In 1912, American author Owen Wister came to Calgary to take in the Calgary Stampede and to visit his old friend, Everett Johnson. "Well, Ev, I've written a book about you", said the author. The book in question was Wister's classic tale of the old west, The Virginian, Horseman Of The Plains, which chronicles the tales of a young cowhand in Medicine Bow Wyoming.
Although the Stampede story is probably apocryphal, Johnson's life in Medicine Bow is generally accepted as the inspiration for the un-named central character in what is viewed by some as the first "Duster". According to Johnson, the stories related in The Virginian, although written with some artistic license, were an accurate portrayal of Johnson's adventures, and life in Wyoming at the time.
Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1858, Johnson made his way to Wyoming and Montana before finally arriving in Alberta in the late 1880s. He worked as foreman on several ranches in the Calgary area, including the famous Bar-U ranch, and owned the butcher shop in Cochrane. He retired to Calgary in 1923 where he was active in the Southern Alberta Old Timers Association.
Johnson's connection to the wild west goes beyond Wister's novel. The archives of Knox United Church in Calgary show that another famous friend attended Johnson's wedding, namely, Harry Longabaugh who would later become known as "The Sundance Kid".
Everett Cyril Johnson is buried in Queen's Park Cemetery in North West Calgary.