Author: Joanne Elves

Her grade school report card said Joanne asks a lot of questions. She took that as a compliment and with family in tow, continues to ask as she travels the province in search of exciting adventures and interesting destinations.

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If there are two things a cowboy or a cowgirl needs it’s a good cowboy hat and great boots. Even if you’re just dressing the part for ten days during the Calgary Stampede, you have to be comfortable and dress right. Calgary has two of the best manufacturers of high quality hats and boots to cover you stylishly, head to toe.

Calgary’s White Cowboy Hat

Smithbilt Hats has been making hats in Calgary since 1919 but it was an act of promoting Calgary as a city of great western values by the mayor in 1948 that made the white Smithbilt cowboy hat the equivalent of the keys to the city and an iconic symbol of its hospitality. Royalty, dignitaries, luminaries and visitors – from the Dalai Lama to Luciano Pavarotti to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – have all been “white hatted” as honorary Calgarians.

Choose your Style

Most cowboys wear the high-crowned, wide-brimmed hats to keep the sun off their face and the rain off their necks but you can pick from hundreds of brims, crowns, colours, ribbons and materials. The Smithbilt showroom walls are covered with every imaginable style of hat. If you don’t see what you want, Smithbilt custom fits to make it exactly how you want it.

When you get your Smithbilt, check for a dainty ribbon in the hatband. Not only does it mark the back of the hat, it also pays homage to all the hat makers from hundreds of years ago who went mad due to the poisonous mercury used in shaping beaver felt hats. The loop of the ribbon implies a skull and crossed bones!

Cowboy Boots for You, Me and Royalty

The smell of leather and boot dye greets you at the door, pulling you into a showroom of handcrafted cowboy boots at the Alberta Boot Company in Calgary. For over 35 years, three generations of the Gerwing family has stitched cowboy boots for thousands of happy feet. Shop the racks and find the perfect pair or opt for custom made, with your own design tooled into the intricate stitch. You’ll be in good company. Princes, movie stars, famous athletes and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police share the same boot-maker.

Cowboy boots come with two styles of heels. The classic tall Cowboy heel is meant to keep your foot safe and snug in a saddle stirrup for the long ride on the range. The flatter Ropers heel is designed for the rodeo cowboy jumping off the saddle to rope a calf or wrestle a running steer. Try on the different styles to see what feels right for you.

Shop at Local Western Wear Providers

Use those boots to stroll into local western wear stores to find the perfect cowboy shirt, pants or dress. Riley & McCormick’s has provided tack and clothing to cowboys since 1901 – and been at every Calgary Stampede. Lammle’s Western Wear and tack has been a major provider since 1983 with outlets in Calgary, Edmonton and Banff.

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