When I was a little girl I told my grandparents that I wanted to marry a cowboy. Amused, they told me that I better be prepared for a really tough life full of long hard days of work with never much to show for it. Oh, well never mind then.
I was reminded of that thought this past weekend while in Prince George to honour our brother in law, Gil Bowe, who recently passed away. I want to share with you a small part of his story:
Gilbert Bernard Bowe October 17, 1930 ~ May 2, 2009
A Country gentleman and legend passes onto greener pastures……
At the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in 2003 Gil Bowe was inducted in to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Competitive Achievements Category:
Gilbert (Gilly) Bowe was born in 1930 and raised at Springhouse, near Williams Lake, BC – one of eight children born to Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Bowe. Gilbert Sr. was the son of Henry Bowe, and the grandson of Herman Bowe who founded the Alkali Lake Ranch in 1860. Gil began riding broncs as a youngster and began his rodeo career when he was in his early teens, riding steers and bareback. As an adult he competed in most events, from bronc riding to the infamous mountain race. He topped the steer decorating and won the saddle bronc at the 1957 Williams Lake Stampede. In Chelan, Washington, in 1960, Gil scored a 94 in saddle bronc – a score unchallenged anywhere in Canada or the US for many years.
In 1961 he entered 6 main events at Burnaby Lake and won every one – plus the all-round buckle. He was ranked in the top three in all of Canada for all-round cowboy. For seven years he rode on the pro circuit in saddle bronc, calf roping, bare back, bull riding, and steer wrestling. Gil always was more than willing to help out at the drop of a hat. He was one of the founding members of the Interior Rodeo Association, which later became the BCRA. Gil also operated his own leather and saddle shop – the “Rodeo Shop” where he hand built saddles, producing as many as 20 saddles a year. He built many trophy saddles for the different rodeo associations of BC. Since Gil retired from rough stock he spent much of his time competing in team roping as a header or heeler and continued to host BCTRA events at his home arena in Red Rock. Gilly spent years on the amateur and professional rodeo circuit as a competitor and a judge.
I realized after this weekend what it was that made me think I wanted to marry a cowboy all those years ago. To me cowboys are masculine and as tough as it gets but with a really soft kind side to them. That is how I saw Gil too. You had to lean in to hear him when he spoke and you wanted to hear every word because you knew he always had a good story to tell.
I did finally marry my cowboy by the way. He had long ago hung up his chaps but the essence of “cowboy” that I was looking for is still prominent. (I plan on getting him in those chaps again one night…I mean day… too!)