Dreams Do Last A Lifetime - Jack Miller’s Dream is 100!
Jack Miller was born in Ontario and came West with his brother Mel to stake land in the Hand Hills in 1901.
Over the next 4 months The Drumheller Mail will be featuring the upcoming Hand Hills Lake Stampede in a series of articles both submitted by the Stampede Committee and written
by our reporters to celebrate their 100th year.
Jack was an avid hockey player and his hockey travelling had him playing with the Edmonton Hockey Team as depicted in a photo from 1908 (below). While playing with Edmonton, the Renfrew Millionaires were on the quest for quality players to play on their team. They approached Jack “Hay “Miller, the outstanding player from the West and offered him what was an unprecedented deal. If Hay would play with them in a game against Montreal, the Millionaires would provide an all expense paid trip for the whole Edmonton Hockey Team to see the game in Montreal and Hay Miller would be given $1,000.00. Jack “Hay” Miller turned down the deal because he was a man of integrity and had commitments to his team. Hay did eventually play with the Renfrew Millionaires.
During his time in Edmonton Jack married Gertrude Tidsbury. They had four children. Jack Jr., Willene, Muriel and Marjorie. When Jack Jr. came along the hockey player turned Rancher!
Jack’s forward integrity carried into his ranching lifestyle and for many years he was the main man behind the Hand Hills Lake Stampede. He was the one that instigated the event with the Lone Butte Red Cross and was the Arena Director from 1917 until 1943. Jack was one of the Presidents of the Hand Hills Lake Club and held that position from 1928- 1931. Jack died suddenly in 1943 and he is buried in the Hanna Cem- etery.
The only thing that is left on the Ranch that is from the bygone days is the original Miller House. The Miller Ranch was purchased by Dick Cosgrave and is still in the Cosgrave Family today. Great Grandson Colt Cosgrave resides on the original homestead. Throughout the years the Miller house has been renovated and used to house hired men. It stood empty for over 15 years but in the Fall of 2015 Colt and his girlfriend Charleigh Profit fixed up that same house for their hired men.
Could Jack ever have thought that what he started back in 1917 would continue and become one of the biggest, longest standing traditions in the Hand Hills?
Did he ever imagine that songs and poems would be written about the Stampede that he started?
This year we will be celebrating 100 years of this Stampede Tradition. We tip our hats to Jack Miller, his family and all the pioneers of the area. For without them, their integrity and forward thinking, we would not be celebrating 100 years.
To recognize and go back to our roots we have asked the descendants of Jack Miller to officially open the 100th Stampede. This honor had been given to the immediate family in the past but it is now the next generation of Millers’, the Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren, which will be doing the honors.
Also in going back to our roots the committee will be making a donation to the Canadian Red Cross just as was done at the first Stampede.
Come celebrate with us on June 3, 4 and 5. The weekend is going to be jam packed with Rodeo, Wagons, Dances, Parade, Fireworks, Music, Trade Shows, Great Food at the concession and our famous Pies.
On top of everyone’s list will be the reunions of family, friends and neighbors. Come to the Hills and relive the past, enjoy the present and look to the future of the Hand Hills Lake Stampede.
See you in the Hills!
Edmonton Hockey Team, 1908
The Miller Ranch
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Miller and Willine outside the Miller ranch house in 1917. Mrs. Miller is holding “the money bag” containing $3,200 - proceeds from the day’s Stampede.