Calgary Stampede

cowboy hatThe annual Calgary Stampede – The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – kicked off last Friday morning with a three-hour parade through downtown. This year’s parade marshall was Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, but in the past it’s been led by actors such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Christopher Reeve and Jack Palance, politicians, sports stars and other dignitaries such as Chris Hadfield, Prince Charles, Ken Taylor, Rick Hansen and Walt Disney.

The first stampede – although not called that – was organised in 1912 by Guy Weadick, an American cowboy and veteran of travelling Wild West Shows. Back then, Calgary was a relatively young city; the North West Mounted Police had arrived in 1875 and founded a fort by the Bow and Elbow rivers. In 1884, Calgary, with a population of only 500 people, was incorporated as town.



In 1912, with financial backing provided by four very successful cattlemen – Pat Burns, George Lane, AE Cross and AJ MacLean – Guy Weadick produced what was called the Frontier Days and Cowboy Championship. It was supposed to be a one-off and while there was a suggestion it should be repeated in 1913, money wasn’t forthcoming. After World War One, the idea was resurrected and in 1919 The Victory Stampede was held.  Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength.



Beginning on the 1st Friday in July and continuing for ten days until the following Sunday, it’s a time when the city comes alive with the spirit of the Old West.  Down at the Stampede grounds you’ll find an afternoon rodeo, evening chuck wagon races and show, a midway, agricultural and craft exhibition, market, native village and nighttime firework display.

Western ShirtsDuring the ten days of Stampede, the city itself is festooned with banners,  rodeo scenes are painted onto the windows of shops and office buildings, and you can find plenty of pancake breakfasts and stampede parties to suit everyone’s taste. Banks are transformed into Wild West corrals, and young and old deck themselves out in jeans, cowboy shirt, hat and boots.

Come visit us!


There’s a feeling in the air…

The tradition within the North West Mounted Police on their March West across Canada in 1874 was that the Inspector establishing a fort was given the honour of naming it after himself. Therefore, when Inspector Brisbois arrived at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, he did just that. Unfortunately for him, Colonel James Macleod (his superior officer) suggested the name be changed to Calgary, after Calgary Bay, a place he’d visited on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. But maybe it was just as well. The Brisbois Stampede doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the Calgary Stampede, does it? CalgaryBay CalgaryHouseWhen we first moved to Calgary, the skyline was sparse with the tallest building being the Calgary Tower. Now the tower is dwarfed by a forest of skyscrapers, and one of my favourite things to do is go to the bluff in Crescent Heights and watch the sun set on the city. The combination of city lights, setting sun and image of the mountains in the distance is magical. CalgarySkylineBack in the day, one of the local TV channels ran a great advertising spot which – to me – reflected the energy of this young city.  It looks a bit dated and hokey now, but the video still makes me smile.  Oh… and just recently, Calgary was voted the cleanest city in the world! Not bad for a city only 138 years old.