Throwing the Diamond Hitch
Emily Ursuliak, 105 pgs, University of Calgary Press, press.ucalgary.ca, $18.95
Two independent and intrepid women buy a beat-up Ford and drive it from Victoria to Alberta where they promptly buy two horses and ride back to Victoria. Oh, and they do it all in the 1950s when people think women ought not be leaving the house much let alone traversing the Rocky Mountains on horseback. This cycle of poems had everything I wanted and more.
Based on the true life adventures of author Ursuliak’s grandmother, Phyllis, and her best friend, Anne, Throwing the Diamond Hitch follows their journey to the Prairies and back again. They encounter many incredulous spectators both men and women and defy them all with their gut and grit. The poems recount silly adventures like when the two have to break their horses out of a stable in Banff National Park and other more serious trouble associated with weather and health problems. In the search of the perfect pack knot, the legendary diamond hitch, they inquire after many cow-boys who all lead them closer to the true knot, a true understanding of the west and most importantly, of freedom.
The only disappointment of the whole cycle is that the taste of freedom was so brief for these two. After the journey they went on to get married and move away from each other with their respective husbands — Phyllis to Red Deer with Bud and Alice to Prince George with Neil. This rollicking tale of the bravery and adventurousness of two incredible women on the Canadian plains is sure to please. (Megan Clark)