Andy Russell was born in 1915 into a pioneer Alberta family — his father was the first white baby born in what is now Lethbridge — Andy left high school in the Depression to become a trapper, cowboy, bronco buster, and trail guide. In time his guiding expeditions in the Rockies led to campfire yarns that found their way into magazines, and a new career as a writer and film-maker soon beckoned.
Over the years he became the best-known of all the writers about the Rockies and the wildlife to be found there. His book titles speak for themselves. In order he wrote Grizzly Country; Horns in the High Country; The Rockies; The High West; Memoirs of a Mountain Man; Andy Russell’s Adventures With Wild Animals; The Life of a River; The Canadian Cowboy; Andy Russell’s Campfire Stories; and finally Wild Country, edited by his friend Bruce Morrison, which was published in 2004.
Always an outspoken public figure, famous for his battles with the oil and gas industry, in 1976 he received the Order of Canada. An early conservationist, he began to film wildlife in the Rockies when he tired of guiding trophy — seeking hunters, and switched to trophies on film. He produced Grizzly Country and two other films for international lecture tours; he would introduce them on stage in his everyday Western gear, which he used to great effect. His films and his books — especially The Life of A River, a plea to stop the Oldman River Dam — had a major impact on our understanding of the fragile environment of the Rockies, foothills and prairies.
Andy Russell, author, outdoorsman and conservationist, passed away in Pincher Creek, Alberta, on June 1st at the age of 89.