Denny Hay - Contestant
A three-time Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider (1995, 1996 and 1998), Denny Hay of Mayerthorpe, AB qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) on 15 separate occasions accompanied by four appearances at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas.
Hay launched his career with the Novice title for Canada in 1988 and rolled that up to the Canadian Rookie of the Year in 1989. By 1998, he translated that to the CFR aggregate, when he also won the $50,000 at the Calgary Stampede. Depending on who’s asked, all of that may not compare to the Olympic Gold Medal Denny won at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT.
Glen Keeley - Contestant
The 1998 Canadian Champion Bull Rider Glen Keeley passed away tragically in Albequerque, NM in March of 2000, at the Ty Murray Invitational PBR. Keeley qualified for numerous CFR, NFR and Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Finals and was inside the top five in the PBR World Standings when he passed.
Glen was one of Canada’s top bull riding talents ever and taken far too soon. Since his passing, friends and family have put on the Glen Keeley Memorial PBR in Stavely, AB on the Labor Day weekend each September since 2004. The proceeds from the non-profit event are donated to the Glen Keeley Benevolent & Scholarship Fund. Glen’s memorial buckle and ring of honor awards rival those of any other trophies on the planet.
B6 Little Six - Animal
B6 Little Six
Owned by Wayne Vold Rodeo
The 1977 Bull of the Year in Canadian Pro Rodeo, Little Six was small but bucked every time. “When they rode him, they always won”, Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame director Jim Pippolo said. “He wasn’t very big at about 1,400 lbs he was bucky!”.
A dark brown and black banana horned bull, Little Six was also ridden by Joe Dodds to a Calgary Stampede Championship
Billy Laye - Contestant
A three-time NFR qualifier, Billy Laye was also the 1991 Canadian Bareback riding Champion. The 1991 $50,000 Calgary Stampede champion set the 1995 NFR arena record of 90 points on a Butler and Cervi horse called Brown Bomber.
Born in Consort, AB. Laye can be found at numerous rodeos across the country helping the next generation of bareback riders.
Bill Pimm - Builder
Born in Lethbridge, AB Bill Pimm broke his first saddle horse at the age of 7, and at age 13 he entered the Sundre Stampede. In 1954 Pimm moved his family north where they settled at Grimshaw, AB. Soon after his arrival he became involved in plans to bring pro rodeo to the North Peace area.
In 1977, Bill took over the role of President of the North Peace Stampede, a position he would hold for 20 years. During this time Bill put his heart and soul into the betterment of rodeo, always promoting the North Peace Stampede. Bill was the backbone to many large construction projects at the grounds and honored with the CPRA Committee person of the year in 1983.
Bill Pimm has sinced passed away, but his accomplishments are still evident in the North Peace area.
Rayel Little - Contestant
A four-time Canadian Barrel Racing Champion, Rayel Little also qualified for the NFR on two separate occasions.
For two decades, Rayel consistently qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). A horse trainer by trade, Rayel trained five horses to qualify for the CFR in a single year. For three consecutive years from 2005 to 2007, she won the Ponoka Stampede. Something no other contestant has accomplished to date.
Today, Rayel continues to train barrel horses and spends her winters in the real estate business, in Arizona. Rayel and her husband call Thorsby, AB. home, when they are not in Arizona.
Lester “Louie” Gurnett
Lester Gurnett…If you’ve met him, you’ll never forget him. He is a true cowboy. Honest, humble, hard working, and genuinely cares about people and life.
The eldest of six children of Bill and Barbra Gurnett. Born in Orillia, Ontario,his family moved out west to the prairies and his childhood was spent in a little town East of Hanna, AB. Being raised in Youngstown, AB, you generally made your own entertainment. Lester and his brother Royce would ride their bikes 2 miles out of town to Jim Armstrong’s (which,at the time) was the Calgary Stampede Ranch. They’d spend afternoons trying to catch a yearling out of the pen and ride him. They finally got the job done on a sorrel with white sox so they bought him, and named him Fox. They trained and rode that horse until he was bomb proof, then selling him to an uncle for his children to ride. In time, the sorrel’s genetics kicked back in and he started bucking, ending up back in the Calgary Stampede herd. Years later (in 1972) the two were reunited, as Lester got on Fox for the last time, in the amateur Bronc riding at the Calgary Stampede.
Lester started riding cows and a few bareback horses at Big Stone, thanks to the likes of Bob Lynn and Art Klassen. In time he ran into Wilf Girletz coming home from the Hand Hills Rodeo and asked “how to enter a Pro Rodeo”. Wilf replied “Don’t bother Kid, you’ll never make it.” Well, for the strong willed kid, that was like pouring gasoline on a fire! As things worked out Hand Hills was the first Pro Rodeo Lester entered, borrowing everything from the Pro’s. The ride looked like he had never been on anything that bucked - BUT he was offered $10 for an instant replay of the buck off.
In 1969, he briefly traded one love for another, selling his bronc saddle to buy an engagement ring. He married Kathy in June of that year. By winter, with his new bride's support, Lester bought another bronc saddle and prepared to hit the rodeo trail…for almost, 50 more years.
He attended Winston Bruce’s Bronc Riding School in ‘71 and ‘72, and John Dodds Bull Riding School in ‘73. Winning the Central Alberta Amateur Bronc Riding title in ‘72 , he filled his permit in the CPRA that fall, and won both the Pro and the Amateur Bronc Riding at Merritt, B.C. He retired from competition in 1986 - having competed at the 1st CFR (splitting a 1 go round and winning 3rd in another for a grand total of $460+/-), and rode once again at the 10th CFR .
His favorite horse, would have to be Vold’s Bobby Dimmer. Bobby was the horse he’d drawn in Morris Mb., July 18 1973. The day before, in Yorkton,Sk., he bucked off a big black bronc. He was travelling with Mel Hyland that night he got a “Royal Education” in TRY versus Wussy. The next day, he learned Kathy had had twin girls. The added pressure of a growing family worked: Bobby Dimmer was great and Lester won first.
In the mid 80’s the Wrangler Pro Judging Program was introduced. Lester was one of the original officials. He judged the CFR 18 times and the Calgary Stampede some 20 times. He was voted by the CFR contestants to Judge the Finals for 13 consecutive years, a tribute to his integrity and the respect he has earned. It’s estimated he’s judged at least 132,000 rides and easily double that in timed events runs. Besides judging Pro Rodeos, Lester would volunteer to judge any high school or match Bronc Ridings. There is no cowboy more willing to put back into the sport he loves.
He goes out of his way to say “Thank You” and shake the hands of the committees and volunteers, grateful for the efforts and time spent to support the western culture and rodeo community. He has sat on the CPRA Board of Directors as both a contestant and an official. He served on the board for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for 9 years, acting as President from 2008 thru 2014. His persistence and leadership secured a home for the Hall in Ponoka, AB.
Since retiring from judging, you’ll find Lester close to home with Kathy enjoying time with their “herd” of 4 kids and their14 grandkids. His grandkids will say there are a few important things that “Buster” (Lester) has instilled in them: “When life bucks you off, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on.” And: “Whether the odds are stacked against you or not, dig deep, find your TRY…then use it.”
You’ll still find Lester around the chutes judging, or just watching young bucking horses at colt ridings and futurities. Wherever he is, Lester’s commitment to represent himself, his family and be an example of the western culture he believes in, is solid. A life full of character and experiences that could entertain you around a campfire for days and when asked to sum it up, he says with a smile, “Well…It’s been quite a ride.” He’d be the first to tell you he’s no saint. You’re right Lester, you’re not a saint…you are a legend! Welcome to the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.