Chronological History of the Calgary Stampede

1884 Calgary was incorporated as a town and was home to 500 people. The Calgary and District Agricultural Society was formed.

1886 The first fair was produced by the Calgary and District Agricultural Society on October 19 and 20.

1888 The Agricultural Society purchased 94 acres of land from the Dominion of Canada and shortly thereafter began to improve the site with a race track, cattle sheds and an exhibition building. This land on the Elbow River has continued to be the site of Calgary’s exhibition since then.

1889 The Agricultural Society purchases 94 acres of land from the Dominion of Canada. The Exhibition lands were christened Victoria Park. This land on the Elbow River continues to be the site of the Calgary Stampede. 

1899 After defaulting on its mortgage, the Agricultural Society is reorganized as the Inter-Western Pacific Exhibition Company. The exhibition grounds pass in 1901 to the City of Calgary, which begins leasing “Victoria Park” back to the Exhibition Company for $1 per year.  

1908 Calgary was the host for the Dominion Exhibition. Government funds supported the construction of an exhibits building, the roofed grandstand, the livestock exhibits building and several barns.

1911 Parimutuel betting (a system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool) was introduced at the horse races. A new livestock and horse show arena was built.

1912 Guy Weadick produced the first “Frontier Days and Cowboy Championship Contest” soon to be known as the Calgary Stampede. The Big Four – Pat Burns, George Lane, A.E Cross and A.J. Maclean – provided financial backing.

1919 Guy Weadick returned to Calgary to produce the second Stampede, called the Victory Stampede in honour of the end of World War I. The original Agriculture Building with the Victoria Pavilion was completed.

1923 The “Calgary Stampede” merged with the “Calgary Industrial Exhibition” to form the “Calgary Exhibition & Stampede.” Guy Weadick moved to Calgary to produce an annual Stampede at the same time as the Exhibition. He invented chuckwagon racing, downtown attractions and the other community activities that brand the Stampede today.

1946 Patsy Rodgers is crowned the first Calgary Stampede Queen.  

1950 The Stampede Corral opens as an exhibits building, an entertainment venue, and home ice for the Calgary Stampeder Hockey Club. 

1954 Fifteen acres between the east boundary of Stampede Park and the Elbow River were added to the lease. Stampede Park’s total land base was then 114 acres.

1956 The selection of an honorary Parade Marshal becomes an annual event. 

1959 The Big Four Building officially opened and included exhibition space and the world’s largest indoor curling rink during the winter. Queen Elizabeth II makes her second visit to the Stampede – her first as Queen. 

1961 The Calgary Stampede Ranch is established to ensure quality bucking stock through its “Born to Buck” breeding program.  

1964 The Stampede puts together a locally produced Grandstand Show that includes the Calgary Kidettes. By 1968, the group evolves into The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede. 

1965 The Calgary Exhibition & Stampede considered several expansion options, including Lindsay Park, Lincoln Park and Victoria Park but remained in its Victoria Park location.

1968 City Council approved Stampede Park expansion north to 14 Avenue S.E. Under the agreement, no houses could be removed without city approval and not until alternative accommodation was found for the residents. Community studies and consultation began. The Stampede becomes a 10-day event.

1974 A new larger grandstand with a 5/8th mile racetrack and infield was built. The Indian Village was relocated, Suntree Park was completed and the Kinsmen Elbow River Park initiated.

1977 An independent study reflected the rising power of the tourist and entertainment industry and recommended large versatile facilities based on a grand, themed western motif, renewing interest in Stampede Park expansion.

1980 Olympic organizers recognized that a major arena was a prerequisite for the city’s bid for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games; the Coliseum (Saddledome) was built.

1981 The original Roundup Centre was completed.

1983 The Saddledome was officially opened as home ice for the Calgary Flames and as the first Olympics venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics. 

1985 The first Aggie Days event is held, connecting urban residents to rural ways of life. 

1990 Calgary Exhibition & Stampede released its "Horizon 2000" expansion plan.

1991 Results of the community-initiated Spirit of Stampede workshop supported growth and development of the Stampede as a year-round tourist attraction in conjunction with redevelopment of the surrounding Victoria community as a high-density mixed-use residential, office, retail, and entertainment precinct.

1996 The Calgary Stampede Foundation is formed, with a focus on youth education and leadership.

2001 Stampede Park invested $7 million in a state-of-the-art Grandstand Stage, and more than $1 million in Park and Elbow River bank beautification.

2004 Calgary Exhibition & Stampede released an updated and detailed expansion and development plan—a 15-year, $550 million package of projects.

2005 An environmental committee was formed to address growing need to minimize the organization’s environmental footprint though recycling, reducing and adopting operational practices that respect our land, water, and air.

2006 Property acquisitions were completed (Stampede Park was then 193 acres). Calgary City Council approved land use for Stampede Park, opening the way for development to begin. Stampede Park Development Plan projects begin with the construction of a new and relocated Stampede Casino. This marked the first major step in fulfilling the vision of developing a world-class, year-round gathering place for Calgarians and visitors.

2007 Work began on the $50 million expansion of the Roundup Centre, fully funded through Government of Alberta grants. The additional 50,000-square-feet of exhibition space will meet growing demand in the city and will be completed by late Summer 2009.

January 2008 The Public Art program was launched with a mandate to create 10 heroic-sized bronze sculptures for Stampede Park and possible locations in downtown Calgary. The first three pieces are set to be unveiled in 2009.

February 2008 A $65-million investment was announced to build a state-of-the-art agriculture facility and redevelop up to 50 acres of Stampede Park. The new facility will be located in the Grandstand infield with construction set to begin immediately following Stampede 2009.

March 2008 The new Stampede Casino was sold to an outside partner, allowing the Calgary Stampede to reinvest revenue into other development projects.

2009 The Roundup Centre was renamed BMO Centre when BMO Financial Group acquired the naming rights to the building in the largest corporate sponsorship in Stampede history. “Christie Crossing” is completed as an environmentally friendly structure, and the first vehicular cable-stay bridge in Alberta.  

2010 An Animal Care Advisory Panel of leading experts is established to help identify new ways to enhance animal care.

2011 Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visit the Calgary Stampede as part of their Canadian tour. 

2012 The Calgary Stampede celebrates its 100th anniversary, with a community-wide celebration of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Bill Siebens donates the OH Ranch to the Calgary Stampede Foundation. By the Banks of the Bow statue is installed and unveiled

2013 On June 21, two weeks before the annual 10-day Stampede, southern Alberta suffers massive flooding, leaving nearly all of Stampede Park under water. By Sneak-a-Peak on Thursday, July 4, the Infield and track have been completely rebuilt, 63 buildings (or parts of buildings) have been remediated and Stampede opens its gates on time to welcome 1.1 million guests over the next 10 days.

Future

2014 Agrium Western Event Centre, a state-of-the-art facility for western events and agriculture education, exhibition and industry in southern Alberta, set to open. Designed to form a lasting connection between urban and rural communities, it will host an inquiry-based, globally-focused educational program called Journey 2050.

2015 Riverfront Park opens. Along the Elbow River, 30 acres are being transformed into a beautiful new inner city public park and gathering place. Riverfront Park will be a scenic celebration of western heritage and the environment.

2017 Youth Campus opens. Youth Campus will provide young people with a vital creative area focused on developing strong western cultural roots through education and the performing arts.