The VROOMS of the FOOTHILLS: Cowboys & Homesteaders is the second volume of several in a social history series written by Bessie Vroom Ellis. She published her first book, Volume 1 The VROOMS of the FOOTHILLS: Adventures of My Childhood, in 2003, and a second revised edition in 2006.
In Volume 1, Bessie Vroom Ellis, herself the daughter and granddaughter of homesteaders, told the story of her happy, adventurous childhood on her parents’ ranch in the foothills of southwestern Alberta.
In Volume 2, using over 200 photographs from the treasured albums of the children and grandchildren of homesteaders in the Northwest Territories in the area of Canada that in 1905 became the province of Alberta, Bessie recounts the stories of old time cowboys in the 1880s and 1890s and of the homesteaders who followed the cowboys in the early part of the twentieth century.
Bessie attended one-room country schools for her elementary grades, riding on horseback for a round trip of nearly nine miles each day. She graduated from Pincher Creek High School and attended Calgary Normal School. Bessie taught in a country school near Drumheller, AB, and at Waterton Park School. In Waterton, she met and married a local resident, George “Geordie” Annand Jr. They raised a family of four children, Edith, Evelyn, David and James.
During her more than 20 years in Waterton Park, Bessie wrote feature articles and the column “Wonderful Waterton” for The Lethbridge Herald. She also contributed news items to CJOC Radio and CJLH-TV in Lethbridge, and to The Calgary Herald and Calgary Albertan in Calgary and the Hungry Horse News in Columbia Falls, Montana, being active, as well, in the Girl Guides of Canada and the Anglican Church.
After 15 years at home, Bessie returned to her teaching career. She updated her qualifications, through night extension classes, Summer School and day classes. Bessie was awarded a Bachelor of Education degree by the University of Lethbridge and a Master of Education degree by University of Alberta. She then taught in Lethbridge. After her remarriage in 1975, Bessie moved to Regina, SK, and taught there for another 15 years, for a total of over 29 years of service in the teaching profession. At the University of Regina, she earned a post-graduate Diploma in Educational Administration.
During her years in Regina, Bessie travelled extensively in Canada, Europe, Mexico, and the United States. Active in politics, she ran for political office herself and worked to promote the election of more women at the provincial and federal levels. In the early 1980s, the Saskatchewan New Democratic Women (SNDW) established the Bessie Ellis Fund, to assist women running for nomination.
In 1992 Bessie was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation Canada, 1867 – 1992, “in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada.” Upon retirement, Bessie returned to her writing.