Stampede’s Annual General Meeting has positive outlook for 2017

“I am happy to tell you that the organization is in a solid financial position—yes even after a very rainy Stampede,” Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede, shared at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Stampede Park, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Almost 1,000 shareholders were in attendance at the meeting and listened as Connell recapped highlights from 2016 and insight into 2017 and beyond.

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Connell continued by sharing, “Calgary is in the midst of a transformation. Culturally, the city has changed tremendously over the past decade, so to remain relevant the Stampede’s brand values need to continue to align with the values of Calgarians and Albertans. We need to continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what our community has to say,” he stated as he spoke to the Stampede’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.

Connell pointed to how the Stampede tried something new during the 2016 Stampede by providing free admission on the final Sunday, as well as special $5 admission prices at pop-up events earlier in the week. Connell also alluded to similar surprises for Stampede 2017, to be announced to the public in the coming months.

Ending his speech, Connell bid a heartfelt farewell to Stampede president & chairman of the board, Bill Gray, who completed his two-year term at the completion of the AGM. During his time as president, Gray led the Stampede through a time of economic uncertainty and the wettest Stampede’s since 1927, and managed to keep the organization on top and well set up for the future. “Transparency, breaking down the barriers of traditional thinking and working together as a team were and are Bill’s greatest priorities,” said Connell.

Bill Gray and Warren Connell, Stampede 2016

Bill Gray and Warren Connell, Stampede 2016

David Sibbald was welcomed into his new position as president & chairman of the board during the AGM, Dana Peers moved into his new role as first vice-chairman and Steve McDonough joined the elected officers as second-vice chairman.

Sibbald is a fifth-generation rancher and partner of SSS Red Angus, is a current board member of the Canadian Angus Association and started his volunteer career with the Stampede in 1990. Dana Peers is president of Urbano Design and Development Ltd., specializing in large custom residential and commercial projects throughout North America and has been a Stampede volunteer since 1991. Steve McDonough is a lawyer who has served as a policy advisor to the federal government in Ottawa, built and sold an advertising agency, is involved in commercial property development and has built a franchise retail business. Steve has been a volunteer for 38 years.

The board of directors, as voted by the shareholders and consisting of those who are serving their second-year terms, are David Sibbald (president & chairman of the board), Dana Peers (first vice-chair), Steve McDonough (second vice-chair), Bill Gray (past-president), Dale Befus, Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney, Toni Dixon, Ted Haney, Garry Holbrook, Dave Lantz, Mike O’Connor, Stuart O’Connor, Tom O’Leary, Will Osler, Bob Park, Paul Polson, Maggie Schofield, Roc Spence, Bob Taylor, John Third and Kate Thrasher, and appointed members Marcel Coutu, Shane Doig, MLA Brian Malkinson and Councillors Andre Chabot and Joe Magliocca.

To read more about each person, click here.

Making history: Calgary Stampede celebrates a rodeo icon for International Women’s Day

Today, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 celebrates International Women’s Day, a day that honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. The Calgary Stampede has an illustrious history of showcasing the outstanding talent of women in western performances. At a time when women were refused the right to vote, western performance and rodeo stars such as Bertha Blancett and Flores LaDue were achieving success and fame as part of the first Calgary Stampede. For more about the exploits of these pioneer cowgirls, see last year’s blog post for International Women’s Day here.

Through the years, hundreds of women have performed in the Stampede Rodeo, and adding to this proud tradition is Mary Burger, a high-speed barrel-racing grandma from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. For over 40 years Mary has been participating in barrel racing events, winning a slew of titles and victories on her way to being ranked number one in the world in barrel racing. At 67 years young, Mary dropped jaws and wowed fans as she achieved a clean sweep in the barrel racing competition at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  Placing first in the competition for a remarkable four consecutive days, Mary would go on to win the event on Championship Sunday adding another trophy to what one can only imagine is an already cluttered mantle.

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Mary Burger and her horse Mo picking up some speed!

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Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1] Continue reading

The Stampede celebrates National Flag of Canada Day

For National Flag Day, we are re-publishing an article from 2015 - some history of our beloved red and white maple leaf and the Canadian flag at the Stampede.

Happy National Flag Day, Canada! Today we celebrate our nation’s unifying symbol: the Canadian Flag.

By 1965, the maple leaf was already commonly used by Canadians to signify their unique identity from the rest of the British Commonwealth. However, the country’s flag was still the Canadian Red Ensign, which featured the Union Jack and the Canadian Coat of Arms. Prime Minister Lester Pearson recognized that Canada had come of age and so he commissioned the design of the country’s new flag. The Canadian Flag was raised for the first time at noon on February 15, 1965.

The Calgary Stampede flying the Union Jack and Red Ensign, 1955.

The Calgary Stampede flying the Union Jack and Red Ensign, 1955.

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Introducing the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch Historical Centre

In late 2016, the Calgary Stampede Foundation hosted the first tour of the OH Ranch Historical Centre, which illuminates the long and storied history of the OH Ranch. The Historical Centre is located in the basement of the OH Ranch Cookhouse.

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Previously, cowboys used the basement of the cookhouse as a bunkhouse. The room was complete with 60s era shag carpet and a few old couches. Now, thanks to the Foundation and generous donors, the basement has been revitalized into an inviting educational space.

Students of the OH Ranch Educational Program and visitors to events at the ranch can learn about past and present owners, like Bill Siebens who donated the OH Ranch to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012. They can also see a bison coat and learn about the role of the North West Mounted Police police in western Canada, and come face to face with a bison head and learn about the original inhabitants of the land—First Nations peoples.

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Students can try on cowboy clothing and learn about the jobs of ranch hands who have lived and worked at OH Ranch.

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Or, follow a timeline that traces the OH from its origins into the future.

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Today, the Calgary Stampede is the steward of the OH Ranch, which is protected as a Heritage Rangeland with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The rich history and tradition that are lived every day on the ranch is now preserved and shared in the OH Ranch Interpretive Centre.

Some of the most notable Calgary Stampede highlights from 2016

2016 was an eventful year for the Calgary Stampede: our bucking stock started and finished the year winning awards at international rodeos, we welcomed more than one million guests during the wettest Stampede since 1927, and Stampede Park hosted visitors year-round for many different ventures, including the Stampede’s first ever Fall Fair. Here’s a monthly recap highlighting only a few of the many milestones the Stampede saw this year.

January
The Calgary Stampede bucking stock brought in the new year in Denver with some big scores at the National Western Stock Show.
Read more…

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

February
The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm flew to Australia for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corrobree – a major tourism roadshow. Vanessa, along with other members from the Stampede and Travel Alberta, helped inform travel tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer.
Read more…

February - IP in AUS

March
The Stampede’s Annual General Meeting was held in March. In addition to sharing the highlights from 2015, president & chairman of the board Bill Gray and chief executive officer Warren Connell gave insight into the Stampede’s future by speaking to the Stampede Park development plans. Connell noted that Youth Campus, the TransAlta Performing Arts Studios and Calgary Arts Academy were all well on their way, in addition to the future plans of expanding the BMO Centre, which would provide an estimated 500 full-time jobs and an added $73 million a year to the economy in Alberta and $87 million to Canada’s GDP.
Read more…

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

April
Aggie Days moved to their new home in the Agrium Western Event Centre. The lunchtime rodeo took place in the new arena and the animals and exhibits were arranged throughout the main level, in the exhibit hall and around the arena.
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Stampede History Moment Presents: Merry Christmas from the Cosgraves

Dick Cosgrave looms large in Stampede history. Arena director, long-time chuckwagon record holder, stock breeder…Cosgrave did it all. Lesser known about Dick and his wife Olive is that they sent out great Christmas Cards! So this year, we celebrate the holiday season with some flashback greetings from the Cosgraves.

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If only Santa had thoroughbreds instead of reindeer.

 

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Writing the Stampede 2013 catchphrase, 60 years prior.

 

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“As Christmas rolls around again, We’re just now dryin’ out, From that ’65 Stampede so wet; we coulda fished for trout.” Also applicable to 2016.

 

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New event for next year’s Stampede: reindeer-wrestling.

 

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“So with Christmas fast approachin’, It’s nice to make your home, Amongst obligin’ neighbors, who leave their livestock roam” …Remember western hospitality this holiday season.

Today, fourth-generation driver Colt Cosgrave and outrider Chad Cosgrave continue the tradition of competing at the Stampede started by their great-grandfather in 1926.

Wear a Poppy This November

Sir Douglas Haig, who during the First World War had served as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, which included the Canadians, attended the Calgary Stampede in 1925. His visit to the Stampede was one stop on his cross-Canada tour promoting veterans’ causes.

Haig rode on horseback through downtown Calgary to Stampede Park. Thousands of Calgarians lined the route to cheer him on.

Haig rode on horseback through downtown Calgary to Stampede Park. Thousands of Calgarians lined the route to cheer him on.

When Canadian soldiers returned from the war, Canada was very different than when they had left. Jobs had become more technical and many veterans were unskilled labourers. Making matters worse, veterans’ pensions were very small because the government believed that they should only be supplementary to other income. Almost one in every three veterans had suffered debilitating wounds and countless more had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many could not afford to live in post-war Canada.

Haig met Hoot Gibson, movie star, rodeo champion and the 1925 Stampede Parade Marshal.

Haig met Hoot Gibson, movie star, rodeo champion and the 1925 Stampede Parade Marshal.

Supporting veterans fell to charitable organizations, including numerous national organizations as well as local and regional groups. Their intentions were good but there were too many groups that were too small. They feuded regularly over who would control monies generated by the Poppy Fund. Like today, each November, Canadians would buy and wear poppies. The profits from this campaign were divided between veteran organizations, but by 1925, the groups were so at odds with each other that the veterans did not receive the benefits they could have.

Haig’s trip helped remedy the situation. He crossed the country with a simple message of a united effort. He arrived in Calgary on Thursday, July 9th. His party included numerous representatives from Canadian veterans’ groups. They rode on horseback through downtown Calgary to Stampede Park. Thousands of Calgarians lined the route to cheer on Haig. He then attended the rodeo, met movie star Hoot Gibson who was the Stampede parade marshal that year, and talked with First Nations community leaders, who gave him the honourary name Chief Bull Head. The Stampede, an event wholly dedicated to building a unique and united community, helped Haig spread his message of unity and support to our veterans.

Haig was given the honourary name Chief Bull Head.

Haig was given the honourary name Chief Bull Head.

In November, the success of Haig’s tour came to fruition with the founding of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League: today’s Royal Canadian Legion. The Legion quickly spread from coast to coast becoming a place of refuge, support and comradeship for veterans. Its programs supported disabled veterans and helped those in financial need. The Legion hall became a social hub for many communities. It also lobbied the government for better support and pensions for the country’s war heroes.

Since 1925, the Calgary Stampede has continued to recognize, support, and commemorate the service and sacrifice of the Canadian Forces. Buy a poppy this November. Wear it in proud reminder of our nation’s fallen and, in doing so, support our veterans through the important work and programs of the Canadian Legion.

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An Ode to the Band of Outriders

The Calgary Stampede Band of Outriders was formed in 1991 and is known for sharing their musical version of western hospitality to local crowds and thousands of Calgary visitors every day during the 10-day Stampede. Andrea Khoury, an Outriders alumna and founding member of the band, wrote this poem to celebrate the Outriders’ 25th anniversary. Enjoy!

There are strange things done in the name of fun by the geeks who toil in the band.

The Stampede trails have the oddest tales that have traveled throughout the land.

The midway lights have seen great sights but the greatest they ever did see

Was the group that was formed, out of old drums and horns, by people like you and me.

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

 

Now old Bobby E was from Calgary, where the marching bands twirl and blow.

Why he left his room at the school to groom new musicians we’ll never know.

He started with Round-up, then moved on to Showband with Stetsons to follow in time

And by ninety-one, Mr. Eklund not done, it was time for a new band to shine.

 

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Join the Calgary Stampede for Jane’s Walk on Saturday, May 7

Know where one of the largest pieces of public art in North America is located? Ever wonder what the first Stampede Parade was like? Heard the story of the first saddle bronc champion in Calgary and the famous horse he rode?

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede

For the answer to these questions, and many more, join members of the Stampede’s Public Art and Historical committees on Saturday, May 7, for a guided tour of the many and varied public art pieces on Stampede Park.

The tour begins in front of Cowboy’s Casino (421 – 12 Ave SE) at 2 p.m. and is part of Jane’s Walk, an event started nine years ago to honour the legacy of Jane Jacobs, a writer and an activist who believed that great cities are created by the people who live in them. Jane’s Walks are now held around the world to encourage people to connect with each other and explore their communities.

Meant to be a walking conversation rather than a lecture, during the tour, Stampede volunteers will share interesting stories and notable facts about the more than 15 pieces of art on Stampede Park, from larger than life wall murals to grand bronze sculptures, each depicting people and events that have shaped the history and identity of our city.

The Calgary Stampede , Friday, July 6, 2012. Photo by Mike Ridewood

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, or for those who would appreciate help getting around the Park, the Stampede Trolley will be available to take people from piece to piece along the route.

We’d love to share our history and our art with you! Whether you are new to the city or a lifelong Calgarian, the art walk is sure to provide some new insight into “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”

In addition to special events like Jane’s Walk, self-guided tours of the public art on Stampede Park are available with the aid of the art walk guide. And for more information on Jane’s Walk and the other events being held in Calgary May 6-8, visit janeswalk.org/canada/calgary.

George Lane recognized as a Great Westerner at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

On Saturday, April 16 George Lane was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. One the original stockmen of southern Alberta, Lane’s biggest impact was in the importation of Percheron horses from France. Settlers needed the massive horses as they established farms. Lane’s Bar U Ranch quickly became known as having the best Percheron stock in the West. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here are some highlights from the 2016 Western Heritage Awards weekend!

1. Lane is the first Canadian to be inducted to the Hall of Great Westerners at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Let’s just say that the level of Canadian content at this year’s ceremony far surpassed Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulations. More than three dozen Canadians were in attendance, including many members of the Lane family in addition to members of the Friends of the Bar U and Stampede family

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George Lane’s great-grandson (also named George) accepting the Wrangler Award on behalf of the Lane family at the 2016 Western Heritage Awards.

2. John Barlow, MP for Foothills, also attended the event. But before he flew to Oklahoma City, he spoke in Parliament about the ceremony and the significance of Lane’s induction into the Hall of Great Westerners. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum was ecstatic to hear about MP Barlow’s speech and played this clip of him at the event (which was met with a rousing standing ovation).

3. AMC’s Hell on Wheels also received an award for best fictional drama. It was shot in beautiful southern Alberta and when the executive producers were on stage they were singing this province’s praises.

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John Wirth, a writer and producer for “Hell on Wheels” shows off the Wrangler. (pic via @WirthwhileTV on Twitter)

4. One of the most impressive elements of the National Cowboy and Western Museum is its dedication to the West, regardless of borders. On this special night, both inductees to the Hall of Great Westerners came from outside of the United States. Joining Lane was Enrique E. Guerra of the San Vincente Ranch whose family has a 400-year legacy of ranching in what would become the borderlands of Mexico and the United States.

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In one of the Museum’s galleries, the floor is a giant map showing historic ranches and trails from south of the Rio Grande to north of the 49th. Two of the Big Four – A.E. Cross’s a7 and Lane’s Bar U – are represented.

We experienced first-class western hospitality throughout the weekend and we are truly thrilled to have one of our very own Big Four in the Hall of Great Westerners.

(L-R) Mike Nicola, board of director for National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, MP John Barlow, George S. Lane, Shannon Murray, historical specialist, Bob Thompson, immediate past president. Photo courtesy of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

(L-R) Mike Nicola, board of director for National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, MP John Barlow, George S. Lane, Shannon Murray, historical specialist, Bob Thompson, immediate past president. Photo courtesy of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Meet Noran Calf Robe, Indian Village Tipi Owner from Siksika Nation

This year, Indian Village moves to ENMAX Park. The 26 tipis represent the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani. Each tipi has a unique design on the outside. Approximately 500 people will live in Indian Village during the 10 days, with daily performances adding another 1,000 people per day. More than 40 competitions and events take place in Indian Village during the July Stampede.

We caught up with tipi owner Noran Calf Robe whose family has been attending the Calgary Stampede for more than 100 years.

Visitors to Indian Village may recognize recurring tipis and owners year-after-year. The tipi painted with a buffalo belongs to the Calf Robes and has been a part of the Calgary Stampede from the beginning. Continue reading

Highlights from the 2016 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

Positivity and progress were reoccurring themes at the Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shareholders gathered at Stampede Park to vote for the board of directors, receive financial and shareholder updates, and hear from president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray, and chief executive officer, Warren Connell.

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

Gray spoke of the milestones celebrated in 2015, including the Stampede’s new partnership with the Calgary Opera to create a new opera space on Stampede Park, and of the achievements of the Stampede’s many youth education and development programs. “When I started as the Stampede’s president & chairman of the board, I knew that our organization, on a year-round basis, was very committed to youth education.  What I did not appreciate was the breadth and extent of our involvement in those programs,” he said. Continue reading

History moment: Calgary Stampede remembers some of our greatest female contributors for International Women’s Day

To celebrate the centennial of Alberta women achieving the right to vote and International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at some of the pioneering women of western performances and rodeo who competed at the first Calgary Stampede. Continue reading

John Philip Sousa and the Calgary Stampede Showband

John Philip Sousa, the American conductor and composer who popularized the sousaphone, has a special connection to the Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Stampede Showband is playing Sousa’s “The Thunderer” (1889) as part of its concert band repertoire this year, but the connection doesn’t end there. Sousa and his band, the “Sousa Band” actually visited the Calgary in 1919 and performed at the Calgary Exhibition.

1919_tnSousa’s band toured all over the world following the end of WWI and was exceptionally popular because Sousa had combined everything he liked about other types of ensembles (brass bands, military bands, orchestras, and beer hall bands) to create something different. Photos from the Glenbow Archives show that there was a huge audience when Sousa’s band performed in Calgary. Sousa was known as the “march king” for composing and arranging patriotic marches, so it makes a lot of sense that the Showband and other marching bands continue to play his music.

The Showband performed “The Thunderer” at its annual Celebration Concert earlier this month, and will perform it again when it competes in the Alberta International Band Festival on February 21 at the Rosza Centre. Continue reading