Winner of the 2002 Arthur Ellis Award for Best True Crime Winner of the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize Finalist for the 2002 Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction Finalist for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
At Trickle Creek in northern Alberta, Wiebo Ludwig thought he'd buffered his tiny religious community from civilization, but in 1990 civilization came calling. A Calgary oil company proposed to drill directly in view of the farm's communal dining room.
Ludwig hadn't realized his land ownership didn't include mineral rights. He wrote letters, petitioned, forced public hearings, and discovered the provincial regulator cared little about landowners.
After the oil company accidentally vented raw sour gas, Ludwig's wife miscarried. Nearby parcels of land were clear-cut. Ludwig's northern boundary became a highway for semi-trailers loaded with drilling equipment. Seismic crews raced up and down his road. More sour gas wells popped up. People defending their property rights gradually turned into monkeywrenching terrorists.
Hostilities began with nails on the roads, sabotaged well sites, and road blockades. They culminated in death threats, shootings, and bombings. The Mounties recruited a Ludwig acolyte as an informant, and in an attempt to establish the man's credibility the RCMP itself blew up an equipment shack at a well site.
Ludwig was eventually charged with 19 different counts of mischief, vandalism and possession of explosives and later convicted on five charges. While he was out on bail, joyriding teenagers went to Trickle Creek at four o'clock one morning. Someone fired at one of the pickups, killing 16-year-old Karman Willis. Despite a lengthy investigation, the RCMP has not laid charges.
This is a taut, careful work of nonfiction that reads like a thriller and raises unsettling questions about individual rights, corporate power, police methods, and government accountability. The reader comes to question whether Wiebo Ludwig can be dismissed as a zealot. And to ask: What would I have done in his shoes?