My Calgary Stampede Heritage

My Mom Lillian May (Coyle) Card (1910- 2006) attended the first Stampede in 1912 with her parents Frank P. Coyle (1886-1965) and Nellie I. (Gardner) Coyle (1883-1975). The Coyle's were early settlers in the Okotoks/Cayley area.

Lillian met and married my Father, Stewart Boothe Card Jr., in 1936. Boothe was from Raymond, Alberta. Boothe and Lillian, with their children, moved to Calgary in 1945. In 1946 Boothe became involved with the Stampede, and in 1947 Stampede Director Cliff Cross wanted to get some "Stampede spirit" into the downtown area. Cliff, Boothe and his buddy Kitch Elton were the originators of what has evolved into a morning ritual of our Stampede activities. Square dancing in the streets has always been the highlight, along with old fashioned rig rides, a morning program of featured entertainers, flapjack breakfasts and a western gun shootout start the enthusiasm before heading to the Stampede Grounds.

Boothe was also the Chairman for many years of the pre-Parade entertainment. He was made an Honorary Life Member in 1980, and in 1986 a Life Member of Downtown Attractions. He was active up to, and including, 1990. With declining health, he just had to visit the festivities in 1991. At the time of his death January 2, 1992 he was hailed as the oldest, longest active volunteer.

I am the only child of the "3 starters" carrying on the Downtown Attractions tradition. My greatest regret is I did not become involved while my Dad was active. I started out as a committee member with Artisans and Crafters that were out each day on the Stephen Avenue Walk sharing western-like talents (horseshoe and rope making, nail art, native art work, western jewelry, etc.) with our Stampede guests. I later joined the Information Committee as a “Meeter and Greeter” sharing details about our fantastic Calgary Stampede. I love my “job” and look forward to sharing in the Grand Celebration of 100 years!

What an honor it was to participate in the 100 day roll-out party March 29, 2012, giving out the invitations to come continue the party Downtown each morning of Stampede. As I looked up at that gorgeous blue sky, I knew we were being given a big thumbs up for carrying on that Stampede spirit which started 65 years ago.

Dianne (Card) Grabatin
Downtown Attractions Committee