Parks Canada

Parks Canada

July 08, 2012 13:00 ET

Government of Canada Recognizes National Significance of Calgary Stampede to Canada's History

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 8, 2012) - On behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Ted Menzies, Minister of State (Finance) and Member of Parliament for MacLeod, today will unveil a Historic Plaque and Monuments Board of Canada plaque recognizing the Calgary Stampede, billed as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," as an event of national historic significance.

"You can't think of Canada without thinking of the Calgary Stampede, and I'm very happy to announce the designation of the Stampede as a national historic event in its centennial year," said Minister Menzies. "The Stampede has played an important role in preserving key elements of an historic western-Canadian "way of life" as well as distinctive cultural traditions of its First Nations participants."

Originally conceived as a "one time party, a farewell gesture to a dying way of life", the Calgary Stampede now attracts over one million visitors per year.

"The Calgary Stampede is a necessary stop on anyone's cross-Canada trip, from international tourists, to Canadian families on their traditional summer road trip, to members of the Royal Family," added Minister Kent. "Along with the Rocky Mountains, and the Mounties, the Calgary Stampede is truly one of the most recognizable symbols of Canada to the world."

Established in 1919 and supported by Parks Canada, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of the Environment regarding the national historic significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history. Parks Canada manages a nation-wide network of national historic sites that make up a rich tapestry of Canada's historical heritage and that offer visitors the opportunity for real and inspiring discoveries.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at under Media Room.



Rooted in a history of agricultural exhibitions dating back to 1886 in Calgary, the first Stampede was held September 2-7, 1912. It was organized by entertainer and entrepreneur, Guy Weadick and backed by the Big Four - cattlemen Pat Burns, A.E. Cross, George Lane and Archie J. McLean. Tens of thousands of people lined the street to watch the first parade and more than 100,000 attended the actual event. Cowboys - and cowgirls - came from Western Canada, the United States and Mexico to compete for $20,000 in prizes.

Seven years later, in 1919, a "Great Victory Stampede" was organized in celebration of Canada's soldiers returning from the First World War. There was a $25,000 purse for participants like bucking horse riders, steer ropers and bulldoggers. To round out the program, there were stand up chariot type races, ladies' saddle bronc riding, relay races, trick roping and riding acts.

Both the 1912 and 1919 Stampedes were intended as one-time-only events but in 1922 the Exhibition and the Stampede were merged on a trial basis, creating the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. The new event was first held in 1923 and Calgarians were encouraged to dress in western clothes and decorate their businesses in the spirit of the "wild west." Civic leaders jumped on board, with the Mayor sporting western dress and allowing downtown roads to be closed for two hours each day of the event for street parties. In 1923, nearly 139,000 people attended the event and it turned a profit. The following year, over 167,000 people came and it was the outstanding success of the 1924 show that ensured that the union of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede would continue.

Today, the Calgary Stampede, held every year in July, bills itself as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth" and attracts over one million visitors per year. It features one of the world's largest outdoor rodeos, an agricultural exhibition, a parade, a midway, stage shows, concerts, and First Nations exhibitions. In 2011, an estimated 425,000 spectators lined the streets to watch the parade. Today's Stampede retains much of its earlier spirit and original format. The exhibition and rodeo, in particular, continue to celebrate the agricultural and ranching history of Alberta and to pay tribute to a pioneering way of life.

Among the most popular of the Stampede's attractions and one which dates back to its origins, is the Indian Village recreated each year on the bank of the Elbow River in the southern section of Stampede Park. For the ten days of the Stampede, the First Nations of Treaty 7 represented by the Nakoda (Stoney), Kainai (Blood), Siksika (Blackfoot), Peigan, Piikani and Tsuu T'ina (Sarcee) raise their tipis and present elements of their traditional culture. First Nations interpreters at the village guide visitors through it, explaining their heritage and culture. Some of the traditional activities at the village include: tipi pole and peg preparation; tipi raising; tipi design; hide tanning; tool and weapon making; clothing; decoration and beadwork; meat cutting and drying; preparation of pemmican and cooking.

Originally conceived as a "one time party, a farewell gesture to a dying way of life," the Calgary Stampede (and Exhibition) has both celebrated and helped preserve key elements of an historic, western-Canadian "way of life" or culture for nearly a century. One of the world's largest and best known rodeos, it pays tribute to the ranching industry - its history and participants - and provides a high profile showcase for its skills. The Stampede is inextricably linked with its host city: each reflecting the other's history and character, growth, culture and image. The Stampede's annual parade and Calgarians' adoption of western dress throughout the ten days illustrate the city's deep civic connection to this annual celebration. The Indian Village, which has been part of the Calgary Stampede from the outset has also played a role in preserving and presenting the distinctive cultural traditions of its First Nations participants.

Contact Information

  • Adam Sweet
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of the Environment

    Media Relations
    Parks Canada