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History of Bunnock


The game of Bunnock was originally brought to Canada by German-Russian immigrants in the early 1900’s.  It is a game played with the horse ankle bones, and was set up with a few  bones that could be gathered from the dead horses the farming families had around. 

Some people say that the game was originally played in a circle with the competitors standing in the middle throwing outward at the circle of bones.

In the early 1960’s while working at Alsask Processors, a horse processing meat plant, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Joseph H. Gartner asked if he could salvage the legs of the horses.  He wanted to put together a set of Bunnock bones for his father and himself.  He was granted this and on his coffee breaks and after work he would cut the ankle bones out of the horse legs and boil them for several days to get the meat off of them.  Joe determined that a set of Bunnock bones would consist of 52 bones (40 soldiers, 4 guards, and 8 throwers).

Once enough horse bones were cleaned they were painted (the traditional colours are white soldier, black gaurds and the throwers were mutli coloured to identify even size pairs) to make complete sets.  When people around the Cactus Lake/Macklin Saskatchewan, Canada area heard that sets of the games were available, people were requesting that Joe provide them with the game Bunnock as well.    A written set of rules were also needed and setup instructions so Joe produced that as well, and they are published in a history book.   So it was from this point on the game of Bunnock, as we know it today , are thanks to the early efforts of Joseph H. Gartner.