Our Familys Parade Day Trip in 1965

When I was a kid, the Calgary Stampede was the event of the summer. In those days my Dad got the Friday off from work so everyone could attend the Stampede Parade. 

My sisters, brother and I would have the same anticipation for the parade as we did for Christmas. The weekend before, we would get new cowboy hats (the coloured straw ones), and pick out what we were going to wear for the big day. We would ask Mom over and over again what she was packing for lunch for the big day.

We lived in the country near Calgary and Friday morning came very early. We had no problem getting up and ready. After all, we wanted to find the perfect spot on the parade route.  In 1965 the Stampede theme was Year of the Cowboy. One of the Parade Marshals was silver screen legend Rex Allen (star of Colorado Sundown and countless other western movies.)

A photo of me in 1992 after a trip to the Stampede.

Before the Parade everyone chatted with their neighbours on the sidewalk. Meeting other kids from all over the world and across Canada. I was always amazed at how far people had travelled to be at the Stampede. The colourful floats were always a favourite of mine. My brother loved the horses and wagons, antique cars and fire trucks.

Everyone enjoyed the Shriners in their Tin Lizzy Cars. Band after band brought music to the city streets. The crowds were huge and everyone wore western clothing.

As if the excitement of the parade wasn’t enough for a seven year old, we then headed to the Stampede grounds!

By the time we pulled back into our driveway at home, my brothers, sisters and I would be fast asleep. We were happily exhausted from a day of many sights, sounds and excitement.  Cowboys on wild horses ran through our dreams!

Carol A. Douglas

Here is a poem I wrote about the Stampede.

A Half Mile Of Hell
By Carol A. Douglas

They’re smiling down from Heaven
On a half mile of Hell,
The challenge of the great race
Only the Legends can tell.

Around Heavens campfire
The best skinners sit a spell,
Talking of the old days
On the half mile of Hell.

The Cosgrave’s know the stories
From Calgary to Cheyenne,
Clem and Slim spin yarns
Of days living on the land.

There is no rain or snow
On Heavens wagon race.
George and Ronnie run the barrels
With Hank challenging the pace.

It’s not the prize money
That kept them coming back,
But the thunder of the hooves
On the dusty dirt track.

Grazing in the meadows
Are Blondie and Black Bill,
All those old great horses
Are up there running still.

There was a spirit in the West
Before the barbed wire came,
Cattle and men roamed free
The rancher ruled the plain.

When there’s thunder in the Heavens
And there’s lightning in the sky,
The Legends run the great race,
The wagons are running on high.

Me at the Stampede gates in 1970