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The birth of the Calgary Stampede

For 10 days in July, mild-mannered Calgarians don skin-tight wranglers, big shiny belts and even bigger Stetsons and go into "Stampede mode." Not much work gets done as cowboys, Indian princesses, ferris wheels and pancake breakfasts take hold of the city. From its humble beginnings in 1912 to the ongoing controversy over chuckwagon races, the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede continues to be Canada's annual salute to the good old days of the Wild West.

Leave it to an American to give Canada its symbol of Western heritage. Guy Weadick, a native of Rochester, N.Y., falls in love with Alberta's ranch country and wants to share his passion with the world. CBC's Sally Halliday describes him as a good talker, a natural performer and a swashbuckler. Weadick eventually sells the idea of a week-long rodeo to four Calgary businessmen known as the "Big Four" in 1912.

The four men bankroll Weadick's vision, ponying up $25,000 each. On Labour Day in 1912, Weadick's dream comes true as the wildest and noisiest parade in Calgary's history ushers in the very first Calgary Stampede.
• The first Calgary Stampede was held on Sept. 2-7, 1912.
• The Big Four were ranchers George Lane and A.J. McLean, beef processor Pat Burns and brewery owner A.E. Cross.
• Guy Weadick was born in 1885 to a family of prominent lawyers. At 16 he left Rochester and headed west towards Montana to pursue his dream of becoming a cowboy.

• Described as tall, very handsome with a penchant for flowing black ties, Guy Weadick was an accomplished cowboy who had travelled and performed in western shows all over the world.
• The Calgary Stampede was deemed a success right from the get-go. The rodeo was temporarily suspended during the First World War but a special Victory Stampede welcomed it back in 1919.
Medium: Television
Program: Calgary Newshour
Broadcast Date: July 9, 1986
Guest(s): Mary Dover, Joe Fisher
Reporter: Sally Halliday
Duration: 6:48

Last updated: March 28, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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