‘The Cowboy & The Lady’ by Liz Twan
The Lady really was “a Lady”. She was the Countess Beatrice Calonna di Montecchio, a wealthy Englishwoman who at one time was married to an Italian nobleman. By the time she visited the Cariboo that relationship was over and while visiting here, somewhere around Lac La Hache, she made the acquaintance of “the Cowboy”.
The Cowboy was Lloyd “Cyclone” Smith, a man born in 1895 near Davenport, Washington. He had come to the Cariboo after his parents who were living in Williams Lake managing the Maple Leaf Hotel. By the time he came to the Cariboo he was already a well known rodeo rider in the United States. Lloyd easily found work on nearby ranches cowboying and breaking horses. After meeting the Countess, the pair embarked on a business venture together. Beatrice lived at Timothy Lake and they opened and managed a tourist lodge there together.
Throughout the 1920’s Lloyd rode in many Saddle Bronc and Bareback competitions around the country. His nickname, “Cyclone” came courtesy of another well-known Cariboo cowboy of the time, Jo Fleiger.
Jo said, “That every time Cyclone rode, it was a wild ride and looked like a regular cyclone of movement.”
By the time the Williams Lake Stampede rolled around in 1932 Lloyd was Arena Manager and was also doing double duty as a pickup man. It was in the arena at the Williams Lake Stampede that Cyclone was involved in the tragic accident that claimed his life. A bronc had thrown his rider and the bucking horse was bolting for a hole in the fence. Cyclone rushed to head it off with his pickup horse, the two collided, Cyclone’s foot caught in his stirrup and he was crushed beneath his horse when they went down. He was already unconscious when the first cowboy arrived at his side. They transported him to the hospital where he lingered for a day and a half , he then passed away without ever regaining consciousness.
His friend and partner, Countess di Montecchio had remained at his bedside throughout the entire ordeal. After Cyclone’s death she was shocked to find him laid out in a mechanic’s garage. Learning that Williams Lake had no mortuary, the Countess had one built in the months following his death, as a memorial to her friend. The little chapel and mortuary were built on the hill beside the hospital which was then located on the site of Williams Lake’s present day City Hall. Regrettably it was torn down in 1962 because it had deteriorated to the point of becoming dangerous. The Countess never lived in the Cariboo again and returned only on very short business trips in her remaining years.
Lloyd “Cyclone” Smith died June 29, 1932 at the age of 37 and remains to this day, the only person ever killed at the Williams Lake Stampede since it began in 1919. A wall plaque bearing the di Montecchio crown that hung in the little chapel immortalized him as “A courageous, honest man, a good scout and ideal companion”. It also remembered Beatrice’s brother, Lieutenant E.C. Evans, RNR, “my best pal”. Quite obviously the two men dearest to her.
To find out more about Cyclone Smith and to be able to see more photographs please visit the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake while you are visiting. It is located at 113 North 4th Avenue, Williams Lake, B.C. It is open winter hours Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Summer hours (June 1st to Sept 1st) are Monday to Saturday, same times as above.
They have on display several items that were saved from the little chapel on the hill.