I recently had the honor of interviewing and writing a story on Doris Fenton of Irma, Alberta for the Horses All magazine. There were so many things I found fascinating about Doris. She is 98 years old. She still rides horses and wears Wranglers. She loves horses and cattle and her family. Back when she was raising her 5 kids, looking after the house, garden, and hired men; she was still able to be actively involved in the ranch. She says that sometimes the hired men were the babysitters. There were always three meals on the table.
She usually stayed home when her husband, Stuart, was away with the cattle associations, but she did have a story about being the first woman to judge a large cattle show in Edmonton. Back then, the theme of the fair was Klondike Days, and many involved wore costumes that were part of the Gold Rush era. The show committee had got a special peach colored dress and hat for Doris. But she refused to judge cattle wearing that dress and hat. She did finally relent for the champion pictures. Doris rode all the time, but she says it was just whatever was around. Many neighbors dropped off horses for her to ride, as she had a reputation for being able to handle anything. Earlier on in the year, Doris had broken her hip. “Getting thrown from my walker,” was how she described it. The first thing she wanted to know, at 97 years of age, after surgery, was when would she be able to ride again. And she has.
Visiting at the kitchen table with Doris was a treat. She has many, many stories and opinions too. Not only that, but I got to tour the horse and cattle herds and be right out with the animals and Doris. It was an honor.
“I tried to like dresses, but they did not like me,” Calamity Jane.