As we all know, this year marks the 100th year of the Calgary Stampede - The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. In fact, today (March 29th) is the start of our official countdown “100 Days to the Calgary Stampede.” Gracing this year’s Calgary Stampede poster is a portrait of Guy Weadick by artist Harley Brown. Weadick is known as the ‘Father of the Frontier Show’ and a unyielding force behind the establishment of the Calgary Stampede. One century ago, Weadick (with the help of others) got everything started here in Calgary. A successful man, Weadick has made quite a mark in the cowboy world through this and other efforts. And, let’s face it, his legend lives on (now in poster size! ;o) )
But behind every successful man, there is a woman… isn’t that what they say? Flores LaDue, the stage name of one Grace Bensell, is that woman. She was Guy Weadick’s wife. Both accomplished trick ropers, Guy and Flores worked the vaudeville circuit performing stunts in western acts all across North America and Europe. They eventually settled together in Western Canada and have even found their final resting places in the Foothills/ High River area. Quite a unique couple, I’d say, with a unique history.
Through a series of serendipitous events (see my blog entry February 12 2012 on this), I stumbled upon an amazing painting of Flores LaDue by Ruth Vickers . Ruth Vickers is a prolific artist but not well-known for her western art. I had the chance to chat with Ruth by phone a few weeks ago; a truly lovely lady. She said that she is greatly inspired (as many of us are) by history and by passionate people that go ‘against the grain’; those that offer inspiration through their activities and contributions to culture and society. Flores LaDue and her life and ‘trickery’ was, according to Ruth, “remarkable”. And Ruth was inspired to paint this most remarkable woman.
- ”Flores LaDue’ by Ruth Vickers (Oil on masonite. 40″ x 40″)
I had the opportunity to view Ruth’s masterful work of art at her mother’s house in High River in February. Believe me, the photo here does not do the painting justice. It is truly an amazing piece; as remarkable as Flores LaDue herself! And – yes folks – it is for sale!
I am in the process of ‘working my networks’ to see if we can get this magnificent piece of art on display prior to and during the Stampede in July this year. For more information on Ruth Vickers, the artist and her work, please drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! I will happily connect you to Ruth and her family! In the meantime, check out Ruth’s amazing work at: http://cargocollective.com/ruthvickersartist
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Cami Ryan is a researcher with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan and a member of the Calgary Stampede’s Ag Media Committee. Her family farmed and she grew up as a “townie” in rural Saskatchewan. Farming and agriculture has always been an important part of her life – both professionally and personally. Cami lives with her family and a collection of critters on an acreage just south of Calgary. Check out her blog: http://doccamiryan.wordpress.com/