Ron Hume honoured with Lifetime Pass to the Stampede after decades of service
Story and photo by Angie Mindus
Whether he’s working the ground in a tractor or sitting at a picnic table behind the chutes at the Stampede Grounds, Ron Hume is surrounded by a lifetime of memories.
“I have been volunteering for the Stampede and riding around here since I was a little kid holding my dad’s hand,” said Hume, motioning at the grounds and up at the city that has now grown up around it. “This whole area was our playground.”
Fittingly, for the 90th Williams Lake Stampede, Hume, 65, has been named the recipient of the Stampede’s Lifetime Pass, an honour he doesn’t take lightly.
“I feel very humbled – it feels nice to be thanked and recognized in this way and become a part of the great group of people who are lifetime members.”
As a kid helping out at the Stampede, Hume said he first developed a passion for horses “almost by default” because of his sister Caryl’s love for the animal, who herself was the Stampede’s 1967 Queen. “Caryl was so into it, so away we went. We all rode.”
One evening, at about 17, Hume, who competed in rodeo events, started playing around at the grounds with his horse jumping turned-over barrels at the grounds. “It was a dangerous thing to do, jumping barrels, but we were young and didn’t know any better,” he said. “Next thing you knew, we threw away the western saddle for an English saddle.”
With accomplished horseman Tom White as his mentor, Hume embraced his new sport and brought his love for rodeo and jumping competitions to the famous night shows in the 60s at the TrailRider’s Arena. “There were some pretty sweet rides,” Hume recalls of pairing the top calf ropers to compete while caged cougars were nearby to add some excitement to the shows. “Two of the best calf ropers in the world would go head to head.” Hume himself took part in the event, jumping fences six feet high and seven feet wide with his beloved rodeo horse.
Hume’s life took a different course when he met his future wife, Bel, a young nurse who moved from Castlegar, at the local tennis courts and married her in 1972. He went back to school in 1973 to achieve his Bachelor of Commerce, specializing in urban land economics and the couple had two boys, Ryan and Graham. “Horses became a bit of a luxury.” Hume said they put the boys in the usual sports of hockey, baseball and soccer until they began to show an interest in horses.
The family bought a property in Chimney Valley and Hume embraced his sons’ newfound interest, teaching them everything he knew about roping and riding, and travelling the rodeo circuit with them, where they competed across Western Canada and the U.S. in high school rodeo. “Horses in my opinion are a great way to raise children. They teach so many things.”
Ryan married his wife Jen and had two girls who they are raising just down the road from Ron and Bel. Both Callie, 17, and Amy 15, are carrying on the family tradition as rodeo competitors in barrel racing and break away roping. The Humes lost their other son, Graham, nine years ago when he was 27 years old and still struggle, but have found some comfort through the support of their ranching and rodeo friends and with the passing of time. “It’s a tough one,” he said. “But we’re finding a way to move forward. People here have been very helpful and supportive.”
As a way of repaying the sport of rodeo for the treasured memories he made with his boys Hume continues to volunteer with the Stampede and also the high school rodeo, which he holds close to his heart. “They become good, solid citizens and it’s nice to think you had a part in helping them along the way,” he said. “It’s nice to be a part of them walking the straight and narrow, or at least between acceptable goal posts.”
As the Stampede Grounds’ head groundsman, Hume starts working the dirt in April to take advantage of the winter moisture for optimal conditions for competitors and can be seen throughout the year and during the Stampede behind the tractor. “I feel I have an understanding of the competitor’s needs from my own experience competing and I feel a commitment to keep the riders safe,” Hume said. “And a big part of ensuring their safety is good grounds.”