Ray Knight

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Ray Knight, right, with Edward Prince of Wales in Saskatoon, Saskachewan, Canada, c. 1919. Courtesy Glenbow Museum Archives and Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine

Oscar Raymond “Ray” Knight was a rodeo organizer, rodeo stock contractor, and rodeo cowboy and champion. In 1902, he established the Raymond Stampede, the oldest and longest-running rodeo in Canada. He is co-founder of the Knight and Day Stampede Company. He has been called the Father of Canadian Stampedes, the Father of Canadian Professional Rodeo, and the Father of Canadian Calf Roping.

He was also a rodeo producer. “Knight produced rodeos and furnished livestock to stampedes in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana. He furnished rodeo stock to the top rodeos in the world at Calgary, Pendleton, New York, and Chicago. He also judged at rodeos including Madison Square Gardens in New York City. For many years he was the rodeo manager and arena director of the Raymond, Magrath, Fort Macleod, and Lethbridge Stampedes. Often he was the rodeo manager, arena director, and rodeo contestant as well.”[1]

Knight was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a settler of the southern Alberta area. His father, Jesse Knight, named the settlement of Raymond, Alberta, after his son. The Knight family established a large ranching operation, laid out a town site on the flat prairie, and built for the expected settlers a church, a park, a school named the Knight Academy, a cemetery, and the Knight Sugar Company factory. The family donated land for a provincial college called the Raymond School of Agriculture.[2]

Knight was born on April 8, 1872, in the Payson, Utah Territory, and raised on a ranch west of Payson. Beginning in 1901, he also lived in Raymond and managed his father’s ranch, which included 400,000 acres, more than 15,000 head of cattle, and 40,000 head of sheep.[3] He also had 2,000 horses.[4] On his father’s ranches, Knight developed his skill in calf and steer roping. He took first prize in the steer roping competition in the first Raymond Stampede.

In 1982, Knight was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Raymond Sports Hall of Fame, the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, and the Albert Sports Hall of Fame.

Knight was married to Hannah Isabelle Smith and they had three children. She passed away in 1906. He married Charlotte Maud Heninger in 1907 and they had five children.

He was a multi-millionaire. His father dug for precious metals in the Tintic mountains near Eureka, Utah, in the 1890s, and when the Humbug Mine came in (1896) the Knights became rich.

Knight passed away on February 7, 1947, and is buried in Raymond, Alberta.