James Henry Gray, CM, journalist, social historian (born 31 August 1906 in Whitemouth, MB; died 12 November 1998 in Calgary, AB). Gray grew up in Winnipeg, left school to help support his family, and after a series of jobs went on relief during the Great Depression. He worked for the Winnipeg Free Press 1935–47, first as a reporter and later as an editorial writer. He edited Calgary's Farm and Ranch Review 1947–55, introducing unaccustomed topics such as farmers' subsoil rights, and the Western Oil Examiner 1955–58, where he championed the unpopular notion that independent Canadian oil producers should take precedence over American multinationals. Later, he moved to the Home Oil Co to promote the building of a Canadian pipeline to the East.

Gray's books, written after his retirement, drew on personal experience and original research. Lively and detailed, they investigated such facets of Prairie life as the fight against the dustbowl, the Depression, prostitution, prohibition, the Calgary Stampede and the legal profession in Alberta. Gray was invested with the Order of Canada in 1988.


The Winter Years (1966)
Men Against the Desert (1967)
The Boy from Winnipeg (1970)
Red Lights on the Prairies (1971)
Booze: The Impact of Whisky on the Prairie West (1972)
The Roar of the Twenties (1975)
Troublemaker!: A Personal History (1978)
Boomtime: Peopling the Canadian Prairies (1979)
Bacchanalia Revisited: Western Canada’s Boozy Skid to Social Disaster (1982)
A Brand of its Own: A History of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede (1985)
Talk to My Lawyer (1987)
R.B. Bennett: The Calgary Years (1992)

Honours and Awards

Honorary LLD, University of Manitoba (1974)
Honorary DLit, Brandon University (1974)
Honorary Doctorate, University of Calgary (1975)
Member, Order of Canada (1988)
Pierre Berton Award, Canada’s National History Society (1995)
Western Legacy Award, 100 Outstanding Albertans, Calgary Stampede (2012)