The High Chaparral
John Cannon


     Born in Virginia in the early 1800’s, John Cannon was destined to settle in many areas, including Missouri and Kansas, before carving a kingdom out of Arizona’s untamed territory. The older of two brothers, John -- a serious and somber young man -- promised his dying father to always look after his wild, lovable younger brother, Buck. Even after John settled down with his wife, Annalee, and fathered his son, Blue, Buck remained with him. The only time the two brothers parted company was during the Civil War. Like Virginia, torn down the middle, the Cannons’ loyalties were split. John fought for the Union while Buck fought for the Confederacy. After the war, the Cannon brothers were reunited and eventually took a covered wagon west to Arizona.

     John had been raised during a time when only the strong survived. John Cannon could out-fight any man; his large build and forceful brow did little to hide a personality which would bow to no one. He became a man of high ideals; an intensely moral man whose vision extended well beyond the limited sight of anyone who would try to stand in his way. Unlike society’s mainstream, John felt that extermination of the Indians was wrong. He felt that a great country could be built only upon the backs of men and women of all races who were willing to achieve this greatness together. He had a dream of making this idealism come to life in Arizona.

     But John was no saint. He was a man of great vision and thought, a man who seemed impervious to any destructive forces from the outside ... but his hardest struggles, fought on the inside, often threatened to overwhelm him. John had difficulty understanding the emotions of himself or anyone else close to him. Those who did not really know him felt he was a hard and unfeeling man. Blue, possessing a gentle, sensitive and artistic nature, was bewildered by his father’s stern disapproval and, unable to look into John’s heart any more than John could look into his, was constantly at odds with his father. John did not intend to be mean to his son. He loved the boy deeply, just as he loved his wife and his brother, and was terrified of encouraging any perceived “weakness” in Blue. He knew that if his son didn’t toughen up he would have little chance of survival. Consequently, the two men fought a great deal. John fared a little better with his brother, as Buck had known and put up with him longer, but even Buck often found John to be dictatorial -- more of a father figure than an older brother -- and difficult to tolerate.

     Fortunately for John, however, he came to be loved by two women who would understand him. Annalee, a gentlewoman who adored John and quietly allowed his will to prevail, loved her husband and knew that he loved her. After her death, John, now intent on building High Chaparral for his son, had to secure an alliance with Don Sebastian to ensure the survival of his ranch -- a deal which required his marriage to Don Sebastian’s daughter, Victoria. Victoria knew that John was mourning his wife and did not yet love her but she felt that, in time, she would win John’s love. Even so, Victoria was puzzled by “that piece of granite” she had taken for a husband (as her brother had so annoyingly put it) and she was tempted to leave him. It was eventually the words from Annalee’s own diary that gave Victoria the strength to persevere: “I know he loves me -- I am sure of it -- yet I never see it in his glance, never feel it in a tender touch, and I need that so ... the strong, kind, good man believes everyone else is strong. God give me the strength to keep my secret.” Victoria, following Annalee’s “advice”, did prevail, but unlike Annalee she was not always willing to give in to her husband’s decisions. By standing up to John, she found that she was able to break down, little by little, many of the barriers he had erected throughout his life. John once asked Victoria, “Why is it I can tell everyone else on this ranch what to do except you,” to which she replied, “Because your men merely respect you ... and I love you.” When she eventually reached his heart, John’s love for her became as powerful and unshaken as any he had ever known. Once, when facing Victoria’s possible death, John risked his reputation and his ranch to save her, declaring, “Without my wife, that [the ranch] means nothing to me.”

     John Cannon would never find total harmony within his own nature, but the combination of his love for his family and his convictions for the future made him the ideal man to found a dynasty. If one man could help to bring peace to a desert bloodied by constant strife between the white man, the Apache, and the Mexicans, it was John Cannon.  (By Brenda Meskunas)

From "The Lost Ones"

See the Guide to Character Weight to determine in which episodes John had major or minor roles.

Return to Ranch House

Return to Home/Contents