The White Hat Ceremony is a long-standing tradition in Calgary, a symbol of the Western hospitality and good cheer we like to share with visiting guests. The white Smithbilt hat has been bestowed on numerous celebrities and dignitaries on their visits to our city since the 1950s, when Calgary’s Mayor, Don MacKay, started the tradition.
MacKay was inspired by the white hat after traveling to Toronto with 250 excited Calgary fans to see the Stampeders compete in the 1948 Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League championship game). The exuberant group sported white cowboy hats, which soon became a hit with easterners, and presented a hat to Toronto’s mayor as a way of saying ‘thanks’ for the city’s hospitality. Years later, when he was mayor of Calgary, MacKay began distributing them to visiting dignitaries
“I, (speaker inserts his or her name), havin’ visited the only genuine Western city in Canada, namely Calgary, and havin’ been duly treated to exceptional amounts of heart-warmin’, hand-shakin’, tongue-loosenin’, back-slappin’, neighbor-lovin’ Western spirit, do solemnly promise to spread this here brand of hospitality to all folks and critters who cross my trail hereafter. On the count of three, we will all raise our hats and give a loud ‘Yahoo!’”
or as we liked to say YEEE HAWWW !!