Though it sounds more like a movie or a great historical fiction novel, The First Stampede of Flores LaDue is the true story of Grace Maud Bensel, later known by her stage name, Flores LaDue. While many know the story of Guy Weadick and how he started the Calgary Stampede in 1912, many do not know the story of the women behind the man, Flores LaDue.
Born in Minnesota, but raised on a Sioux reservation when her mother died, Grace Bensel ran away with a Wild West show at the age of 17, just a few years after her father made her return to Minnesota to go to school and become a lady. Using the skills she learned on the reservation, she became a world champion trick roper and in 1905, she caught the eye of rodeo cowboy, Guy Weadick. The two travelled North America and Western Europe before settling in Calgary, where they established the Calgary Stampede in 1912.
While parts of the book, such as the dialogue, are fictionalized, much of it is based on the memories of current Alberta rancher, Lenore McLean, who grew up next door to LaDue in the late 1940s and looked at LaDue as a mentor, mother-figure and friend.
Calgary author, Wendy Bryden, has received both the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation for her work on Canada at the Olympic Winter Games and The Glencoe Club Story: 70 Years of Sports History. Bryden and McLean became great friends over the last few years while working on this books and both hope that this book will demonstrate stampede values as well inspire others to live their best life.
To browse inside the book, click here.