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Eight Seconds: The Quebec Rodeos
“In the little time I spend with them, the men strike me as a mix of athlete, performer, daredevil and innocent country boy. Despite the danger and the grievous injuries–fractured jaws, broken noses and collarbones, spinal cord injuries–and the risk of death, they persevere because the rodeo has an addictive hold on their souls, and because the ride is their chosen way of life. Watching these men, I feel an unfamiliar nostalgia not only for a time that is passing, but a way life that never existed here. And yet this way of life, the life of the cowboy in Quebec, is not merely decorative and it is so much more than spectacle.” Author Madeleine Thien, 2007
Rodeos were introduced to Quebec, Canada in the early 70’s, a short while ago compared to western Canada. From 2003 to 2005 I researched and documented Quebec rodeos and their cowboys, witnessing the development of a sub-culture that includes not only Quebecers but also attracts cowboys from across Canada and throughout the United States. This relatively new activity and its associated culture are taking shape in rural Quebec. From late spring to early fall, Quebec hosts about 25 rodeos annually. The relationship between these cowboys is stunning. The common love for the sport dilutes any prejudices of race or language and unifies the cowboys like a happy dysfunctional family.
Most Quebec cowboys don’t have a usual cowboy upbringing and are not necessarily raised on a farm. The cowboys come from across the province; they are from cities, from suburbs and from towns. These cowboys are out of the ordinary because most of them have come to adopt and fall in love with the cowboy lifestyle. Most started riding in their 20’s, rather late when compared again to Western Canada and the American cowboys, where they are often raised with a cowboy mindset and start riding at a young age.
This documentary project is not only about the 8 seconds, the danger, the hype and glory but also to explore the Quebec rodeo experience and the uniqueness of these cowboys.
Music: Brad Barr