Four Generations of Stampede

For 100 years, the Stampede has been a special time for my family. A time of gathering with friends, sharing stories, telling memories and enjoying the Stampede spirit that envelopes the city of Calgary every July.

My family’s Stampede experience began in 1912, exactly 100 years ago. My Great Grandmother immigrated to Canada from Russia in the early 1900’s. Her family made their home in a farming community just outside of Calgary and proudly embraced the western lifestyle that the city would become known for. She always spoke of attending the very first Calgary Stampede, and what an experience it was! She fondly recalled the times she spent at the Parade and on the Park and was proud of her western heritage.

My Great Grandmother’s love of the Stampede was embraced by three more generations of Calgarians. My Grandmother was born and raised in Calgary and spent every summer attending the Stampede. My Grandmother met my Grandfather during WWII.  My Grandfather, a Royal Canadian Naval Officer, was stationed at the Calgary Stampede Grounds while waiting to be deployed overseas. Before being sent to defend the English Chanel, my Grandfather had the opportunity to march in the Stampede Parade with his fellow officers. He often spoke of the sense of honour and pride he felt that day. The Stampede Parade showcased the important work being undertaken by Canadians during WWII and the feeling of gratitude that the nation felt for our troops. The Great Depression and WWII brought hard times for many Calgarians. My Grandparent’s spoke of the Stampede as a bright light during dark days. The Stampede unified the city and brought joy to those who attended. It gave hope of the happy days to come.

My Mother and I are also Calgarians, born and raised. We grew up with the stories of Stampede, passed down from older generations. My Mother understood the significance of the Stampede, and shared that knowledge with me. She taught me that Stampede is an invaluable part of Calgary’s history, and my own history.

Years ago, I also had the opportunity to participate in the Stampede Parade. Through this experience, I truly came to understand the significance of the Stampede. It unites our city through a sense of belonging, community and pride. It creates memories to be shared from generation to generation. I embrace the Stampede spirit. I recognize the Stampede as a significant part of my past, present and future and I know that I will share these memories with others for many years to come.

Christie Tolsma