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History General

Leaning on the Wind

Under the Spell of the Great Chinook

by (author) Sid Marty

Heritage House Publishing
Initial publish date
May 2009
General, Mountains, Folklore & Mythology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2009
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it


A finalist for the 1995 Governor General's Literary Award for English-language non-fiction


Winner of the Mountain Environment and Culture Award at the 1995 Banff Mountain Book Festival


Leaning on the Wind is a love song of the west, sung to the tune of the wild chinook wind. Sid Marty skilfully weaves together the prehistory of Alberta with the experiences of First Nations, miners, early homesteaders and his own family. At the centre of his tale is the Marty homestead, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Sid looks back through generations of his family and celebrates the feats of wild creatures and wild westerners.


The past comes alive in these pages, but so does the present, where you will meet cowboy poets, bull riders, sailplane pilots, desperate chicken farmers, curmudgeonly broncos, a homicidal cow elk, some dubious politicians and several fierce defenders of the earth. Humour and sardonic wit abound, along with abundant affection for the western earth and the people who depend on its bounties and experience its extremes of wind, frost and drought.


A western classic, Leaning on the Wind is as evocative today as when it was first published in 1995.

About the author

Sid Marty is a poet, author and musician based near the communities of Pincher Creek and the Crowsnest Pass. He is the author of five books of poetry and five nonfiction works. Though best known as a nonfiction author, he began his career as a poet. His first book, Headwaters (1973 ) was published to widespread national acclaim. Over the years, he has continued to publish poems in books, school texts, anthologies and magazines. The culmination of all that dedication to the "crafte so longe to lerne" is this collection of poems both published and new.

These are poems, often strongly resonant of western speech, that celebrate all the vicissitudes of rural life, the loves and losses, the valleys and peaks of life on the prairies, foothills and in the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia.

Sid Marty's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Surely one of the best books about Alberta ever written.” —Kevin Connolly, Equinox magazine

Marty’s thorough research and eloquent storytelling, coupled with his personal connections to this land and most certainly his strong opinions, make the history and culture of southern Alberta, especially the nuances of the pioneer and ranching set, come alive . . . Through it all, Marty reminds us [that] the land of the chinook is a remarkable place, as unique and powerful as the great deserts of the American Southwest, the jungles of the Amazon Basin or the plains of Africa. —Rocky Mountain Outlook

“These essays are so vital, so vibrant, so full of life, you just want to jump up and down for joy. —Edmonton Journal

“[F]ine writing and absorbing narrative” —Maggie Siggins, the Globe and Mail

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