by Tanis Shortt, Manager, Marketing and Communications
Glenbow Museum worked with sports broadcaster TSN this fall in preparation for Calgary hosting the 97th Grey Cup on November 29, 2009. Lorain Lounsberry, Senior Curator of Cultural History at Glenbow, was contacted by TSN in the early fall enquiring whether Glenbow had anything related to the 1948 Grey Cup in Toronto because it is seen as the birth of what is now called the "Grey Cup Festival."
It was that memorable year when Calgary fans descended on Toronto to support their team — parading through Toronto on horseback, serving flapjacks from a chuckwagon, dancing in the streets and proclaiming their allegiance to the Stampeders by wearing western duds, including the Smithbilt white cowboy hats.
A number of those hats were given away by Calgarians to new made friends in Toronto, in part creating the 'white hat' tradition of western hospitality. So many hats were given away that Morris Shumiatcher, owner of Smithbilt hats, arranged for his son-in-law Irwin Blackstone to meet the train at Shepard, Alberta, to resupply the fans with white hats before they reached Calgary. Also part of the legend of the 1948 Grey Cup in Toronto is that oil man Bill Herron (featured in Glenbow's Mavericks gallery), who was instrumental in organizing the train, rode his horse through the lobby of the Royal York Hotel. His widow said this did not happen, but others who were there remember someone riding through a hotel lobby.
TSN came in to film Glenbow's artifacts and also worked with Glenbow photographer Owen Melenka in the photography studio to film an interview between CTV sports personality Brian Williams and the Honourable Norman Kwong, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, who was a rookie player in the 1948 Grey Cup game. For the filming Lorain Lounsberry selected artifacts from Glenbow's collection related to this legendary game, including:
- A woman's satin cowgirl shirt, embroidered with flowers
- A red tie and tie slide
- Bill Herron's satin cowboy shirt, fringed and beaded with flowers
- A Smithbilt white cowboy hat
- Two red "Stampeder" pennants
- A copy of the 1948 Calgary Herald from Glenbow's Library which featured many shots of the team and the parties
- And the most important piece, the large, felt parade banner with "Stampeders" and a bucking horse emblazoned across it. This banner was used in a number of photographs during the 1948 game — near the train, in the parade and in the background as Stampeder fans danced in the streets. This banner was used as the backdrop for the filmed interview with the Honourable Norman Kwong.
Be sure to watch for the interview with the Honourable Norman Kwong during the pre-game program on TSN when Brian Williams gives a shout-out to Glenbow for sharing the artifacts, photographs and stories from the 1948 Grey Cup.