The Cowboy and 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.
by Liz Twan
Over the years and years that Stampede has been in existence there has developed a wealth of stories and pranks that occurred at the rodeo itself or around town during the rodeo dates. Some are verifiably true and others have been told so many times that they must have gained a grain of truth over the years!
One story that was reported by an early Tribune article and again in Irene Stangoe's book, "Cariboo - Chilcotin, Pioneer People and Places is the tale (tall?) of rancher Mickey Martin, who came from the Riske Creek area.
Apparently he was a rodeo regular and on this particular day had spent a long, hot, dusty day down at the rodeo grounds. He decided a nice cold beer would wash the dust out of his system and so, mounted on his stallion, he rode uptown. Now this horse was to Mickey, what a fancy motor car was to a town fellow and he hated to be separated from the sight of this fine animal that he had imported from Alberta. Prize Appaloosa stallions were not common in the Cariboo at that time in history.
With this in mind, you can almost guess that, yes, Mickey and horse entered the Maple Leaf beer parlor together. As wild and as western as things were reported to be in those days, most people did not come into the beer parlor mounted on an Appaloosa stallion. Needless to say, the proprietor did not welcome this intrusion into his establishment and asked Mickey to take his horse back out to the hitching rail. Mickey was quite certain in his own mind, that the horse should be welcome to stay and quite a discussion ensued. The owner of the Maple Leaf at the time of this incident was a man called Benny Abbott. Benny was a well known citizen of Williams Lake and he was often instrumental in the organization and the running of the Williams Lake Stampede. Mickey was often a pickup man for the rodeo and as well, he was a a regular customer of Benny's when he was in town on business. Most likely he had stayed in the Hotel on several occasions.
The fact that he was well known to Benny made it so Benny wished to handle this incident with as little disturbance as possible and with no hard feelings. The ensuing discussion had several go rounds with Benny and Mickey arguing back and forth over the fact of whether the horse should stay or go. Mickey just refused to believe that his horse was not thirsty for a beer also. At the end of each round it was still a stalemate. Now Benny was racking his brains for a way to solve this dispute without making an enemy out of a friend. As a barman he was well experienced in persuading people to leave his establishment but his experience with horseflesh in the bar was far more limited. He retreated for a few moments thought and came up with a course of action that might mean a solution to his problem.
He marched back over to Mickey and his Appaloosa stallion, who went by the name of "Nemo" and he said to Mickey, " Mickey, would you happen to know how old your horse is?"
Mickey replied, "Of course I do! Nemo is a five year old stallion, why do you want to know?"
Benny replied, "Mickey, do you realize that your horse is not of legal drinking age? He is in fact far too young to be served alcohol in a beer parlor. He is a minor in the eyes of the law. The horse will have to leave the premises."
The upshot of it all was that while Mickey had not been persuaded by a dozen other fairly logical reasons to remove the horse, when confronted with the law of the land, Mickey saw that he had no choice but to take his stallion outside to the hitching rail. All of the logic had made no impression on Mickey, but he was a law abiding citizen and the horse was simply not old enough for a beer.
Author's note: Several versions of this story have been in circulation for years, another version has B.C. Police Constable Lon Godfrey as the "voice of reason".
The Lady on Red
by Liz Twan
Until Stampede 1996 no one had ever finished ahead of Bill Chelsea in the present day Mountain Race.
Then the horn sounded and the race of 1996 was on. As the racers approached the first corner it was startling to see that the lead horse was sorrel in colour and that his rider was wearing red. Bill Chelsea’s mount, “Mr. Little”, is buckskin or dun coloured and Bill always wore blue.
Who was that out in front? When they hit the track it was the same sorrel horse and the rider was a LADY in red. As they neared the finish line there was no doubt as to who was going to win. They never gave up any ground once they hit the track and it was easy to see the horse wasn’t even giving it “his all”.
So, who was the lady of the mountain? Her name is Kathleen Gottfriedson and she hails from the tiny town of Cawston, BC.
Kathleen is a 32 year old mother of three. She and her husband Bud have three daughters, Rachel (11yrs.), Randi (7 yrs.) and Cindi (3 yrs.). They raise cattle and sell alfalfa hay on their ranch in Cawston. Kathleen’s family support her in her racing career and if they have any fears for her, they keep them to themselves.
Kathleen was born in Coulee Dam, Washington on December 8, 1964. She was raised in Nespelem, Wash. with 4 brothers, 3 sisters and a half brother. Kathleen is the baby of the family.
She was educated at Nespelem Elementary, Coulee Dam High School and finished her education in Riverside, California for her Senior year. Kathleen was raised by her late father Abe Dick and her mother Naomi. Abe was a logger all his life, a profession all of his sons have followed him into. Naomi worked in the forest industry also, in fire control as a lookout. Two of Kathleen’s brothers rode in rodeos for a while and also in the Omak Suicide Race, which Kathleen also rides in. She is a member of the Colville Tribe in Washington State.
Kathleen won the mountain race on a 9 year old quarter horse gelding she calls “Red”. His registered name is “Dodads Flashy Boy” and he lives up to that name! Kathleen and Bud attended a horse auction about seven years ago and first saw “Red” as he came into the auction ring. Bidding was brisk but the owner decided the final bid wasn’t high enough and took the horse out of the sale. The Gottfriedson’s followed to the parking lot and after some dickering became the new owners of a green broke colt they called “Red”.
Kathleen has done all the breaking and training of her horse and uses him only for racing. He was the first of her horses to start winning races for her. No one else rides “Red”. Kathleen starts working all her horses in January and continues on throughout the summer. She and her four footed partners put in some long hard days training but it is evident that the conditioning pays off for all of them. Kathleen and “Red” trained for a couple of months for the Mountain race and as they had no idea how long our course was, they trained for a half mile distance and hoped it would be enough. I think they got it right!
“Red” is an extremely sure footed horse according to his owner, so Kathleen has all the confidence in the world in him. Kathleen says he is very smart and that gives her a good feeling. If she had any fear at all, she says she would not race.
Kathleen, “Red”, and her other mounts race mostly in Washington State and at Pendleton, Oregon. The lady and her horses do very well. They’ll be back.
by Liz Twan
The Williams Lake Stampede which originated in 1919, began as a gathering of friends, neighbors and ranchers for the sole purpose of providing some entertainment. It gave the cowboys a place to ride some Broncs and Steers, to rope and race on horseback. Horse owners brought their best horseflesh and held flat races. It was an opportunity to show off the best riding and cowboy skills and the best horses in the Cariboo.
The people came from all over the Cariboo to take part in Stampede in some form or another. They came to camp and compete, to visit, dance, gamble and party, not necessarily in that order. It was a major social occasion for the entire Cariboo and things in the surrounding countryside generally came to a standstill while Stampede was taking place. Once the success of the Stampede gathering was apparent, the village's businessmen and merchants were whole - heartedly behind the event because of the numbers of people it brought to the village. In early times the Stampede was held at the beginning of June, over the years the dates were changed to the end of June or first days of July.
Over the years many other aspects of the Stampede gathering have changed, some of the changes made by directors decisions while other changes took place just because progress has a way of marching onward regardless of the peoples wishes. One of the greatest aspects of the early Stampede's was the social aspect and the great tent camps that used to cover the hillside behind the present day grandstands. Modern civilization brought the death of that tradition.
I was a local girl, and in my mind I can still see the canvas tents covering that hillside. Driving by the grounds in the darkness of evening, looking down into the Stampede bowl from Highway 97 you could see the flickering campfires and imagine the camps' occupants visiting over campfire coffee in the cool of the evening. There were native campers, ranchers and cowboys as well as spectators, who all pitched their tents and made camps on various areas of the grounds.
The contestants usually camped in the area that the trailriders barns and arena now sit today. They came in the day before or the morning of Stampede and stayed for the few days of rodeo. Many a happy day was passed in the Stampede camp ground. Neighbors had time to visit, relatives gathered and new friends were made. Life had a gentler rhythm in those days and people just seemed to take things as they came. Strangers were welcomed to the campfire and became acquaintances or good friends. The whole family came along and a great holiday atmosphere prevailed.
The most interesting travelers to see were the First Nations peoples' who traveled in from their various homes around the Cariboo, usually arriving a day or two before Stampede. In the early years the only mode of travel was by horse drawn wagons and saddle horses as very few country people owned automobiles. The wagons were of all shapes and descriptions with the most common type being the rubber tired wagon with a bench seat across the front, some were covered but the majority were open.
The trek from whichever area outside of Williams Lake that the travelers were coming from, Alkali Lake, Dog Creek, Canoe Creek, Anahim, Redstone, Toosey, Soda Creek, Sugar Cane or wherever, began whenever distance away dictated. The trip from Dog Creek or Canoe Creek took two days minimum, often three or more if a leisurely trip was taken. For some folks, such as the Kalelest family of Gang Ranch/Dog Creek area it was one of only two annual trips to town. The family usually spent about two weeks away from home to make the trip.
Alec and Betsy Kalelest owned the Home Ranch, which was later bought by the Gang Ranch. The Kalelest's and their daughter Selina made the trip to town to watch the Stampede on an annual basis. Their only other trip to town during the year was made in late fall to bring their cattle to market.
In later years their daughter Selina would follow tradition and load up her wagon along with her own family, two daughters and a son, and each year would make the journey to Stampede. The family always left two to three days before Stampede and traveled along at a fairly slow pace for this was the family holiday, adventure and supply trip all rolled into one. Life was lived at a slower pace in those days and attitudes were far more relaxed than the frantic pace of life most people keep up today. Lunch break at mid-day meant a rest for everyone, the wagon horses were unhitched and turned loose to drink and graze. The family usually built a fire to cook lunch and coffee, sometimes a small rest was taken after eating before gathering the horses and hitching the wagons back up. Traveling was often done in fairly large groups so there would be several wagons in a group making the same journey.
Riding in the wagons were usually the parents, elders and very small children while the older children and other adults would ride alongside on saddle horses. At dusk or earlier, depending on the weather and how far the group felt like traveling that particular day, a good camping spot would be chosen and the group would stop for the night. A good spot meant one with ample water and grazing for the horses, and some kind of firewood and shelter for the people. The horses were looked after first, unhitched and unsaddled and released to graze and drink, then camp was set up. Often bedrolls were laid out under trees or under the wagon, or just under the stars themselves if the weather looked accommodating. The evening meal was prepared and afterward some visiting was done before everyone turned in for the night. The trip continued in this fashion until the journey to Williams Lake was complete.
For the Kalelest family, approaching Williams Lake from Dog Creek, a final stop on the last day would be made at the top of the hill going into Williams Lake (approx. where the Mountview School is today). Here the family would rearrange the load in the wagon to make room for firewood they would cut and gather here at the top of the hill, cutting as well, long poles to hold up the canvas camp tents. This would all be loaded into the wagons and the group would then continue down the long hill to the Stampede grounds.
Upon arrival at the Stampede grounds the families would go to much the same camping spot each year. For years the Kalelest family always camped right where the Curling Rink stands today. Selina's parents had camped there always and she continued to choose the same spot. Her daughter Stella told me that it was just accepted that certain spots belonged to certain families and very seldom would another group camp in your usual place. Camp was set up and well organized, the tents erected and wagons unloaded, for the stay here usually lasted a week or so. Water for drinking and washing was hauled from the stock water place or the creek or the lake. The horses were turned loose to roam the Stampede grounds and hardly bothered with until it was time to leave again. Selina's daughter, Stella Rosette says she cannot remember a time when they ever had anything "permanently borrowed or stolen" from their camp and on only one occasion remembers someone having a horse go missing. The horse that disappeared was not a wagon or a saddle horse, but a race horse and therefore would have had more value to a stranger.
Mealtime at camp was often a communal affair with families cooking together and sharing food and anyone who wandered by and stopped to visit was never left to go hungry. "Grab a plate and help yourself" was a familiar refrain and the visit continued. This annual Stampede was one of the only times many of these people had to visit and socialize with friends and family who lived in different areas of the Cariboo. For those of us who live in a generation that can get anywhere, anytime, it may be hard to imagine only seeing a friend or relative who might live only fifty or seventy miles away, just once a year.
The elders were there to look after the small children and babies while the younger generation danced the night away at places like Squaw Hall, which was an open air dance hall located right on the Stampede grounds. It was known as "the place to go" and for many years at Stampede was the most popular place in town. Over the years the place got a wilder and wilder reputation and as peoples' attitudes changed the place was thought to be a bit dangerous and the name derogatory, so eventually the decision was made to tear the place down. The place was famous in its own right however, and stories abound about adventures people had at Squaw Hall.
The camper's days were spent taking in the rodeo events either as spectators or sometimes as competitors. Other people just wandered from camp to camp visiting, playing music, cards or other games. The general atmosphere was convivial and relaxed and no one was in any particular hurry to be anywhere. Nobody seemed to have any cares or worries and as a social event Stampede was always a roaring success.
As the Rodeo wound down, and the contests and events concluded the camps would slowly be dismantled, the horses rounded up and re-hitched to their wagons and the people reluctantly made their way back to their homes. In the case of the Kalelest family and I'm sure many others, several more days were spent camped at the grounds so that shopping and business in the village could be done before leaving for home. Supplies were purchased to last until autumn when the trip back to market their livestock would take place. On that final trip of the year, supplies to last until the next trip to Stampede were purchased. Nothing was easy in those early days but it sure seemed like life was so much simpler then.