Many North Thompson Valley newspaper readers will remember the beloved poems of the ‘Meadow Muffin Man’, Mike Puhallo, who for many years caused our readers to laugh, cry, and enjoy rural and cowboy life through the magical words of his cowboy poetry.
Mike was also the guy who brought numerous cowboy concerts to our valley communities, brought top notch cowboy entertainment each year to the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo, and was always the first one to step up with enthusiasm and put on a benefit concert anytime someone was in need.
Mike was the driving force behind the founding of the BC Cowboy Heritage Society, the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the creation of the Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival which ran successfully for 25 years.
Born in Kamloops, B.C, on April 6, 1953, Mike was a cowboy right from the start. One of his first jobs out of high school was cowboying for the Douglas Lake Ranch. He was a working cowboy, a horse trainer, and spent many years ranching. In his younger years he rode saddle bronc and did some packing. Many of those cowboy experiences became the background for his cowboy poetry, as well as from stories he picked up from old time cowboys and ranchers. Many of his stories are also based on history, as he was an avid student of the culture and history of the “real west”.
For many years Mike rode out at Big Creek where he was a partner in Twilight Ranch. In later years he spent hours in the saddle riding for ranchers in the range above his own home place in Westsyde, overlooking the North Thompson River.
Mike was not only a cowboy and a rancher, but an artist, a horse trainer, a historian, and a memorable cowboy poet. He performed far and wide attending gatherings and festivals all over North America and in numerous other venues. Wherever Mike traveled he not only educated but also created enthusiasm in the people he met about the cowboy way of life, and the culture and history of the real west.
Mike wrote all of his own poems, performed at cowboy gatherings and festivals, took his poetry into schools, libraries, and community halls, and shared his unique outlook on life with all he met. He recited his poetry at brandings, coffee houses, stock shows, kindergarten class rooms, writer’s workshops, and even put on shows at Biker’s Bar-B-Qs. He was also known for frequently dropping a poem or two while in casual conversation with friends or strangers.
Mike was Canada’s most published cowboy poet, with six books and three CDs to his name. Two of his books received the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Excellence in Cowboy Poetry. His three CD’s were nominated for Cowboy Poetry Album of the Year, and in 2009 he was named the Academy of Western Artist’s Cowboy Poet of the year. He received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medallion in 2003, and in 2006 was one of the nominees for Canadian Parliamentary Poet laureate. He is the only cowboy poet to have his work read into the official record at a NASA launch, and in the Canadian House of Commons.
After a short battle with cancer, Mike passed away at the age of 58 on June 24, 2011.
On Sept. 3, 2011, he was publicly remembered during the opening ceremonies of the 62nd North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo, in Barriere, in a dedication ceremony held in front of numerous grandstands packed with his friends, and fans.
“His poetry reached out and touched western people where they live, through the experiences and feelings that are shared by all those who live close to the land,” said country and western entertainer Gordie West, who read the dedication, “Those who achieve success are those who take a dream and make it come true. You’re riding for Heaven’s brand now Mike. We will sure miss you. Happy trails my friend.”
A plaque for Mike was then placed on the fairgrounds beside the outdoor entertainment stage and where a young pine tree and sage brush had been planted in his memory. The plaque reads, ‘In memory of Mike Puhallo. Long time participant and supporter of the NTFFRA. Affectionately remembered by your friends and associates of the North Thompson Fall Fair & Rodeo Association. Mike, you can now take time “to smell the sage and the pine”.
Mike Puhallo’s poetry lives on, as does the impact he had in preserving the traditions and history of the cowboy way of life in the North Thompson Valley and in British Columbia.
To learn more about Mike Puhallo and his poems and CDs go to: https://www.mikepuhallo.com/
To read numerous Mike Puhallo poems go to: http://www.cowboylife.com/index.asp?p=231&cmd=view&nWriterID=2
Like us on Facebook