By Jesse Robitaille
A century after Calgarians dedicated “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” to soldiers returning from the First World War, the Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a pure silver coin commemorating the 1919 “Victory Stampede.”
The coin – as well as this year’s Calgary Stampede parade, which kicks off the 10-day event on July 5 – marks the 100th anniversary of the first rodeo after the Great War.
This historic “Victory Stampede” was officially opened by Brigadier-General H.F. McDonald, then commander of Military District 13 at Camp Sarcee in Calgary. It was only the second stampede ever held in the Alberta city.
Despite success with the inaugural event in 1912, the stampede didn’t become an annual affair in Calgary until 1923. A year after that first stampede, promoter Guy Weadick moved the event to Winnipeg and then to the U.S. and abroad until the end of the First World War.
In 1919, four Calgary businessmen – now known as the “Big Four” – invited Weadick back to Calgary to organize a “Victory Stampede” to mark the Great War’s end. As war-time inflation and poor crop yields jeopardized attendance, the city declared a civic holiday in an attempt to increase the turnout. That year’s stampede sold nearly 57,500 admissions – $1 for admission and 50 cents for a grandstand seat – but barely broke even, with no profits to distribute to its charity beneficiaries.
While it wasn’t a financial success, the Victory Stampede inspired the organization of Calgary’s third stampede in 1923 – and every year since.
“The Calgary Stampede is an unforgettable celebration of Alberta’s pioneering spirit and thriving western culture,” said Marie Lemay, Mint president and CEO. “As this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Victory Stampede, this coin is also a great way to remember the soldiers who defended our freedoms and values in the First World War.”
This year, the honorary parade marshal is Brigadier-General Stephen Lacroix, commander of the 3rd Canadian Division, who will ride in the parade escorted by two officers from the Lord Strathcona Mounted Troop.
$20 SILVER COIN
On July 4, a day before the 2019 stampede begins, the Mint is slated to launch the $20 Victory Stampede coin at Stampede Park, where members of the Canadian Armed Forces will also be honoured for their service to the country.
Calgary artist Michelle Grant’s design on the coin’s reverse captures the excitement of the roping competition, which was one of many rodeo events on the Victory Stampede program. The 57,000 spectators in attendance on the last week of August 1919 were regaled by cowboys and cowgirls showing off their skills in bronco riding, fancy roping, trick riding, relay races and more.
In the foreground of the historic stampede scene, a selectively gold-plated cowboy riding atop his galloping steed tightly holds the reins in one hand while the other twirls a stranded rawhide lariat traditionally used for roping livestock. The gold-plated rim emulates the pattern of the four-strand lariat while the coin’s field includes spectators admiring the show from the original grandstands.
The obverse features the gold-plated effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
The coin has a mintage of 6,500 pieces and is being sold for $119.95.
The Mint will also be at the stampede from July 5-7 to offer this and other collectibles at BMO Marketplace, in the heart of Stampede Park.
RCM AT RCNA
Later that month, the Mint is also slated to return to Calgary for the 2019 Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) Convention.
From July 18-20, the Mint will display the Victory Stampede coin plus many other collectibles, including those from the Crown corporation’s research and development lab. The Mint will also be hosting coin exchanges to offer show-goers a chance to acquire the recently released $1 “Equality” and $2 “D-Day 75” circulation coins.
For more information about the 2019 RCNA Convention, visit rcna.ca/2019/program.php.
2012 STAMPEDE COINS
In 2012, the Mint issued a 25-cent coloured coin, a silver dollar, a $50 silver coin and a $500 five-ounce gold coin celebrating the Calgary Stampede’s centennial.
Also designed by Grant, the coins’ central designs feature six-time world champion bucking bronco “Grated Coconut” ridden by a bareback cowboy.
Grated Coconut’s “CS” shoulder freeze brand and “G-65” hip brand plus the rider’s “1912” competitor number are all shown within a curling frame of intricate leather tooling inspired by the trophy saddle of Flores Ladue, who was the wife of Stampede founder Weadick.
For more information, visit mint.ca.