Principal Photography Starts on Cheryl Foggo’s John Ware‎ Reclaimed, Offering a New Look at a Legendary Black Cowboy

Shooting underway at John Ware’s former ranch in the Alberta foothills

Montreal – There’s a mountain ridge named for him, as well as two creeks, a school and a building on the campus of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT); he’s been commemorated with his own stamp by Canada Post—but what do we really know about the legendary Black Alberta cowboy and rancher John Ware?

To answer that question—and explore her own roots as a Black Albertan woman—director Cheryl Foggo started principal photography this summer in the stunning southern Alberta foothills for her upcoming National Film Board of Canada documentary John Ware Reclaimed. Eight-time world champion rodeo star Fred Whitfield will portray Ware in the film.

A master rider and cattleman, credited with helping to found Alberta’s ranching industry, Ware was born into enslavement in the US before travelling north to Canada in 1882.

A filmmaker, playwright and writer from Calgary, Foggo has researched and written about the legendary John Ware for years, and has developed short articles and a play about him called John Ware Reimagined.  In this film, she embarks on a cinematic search to uncover the century-old roots of the legendary cowboy and rancher, reclaiming his history and reconciling her own identity.

Produced by Bonnie Thompson and executive produced by David Christensen of the NFB’s North West Studio in Edmonton, John Ware Reclaimed will join the NFB’s growing body of work chronicling Black Canadian stories.

Foggo previously directed the award-winning 2002 NFB documentary The Journey of Lesra Martin, working with NFB producer Selwyn Jacob.

John Ware‎ Reclaimed will feature the talents of veteran cinematographer Douglas Munro and editor Margot McMaster, who will also bring their own personal perspectives on the John Ware legend, as they live in the Alberta foothills overlooking the very ridge named in his honour.

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The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences. NFB producers are embedded in communities across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, working with talented creators on innovative and socially relevant projects. The NFB is a leader in gender equity in film and digital media production, and is working to strengthen Indigenous-led production, guided by the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. NFB productions have won over 5,000 awards, including 18 Canadian Screen Awards, 17 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access NFB works, visit or download our apps for mobile devices.

Source: National Film Board of Canada (NFB)