Cowboys celebrated the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce Sept. 19 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. As part of his celebration cowboys with lit torches honour Bruce while Caitlin Herring sings 7 Spanish Angels. There was standing room only. Photos by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Cowboys celebrated the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce Sept. 19 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. As part of his celebration cowboys with lit torches honour Bruce while Caitlin Herring sings 7 Spanish Angels. There was standing room only. Photos by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Life of rodeo legend celebrated

Folks converge on Ponoka to celebrate the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce

A community came together to celebrate the life of a rodeo legend.

Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages converged on the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka Sept. 19 to celebrate the life of Winston Bruce, a rodeo legend who was an integral part of the western heritage.

Bruce, who was born Oct. 27, 1937, passed away peacefully on July 10 at the age of 79.

His influence with the people around him and in the industry was so strong that there was standing room only at the ag event centre with family and his many friends wanting to pay their respects. He was a man known for having incredible saddle bronc riding skills, and was influential in developing the Calgary Stampede rodeo stock program. Bruce was also the rodeo manager and arena director of the Calgary Stampede for many years.

The list of accomplishments as a professional saddle bronc rider are almost too numerous to mention but among the more prominent is the 1961 World Saddle Bronc Riding Championship, which came after the 1957 and 1958 Canadian titles.

Along with the titles were inductions into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame at Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1989 and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1995. Along with those he was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma, the Appaloosa Hall of Fame as well as the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

It’s no wonder that folks converged on the celebration of his life, which included a special invitational saddle bronc riding event after the ceremony.

Family and friends spoke of his life and Winston Satran gave the eulogy, taking time to honour the man who influenced his outlook on life. “Winston’s story was much larger than most of us,” said Satran.

The first time he met Bruce was at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, NV. They were working on a contract to bring the Calgary Stampede horses to Home on the Range. That meeting set the stage for a longtime friendship.

“There was a lot to know about this man. His life, his fame, his humbleness, compassion, humour and his many, many friendships,” said Satran.

“His gentle manner way gave way to being a gentleman. When he would meet someone, he would inquire as to how they were doing.”

Satran pointed out that Bruce was the kind of cowboy who could strike up a sincere conversation with anyone he met. At times his humour displayed a man who enjoyed a good laugh and who lived life to the fullest.

“Enjoy life. All of it,” said Satran of how Bruce inspired him.

“Winston’s engaging personality was transferred to thousands of rodeo spectators,” he added.

As the arena manager at the Calgary Stampede, Bruce was well known for his Appaloosa horse with 18,000 fans being able to recognize the man from far away. Satran recalled the phrase, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to the greatest show in the west.”

Satran said Bruce’s personality blossomed during those times. He pointed out that Bruce once stated he didn’t know much about horses. For Satran, this seemed incredible considering the man’s ability as a rider and producer.

“How could he admit that he didn’t know much about horses? This was his way of telling me that he wanted to know more about horses, the creatures that he loved,” said Satran.

“It was amazing insight to me and speaks to his humbleness and his pursuit of knowledge and his curiousness about all life.”

Satran called him a master in the Calgary Stampede’s breeding horse program. “There’s so many stories I could tell,” added Satran.

“I will be forever thankful for my friendship with this real true cowboy, my friend, Winston Bruce.”

He posed a question for God, asking if there is a way to relive good memories that were had. While he didn’t know the answer he made a request to God.

“To ride these Canadian prairies once more, watching the horses manes flowing in the morning breeze and listening to thunder of their hooves on the prairie with my friend Winston,” he concluded.

A special silent auction was held to provide funds to the Winston Bruce Academy of Rodeo and the evening concluded with fireworks.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Long time rodeo announcer David Poulsen speaks to attendees of the celebration of life of Winston Bruce Sept. 18 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. There was standing room only for the celebration of a rodeo legend.

Long time rodeo announcer David Poulsen speaks to attendees of the celebration of life of Winston Bruce Sept. 18 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. There was standing room only for the celebration of a rodeo legend.

Former 2013 Miss Rodeo Canada Gillian Grant plays the violin in honour of rodeo legend Winston Bruce.

Former 2013 Miss Rodeo Canada Gillian Grant plays the violin in honour of rodeo legend Winston Bruce.

Speaking to the memories of Winston Bruce’s life was his brother Duane Bruce. Duane was able to shed some humorous light to Winston’s life and managed to have attendees at the celebration of his life laughing in good spirits. On the left is

Speaking to the memories of Winston Bruce’s life was his brother Duane Bruce. Duane was able to shed some humorous light to Winston’s life and managed to have attendees at the celebration of his life laughing in good spirits. On the left is

On display at Winston Bruce’s celebration of life was this horse, Graded Coconut, an example of the quality of bucking stock that Bruce helped curate.

On display at Winston Bruce’s celebration of life was this horse, Graded Coconut, an example of the quality of bucking stock that Bruce helped curate.

Cowboys celebrated the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce Sept. 19 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. As part of his celebration cowboys with lit torches honour Bruce while a Caitlin Herring sings 7 Spanish Angels. There was standing room only.

Cowboys celebrated the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce Sept. 19 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. As part of his celebration cowboys with lit torches honour Bruce while a Caitlin Herring sings 7 Spanish Angels. There was standing room only.

Saddle bronc rider Jake Watson rides Chief Sept. 19 right after the celebration of life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce. The invitational brought some of the best saddle bronc riders around.

Saddle bronc rider Jake Watson rides Chief Sept. 19 right after the celebration of life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce. The invitational brought some of the best saddle bronc riders around.

Kale MacKenzie on Styx holds on tight during the Winston Bruce Memorial and Match Bronc Riding. The event was also a fundraiser for the Winston Bruce Academy of Rodeo.

Kale MacKenzie on Styx holds on tight during the Winston Bruce Memorial and Match Bronc Riding. The event was also a fundraiser for the Winston Bruce Academy of Rodeo.

Justin Berg on Little Brother keeps his cool while his fellow cowboys watch on.

Justin Berg on Little Brother keeps his cool while his fellow cowboys watch on.

Clay Elliot on Party Code, was one of the many saddle bronc riders who came to commemorate the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce Sept. 19 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. The event was part of the invitational Winston Bruce Memorial and Match Bronc Riding.

Clay Elliot on Party Code, was one of the many saddle bronc riders who came to commemorate the life of rodeo legend Winston Bruce Sept. 19 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre in Ponoka. The event was part of the invitational Winston Bruce Memorial and Match Bronc Riding.

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Art Kempf, originally from the Stettler area but now living in Lacombe, is pictured here with his late wife Lillian. Art’s 100th birthday is coming up on Feb. 22nd.
photo submitted
Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf will be celebrating a very special day next month

Kempf, now a Lacombe resident, marks his 100th birthday on Feb. 22nd

photo courtesy of Lara Angus
Kate Syson, Sharon Fischer and Allan King pose with the Zamboni on Stettler’s newest skating spot.
photo courtesy of Lara Angus
Stettler Elementary leadership take the Zamboni for a spin

Sharon Fischer and Kate Syson lend a hand for Stettler’s new skating spot

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

Detachment says goodbye to ‘Maja’ and welcomes ‘Neutron’

'The Coronavirus Isn't Scary' by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

The Northwest Territories flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta man charged with threatening Northwest Territories public health officer

Police did reveal the nature of the threats, but said it was concerning

A healthy volunteer receives an injection in this undated handout image provided by Providence Therapeutics. Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine by a Canadian company. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Providence Therapeutics
*MANDATORY CREDIT*
Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

If successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year

Most Read