Today, the Calgary Stampede Family mourns the loss of a legend. We are saying goodbye to the man behind the distinctive – even iconic – “Annnnd they’re off” that boomed loudly through the Grandstand speakers for an incredible 45 years.
Joe Carbury’s unique delivery as the announcer of the Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon Races made him not just the voice of the Calgary Stampede, but for many, the voice of Calgary.
And it was more than his voice that made an impact in our community.
“Joe had a special connection with people. He was not only close with those he worked with, but also industry people, chuckwagon drivers and their families. He could tell you the names of their kids and grandkids,” said the Stampede’s Keith Marrington, a co-worker and personal friend of Carbury’s for many years.
The youngest of six children, Joe was born on April 4, 1926 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When he was 18, he joined the Navy and went overseas to Liverpool, England during the last two years of the war.
After leaving the navy in 1948, he began his broadcasting career at CHAT radio station in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where he worked as a play-by-play announcer for the Medicine Hat Tigers junior hockey team. While at CHAT, he met and married the love of his life – Rose Renner – and welcomed daughters Colleen and Kathleen.
In 1951, Joe set his sights on the big city of Calgary, where he got a job at CFAC Radio and did the play-by-play announcing for the Calgary Stampeders from 1953-1958.
“Joe had a unique voice and gift. He was a talented broadcaster and will be missed greatly,” added Marrington.
In 1959, his broadcasting career took him and his family to Hamilton, Ontario where he was a play-by-play announcer for the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Missing the West, he returned to Calgary in 1961, where he worked for both CFAC and CKXL radio covering hockey, football, curling and boxing.
Joe was very interested when the thoroughbred horse races began at the Calgary Stampede in 1963 so he went down to cover a few, which aired on CKXL. A member of the racing association heard his commentary and asked Joe to be the official thoroughbred announcer.
This was when his career really took off. In 1964, the Stampede asked him to announce the evening chuckwagon races. His commentary and delivery changed the sport, amplifying the excitement, the drivers and their equine athletes. After a remarkable 45 years, Carbury retired in 2008, turning over his post in the Eye in the Sky to announcer Les MacIntyre. But his impact on chuckwagon racing, the Calgary Stampede, and people around the world will long remain.
“His connection with people, with announcing and the sport will live on. We will miss him and will never forget him,” explains Marrington. “I was fortunate enough to visit with him on Monday before he passed away and his spirit and memory was still as sharp as ever. I will miss him and so will the entire chuckwagon community.”
Goodbye Joe – happy trails, until we meet again.