Calgary Stampede buys Clem Gardner’s cowboy hat off eBay


CALGARY — A legendary cowboy’s hat from the 1920s has made its way back to Alberta and the archives of the Calgary Stampede.

Cassandra Cummings, the Stampede’s historical specialist, says she bought Clem Gardner’s hat on eBay for just over $2,100 from a seller in Pennsylvania.

Gardner participated in the first Calgary Stampede in 1912, continued competing for years, and raised bucking stock on his ranch near Bragg Creek, Alta.

Cummings says the rich-brown-coloured hat, made of beaver pelt by Hamley and Co. of Pendleton, Ore., was made in the early 1920s.

She says the style is typical of that time, but different from today — it has a high slope towards the back and some creases not seen now.

Cummings says Gardner’s widow gave it to a man who lived across the street from her in Calgary, and the man gave it to his son, who sold it to a B.C. auction house, where the man from Pennsylvania bought it.

“The hat came with a note saying this hat was given from Clem’s widow to Ed Pargee, who ran a garage in downtown Calgary, and it was given to Ed’s son, who then gave it to the auction house,” Cummings said.

The hat is an important historical piece for Calgary and the Stampede, Cummings said.

“We do have a lot of photos and postcards and … those tell so much about the history. But having this piece of history that’s 3D, a tangible object that you can look at and imagine Clem in — Clem, who was so important to the development of the Stampede — does really help bring it to life,” she said.

“It’s also sparked a lot of memories in Calgarians and southern Albertans who have been sending me great emails with their memories of Clem.”

Cummings says it’s hoped the hat will be on public show some day, but the Stampede doesn’t have a dedicated display area for historical articles.

“In the future, we hope to have a western heritage interpretive centre as part of our youth campus and it’s hoped the hat will go there.”

In 2012, Gardner was immortalized in bronze with a sculpture called “By the Banks of the Bow,” but he is wearing a different style hat than the one that was sold to the Stampede.

The Canadian Press