BOOK REVIEW: Excellent insight on Boer War

Here is a fine read for the month of November, during which we remember those who lost their lives in the pursuit of peace and freedom.

Searching for the Queen’s Cowboys: Travels in South Africa filming a documentary on Strathcona’s Horse and the Anglo-Boer War

By Tony Maxwell

Here is a fine read for the month of November, during which we remember those who lost their lives in the pursuit of peace and freedom.

The Anglo-Boer war is not one that readily comes to mind when remembering the fallen, but in this very interesting account we learn of the first casualty in an attack by Boer commandos against the Strathcona’s Horse squadron. The date was July 1, 1900. The casualty was Trooper Angus Jenkins, of Red Deer. A young Red Deer man a long way from home.

Tony Maxwell was born in Africa and from a youth, was interested in the history of the Anglo-African Wars (there were two).

When he and his son discovered the Canadian connection, that is, Lord Strathcona’s Horse regiment, they resolved to search for Canada’s place in the many battles fought on African soil between 1899-1902. Their plan was to make a documentary of the battlefields, following the path of the Canadian regiment.

The roots of the trouble in Africa were land ownership and the control of it, with Britain getting more interested in the country when, first diamonds and then gold were discovered.

The author gives a clear account of these interests, putting the reader in the picture of the developing conflicts.

When the War broke out in 1899, Britain sent troops who suffered some humiliating defeats at the hands of the Boers.

The Canadian High Commissioner Donald Smith, the Right Honourable Baron Strathcona happened to be in London, and met with Queen Victoria. “Donald,” she said, “we need a regiment of your Canadian Cowboys to help us fight the Boers!”

Who could deny such a request from his Sovereign? He set about to raise, equip and supply such a force under the command of Colonel Sam Steele.

The author points out that we know Lord Strathcona from the famous picture of the man in the frock coat, and bushy white beard, hammering the Last Spike to open the CPR.

One of the charms of the book is the travel back and forth in time. We are told of a battle, the strategy (good or bad), the lives lost and ground lost or gained. Then we are transported smoothly to present day Africa, those same battle sites, and the memorial stones often bearing names of Canadians. It’s a wonderful way to learn history.

This visit to Africa had the focus of the War but the problems of Africa today become very much a part of the picture.

Because he was born and raised there, the author has an insiders view of life under apartheid, the changes that took place and present problems facing the Africans.

This very entertaining book is available from the author locally, or from or The price is $19.95

Peggy Freeman is a Red Deer freelance writer.

Just Posted

Despite warnings, plenty of temptations to thieves left in vehicles

Lock It or Lose It campaign still finding plenty of valuables left in plain sight

WATCH: Notley invites central Albertans to “team up” with New Democrats for equitable, prosperous future

NDP leader lashes out against her rival, Jason Kenney, calling him a cheater

Red Deer sees highest rate of fentanyl deaths

47 fentanyl-related deaths in 2018

Why Solar: Canada needs to get its collective house in order

Canada needs to get a grip. The country has one of the… Continue reading

Gardening: Take care when making plant purchases

After a cold February, the longer sunny days and warmer weather triggers… Continue reading

Canadian pair fifth after short program at figure skating worlds

SAITAMA, Japan — Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are fifth after… Continue reading

Director Kim Nguyen tackles financial ‘madness’ in ‘The Hummingbird Project’

TORONTO — As Quebec filmmaker Kim Nguyen tells it, “The Hummingbird Project”… Continue reading

What Disney gets as its $71.3B buy of Fox assets closes

It’s finally complete. Disney closed its $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment… Continue reading

Opinion: Let’s be heard ‘loud and clear’ during provincial election campaign

By David Marsden During the banquet for Sunday’s Boston Bruins alumni game,… Continue reading

Documentary on Colten Boushie case to open Toronto’s Hot Docs festival

TORONTO — A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man… Continue reading

Most Read