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Return to Calgary: Charles M. Russell and the 1919 Victory Stampede

September 2019

This art exhibit at the McDougall Centre commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Victory Stampede that marked the end of World War I, and C.M. Russell’s original Return to Calgary exhibit, considered some of Russell’s finest works.

The 1919 exhibit

In 1919, after 4 long years of global conflict and great loss, the world was finally at peace. Following a 7-year gap, the 1919 Calgary Stampede ran from August 15 to 30. To celebrate the end of the war, Guy Weadick, founder of the Stampede, named it the Victory Stampede. One of the major exhibits Weadick secured for the occasion was a show featuring 24 paintings and 8 bronze sculptures by renowned American artist Charles M. Russell.

“For a population reeling from the effects of the war, Russell’s images offered a respite from the barrage of photographs and newsreels that had saturated daily life; his work harkened to a familiar and reassuring landscape far from the trenches and war-wracked cities of Europe.”

From the Calgary Stampede Blog, May 14, 2019

2019 tribute exhibit

To commemorate the historic 1919 exhibit, the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana located most of the artworks from Russell’s Victory Stampede show. For the first time in 100 years, these works are now reunited in Montana. The exhibit includes 22 of the 24 original oil paintings and all 8 bronzes, on loan to the museum from 16 public and private lenders from across North America. Find out more about C.M. Russell and the original collection.

Back in Canada, organizers of the Calgary Stampede also wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Victory Stampede. It would be difficult, however, to travel artworks now worth millions of dollars to the exhibition grounds. So, 23 high-quality reproductions on canvas were commissioned for the 2019 Calgary Stampede.

These reproductions were on display at the McDougall Centre, providing Albertans with a unique glimpse of C.M. Russell’s 1919 Victory Stampede show.

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