When Lloyd Dolen delivered his original cowboy poetry in front of a huge audience or a small intimate group of friends, his weathered voice swept up the listeners and enveloped them in the misty mountain mornings and the dusty drag of a cattle drive. His simple honesty was an invitation to ride along with him.
Lloyd was born Feb. 2, 1917 in Okotoks, Alberta and followed his lifelong dream to be a rancher. Lloyd’s wife Norma was always close by when he appeared at cowboy festivals and one time, when I asked him how they got together, he told me with a twinkle in his eye that he won her in a bet!
Whether that’s true or not, Lloyd and Norma were married in 1945 and raised a lot of good horses, good cattle and nine kids. In the ‘50’s they had a good string of rodeo rough stock first leasing them to stock contractor Joe Bardgett and then eventually produced their own rodeos in B.C. and Alberta.
Lloyd was renowned as a savvy horse trader and when Norma won several nice yearling colts in a raffle, Lloyd really wanted them so he told Norma he’d trade the quietest horse he owned for those 7 colts. Norma agreed and when she went out behind the barn to see the quietest horse on the place, there he was stretched out on the ground, dead.
In 1992 Lloyd was presented with the Lescarbot award by Canada’s Governor General for his outstanding contribution to the arts. The man we call the Grandfather of cowboy poetry passed away in 2004.