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IN PHOTOS: Calgary Stampede then versus now; how the iconic event has changed since 1912

A photo of the 1912 Calgary Stampede Parade.
A photo of the 1912 Calgary Stampede Parade. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede

Back in all its former glory, the Calgary Stampede — a.k.a. the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth — is set to breathe life into the city once again this July.

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event’s first-ever cancellation in 2020, and 2021 saw Stampede organizers take some public health precautions, this year’s event is set to return to normal. But how will it compare to the more than 100 previous years of celebrations?

Read more: Feds announce nearly $12 million in funding to support 2022 Calgary Stampede

“This year definitely represents a return to a pre-pandemic level of full Stampede,” said Cassandra Cummings, a historical specialist with the Calgary Stampede, “with all of the events and attractions that guests expect and enjoy.

“The 10-day event continues to grow and respond to reflect the needs and interests of the community, continuing to be a gathering place, on its original spot, since the beginning.”

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The beginning of the Stampede parade

The Stampede first began in 1912 after Guy Weadick, a New Yorker who became captivated by the cowboy lifestyle, returned to Calgary with a vision to create a frontier days celebration and championship.

E.L. Richardson, the manager of the Calgary Exhibition (which began in 1886), introduced Weadick to prominent businessmen and local boosters, who gave Weadick money and tasked him with creating the “greatest thing of its kind in the world,” according to the Calgary Stampede.

“(In 1912), the event featured a competitive rodeo and a parade which was attended by 80,000 people — double the size of Calgary’s population at the time,” Cummings said. “The parade was also led by 1,800 First Nations peoples. And families from Treaty 7 nations camped in Victoria Park, forming the original Elbow River Camp, which remains an essential part of Stampede.”

A photo of the parade at the 1912 Calgary Stampede
A photo of the parade at the 1912 Calgary Stampede. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede parade of 1912
Calgary Stampede parade of 1912. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede parade of 1912
Calgary Stampede parade of 1912. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampeder Grey Cup Champion, Rocco Romano, right, waves to the crowds the Grey Cup during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 5, 2019. Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press

Cummings noted that during that time, the Stampede also offered a place where Treaty 7 participants could preserve and share their traditions, during a time when the government “was enacting cultural genocide.”

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Following the inaugural event, a second Stampede wasn’t held until 1919, after the end of the First World War.

Click to play video: 'Safety top priority for 2022 Calgary Stampede'
Safety top priority for 2022 Calgary Stampede

The evolution of the midway

The midway has been a part of the event since the very beginning and has always promised the attractions within it to be “unique and extreme,” according to Cummings.

“The definition of extreme may have changed, but I think that’s something that also still applies,” she said. “There is something for everyone, and many are tried-and-true favourites.”

Cummings said a mix of new and old favourites also applies to the Stampede’s famous food trucks.

Calgary Stampede midway in 1923.
Calgary Stampede midway in 1923. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede midway in 1929
Calgary Stampede midway in 1929. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede
Stampede Park midway in more recent years. Global Calgary
Calgary Stampede midway in more recent years
Calgary Stampede midway in more recent years. News Talk 770

Read more: Pop-up stampede welcomes Calgary’s newest immigrants 

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The rodeo rages on 

The rodeo is also one of the events that has been around from the very beginning, said Cummings, along with the showcase and agricultural elements.

“Many parts of the 10-day celebration are the same, or have evolved from the original event,” she said. “Other events followed shortly after. 1923 is the year that the Exhibition and Stampede combined into one event, and is also the year that chuckwagon racing first happens, and the first pancake breakfast.”

Lucille Mulhall Champion bucking horse 1912
Lucille Mulhall Champion bucking horse 1912. Calgary Stampede
Chuckwagon Racing 1924.
Chuckwagon Racing 1924. Calgary Stampede
Coconut Roll at the Calgary Stampede rodeo. The Calgary Stampede

The 2022 Calgary Stampede Parade takes place on July 8. Global Calgary is the 2022 broadcast partner of the parade, providing an Alberta-wide broadcast on Global Television beginning at 9 a.m.; as well as the Global TV App, GlobalNews.ca, the Global News Youtube Channel, Global Calgary Facebook Live and Amazon Prime.

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Parade coverage will be hosted by Global’s Dallas Flexhaug, Blake Lough, Leslie Horton and Jeff McArthur.

For more information on this year’s event, click here.

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