Remembrances

In 1885, High Eagle of the Blackfoot Indian Tribe passed through this area and named it “AKOKINISKWAY”, which literally translates as “the river of many roses.”

The community which I grew up in was nestled in the valley by that river, and fed by many little creeks and springs. The hilltops provided rich farmlands for grains, raising cattle and many acres of roaming ranchlands.

As I was born in the Depression, which was followed by the Second World War, we were deprived of the many things from the outside world. We had a little brown Phillips battery radio, which we saved for the daily news and the one week of July to hear the results of the Calgary Stampede.

As one of seven kids, we camped around the radio to hear of the familiar names taking part in the rodeo events and the Chuckwagon races.

In the late forties, a friend and I were invited out to the Bar Diamond Bar ranch to paint a Chuckwagon. The bright red and white paint was as thick as molasses and the brushes were well chewed up as they penetrated the old rough boards. I’m sure it was this glue that held them together for the pounding they would endure over the summer. 

We anxiously waited to hear the starting horn blow, followed by the familiar “and they’re off!” We could hardly wait to hear the results of the day from the Stampede.

Maybe by now, you can guess, we lived in the little village of Rosebud - homeland of the World Chuckwagon Winners!

The Bar Diamond Bar was the ranch of Dick and Olive (Flett) Cosgrave and home to seven of her siblings over the years.  Our fearless driver was Marvin Flett driving the colorful Red & White under the canopy of Buck Horn Guest Ranch , Ghost Pine & Newall Bros. of Rockyford;  Bob Heberling, driver & owner of the Crescent Star Ranch: Dale Flett, driver of Newall Bros and later the  Peter Bawden  outfits;  Ralph Buzzard .  Then the years following in his father’s footsteps were Bob Cosgrave, taking over the reins from his uncles for Newall Bros.  Then his sons Colton & Chad Cosgrave.  How the years have passed!!  Dick was Mr. Stampede, and the arena director for many years on his beautiful Palamino horse.  When the hat came off the horn did blow!

Joy Whittaker

The Crescent Star Outfit with owner driver Bob Heberling seated on the trailer and Charlie Lundseth and Cookie Taubert leaning on the truck.

This year, 1948, also added the excitement of the Grey Cup in Toronto.  The same little radio provided us with the update of the downtown Toronto parade, the pancake breakfasts as well as the shenanigans of the horse riding up the steps into the hotel.   Many of our cowboys, Dick & Olive Cosgrave, Bob and Mildred Heberling, Marvin Flett and Flo MacLean (who worked in the offices of the Stampede, met him there and soon married) and other locals all took part in this event.

Dick & Olive Cosgrave 1954

Dick & Olive Cosgrove saved a space in their new fireplace to hold the honored trophy.  The Canadian Western Natural Gas Co. commissioned Charlie Biel for his interpretation in bronze of the chuckwagon.

In 1951, I also attended the Command Performance for Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.  This was a dull and wintry day in October but it was a thrill to see Royalty once again as a youngster having seen her parents in 1939-King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.