Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canada's First Rodeo, 1890

The Wood Mountain Stampede, "121 years running and still going strong", not only holds the title as Canada's oldest rodeo - but also as Canada's longest continually running rodeo.  The Stampede is held annually on the weekend that includes the second Sunday in July (July 8, 9, & 10 in 2011).  It was even held through both World Wars because, although prairie men and boys volunteered to fight in record numbers, someone still had to run the farm or ranch back home.  The North West Mounted Police were sent to the Wood Mountain area of south central Saskatchewan (on Highway 18) to establish Queen Victoria's law in the late 1870s.  Sitting Bull had led his large Sioux tribe away from The Little Big Horn after defeating Custer in 1876 and the Canadian government was concerned that the Sioux would cause problems on this side of the border.  It charged Inspector James Morrow Walsh (of Fort Walsh fame) with maintaining control of what amounted to Canada's first peace-keeping mission.  Walsh succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, as he and Sitting Bull became close friends over the years, and there were never any serious problems caused by the American Indian settlers.  (Members of the tribe remain in the Wood Mountain area to this day.)  The village of Wood Mountain had a population of 20 as of June 2005.

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  Herewith, we start a two-week series on the Old West, and ... our steers arrived yesterday!