Buffalo Bud, Adventures of a Cowboy

By E.J. (Bud) Cotton with Ethel Mitchell. 1981.

A lively history of the range – its critters and its people – Bud Cotton’s memories bring the West to life!

In 1906 Bud Cotton came to Alberta from Quebec at the age of 16. He worked on various cattle ranches acquiring the skills of a cowboy.  In 1913 he became a “Buffalo Warden” at the Wainwright Buffalo Park Reserve.

Bud Cotton enlisted with the Canadian Mounted Rifles in 1915 and served on the front line trenches at in WW1.  Wounded, he lost one lung and was blinded in one eye.  In the spring of 1919 Bud returned to the open range of Alberta where his spirit was healed by solitude of the Battle River hills of Wainwright Buffalo Reserve. In 1925 Bud was part of the roundup of over 6,000 head of buffalo to be shipped to Wood Buffalo National Park.  At the time, it was the largest transport of wildlife ever undertaken by rail and by water.  Bud recalls the “Gamb joint W” brand used to mark the buffalo shipped to Wood Buffalo Park.

In 1940, when Wainwright Buffalo Reserve was closed and became Camp Wainright Military Camp, Bud moved to Elk Island National Park where he cared for the buffalo until his retirement in 1947.  In 1980 as part of Alberta’s 75th Anniversary, Camp Wainwright established a small memorial herd of buffalo.  Bud Cotton, the Chief Park Warden during the 1930s, cut the official ribbon at the opening. The park bears the name Bud Cotton Buffalo Park.