When Guy Weadick - vaudevillian, Wild West performer and promoter extraordinaire - arrived in Calgary in 1912, the city was beginning to forget its cowboy roots. But Weadick understood the drawing power of the Old West. With his wife, Florence (Flores) LaDue, a famous rider and performer in her own right, Weadick had worked the vaudeville circuit all across North America and Europe, performing rope tricks in a fifteen minute western act. Yet despite his popularity in the United States and Europe, it would be in Calgary that Weadick would become both a local star and the founder of the greatest frontier celebration the West had ever seen.
In 1912, Weadick traveled to Calgary, where he met with H.C. McMullen, a livestock agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The two of them put together a program for a frontier show. Not only did they envision a cowboy championship; the celebration would also honour the cowboys, ranchers and old-timers of the Old West. Confident that their "show" would be a success, the pair began canvassing local Calgary businessmen in an attempt to solicit the near $100,000 needed to make it happen. When the initial response was less than encouraging, Weadick and McMullen gained the support of George Lane, owner of the Bar U Ranch; two other well-to-do ranchers, Pat Burns and A.E. Cross; and Archie Maclean, provincial secretary. The first ever Calgary Stampede was set for September 2-7, 1912, when ranchers and farmers had finished the harvesting and would be free to attend.
Virtually no expense was spared. Weadick arranged for 200 head of Mexican steers, 200 bucking steers, and wild horses to be brought in from the ranches around Calgary. In order to entice top quality competitors, $20,000 in championship money and world championship titles were offered. Considering the fact that the prize monies quadrupled that of any other championship competitions in North America, it is no surprise that competitors from all across the continent registered to attend the Calgary Stampede in 1912. Weadick was careful to ensure the involvement of the local first peoples as well, and nearly 2,000 Natives took part in the Stampede parade.
Following on the success of the Calgary Stampede, Guy Weadick continued promoting his Old West shows. He remained with the Calgary Stampede for the next twenty years - inviting the best rodeo performers, starting the first chuckwagon races, and offering top prize money. With his charisma and vision, he made Calgary into the frontier town it now becomes for ten days every July. Although he spent a great deal of his life traveling around the world promoting his western shows and even went on to become the owner and operator of the famed Stampede Ranch south of Calgary, Guy Weadick will be most often remembered by Albertans as the father of the Calgary Stampede.