Rodeo legends and inductees were given a sneak peak of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHF) June 29 at the Ponoka Ag Event Centre before the grand opening. “It’s been a long time coming,” was the response from visitors.
Jerry Sinclair, who won the saddle bronc Canadian title in 1970, feels the central location is ideal for rodeo fans and inductees as well.
“Us old guys, we like to look at stuff the other guys won,” he said.
Terri Mason, editor of Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine, felt overwhelmed when she first came into the hall. She enjoyed seeing old rodeo friends come together in the same place, being honoured for their past accomplishments. Mason hopes it will give people a better understanding of the rodeo lifestyle, especially since so much has been kept over the years.
“How lucky we are that they saved their old things,” she stated.
Mason looks forward to returning as artifacts will rotate over time. “That’s the key to any museum, is fresh display.”
This will be a new draw for the Town of Ponoka, feels Coun. Doug Gill, president of the Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society. “This is fantastic, this will be a major attraction for Ponoka.”
He believes students of the Broncs Rodeo Academy will also be able to look to their rodeo heroes as they learn new skills. “With the high school rodeo, what better place for them?”
Another inductee, Phil Doan, who was a bull rider, steer wrestler, and bareback rider, feels it will give young rodeo contestants something to drive them forward. “It can inspire them. That’s what inspired me when I was young; the guys in front of me.”
Welcoming inductees and everyone gathered was Canadian Rodeo Historical Association president Lester Gurnett. He said it is a dream come true for many people. Gurnett thanked the entire board of directors for their work and he feels this is a “fantastic start to things that are bigger.”
The hall is filled with glass-enclosed displays that feature Canadian rodeo legends over the years; memorabilia includes saddles, photos, medals, buckles, vests and other artifacts.
There were three large murals unveiled as well with paintings by Inge Sybrandi, depicting rodeo moments, as well as a black and white mural to remember the rodeo heroes of the past. The mural will eventually run along the entire length of the hall and is scheduled to be complete sometime next year.
The entrance also honours bronze statues of four cowboys who died in a plane crash in Oregon in May 1979: Brian Claypool, Gary Logan, Lee Coleman, and Calvin Bunny.
Gurnett said there was enough money raised in a fund to keep search and rescue operations going for two weeks. Eventually a hunter noticed a shiny buckle in the ground and their bodies were found in the fall.
Money left over from the fund went to the purchase of the bronze statues and also started the Cowboy’s Benevolent Foundation.