Rodeos may have started as a way for vaqueros or cowboys to strut their “stuff” in competitions, but they ended up becoming an important part of Western culture — both in the US and Canada. You’ve probably heard of the famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show with its historical shooting and riding events. Even the Queen of England attended it!

When did rodeo get started as entertainment? The Wild West show played for Queen Victoria in 1887. After that, Buffalo Bill took the show on tour performing everywhere from the Paris Exposition of 1889 ( which was attended by 32 million people checking out the newly-completed Eiffel Tower) to Outer Mongolia.

But even before Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was spreading across Europe, back here in Saskatchewan the town of Wood Mountain started what’s believed to be Canada’s oldest continuous rodeo.

Trivia Question

What year did the NWMP (North West Mounted Police — now known as the RCMP or Royal Canadian Mounted Police) first hold its Wood Mountain Sports day with horse events to celebrate Canada’s birthday? (Find the answer under the History of Rodeo tab above.)

 

Bull riding at the Pilot Butte Rodeo.

Bull riding at the Pilot Butte Rodeo.

The NWMP started holding Wood Mountain Sports events, inviting local ranchers and cowboys to participate, as early as 1890. At the time, Wood Mountain was one of the most important law enforcement posts in an area of the province that had its own wild west happening.

Saskatchewan’s Wild West History

Horse thieves, cattle rustlers, bank robbers and other outlaws had their own Saskatchewan hangout. Station #1, on the infamous Outlaw Trail. The trail came up from Mexico and disappeared into the Big Muddy Badlands near Coronach. Summer tours of this fascinating, and virtually unknown, part of Saskatchewan history, are a great way to spend a day. I’ve taken the Badlands tour three times and have learned new things each time from my local guides.

Likely those first NWMP competitions had a host of competitors whose spurs clanged on both sides of the law! How would it feel to be held up by outlaws? If you’d like to find out, you can take the Southern Prairie Railway tour that includes a train robbery by outlaws on horseback. The train leaves from Ogema in southwestern Saskatchewan, for a three hour time-travelling adventure. Check out the dates here.

But, getting back to rodeo. While exhibitions of skill were popular across the west throughout the late 1800s, rodeos didn’t get established as an attraction with admission fees until after the turn of the 20th Century. The Canadian Encyclopedia lists the Raymond, Alberta, rodeo of 1903 as the first official Canadian rodeo. And of course, the Calgary Stampede, first held in 1912, is Canada’s most well known rodeo event.

See a Rodeo This Summer in Saskatchewan

Steer wrestling at the Pilot Butte rodeo.

Steer wrestling at the Pilot Butte rodeo.

The photos you see here were taken at the Pilot Butte Rodeo (held annually in June), just twenty minutes outside of our capital city, Regina.

While I haven’t been at the Wood Mountain Rodeo, I have visited the Wood Mountain Regional Park — click here for the website. It’s a great stop if you’re interested in how the wild west was won in Saskatchewan, not by sheriffs with their deputies, but by our red coated mounties.

Wood Mountain’s Stampede is held annually in early July. They have a website with full schedule and times at: https://woodmountainstampede.com/

For information on when the CCA (Canadian Cowboy Association) events are scheduled, see: https://canadiancowboys.ca/index.php/rodeo-information/

Find More Things to Do in Saskatchewan

Visit & Hike Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site: A Great Regina Day Trip

Take a day trip from Regina, Saskatchewan, to discover the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic site museum and hike the Massold Clay Canyon.

Best Day Trip From Regina: Ogema’s Historic Train Ride & Pioneer Museum

Adventures from an historic train ride being chased by outlaws on horseback to seeing a threshing machine harvest grain at the museum to a pitchfork fondue supper!

Relax in the Fabulous Mineral Springs of Canada’s Dead Sea: Little Manitou Lake

Enjoy the healing waters of Little Manitou Lake – Canada’s Dead Sea – in Saskatchewan. Soak in the natural minerals of the lake or the pools at Manitou Springs Resort and Spa.

Estevan Energy Tour — Things Saskatchewan is Known For

You’ll see lots of big machines on a free Estevan Energy Tour in Saskatchewan — and learn a lot about the province’s energy history.

Visit Regina — Queen City of the Plains

This planning guide will help you select the best places to stay in Regina, Saskatchewan, when you visit, no matter what part of the city, or its key attractions, you plan to see.

Where Can You Eat Bannock — a Traditional Indigenous Food — in Canada?

Where can you eat bannock in Canada? If you’re not familiar with it, bannock is a traditional Indigenous food in North America. Here’s a review of a Regina, Saskatchewan., restaurant that serves it.

5 Amazing Romantic Cities in Western Canada

No matter what you you’re looking for in a romantic weekend getaway, you’ll find the perfect destination in this list of romantic cities in Western Canada. You’ll find everything from ballet and fine dining to skiing and the spa.

Keeping the Tradition of the English Pub Alive with Taps & Fine Whiskies

A traditional English pub was the focal point of community life. Here, you could drink your “pint,” relax and trade stories with friends, even make a deal or two. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s popular Winston’s English Pub & Grill captures the traditional pub atmosphere as well as adding its own unique spin on English cuisine.

Wakamow Valley: Outdoor Adventures in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

The Moose Jaw River flows through the Wakamow Valley urban park in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It provides 20 km of trails and year-round outdoor adventures.

Hopkins Dining Parlour in Moose Jaw: Fine Dining and the Most Ghosts

A night out in the historic Hopkins Dining Parlour in Moose Jaw is guaranteed to have a tasty meal — and if you’re lucky, an encounter with a ghost!

About the Photo

The photo in the header above was taken at the Pilot Butte Rodeo, in Saskatchewan, Canada.

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