Calgary Stampede 2015

July 3-12 2015

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Calgary Stampede

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Building the Stampede!




Patsy Rodgers was crowned the first Calgary Stampede Queen in 1946 to be an ambassador for the Stampede. Patsy was a popular queen, and inspired the creation of an annual competition. Initially, communities or businesses sponsored candidates and people bought tickets to support her to become queen. Money raised went to local charities. In 1964, ticket sales were replaced with a competition based on horsemanship and rhetoric, and ladies-in-waiting became Princesses. Today’s Stampede Queen and Princesses attend more than 400 events a year.  



Sports have always been at the heart of Stampede Park. At one time, car racing and horse racing were held on the track. In the winter, the Victoria Hall animal stalls were converted into curling sheets, and hockey was played in the Victoria Arena. In 1950, the Stampede built the Corral, the largest hockey arena west of Maple Leaf Gardens. It became the home to the Calgary Stampeders hockey team, and in 1984 Stampede wrestling. It was home ice for the Calgary Flames while the Saddledome was under construction, and hosted hockey and figure skating during the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Corral 360

  • The Calgary Canadians won the Canadian junior championship in 1926. Their home ice was the Victoria Pavilion. 
  • In 1960, the Big Four building became home to 48 curling sheets, making it the world’s largest indoor curling rink.
  • The Stampede Corral has 6450 seats. The seats used to be colour coded to reflect the cost of the ticket. 
  • The Corral used technology that allowed them to make ice in 34 hours. 
  • The first hockey game played in the Corral was between the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Flyers; Calgary won 5-0. 
  • Between 1988 and 1992, the Saddledome was home to the Calgary 88s, part of the World Basketball League.

In 1961 the Stampede acquired the 23,000 acre Calgary Stampede Ranch, located near Hanna, Alberta. It became home to the Stampede’s “Born to Buck” program, which produces some of the world’s best rodeo stock.   



In 1964 the Calgary Stampede hired Randolph “Randy” Avery to create a locally-produced Grandstand show that could rival the variety shows at American State Fairs, and even the Ed Sullivan Show. Avery’s featured performers were the Calgary “Kidettes,” a singing and dancing troupe led by Margot McDermott. The success of the Kidettes and Avery’s show was immediate. In 1968, the Kidettes evolved into the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, who still perform nightly during the Stampede’s TransAlta Grandstand Show.



Long committed to educating the community about agriculture, the Stampede’s platform to do so broadened in 1985 with the creation of Aggie Days. The first program was a small event held in the Agriculture barns, where local school children could interact with livestock and learn where their food comes from. Since then, Aggie Days has grown substantially. Today, it is a 5-day event that hosts approximately 9,000 school children and is free and open to the general public on the weekend.

The first Aggie Days took place in the Agriculture barns
Aggie Days expanded to include more demonstrations like sheep shearing and cow milking
Aggie Days moved to the BMO Centre
Aggie Days moved to the Nutrien Western Event Centre

The Development of Stampede Park

When the Calgary Agricultural Society purchased Victoria Park in 1889, it came with a string attached: the Park was to be used for no purpose other than hosting fairs and exhibitions as a community gathering space. The Stampede remained true to this purpose.

By the 1960s, attendance at the annual Stampede had skyrocketed, and the Stampede was looking to expand. After failed bids to expand to Lindsay Park or move to Lincoln Park, the Stampede—working with the City of Calgary—began to expand north into Victoria Park. 



The expansion has been controversial, but the additional space has allowed for the construction of the Saddledome—and subsequently helped Calgary win the 1988 Winter Olympics—as well the BMO Centre and new casino.

1888 – Agricultural Society purchased Victoria Park from the government of Canada

1901 – City of Calgary purchased Victoria Park; leased it back to Exhibition Company for $1 per year

1911, 1916, 1921 – City renewed 5-year lease of Victoria Park

1954 – Stampede Park expanded east to the Elbow River

1960 – City of Calgary approved 50-year lease of Stampede Park

1965 – The Stampede looked to expand into Lindsay Park or move to Lincoln Park. Instead remained in Victoria Park.

1968 – Calgary City Council approved Stampede Park expansion north to 14th Avenue S.E.; granted Stampede $4 million over 20 years to facilitate the expansion of Stampede Park into Victoria Park to 14th Avenue S.E.

1974 – A new larger grandstand with a 5/8th mile racetrack and infield was built; repositioned to the south-east corner of Stampede Park.

1979 – The Skyride opened

1981 – Construction of the original Round Up Centre (now the BMO Centre) was completed.

1983 – The Saddledome officially opened as home ice for the Calgary Flames and as the first Olympics venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics.

1988 – Stampede began purchasing properties in Victoria Park north of 14th Avenue SE

1991 – The Stampede released its development and expansion plan called Horizon 2000, which proposed expansion to the railway tracks

2007 – City of Calgary approved 100-year lease of Stampede Park

2009 – BMO Centre expanded by 50,000-square-feet of exhibition space

100 Years of Royalty


Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited the Calgary Stampede as part of their Canadian tour. They officially launched the Stampede Parade and attended a special rodeo. In doing so, Will and Kate joined a long line of British royals who have attended the Stampede, signifying the Stampede's international reputation.

Past royal visits included:

1912 – The Duke and Duchess of Connaught (Canada’s Governor General and son of Queen Victoria) attended the inaugural Stampede

1923 – Edward, Prince of Wales, presented a special Prince of Wales trophy to the 1923 bronc riding champion, Pete Vandermeer. A private ceremony was held on the Prince’s ranch near Pekisko, the EP Ranch.

1939 – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended the Stampede as part of their royal tour

1951 – Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Calgary in October. A special Stampede was held in their honour.

1958 – Princess Margaret attended

1959 – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip made their second visit to the Calgary Stampede, where they toured Indian Village and watched the chuckwagon races.

1968 – the Duke and Duchess of Kent opened the Stampede on July 4th and rode in the Stampede parade

1973 – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip made their third visit to the Calgary Stampede and officially opened the occasion. The Duke of Edinburgh was an honoured guest.

1977 – Prince Andrew and Prince Charles honoured Alberta First Nations on the hundredth anniversary of the signing of Treaty 7. They led the Parade as Grand Marshal and officially opened the Stampede

2005 – Premier Ralph Klein hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on Stampede Park for a luncheon in May. 600 special guests were invited to lunch with the Queen.

2011 – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Calgary Stampede

The Next Hundred Years


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