Tom Three Persons
Tom Three Persons, a Kainai from Stand Off, Alberta, was the only Canadian to take first place in a timed event at the first Calgary Stampede, held in 1912. He rode the outlaw horse Cyclone to a standstill to win the World Saddle Bronc Riding Competition. His prize was $1,000 in cash, a saddle and a championship belt:
Three Persons' ride was a wonderful performance. "Cyclone" tried every art known to his craft. He stood and pitched, started to stampede several times, then stopped and tried the trick that has sent 129 men to earth. He reared straight up and feinted as if to throw himself backward, then took prodigious leaps and twisted and corkscrewed his body in a fury of contortions that threatened to tear him in two. The Indian sat in his saddle as if glued to it, with hands up and a challenge to "Cyclone" to do his worst.
Again and again the horse stopped, but only for a few seconds, when he renewed the struggle. Again he tried to throw his rider backward and then, acknowledging he had met his master in the aborigine, he surrendered.*
Tom had worked for almost ten years as a ranch hand on the Kainai Reserve before the 1912 Stampede and had always been considered an excellent rider by his peers. He competed at Calgary for several years but never won a world title again. Following his 1912 victory, he became a very successful rancher, owning about 400 head of cattle and almost as many horses. The first Calgary Stampede had brought a Canadian Native cowboy to the attention of the world.
* Art Belanger, Chuck Wagon Racing: Calgary Stampede's Half Mile of Hell!
In the 1920s, Tom Three Persons entrusted his 1912 Calgary Stampede trophy buckle to a local businessman. When he went back for it, the buckle could not be found. He and his stepson designed another one (shown here) based on what they could remember then commissioned a goldsmith to make it.