Flores LaDue, Champion Lady Fancy Roper of the World, 1912
Postcards from the Past, PC 314
Women have always been involved in events at the Calgary Stampede. There have been changes over the years, for example, women do not compete in bronc riding anymore, but there have always been cowgirls in Stampede competition.
By far the best known of the cowgirls, in these parts, anyhow, was Flores (sometimes Florence) La Due who was the Champion Lady Fancy Roper of the World. She was also Mrs. Guy Weadick and was a very important element in the first Calgary Stampede in 1912.
Guy met Florence (whose real name, according to her headstone was Grace Maude Bensel) at a Wild West show in Chicago. They were married in Memphis in 1906 and started a partnership that would last for forty five years. This partnership included Guy’s dream of having world championship cowboy competitions in Calgary – a dream that he would promote to four of Calgary’s most prominent businessmen as the Calgary Stampede. In 1912 this dream became a reality. Guy’s involvement with the Stampede lasted until 1932. After that he and Florence retired to The Stampede (or TS) Ranch which they had purchased in 1920 in Eden Valley. The operated a dude ranch there and when times got tough it was Florence who assisted with the family finances by trading in uncut diamonds. It is also said that she taught their neighbor, the Prince of Wales, how to do fancy roping. When the Weadicks left, to move to Phoenix for Florence’s health, the community of High River threw a grand party to see them off. Florence was given a gold wrist watch engraved “To Florence – a real partner” and this is maybe the truth of Florence and Guy. You rarely read an article about Guy without there being a mention of Florence and the important role she played. They seemed to be partners in the fullest sense of the word.
Florence died in 1951 on a visit to High River. She, her father and Guy are all buried in the Highwood Cemetery.
Needless to say, our Community Heritage and Family History collection at the Calgary Public Library has a lot of information relating to the Weadicks and the founding of the Stampede. We are also honoured to present professor Max Foran who will speak about Guy Weadick, the founding of the Stampede and the controversial end of Weadick’s association with it. The program will be presented on Friday June 26 at 2:00 PM in the 4th floor meeting room at the Central Library. You can register in person at any library branch, by telephone at 403-260-2620 or online at calgarypubliclibrary.com (click on Programs in the bar at the top of the page).