Greetings from the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!

Main gate, 1953

calgary stampede historic Photo: Calgary Public Library

Approximately 120,000 people visit the Calgary Stampede each day, making it the third largest city in Alberta for 10 days in July.

Promotional poster, 1912

calgary stampede historic-9 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Over 100,000 people attended the very first Stampede, which took place over a handful of days in September 1912. It didn’t become an annual event until 1923, and it wasn’t until 1968 that it was extended to 10 days. Pictured in the poster above are the “Big Four” — A.E. Cross, A.J. MacLean, Pat Burns and George Lane — businessmen who contributed $100,000 to the first show.

Parade, 1912

calgary stampede historic-7 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Some 850 “parade-broke” horses walk the two-hour Stampede Parade route every year.

Parade, year unknown

calgary stampede historic-8 Photo: Calgary Public Library

The Calgary Stampede has had many famous parade marshals over the years, including Walt Disney, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Christopher Reeves and the Three Stooges.

Steer roping world champion Lucille Mulhall, 1912

Calgary stampede historic-14 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Miss Lucille Mulhall raises her arm in victory after roping a calf with lightning speed.

Fallen rider and victorious bull, year unknown

Calgary Stampede history Photo: Calgary Public Library

The first Calgary Stampede rodeo awarded $20,000 to competitors, which, adjusted for inflation, is about $420,670 today. Nowadays the competition hands out $2 million in total prize money, one of the sport’s richest purses.

Promotional foldout, year unknown

calgary stampede historic-3 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Some 30,000 Calgary Stampede promotional posters are distributed around the world every year.

Chuckwagon race, year unknown

Calgary stampede historic-15 Photo: Calgary Public Library

The founder of the Calgary Stampede, Guy Weadick, invented the sport of chuckwagon racing in 1923 when participants competed for $275 in prize money. In 2009, the total purse available to racers was $1.15 million.

Newly constructed ski jump behind the old grandstand, 1921

Calgary Stampede history-1 calgary stampede historic-4 Photos: Calgary Public LibraryCalgary Public Library

The first photograph was taken during the 1921 Stampede and shows a 75-foot ski jump that was built as part of a plan to have a mid-winter kind of Stampede. The event was held a number of months later (second photo) and pulled in approximately $5,000, which didn’t cover the $8,000 it cost to build the jump in the first place. The so-called Calgary Winter Carnival never made it as an annual event.

Saddle bronc rider, 1912

calgary stampede historic-1 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Greetings from the Stampede City postcard, year unknown

Calgary Stampede history-1 Photo: Calgary Public Library

While no exact date is given for this promotional postcard, based on the shape of the skyline, it looks to be from the late 1940s or early 1950s.

City Hall welcome sign during Stampede Week, year unknown

calgary stampede historic-10 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Calgary City Hall welcomes the world to the Stampede in this undated photo. A special welcome, of course, to England and her territories as the Union Jack flies on the building’s spire.

Cowboy Russ Greenwood balancing on his horse who is balancing on two chairs, year unknown

calgary stampede historic-2 Photo: Calgary Public Library

Russ Greenwood and his horse, Little Beaver, perform a circus-like balancing act much to the delight of the crowd.

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