A celebrity horse is helping bring a Grey Cup tradition to Ottawa this week.

Each year for the Canadian Football League championship, Calgarians bring a horse to the host city — this year, to Ottawa.

The tradition dates back 69 years to 1948. A trainload of enthusiastic football fans went to the Toronto Grey Cup, rode horses around the city and even into the Royal York Hotel — and the Calgary Stampeders beat the Ottawa Rough Riders 12-7.

The Calgary Stampeder Special

Calgary fans celebrate on the Grey Cup train after the Calgary Stampeders won 12-7 over the Ottawa Rough Riders in Ottawa on Nov. 27, 1948. (Canadian Pacific Railway Company/Glenbow Museum )

The animal mascot usually takes on the name "Tuffy" and this year will be played by Marty the Horse from the CBC television show, Murdoch Mysteries.

Tuffy was also played by Marty in 2012, when, after first being refused, he was allowed into Toronto's Royal York Hotel for the 100th anniversary.

"Since then, let's just say we have multiple hotels wanting us to come visit them, and multiple locations," Alexander Dubyk, an organizer with the Calgary Grey Cup Committee, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

"You know what, I will thank the Royal York for that 100th Grey Cup refusal because it's made the reception that much more exciting."

  • Hear about what the Calgary Grey Cup Committee has planned:

At this 105th Grey Cup, the Calgary Stampeders face off against the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa.

Tuffy won't be visiting the Parliament buildings but has a visit planned to the Metcalfe Hotel on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, Dubyk said.

No sideline running

Tuffy also won't be running along the sidelines at the Grey Cup game, as Quick Six does at McMahon Stadium in Calgary for each Stampeder touchdown.

"It's a little bit too narrow and the end zones are a little bit narrower as well," Dubyk said. "Ottawa's really unique."

The committee has more than 60 volunteers attending the match. They will host breakfasts on Friday and Saturday with sausages, pancakes and "genuine, authentic grease," he said.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener