CROWNING THE FIRST STAMPEDE QUEEN
Patsy Rodgers was crowned the first Calgary Stampede Queen in 1946 to be an ambassador for the Stampede. Patsy was a popular queen, and inspired the creation of an annual competition. Initially, communities or businesses sponsored candidates and people bought tickets to support her to become queen. Money raised went to local charities. In 1964, ticket sales were replaced with a competition based on horsemanship and rhetoric, and ladies-in-waiting became Princesses. Today’s Stampede Queen and Princesses attend more than 400 events a year.
Sports have always been at the heart of Stampede Park. At one time, car racing and horse racing were held on the track. In the winter, the Victoria Hall animal stalls were converted into curling sheets, and hockey was played in the Victoria Arena. In 1950, the Stampede built the Corral, the largest hockey arena west of Maple Leaf Gardens. It became the home to the Calgary Stampeders hockey team, and in 1984 Stampede wrestling. It was home ice for the Calgary Flames while the Saddledome was under construction, and hosted hockey and figure skating during the 1988 Winter Olympics.
- The Calgary Canadians won the Canadian junior championship in 1926. Their home ice was the Victoria Pavilion.
- In 1960, the Big Four building became home to 48 curling sheets, making it the world’s largest indoor curling rink.
- The Stampede Corral has 6450 seats. The seats used to be colour coded to reflect the cost of the ticket.
- The Corral used technology that allowed them to make ice in 34 hours.
- The first hockey game played in the Corral was between the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Flyers; Calgary won 5-0.
- Between 1988 and 1992, the Saddledome was home to the Calgary 88s, part of the World Basketball League.
The Big Four building opened in 1959 with 24 curling sheets and was a popular home for the sport.
In 1960, another 24 curling sheets were added. With 48 sheets, the Big Four was the world’s largest indoor curling rink.
The Ice Cycles held figure skating shows in the 1950s in the Corral.
Victoria Arena burned down in the early 1960s. Here, firefighters work to put out the fire.
THE YOUNG CANADIANS
In 1964 the Calgary Stampede hired Randolph “Randy” Avery to create a locally-produced Grandstand show that could rival the variety shows at American State Fairs, and even the Ed Sullivan Show. Avery’s featured performers were the Calgary “Kidettes,” a singing and dancing troupe led by Margot McDermott. The success of the Kidettes and Avery’s show was immediate. In 1968, the Kidettes evolved into the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, who still perform nightly during the Stampede’s TransAlta Grandstand Show.
Long committed to educating the community about agriculture, the Stampede’s platform to do so broadened in 1985 with the creation of Aggie Days. The first program was a small event held in the Agriculture barns, where local school children could interact with livestock and learn where their food comes from. Since then, Aggie Days has grown substantially. Today, it is a 5-day event that hosts approximately 9,000 school children and is free and open to the general public on the weekend.
- first Aggie Days took place in the Agriculture barns
- event expanded to include more demonstrations like sheep shearing and cow milking
- Aggie Days moved to the Round Up Centre (now known as the BMO Centre)
The Development of Stampede Park
When the Calgary Agricultural Society purchased Victoria Park in 1889, it came with a string attached: the Park was to be used for no purpose other than hosting fairs and exhibitions as a community gathering space. The Stampede remained true to this purpose.
By the 1960s, attendance at the annual Stampede had skyrocketed, and the Stampede was looking to expand. After failed bids to expand to Lindsay Park or move to Lincoln Park, the Stampede—working with the City of Calgary—began to expand north into Victoria Park.
The Union Milk Company delivers milk to Stampede Park, ca 1910s.
Riders enjoy the sky ride in 1975.
The Olympic Saddledome under construction, 1982-1983.
A mid-1960s conceptual rendering of what Stampede Park would look like if it moved to Lincoln Park.
Calgary Stampede Park, late 1980s.
100 Years of Royalty
HOSTING THE CROWN
Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited the Calgary Stampede as part of their Canadian tour. They officially launched the Stampede Parade and attended a special rodeo. In doing so, Will and Kate joined a long line of British royals who have attended the Stampede, signifying the Stampede's international reputation.
Past royal visits included:
1912 – The Duke and Duchess of Connaught (Canada’s Governor General and son of Queen Victoria) attended the inaugural Stampede
1923 – Edward, Prince of Wales, presented a special Prince of Wales trophy to the 1923 bronc riding champion, Pete Vandermeer. A private ceremony was held on the Prince’s ranch near Pekisko, the EP Ranch.
1939 – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended the Stampede as part of their royal tour
1951 – Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Calgary in October. A special Stampede was held in their honour.
1958 – Princess Margaret attended
1959 – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip made their second visit to the Calgary Stampede, where they toured Indian Village and watched the chuckwagon races.
1968 – the Duke and Duchess of Kent opened the Stampede on July 4th and rode in the Stampede parade
1973 – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip made their third visit to the Calgary Stampede and officially opened the occasion. The Duke of Edinburgh was an honoured guest.
1977 – Prince Andrew and Prince Charles honoured Alberta First Nations on the hundredth anniversary of the signing of Treaty 7. They led the Parade as Grand Marshal and officially opened the Stampede
2005 – Premier Ralph Klein hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on Stampede Park for a luncheon in May. 600 special guests were invited to lunch with the Queen.
2011 – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Calgary Stampede
In 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Calgary and enjoyed the Stampede Parade.
The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, along with their daughter Princess Patricia, attended the first Stampede in 1912.
Queen Elizabeth has visited the Stampede four times (once as Princess Elizabeth, in 1951). Here she is with a Mountie in 1973.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip enjoying a Stampede event in a special box seat for them at the Grandstand, 1973.
Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh stay warm under a Hudson’s Bay blanket during their first visit to the Calgary Stampede.
A special arch was set up in downtown Calgary to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Connaught in 1912. The parade went through the arch.