Brado, Edward. Cattle Kingdom: Early Ranching in Alberta. Victoria: Heritage House, 2009. Details the colorful story of early ranchers, from the days of trading posts to modern-day cowboys and the Calgary Stampede .
Chastko, Paul A. Developing Alberta’s Oil Sands. Calgary: University of Alberta Press, 2005. This big book covers it all—early history, the intriguing politics, extraction methods, and what the future holds.
Engler, Bruno. Bruno Engler Photography. Calgary: Rocky Mountain Books, 2002. Swiss-born Engler spent 60 years exploring and photographing the Canadian Rockies . This impressive hardcover book showcases over 150 of his most timeless images.
Fryer, Harold. Ghost Towns of Alberta. Langley, BC: Stagecoach Publishing, 1976. Alberta ’s ghost towns are unlike those in the western part of the United States. Many towns have slipped into oblivion, and this guide looks at more of these than you’d ever dreamed existed. This title is out of print, so look for it at used bookstores.
Hart, E. J. (Ted). Ain’t it Hell. Banff: Summerthought Publishing, 2008. “Wild” Bill Peyto was one of the most interesting and colorful characters in the history of the Canadian Rockies. This book tells his story through fictional diary entries.
Jimmy Simpson: Legend of the Rockies. Calgary: Rocky Mountain Books, 2009. Details the life of one of the most colorful of the pioneer outfitters in the Canadian Rockies.
Hewitt, Steve. Riding to the Rescue. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006. This book examines the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from World War I to the late 1930s, when they morphed from iconic horsemen to a modern police force.
Huck, Barbara. In Search of Ancient Alberta. Winnipeg: Heartland, 1998. If you’re interested in learning about the province’s ancient history by visiting various sites, this book is necessary reading.
Jenness, Diamond. The Indians of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977. Originally published in 1932, this is the classic study of natives in Canada, although Jenness’s conclusion that they were facing certain extinction by the end of the 20th century is obviously outdated.
Jones, David. Empire of Dust. Edmonton: University of Alberta, 1987. A sorry story of drought and the destruction it brought to Alderston (west of Medicine Hat); I had trouble getting beyond the first chapter until visiting the site.
Lavallee, Omer. Van Horne’s Road. Montreal: Railfare Enterprises, 1974. William Van Horne was instrumental in the construction of Canada’s first transcontinental railway. This is the story of his dream and the boomtowns that sprung up along the route. Lavallee devotes an entire chapter to telling the story of the railway’s push over the Canadian Rockies.
Marty, Sid. Switchbacks: True Stories from the Canadian Rockies. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999 (reprinted in 2008). This book tells of Marty’s experiences in the mountains and of people he came in contact with in his role as a park warden. He describes the way his experiences with both nature and fellow humans have shaped his views on conservation.
Newman, Peter C. Company of Adventurers. Markham, ON: Penguin Books Canada, 1985. The story of the Hudson’s Bay Company and its impact on Canada.
Nikiforuk, Andrew. Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2008. From this book’s subtitle, it’s easy to tell that this is a critical look at the industry for which the province is best known.
Robinson, Bart. Banff Springs: The Story of a Hotel. Banff: Summerthought Publishing, 2007. This detailed history of one of the world’s best-known hotels includes up-to-date changes, rare black-and-white photographs, and interviews with longtime employees.
Sandor, Steve. The Battle of Alberta. Vancouver: Heritage House, 2005. Sports fans will enjoy reading about the history of the hockey rivalry between Edmonton  and Calgary , which goes back as far as 1895.
Schäffer, Mary T. S. A Hunter of Peace. Banff: Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, 1980. This book was first published in 1911 by G. P. Putnam & Sons, New York, under the name Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies. Tales recount the exploration of the Rockies during the turn of the 20th century. Many of the author’s photographs appear throughout.
Scott, Chic. Pushing the Limits. Calgary: Rocky Mountain Books, 2000. A chronological history of mountaineering in Canada, with special emphasis on many largely unknown climbers and their feats, as well as the story of Swiss guides in Canada and a short section on ice climbing.
Twigger, Robert. Voyageur: Across the Rocky Mountains in a Birchbark Canoe. London: Weidenfeld, 2006. This is the rollicking tale of author Twigger’s adventures building a canoe and crossing the Canadian Rockies on a diet of porridge, fish, and whiskey—exactly as Alexander Mackenzie had 200 years previously.
van Herk, Aritha. Mavericks History of Alberta. Toronto: Penguin Group, 2002. Delves beyond the usual focus of history texts to include infamous politicians and homegrown events such as Stampede Wrestling.