Outrider of Empire

outriderOutrider of Empire: The Life and Adventures of Roger Pocock

A biography by Geoffrey A. Pocock

The long-awaited biography of Roger Pocock is now available.

A dreamer of dreams, an adventurer, and a man of many ideas, Roger Pocock was an inveterate, world-ranging traveller. But Canada was always the land he loved best after his native Britain. Although his service in the NWMP proved brief and undistinguished, the experience launched his career as a writer, and provided a major source of inspiration, both for his stories and in the creation of his greatest and longest-lived achievement, the Legion of Frontiersmen. Frontiersmen were men of action, rather than words, and few of them wrote of their experiences, so we are left with few formal written accounts. Roger did write about his own life, but his two autobiographies fail to tell the whole truth. This is scarcely surprising, for he made many mistakes in his life, including some serious ones, though any degree of culpability in the death of Sir Arthur Curtis fell well short of murder. Both Roger and the society that shaped him are long gone. But his life of adventure, with its many failures and a few outstanding successes, is well worth recording for what it reveals about both the man and his social milieu. For, truly, Roger Pocock lived the life that many an adventurous boy of the time might have desired.

An award-winning book:

2009 Independent Publisher Magazine
Independent Publisher Book Awards, Canada-West: Best Regional Non-Fiction (Gold)

Some reviews of Outrider of Empire:

“Another good colonial era read is Geoffrey Pocock’s biography of his namesake in Outrider of Empire: The Life and Adventures of Roger Pocock. By 1899, the subject Pocock had already been missionary, pirate, soldier and cowboy. Always, however, he was a traveller, and that year rode America’s dangerous Out-law Trail on a transcontinental journey from Alberta to Mexico City. Personal statement: ‘Civilization is a poor thing to one who has lived the spacious life of the west.’ Quite. An excellent tale of a British adventurer, in the good old days.”

Nigel Hannaford, Calgary Herald, January 11, 2009

“Pocock left his legacy in an improbable series of adventures beginning in 1885, when as a teenaged North-West Mounted Police recruit he participated in the North-West Rebellion, and through his heedless behaviour suffered the amputation of his frozen toes, damaging his health irreparably, but gaining the experience to launch his writing career. Like Jack London, his truly picaresque career would include time as a cigar peddler, salesman, Anglican missionary along the Skeena, railway tramp and horse trader in British Columbia. During 1897, he made a ‘thousand-mile patrol’ of mounted police posts in the West, reporting to Lloyd’s Weekly newspaper. Then in 1898, Pocock led an ill-fated expedition to the Klondike, which resulted, through his mismanagement, in the death of his partner and patron Sir Arthur Curtis. This black mark haunted him for years, with persistent rumours that he had murdered and robbed Curtis. In an effort to redeem his name, Pocock undertook a solitary horse trek from Fort Macleod to Mexico City during 1899 and 1900, once again reporting for Lloyd’s Weekly his encounters with bandits, settlers and members of the Wild Bunch in Robbers’ Roost. This gruelling accomplishment set a record for such a long-distance ride. Then Pocock nipped off to the Boer War in South Africa with the National Scouts, joined a Danish expedition to Greenland, and reported on Russia during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 for the Illustrated Mail, where he engaged in some comic amateur spying for the British Admiralty. Roger Pocock’s life was one adventure (or misadventure) after another. His life makes for a fascinating and amusing read, while at the same time illustrating the spirit and energy of those like him who painted the map red during the zenith of the British Empire.”

Ken Tingley, The Edmonton Journal, November 2, 2008

For ordering information, please visit The University of Alberta Press.

You will also find the book available for order on many websites worldwide, such as Amazon.


Outrider of Empire is available from the following suppliers:

University of Alberta Press
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T6G 2E1
Tel: (001)780 492 3662
website: The University of Alberta Press
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Gazelle Drake Academic
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Tel: (0061) 612 9986 7037
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Tel: (001) 905 873 9781
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Cathie Crooks, Sales & Marketing Manager
University of Alberta Press
Please contact us for the e-mail address