The Calgary Stampede has been a part of my whole life. My Grandfather was J Charles Yule and he was the president and General Manager of the stampede in the late 30's to the 50's. My father (Dave Yule) grew up in the white house in the middle of the fairgrounds. Many of his childhood stories were about the stampede and the house on the fairgrounds. Unfortunately I never met my Grandfather and I lost my father about 8 years ago. Here are some of the stories I remember.
- Dad told stories how he would prank his older brother (Bill) when he went out on dates and came home late. One time he said that he put all kinds of pots and pans on the stairs and when Bill came home he woke up the whole house.
- Dad did a lot of announcing during for the hockey games and other events in the arena. Dad told stories of running all the wiring and hooking up the speaker system for the first time. Dad ended up being an electrical engineer
- Dad used to help shoot off the fireworks at the end of the night for the stampede. One time he said it was really raining and that they put wax paper over all of the fireworks to make sure they did not get wet. They secured them with rubber bands and other things. He said that the show went off well except for several fireworks that blew up in the ground and caused some large craters in the ground that they had to fix the next day.
- My Dad told me a story about how he was in the white house during the war and that a WWII trainer barely missed the house and crashed in the infield.
- Dad told me that his father wanted an Indian Teepee for his kids to play in and to put up in front of the white house during the stampede. The story went that my grandfather worked on the chief for a week to settle on the price. What is interesting is that I still have the hand made teepee and my kids play in it even today. As a kid I had several sleepovers in the tent. It is well used and more than tattered but my kids still love it.
- The Stampede used to send out invitations to the event. Typically the invites were a picture of the west and taken from a real painting that was made for the Stampede. My Mother has three of these water color paintings hanging in her home. The one that my father loved the most was a picture of two horses talking over a rail fence about how the war had ended and peace was coming.
- My Mother only met my Grandfather once. That was during the Stampede. She wore shorts to the event and apparently my grandfather thought that was in-appropriate. This had to happen in 1958 or 1959.
- My father also talked of a movie that was done at the Stampede that almost won an award. Apparently my Grandfather was involved in some of the logistics of this movie. For some reason in February I was watching an old movie channel and was able to record the movie. I have watched it 2-3 times with my family and love how the Stampede has stayed true to its roots
As a kid I grew up in Seattle as my father worked as an electrical engineer at Boeing. About every 2 years we would drive up to Calgary for the Stampede. My Grandmother lived in to the 1980's and we would stay at her house out off 16th street near Peters Drive-in. Unfortunately she had a major fire in the house and she lost a lot of the history from the Stampede. I used to love to go to the shows and meet everyone. My Grandmother would go to some bull judge event every year and hand out the top award. I remember getting all the cowboys autographs and meeting all of the clowns every year. I remember sitting on the infield and a bull almost got out of the shoot and being very close to the action. I also remember always buying tickets to the raffles and wishing for the camper and the boat and never winning.
After my father passed my mother gave me and my brother each a gold belt buckle. Both of them are from the Stampede. I share a picture of the one that was given to my Grandfather in 1940 for being the president of the Stampede from 1937-1940. I love the chuckwagon on the buckle.
I have tried to make sure that the Stampede is part of my children's life as well. They have been to the Stampede 3 times and they are 11 and 13. We live in Atlanta, Georgia. I wanted to let you know that I have just completed booking my trip for 2012. My family is very excited to be attending the Stampede again this year, and is looking forward to the 100 year anniversary!
We are looking forward to seeing another great show and making more family memories. See you this summer!