It looks like summer has officially arrived here. Perfect timing, as the Calgary Stampede is underway now and for the next week. I know I’ve written about the Stampede before, but this year is special. This year, the Stampede is 100 years old. That’s right. It started as a much smaller event 100 years ago and today it’s bigger, better, more controversial, and still the biggest party in Canada at this time of year.
Due to work and my busy schedule this summer, this weekend would have been my only opportunity to attend the Stampede. However, I opted out this year. It’s a big party, and the rodeo is SO much fun, but it’s also expensive, we’re in the midst of our first real heat wave of the summer – not my favourite time, as you may recall – and actually, the rodeo is sold out. You can’t even get tickets to the rodeo or chuckwagon races now. If I’d planned ahead, I would have purchased rodeo tickets but oh well. There’s always next year. 😉
Anyway, I started to think about all the things that may have changed in this city, and for the Stampede, over the past one hundred years. Back in 1912, Alberta was a new province and most of the economy was dependent on farming and ranching. Oil wasn’t a huge part of the industry in Alberta at that point. Calgary was home to a small contingent of businesses and ranch settlements.
I’m looking at a picture of Calgary right now, circa 1885, and there are a few buildings, mostly homes, and what looks like a church in one spot. Having only lived in Calgary since 1992, it’s hard for me to imagine that it was once contained in such a small area. So much has changed in 100 hundred years. I know, that should go without saying but when you think of all the progress and technology that has been born in the past century, it’s strange to think of how we all once got along out here with a few horses, farm animals and a growing railway.
There’s something so romantic about the old West, isn’t there? Sure there is, it’s why that genre of romance remains one of the most popular in the reading/book industry today. Even stories about modern-day cowboys and cowgirls are wildly popular. 🙂 For my part, I prefer other genres of romance, as you know, but I do enjoy thinking about what it might have been like to live in those golden olden days.
I remember being younger, loving horses and ponies, and wishing we could live on a farm. I recall one day telling my mom wouldn’t it be nice to live like they did in the old days, with no cars, and no pollution? She said, sure. But there’d also be no electricity, no heated and insulated homes, no running water, no garbage service, no health care, etc, etc. I reconsidered and decided having warm running water was a benefit I’d miss greatly.
On the other hand, there would be no pollution, more natural eating choices, a greater sense of community, a closeness to family and neighbours that is missing these days, it seems. There was an overall simplicity to life back then that I can appreciate, however hard the days might have been and how cold the winters. Perhaps it’s why I enjoy living outside the city now.
Of course, if I had no electricity, that means no internet and no computer and no writing. 😉 I could write long-hand, just like I used to when I was younger but that would definitely mean less writing overall. I’d be too busy cutting wood, hauling water from the well, tending the garden, baking biscuits and prepping the side of beef for cutting into portions. 😀
I’ve gone off on a bit of tangent here, but I’m sure you’re all used to that by now. I’ve never lived anywhere but in a city – until recently – and as much as I love the idea and romance of living in the Old West, there were certainly a lot of problems and troubles to the era that we often forget about or fail to mention when reminiscing. Disease, lawlessness, deadly heat and cold. Hmm. Then again, we do have disease today, and different degrees of lawlessness, and isn’t a large portion of the US suffering from one of the deadliest heat waves in recent history? Maybe the Wild West hasn’t changed all that much after all.
For now, I’ll leave you with a friendly reminder that if you’re Stampeding this week, to be safe and smart. If you’re elsewhere in the world, try to stay cool and drink lots of water. Or stay warm and read a good book inside, if you’re able. Maybe something about the Old West, with rugged cowboys and dainty damsels. 😉
As always, take care and happy reading!