Calgary·PODCAST

Meet Jerry Potts: The warrior, tracker, trader, hunter and horseman who shaped Alberta

Heroes, Hustlers and Horsemen is a podcast series from CBC Calgary about real people who lived in southern Alberta around the time of confederation and a few decades beyond. These are the whisky-soaked, down and dusty, gun-slinging kinds of stories they leave out in school.

He could speak many languages, including three Indigenous dialects, but he was a man of few words

A plaque near the grave of Jerry Potts describes him as 'a colourful hero loyal to both the North West Mounted Police and to his Native heritage.' (Glenbow Archives)

This story was originally published on July 15, 2017. 

Two men — cousins — are hunting along the Sun River in the 1860s, in what would later become Montana, when they suddenly hear something move in the brush.

Suddenly gun shots ring out. And shouting. It's an ambush.

Three warriors from the Crow Nation launch a furious attack. One of the cousins is shot dead.

The other leaps on his horse and flees for cover. He finds a spot to hide. And he listens.

The three Crow men talk in their own language, discussing how to flush the hidden rider out.

They hatch a plan: They'll tell him he's free to go if leaves his gun and his dead cousin's body. If he takes the bait, they'll shoot him in the back as he leaves.

What they don't realize is that the man hiding in the bushes speaks their language.

He's understood every word. And he's crafty, too.

He pretends to take the offer, mounts his horse and starts to ride away. But, the moment he hears the click of a rifle behind him, he flings himself to the ground, dodges the bullet that follows, and pulls a hidden revolver from his pocket.

Three shots later, the three attackers are dead.

He looks over their bodies and picks up the weapon that nearly killed him.

It's a blue, steel rifle. He's won it in battle. And later, to mark this moment, he'll name his son Blue Gun.

It's stories like this that made Jerry Potts a legend in his day.

His is a story of two worlds colliding. Of having a foot in both camps.

Of how the Alberta we know came to be.


This is Episode 3 of Heroes, Hustlers and Horsemen, a five-part podcast series from CBC Calgary about real people who lived in southern Alberta around the time of confederation and a few decades beyond. 

The stories aren't of the Heritage Minute variety. These are the whisky-soaked, down and dusty, gun-slinging kinds of stories they leave out in school.

We'll meet rogues and rebels, bold visionaries with big blind spots, the notorious and the opportunistic, the people who gave rein to their ambitions and passions and those who chose to buck the herd.

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