The first rodeo contest was held in Montreal in 1944, at the former Montreal Forum, by a group of amateur cowboys called Wild West. The show was so popular that the team returned a year later for a second event before moving in 1946 to the Delorimier Stadium.
Twenty years later, Montreal hosted its first professional rodeo event at the Old Port during the World’s Fair (Expo ’67). After that, the Montreal Hippodrome became the venue of choice for local rodeo competitions until 1976.
In 1983, rodeo returned to the Old Port with an event produced by Suzanne and Henri Leblanc-Riderosi, who were very active on the equestrian circuit in Quebec. The couple, who’d been involved in gymkhanas and calf roping in the 1960s, had their first horseback rodeo experience in 1964 during a visit to a ranch in upstate New York. Montreal’s first professional rodeo, at Expo 67, confirmed their interest in rodeo horses, after which they began to produce equestrian competitions. They staged their first rodeo festival at the family ranch in 1968 and would continue to be active in the field until 1996.
Rodeo fever surged anew in 2008, starting with Rodeo PBR, an event held at Montreal’s Bell Centre by the Professional Bull Riders and Festival western de St-Tite, who brought back further editions in 2011 and 2012. Rodeo madness doubled down in 2011 with the Rock ‘n Bull western festival, which featured rodeo horses, music and more.
Rodeo culture involves more than 600 cowboys and cowgirls who take part in some 50 different western festivals throughout Quebec each year.
This year, NomadFest Urban Rodeo revives the western atmosphere with an exciting and authentic program of event.