Pop quiz: which major Canadian city elected a progressive, Muslim, Harvard-educated mayor last year? The answer is Calgary, and if you find this at all surprising, you may have some assumptions to explore with Geo Takach.
The Quebec born author, who moved to Alberta as a teen, has long been fascinated with the mythologies unique to Wild Rose Country. In a quest both serious and silly, with Will the Real Alberta Please Stand Up? he makes observations, mines documents, and interviews both public figures (Preston Manning, Martha Kostuch) and private folk of all persuasions.
The author makes no pretense to scholarly methodology and defies genres in presenting his findings to readers. But don’t be fooled by the occasional interview with a dead princess or dinosaur—the book is well-researched and often thoughtful.
Although this text is no love letter to Alberta, Takach argues the province is full of people who bring “energy, individuality, and a healthy skepticism” to Canada. Takach does not assume his readers are Albertans, but winks at them without giving in to inside jokes.
So are Albertans beef-eating, right-wing rednecks or misunderstood freethinking mavericks? Takach provides some short answers to sprawling questions, but you won’t catch the nuances if you skip straight to them. To appreciate this book, you need only an interest in the province—and a taste for bad puns.