THE CPRA CELEBRATES CANADA’S 150TH BIRTHDAY WITH 150 OF CANADIAN RODEO’S GREATEST MOMENTS
*Send in your ideas for Great Canadian Rodeo Moments to be included in this feature - which will run throughout the 2017 CPRA season. Contributors whose suggestions are used will be eligible for CPRA merchandise prize draws. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Canadian Rodeo Moment #19
The year was 1978
The man they call Trapper won a record seventh Canadian bareback riding title.
Dale Trottier was simply one of the greatest bareback riding talents the rodeo world has ever seen. Born in Turner Valley, Alberta, Trapper—he got the nickname because he had his own registered trapline from the age of fifteen—surprisingly rode Saddle Bronc in the initial part of his career. He credits the legendary Kenny McLean with changing his career path. “I was at Kenny’s bronc riding school; they ran a bareback horse in and I got on him. Afterwards, Kenny said, ‘If you want to make money in this game, you better think about setting that bronc saddle aside and stay with the bareback riding’.”
The advice turned out to be pretty good and a legendary career followed. For thirteen years, from 1968 to 1980, Dale Trottier never finished lower than fourth in the Canadian standings. Included in that span was another record, his six bareback titles in a row—running from 1969 to 1974.
He was a three time NFR qualifier as well—1968, 1970 and 1972 and served for a time as a director with the CPRA. In 1983 he was accorded the honour—Cowboy of the Year.
With all that success, Trapper looks back on one of his greatest memories—not at a rodeo but at a rodeo school that he put on during the 70’s at Stampede Park in Calgary. Someone came up with the idea of a matched ride to show the students how it should be done. The match would pit Trottier on his favourite horse of all time—Harry Vold’s Necklace against Trapper’s rodeo hero, Malcolm Jones aboard the Stampede Hall of Fame mare, Cindy Rocket.
“It was a pretty special deal to ride against Malcolm and I’ve still got the rifle the Stampede gave me for winning that match.”
Dale Trottier was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1995.
Dwayne Erickson, longtime Calgary Herald writer famed for his coverage of rodeo, won the prestigious Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Media Award for Excellence in Print Journalism for the second time in his long career covering rodeo. Not only was Erickson the only Canadian ever to receive the award, he is one of only three men to win the award twice. The first time was in 2003.
A crusty writer with an endless desire for accuracy, Dwayne did not come from a rodeo background, but fell in love with the sport soon after being assigned to cover the spring rodeo in Edmonton some fifty years earlier.
Dwayne is an inductee in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2003 in the Builder category. Dwayne passed away in 2013 and his final column “Dwayne Erickson’s Notebook” in the Canadian Rodeo News was made up of tributes to Dwayne, many of them from the rodeo people he so admired and respected and who returned that respect many times over.
Stettler, Alberta-born cowboy, Winston Bruce, son of former stock contractor and old time saddle bronc rider, Laurence Bruce, rose to the top of the rodeo world as he won the World Saddle Bronc Riding Championship. This win came on the heels of his Canadian titles (1957 and '58) and, prior to that, a pair of novice championships in 1954 and ’55.
After a brilliant career in the arena that also included wins at Calgary and Cheyenne, Winston made the transition to the Calgary Stampede, serving for many years as the Rodeo Manager and Arena Director. It was during his tenure that the Stampede’s rodeo stock program gained prominence throughout the rodeo world.
Winston Bruce was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame at Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1989 (the first Canadian contestant to be inducted) and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1995.
* Thank you to Garry Reuther for this suggestion. Garry's name will be entered into a draw for CPRA merchandise.
Jerri Duce, a versatile cowgirl from Claresholm, Alberta became the first Canadian barrel racer to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. She would qualify for the NFR again in 1976 and 1977 (but did not compete due to injury) during a brilliant career that saw her win nine Canadian titles, the first when she was just twelve years-old.
But that was just one facet of this multi-talented cowgirl’s life in rodeo. She and sister Joy were the famed “Flying Duces” a trick riding act that performed at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal, at State Fair rodeos in Louisville, Kentucky, Indianapolis, Indiana, Rochester, Minnesota and Fort Worth, Texas, along with performances at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Madison Square Gardens in New York City and foreign stops in England, Scotland, Bermuda and Japan.
Jerri who still works with and mentors young trick riders today, was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1997.
* Thank you to Tom Reardon for this suggestion. Tom's name will be entered into a draw for CPRA merchandise.
Dalemead, Alberta cowboy, the late Dave MacDonald, wrote his name in professional rodeo’s record book, by qualifying for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in three events—bareback riding, calf roping and steer wrestling—in the same year (1975). He was, and still is, the only contestant to have done so.
Ironically, MacDonald would not win the Canadian All-Around title that year. That honour went to his cousin, Bob Hartell, and it’s fitting that the two men were inducted into the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame at the same time (2014) and at the same rodeo—the Strathmore Stampede.
In 1978, Dave MacDonald did win the Canadian All-Around title.
The year was 1961. Canadian bull riding icon Leo Brown became the first Canadian bull rider to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo.
But that wasn’t the only “first” for the man many regard as the greatest Canadian rough stock cowboy ever. Two years later, Brown became the first cowboy ever to ride all his bulls at the NFR in Los Angeles—going 8 for 8. And as if those accomplishments weren’t enough, Brown is also the only man to win Canadian championships in all three riding events; Bull Riding (1960, 1961, 1963, 1968 and 1973), saddle bronc riding (1962) and bareback riding (1958, 1960). He’s tied with Gid Garstad and Wilf Girletz for most Canadian bull riding titles, each having won it five times.
The Canadian Pro Rodeo and Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee was also a CRCA Board member, a stock contractor (Brown West Rodeo) and a longtime Wrangler Pro Official. Leo Brown—truly one of the greats.
* Thank you to Tom Reardon from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan for this suggestion. Tom's name will be entered into a draw for CPRA merchandise.
The year was 1988. Tim Ellis completed his first CFCW Rodeo Report in the spring of that year. 2017 will mark Tim’s 30th consecutive year producing rodeo reports for 840CFCW.
Tim also broadcasts live coverage of the Canadian Finals Rodeo each November and provides print rodeo coverage for the CPRA and Canadian Cowboy Country magazine. When he’s not at a rodeo, Tim can be found announcing play-by-play for the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Look for Tim Ellis’ RAM Rodeo Reports throughout rodeo season on CFCW and Rodeo Canada social media sites.
Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan native Mark Roy followed up his first Canadian Steer Wrestling win (1991) by capturing a second Canadian title, the NFR Steer Wrestling average and the World Steer Wrestling Championship. Mark was the first Canadian to win the World in the steer wrestling event.
The Canadian Pro Rodeo and Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Inductee went on to win the NFR average for a second time in 1996. Mark, who called Dalemead, Alberta home during and after a career that spanned three decades, retired in 2008.
The year was 1999. Canada Post issued a set of four 46-cent stamps honouring famous Canadian horses. Franklin Rodeo Company’s Hall of Fame gelding, Kingsway Skoal, was part of that elite groupwhich also included thoroughbred racing’s Northern Dancer, harness racing’s Armbro Flight and show jumping’s Big Ben.
In his amazing career, Kingsway Skoal won five Canadian saddle bronc titles, three Canadian bareback awards and was selected world champion bareback horse in 1988 and was twice named world champion saddle bronc (1995-96).
The cowboy getting bucked off on the saddle bronc image used for the stamp was CFR qualifier Ian Freeman.
* Thank you to Canadian Cowboy Country magazine editor, Terri Mason, for this suggestion. Terri's name will be entered into a draw for CPRA merchandise.
The year was 2015. Legendary tie-down roping horse, Sid, owned by CFR roper Dean Edge was named Canadian Professional Rodeo Association Tie-Down Horse of the Year for a record 7th time!
The 22-year-old grade gelding has been in Edge's stable since 2000. A popular choice among ropers over the years, the bay with the funny white spots has brought some of the biggest names in rodeo to pay windows across North America.
The world of Canadian tie-down roping is proud to have a horse like Sid.
The year was 1972. Canadian cowboy Mel Hyland became the first man to win both the Canadian and World saddle bronc riding titles in the same year.
Hyland would go on to win a second saddle bronc world championship in 1976 and a total of five Canadian titles (4 saddle bronc and one bareback). The singing cowboy was inducted into the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame (in Colorado Springs, CO) in 1999.
The year was 2010. In a sport where generational successes abound, no rodeo family has enjoyed more of that success than the Walter family of Lethbridge.
When Rana Walter Koopmans emerged as the Canadian barrel racing champion in 2010, she was the fourth member of that family to earn Canada’s top rodeo honour. Her dad, Oscar, was the 1979 tie-down roping champion; one year later, mom - Mary Lynn - won the barrel racing title while oldest daughter Raylee (Walter) Edwards enjoyed her moment in the spotlight in 2003. Rana’s victory made it a perfect ‘4 for 4’ for this outstanding rodeo family!
The year was 2008. Tie-down roper Cliff Williamson of Madden, Alberta capped off a remarkable career with his 29th Canadian Finals Rodeo appearance - a record that may never be broken.
During his storied career that began with a Rookie of the Year title in 1980, Williamson won five Canadian Championships, was named Cowboy of the Year at his final CFR in 2008 and was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2012.
The year was 1964. The first edition of the Canadian Rodeo News made its appearance.
It was while Pearl and Harold Mandeville were returning from competing at a rodeo in Toronto in 1963, that they first began talking about a rodeo newsletter to keep people posted on the latest goings on.
“The newsletter idea came up about Brandon, Manitoba,” Pearl recalls, “and by the time we got to Regina, it was a newspaper”.
And thus Canada’s professional rodeo newspaper was born. The Mandevilles sold subscriptions at the Edmonton Spring Rodeo, dispensed free copies of that first edition to anyone looking like they might have a ranch background and Harold even put free copies on the windshield of every car in the parking lot. The paper was printed in Taber (twice a month back then), and the Mandeville family dutifully headed to the town almost an hour away, picked up the pages and brought them home where Harold and Pearl, with the kids (Bryan and Vicky) assisting, collated, folded papers, then bundled them according to the towns they were destined for—and headed back to Taber for mailing. “Canada Post had a special rate that you only got if the publication was mailed from the same place it was printed”.
Four years later, the Mandevilles turned the publication over the to the CPRA. In 2014, the Canadian Rodeo News celebrated its fiftieth anniversary but sadly the last issue was published just a year later. Today, CPRA news and features are in a special section (Pro Rodeo Canada Insider) of Canadian Cowboy Country magazine.
The year was 2004. Wildwood, Alberta’s Rod Hay laid claim to his eighth saddle bronc riding title - establishing a record for ‘most championships by a bronc rider’ in Canada.
That eighth buckle broke the tie with fellow superstar Mel Coleman. Hay, who has 20 WNFR qualifications to his credit and four Calgary Stampede wins, was named Canada’s Cowboy of the Year in 2014. He was among the first Canadian cowboys to top the million dollar career earnings mark.
The year was 1981. Midnight became the first animal to be inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
This black gelding was foaled on the Cottonwood Ranch in the Porcupine Hills, west of Fort Macleod, Alberta, in 1916. His mother was a thoroughbred mare; his sire a Percheron/Morgan cross. Due to the horse’s unreliable nature, Midnight’s owner, Jim McNab gave up on making the gelding into a saddle horse and decided to try him as a bucking horse at some of the local rodeos around the country. His reputation quickly grew as he reportedly bucked off all contestants until Pete Knight rode him in 1926.
After being sold into the US, Midnight was featured at major rodeos in the country; he was retired at the conclusion of the 1933 Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Midnight died in November, 1936 and was buried on the McCarty-Elliott Ranch in Johnstown, Colorado. Later his remains were moved to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Midnight was also inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
His head stone in Oklahoma City reads:
“Under this sod lies a great bucking hoss.
There never lived a cowboy he couldn’t toss.
His name was Midnight; his coat black as coal.
If there is a hoss-heaven, please, God, rest his soul.”
The year was 1977. Jim Gladstone became the first Canadian to win a timed event world title when he emerged as the World Champion Calf Roper at the (then) sudden-death NFR, pocketing $7166 in go round money and winning the average as well for a $5000 bonus. His total time of 119.7 seconds for ten calves was a record at the time, eclipsing the old mark by five and a half seconds, not bad considering he was nursing a broken finger throughout the final.
Gladstone who was born on the Blood Reserve north of Cardston, Alberta, and went on to a successful career in the legal profession, was the son of Canadian Rodeo Hall of Famer Fred Gladstone and grandson of Canadian Senator, James Gladstone. Jim, who passed away in 2015, remains the only Canadian to have won the Tie Down Roping World Championship.
The year was 1979. The Meadow Lake Stampede was the setting for one of the greatest saddle bronc rides of all time.Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Legend, Doug Vold, rode the Verne Franklin Rodeo Canadian Hall of Fame bronc, Transport, to a CPRA and PRCA record 95 points (a score that was equalled by 2002 World Champion Glen O'Neill on another Franklin bronc - Skoal Air Wolf - at Innisfail Pro Rodeo in 1996). Vold, a six time CFR qualifier, made the spectacular ride on a horse that was at every Canadian Finals Rodeo from 1974 until his retirement in 1991. Transport also appeared at the National Finals Rodeo 15 times and lived to ripe old age of 32.
* Thank you to Cyndi Gomersall for suggesting this Great Canadian Rodeo Moment. Cyndi’s name will be entered into a draw for CPRA merchandise.
The year was 1974. Canadian Professional Rodeo had grown to the point that a high level national championship was needed. The CPRA (then the CRCA) set out to put together a governing body to bring the dream to fruition. That led to the formation of the Canadian National Finals Rodeo Commission including Bob Robinson, CRCA President; Len Perry, Chairman of the Edmonton Spring Rodeo Committee and Edmonton Northlands Director; C.N (Chunky Woodward, prominent retailer and rancher and Jerry D’Arcy, president of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
The Canadian Finals Rodeo was staged that fall at the Edmonton Gardens with a total purse of $29,278 and attracted it almost 30,000 fans. The CFR moved to the Edmonton Coliseum the following year—and 43 years later, the coliseum remains its home.
*Send in your ideas for Great Canadian Rodeo Moments to be included in this feature - which will run throughout the 2017 CPRA season. Contributors whose suggestions are used will be eligible for CPRA merchandise prize draws.