How the legend of Deerfoot rallied Calgary — and ruined the man
The story of Api-kai-ees and the race that marked both his greatest triumph and his darkest hour
On a fall afternoon in 1886, the small prairie settlement of Calgary is buzzing as people flock to a newly built track.
Among the crowd is a reporter for New York Sporting World and members of The Syndicate, a local gambling ring.
They've come to see a top-ranked British runner take on the local favourite, a young Blackfoot man the newspapers call "the human thunderbolt."
Anticipation had been building for months. So too, had The Syndicate's scheming.
All eyes are on the Blackfoot runner as he approaches the starting line.
His name is Api-kai-ees. But here, on the track, he's known as Deerfoot.
This race will mark his greatest triumph.
And his darkest hour.
This is Episode 1 of Heroes, Hustlers and Horsemen, a five-part podcast series from CBC Calgary about real people who lived in southern Alberta around the time of confederation and a few decades beyond.
The stories aren't of the Heritage Minute variety. These are the whisky-soaked, down and dusty, gun-slinging kinds of stories they leave out in school.
We'll meet rogues and rebels, bold visionaries with big blind spots, the notorious and the opportunistic, the people who gave rein to their ambitions and passions and those who chose to buck the herd.