The Diva & the Rancher
The Story of Norma Piper and George Pocaterra
About the Book
The story begins in 1903, when George left Italy and came to the Canadian Rockies with hopes of striking it rich. While establishing the Buffalo Head Ranch in the Alberta foothills, he became friendly with the neighbouring Stoney, with whom he explored much of what is now Kananaskis Country.
In 1933 he returned to Italy, where he met and fell in love with Norma Piper, a young Calgary singer who had moved to Italy to study opera. They eventually married, and George took over the management of Norma’s rising operatic career. However, the onset of the Second World War compelled them to change their plans. They returned to Alberta, where Norma’s career took off in a totally different direction. Initially she taught singing at Mount Royal College, but she later opened her own studio and became Calgary’s most beloved music teacher. George, meanwhile, continued with his coal-mining ventures in the mountains, but was to suffer many bitter disappointments.
Drawing on personal diaries and correspondence, the authors have created an intimate portrait of two remarkable Albertans whose legacy lives on.