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The Calgary Stampede has changed a lot since I attended as an 18 year old. It is far larger in every aspect, more midway, more food wagons, more shows and a more extravagant grandstand show. We managed to see almost everything in four days. What made it easier was having expert guides with us, Marg and Jack Dunphy, friends with whom we biked the Danube last year, who also provided us with excellent accommodation.
Oh, when is Ottawa’s promised subway going to be finished? We donned our borrowed cowboy hats each morning and headed to the Calgary CTrain which made it a breeze to get to the Stampede site. We arrived in time to take in several of the smaller, good quality shows and the Indian Village before heading to the Grandstand. Highlights for us were certainly the finals of the Cowboy Up Challenge, featuring riders timed as they manoeuvred around increasingly difficult obstacles, the famous and heart-stopping chuckwagon races followed by a well choreographed Canada booster show complete with dancers, singers, and fireworks and the afternoon rodeo with all the bronco busting, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and ladies barrel racing you expect of a rodeo. How did we survive the four days? Well, our afternoon break in the wine bar helped. Besides the wine, an excellent photography show and displays of arts and crafts in the same building made it enjoyable break.
Before we left the Richardsons on Pender Island, we promised to see their son, Nigel, who lives in Calgary with his wife, Megan, and their three children. We were glad we did. We enjoyed a good lunch on Prince Island Park and caught up with all their news.
Calgary was also a time to reconnect with friends from my school days. Marg and I discovered that Evie Monk Wallace, with whom she bikes and hikes, was a classmate of mine in Montreal. We arranged to meet and hike for a few hours in one of their favourite parks in the Calgary hills.
An appropriate ending to our visit to Calgary came with dinner the last night with Ann Collins Seymour, a classmate of both Marg and me at Bishop’s University. It is amazing how easy it is to reconnect, despite the intervening years.
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