Canadian Geographic
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Calgary Stampede, The

Stampede in the city

Each July, Calgary is flooded with guests arriving from all over the world to attend the Calgary Stampede. The streets become a sea of cowboy hats and Western attire. For 10 days, the whole city joins in on welcoming visitors and taking part in the local festivities.

Often referred to as “Stampede City”, Calgary has integrated the Stampede as a major part of its identity over the last 100 years. With steady annual tourism, the Stampede has also become an integral part of Calgary's economy. Local businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops gladly welcome the surplus of wild-west lovers each summer.

Since 1912, the entire city has embraced the Western spirit decorating storefronts in the theme of the old west and donning their best Western wear and dancing in the street. The traditional pancake breakfast began in 1923, when a chuckwagon driver set up his wagon downtown. Their cook fired up his grill and began to doll-out pancakes to the crowd. Since then, community groups throughout Calgary have hosted pancake breakfasts for visitors and locals alike. Today, the Calgary Stampede Caravan Committee shows off Western hospitality by hosting free breakfasts and feeding over 100, 000 people over 10 days.

Since 1948, tourists and non-residents have been welcomed to the city by being presented with white cowboy hats during the White Hat Ceremony. The hat symbolizes that they have become honourary Calgarians and must spread the word of Calgary hospitality.

On the first Friday of the festival, the official Calgary Stampede Parade kicks off the celebration. The position of Parade Marshal has held special significance in the city since the time of the Calgary Industrial Exhibition at the turn of the century when James ‘Cappy’ Smart held the first position until 1939. Since 1956, notable figures have held the honourary title each year, such as the Man in Motion Rick Hansen in 2011.

Hundreds of floats, horses, cowboys, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Treaty 7 First Nations, midway clowns, marching bands and local politicians and celebrities take part in the Calgary Stampede Parade. It draws in nearly 400,000 guests and an even larger viewership from its national and international television coverage.


This piece contains two slideshows. The first slideshow outlines the history of the Stampede Parade and other events that show the spirit of the event throughout Calgary. The second takes the viewer through the Stampede Parade experience. Both use historical and contemporary images.


On the next page:

Western experience

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Quiz :

How many volunteers assist with the Calgary Stampede?