THE DOMINION EXHIBITION
The Exhibition’s growth attracted national attention. In 1908, the federal government awarded Calgary the Dominion Exhibition, a travelling fair intended to highlight the country’s various regions. International entertainment came for the event, including Miller Brothers 101 Wild West Show, the troupe that Guy Weadick worked with.
Marquee events at the Dominion Exhibition included:
- A spectacular parade through Calgary led by Grand Marshal, Fire Chief James "Cappy" Smart
- The Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show
- Daily flights by Strobel's Airship, until a gust of wind blew the propeller-driven blimp into the side of the Grandstand and it exploded
- Events in the brand new Industrial Exhibits Building, barns and Victoria Park's first Grandstand, all of which were constructed wiht the support of federal funds
THE FIRST STAMPEDE
Guy Weadick returned to Calgary in the Spring of 1912 in search of financing for an event to celebrate the Old West. E.L. Richardson, manager of the Exhibition, introduced Weadick to prominent businessmen and local boosters George Lane, Pat Burns, A.J. McLean and A.E. Cross. The so-called Big Four gave Weadick money and tasked him with putting on the “greatest thing of its kind in the world.” Their enthusiasm reflected Calgarians’ sense of optimism about the region’s future.
Patrick Burns | 1856-1937
Meat-packing tycoon and prominent rancher who, at the height of his success, owned land stretching from Cochrane, Alberta to the Canadian-American border
A.E. Cross | 1861-1932
Owner of the A7 Ranch and the Calgary Brewing & Malting Co, the first brewery in Western Canada
George Lane | 1856-1925
Owner of the Bar U Ranch and an industry leader in breeding Percheron horses
A.J. McLean | 1866-1933
Manager of the CY Ranch and Member of the Legistlative Assembly of Alberta
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Taking place in September, the first Stampede had mixed success. It rained for several days and the stands were not covered; due to program management difficulties the daily schedule was unreliable and many events started later than promised. There was no infield and no time limit, so riders often rode out of sight from spectators and sometimes took as much as ten minutes to ride broncs to a standstill. However, the event still had many highlights, the parade in particular was well received.
Drawing 80,000 people – double Calgary’s population at the time – the parade brought together Calgarians old and new to collectively celebrate the mythical Old West. The Duke of Connaught (who was the Governor General of Canada at the time), his wife the Duchess of Connaught (Princess Louise Margaret), as well as their daughter Princess Patricia attended the parade and rodeo events and were a huge draw. The rodeo also brought exciting action. Families from Treaty 7 Nations camped on Victoria Park, forming the original “Indian Village,” which remains a Stampede staple to this day.
The names of Messrs, P. Burns, George Lane, A. E. Cross, and A.J. Mclean will long be remembered in connection with this affair. The good that has been done to Calgary will remain to their credit as their only reward for their remarkable and generous actionThe Calgary Herald, 1912
Flores LaDue shows off her fancy roping skills.
First Nations man in Indian Village, ca. 1920s.
The Duke and Duchess of Connaught attended the first Stampede; here they are arriving at the Grandstand.
Some 1,800 First Nation individuals led the first Stampede Parade in 1912.
Women competed in many rodeo events at the first Stampede; Lucille Mulhall, pictured here, won the title of Champion Lady Bucking Horse Rider of the World.
Stampede founder Guy Weadick and champion trick rider Flores LaDue pictured with their dog at the first Stampede. The husband and wife pair met while touring as performers for the Miller Brothers 101 Wild West Show.