A former local cowboy and rodeo bull rider, Bob Robertson, will be honoured with an award at the Souris River Rodeo coming up in Weyburn on the weekend of July 18-20, and later this year will be inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association’s Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Born in Weyburn and raised on a farm at Yellow Grass, he grew up wanting to be a rodeo star from when he was a child, and he lived out his dream as a professional bull rider for many years as well as being a professional rodeo judge for 14 years.
He and his family lived on a mixed farm south of Yellow Grass, mostly into grain farming plus raising some purebred Hereford cattle.
“As a kid, farming wasn’t interesting to me. I wanted to be a cowboy from the time I could walk,” said Bob, and he grew up learning how to ride and to rope.
He attributes the assistance of neighbours to contributing opportunities for him to ride and develop his roping abilities, as when he was a teenager he was asked to help neighbours with their cattle. These included neighbours Don Watson, Bill and Dunc Grassick, whose farm was down the road from him, and Otto Erb, who “always made sure I had a good horse to ride. …
They were very influential on me at that time.”
His very first opportunity to compete in a rodeo was at the Goodwater Rodeo, organized by former Yellow Grass resident Don Wilkinson; he had heard of Bob developing as a rider and roper, and invited him to take part in the junior calf roping and junior steer riding events, which he won.
When he turned 18, Bob was hired for the PFRA’s Brokenshell pasture by Cecil Eide.
After a year there, a new manager came in, Harry Schiller, who was involved in rodeo events, and invited Bob to come along with him to rodeos.
“That really got the bug going for rodeos,” he said. Then he broke his back, and it took him some time to come back from that, then he got back involved in rodeo events more and more, moving over into bull riding as his main event.
“It was easy money. I turned pro in 1973 and was in the top 10 in my first year,” said Bob, noting he went on to compete at the Canadian Rodeo Finals for seven years running, including one trip to the National Finals in the U.S.
He became involved with the board of directors for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association, and was director of bull riding for three and a half years, and then when he thought the association was moving in a direction he didn’t like, he successfully ran as president of the association, a position he held for four years. He finished that term in 1989, and around 1991 he was asked if he would like to be a rodeo judge.
“I thought I would try it for a year, and ended up doing it for 14 years,” he said, noting this position took him to all the big rodeos, such as the Calgary Stampede and the Canadian Finals.
Part of what made this possible was that he was self-employed as a fencing contractor from a place at Duchess, near Brooks, Alta.
At a recent rodeo in Brooks, he was presented with a plaque, indicating he is to be inducted to the Cowboy Hall of Fame for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association, and coming up at the Weyburn rodeo, he will be given a life membership gold card for the Canadian Cowboys Association, in a ceremony to be held on Sunday, July 20.
He noted the CCA is the largest semi-pro cowboys association in North America with 65 to 70 rodeos (including Weyburn’s), culminating with the big rodeo at Agribition in Regina.
“I’m looking forward to it; I’m hoping there will be a lot of family there,” said Bob, noting his mother, and his sister, Marion Scott, and her family, along with other relatives, all still live in Weyburn-Yellow Grass area. The Hall of Fame gala banquet will be held Oct. 18 in Calgary.