimage to Alderson (Carlstadt) located east of Tilley.
Alderson was a haunting place that stayed with me to the completion of my teaching degree and ultimately led me to a teaching career in Hanna. Ironically, I was there to witness the drought years in the early 2000s that Dr. Jone's references in his forward to "Empire". Truly one of the most amazing and horrific acts of nature I have witnessed first hand. The streets of Hanna were alive with hoppers and the air was full of blowing grit. Precious top soil drifted along ditches and fence lines outside town like so many Saharan dunes! Hanna was national news that did not refer to Nickelback!
I highly recommend this poigniant and sometimes humourous read! The only improvement would be the addition of Dr. Jone's storytelling talent that I was privy to in his lectures! A must have for any Alberta history buff!


The Untold Sorrow
1 The Wiles of the Desert
2 The Planning of Nineveh
3 Glimpses of the Shortfall
4 Carlstadt Star of the Prairie
5 Motoring on the Boulevard of Sunnynook
6 In the Thrill Zone of the On Rushing Calamity
7 The Sorcerer and the Clouds
10 Glory Glory to Alberta
11 Desolate Places to Be Buried In
12 To Him That Overcometh
The Ruins of the Empire
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8 It Does Not Matter How You Farm It
9 The Blowing Sands of Financial Ruin

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About the author (2002)

David C. Jones is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary. He has written or edited over twenty-five books, including the award-winning Empire of Dust.

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