My Introduction to the Stampede was in 1967
When I was in grade six, in Montreal, we were studying the Province of Alberta. I enjoyed it so much that I decided that one day I was going to see Alberta. The thing that I most wanted to see was the Calgary Stampede.
In 1967 my dream came true. I moved to Calgary. That was my introduction to the Calgary Stampede. I lived there for twenty-seven years. My children were brought up there and my grandchildren and some of my great grandchildren were born there.
On April 1, 1994, I was forced to move to Saskatoon. I had lost my job due to the office closing down and because of my age, I could only find part-time work, which wasn't enough to live on. My daughter owned a business here in Saskatoon, so I came to work for them. I went back to Calgary that year to attend the Stampede.
In October 1994, I got a good paying job and took time off so that I could go to the 1995 Stampede. Last year was my forty-fifth consecutive Stampede. In all that time I have only missed one day, July 6, 1995, which was sneak-a-peek, because I couldn't get the Thursday off. I also missed the Parade that year, July 7, 1995, because I couldn't get a flight to get me there on time. I arrived in Calgary, dropped my bags and headed for the grounds. My holidays were booked well in advance from then until I retired on March 31, 2005 at 69 years of age. Living on a fixed income makes it difficult but I pinch pennies and am able to continue going (what I call) home for the Stampede. I have a room at a friend's house in Calgary so I don't have to save for accommodation.
The first thing I do when I get to Calgary is buy enough bus tickets to get to and from the grounds every day. I keep these and enough money for the gate entry in a separate wallet. This way I know that I can go to the grounds every day as I have for the past forty-five years.
Family members and friends meet me at the grounds so that we can visit. There is a lot of family history that came out of that year in sixth grade.
I don't think that there are too many people who can say that they have spent every day for forty-five years (this year will be my forty-sixth year) enjoying the Calgary Stampede.
I am hoping to make it to, at least, 50 consecutive years.
Since I haven't finished cataloguing all my mementos, I am including copies of a few that I do have handy. I have posters, pictures, pins, coins, videos, belt buckles, T shirts, hats, ball caps, programs and numerous other items.
Ms. Ronni Shilson