Canadian Rodeo Pioneer Pearl Mandeville passes away

The rodeo community mourns the passing of Pearl Mandeville. Pearl was inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame as a builder this past fall, and along with Hall of Fame husband Harold, pioneered Canadian Rodeo News and remained at the helm for four years. The publication became a staple of the CPRA and informed and entertained rodeo members and fans for over five decades. Sincere condolences are extended to Bryan, Vicky, family and friends.   The  funeral will be held on Monday, January 11 at Saint Augustine's Anglican Church (411-11 St. S Lethbridge AB). Viewing at 10:00 am and service at 11:00 am.  Our thoughts and prayers are with family, friends and the rodeo community.

Here is Pearl's bio from her induction in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame...

PEARL MANDEVILLE'S learning curve was just about as steep as could be in understanding the sport of Rodeo at which her multi-championed husband Harold made his living. This beautiful city girl from Winnipeg, which is not really considered rodeo country, embraced her new lifestyle with open arms.
With her beauty queen background and experience, she brought a new flair and style to the sport and helped improve the image of Canadian Rodeo. With her sense of fashion, Pearl regularly won "Best Dressed Awards" wearing outfits that she had designed and created herself. 

Pearl hadn't started riding until she was 27 years young, so she had a late start, but she made up for it with record speed and started competing in 1957. She won various rodeo championships including Edmonton on 3 occasions as well as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. She won the 1963 Southern Alberta Riding and Roping Association Barrel Racing Championship and also served as Secretary for a 2-year term. She was the first to bring in a World Champion, Ardith Bruce, to put on a clinic to help teach the sport of barrel racing to the younger generation of Canadian cowgirls. Pearl was also a 3-time Southern Alberta Cutting Horse Champion in the Ladies Division. She is one of those cowgirls that always made herself available to the committees and contractors for grand entries and proudly claims she carried flages for more grand entries and parades than probably anyone in the business. Pearl hung up her spurs and retired from competition in 1972.

Over the years, Pearl timed almost every rodeo in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, as well as the EXPO 67 Rodeo in Montreal. She was one of the official timers at the 1974 Canadian Finals Rodeo returning several more times.

Always a busy lady during the CFR week, Pearl was often found as a judge for the Miss Rodeo Canada pageant and in her spare time she would act as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Ladies Fashion Show as well as supplying vintage clothing from her rodeo days for the models to wear.

Over the years, Pearl organized and participated in many trips to local hospitals with her husband Harold and some of rodeos greats including Marty Wood, Bill Linderman, Tom Butterfield and Alex Laye to name a few. For the inaugural year of Alberta High School Rodeo, Pearl was the promotional Director.

Most Sunday mornings you could hear Pearl doing a radio broadcast for her hometown radio station giving rodeo results. She recalls during Montreal Expo she called in her report daily and she did all of her radio work for no pay, just for the betterment of the sport of rodeo.

In 1964, four of the top Barrel Racers from the east and four from the west competed in Maple Leaf Gardens as part of the Toronto Rodeo. Pearl won 8 of the 9 runs. It seemed that she always had to use a roping or steer wrestling horse as she seldom had one of her own just for barrel racing. On the way home from that Toronto rodeo, Pearl and her travelling partner Harold were casually discussing the happenings of the rodeo. Pearl mentioned to Harold she thought everyone was going to be asking all about Toronto and she said "then why don't you make up a little newsletter?" That comment was made while in Manitoba and by the time they got to Regina it was a newspaper which they would call the Canadian Rodeo News. Pearl recalls they had no formal training when they started. They printed twice a month with a yearly wrap-up of the "Championship Edition" in a book. This was accomplished in the days of no cell phones, computers, fax machines, emails or digital photos! Everything from gathering information, typing, proofing, folding, mailing out and numerous other steps were all done by hand and an enormous task. Each paper sold for 25 cents.

After 4 years of printng the newspaper, in 1968, Pearl and Harold sold the Canadian Rodeo News to the CRCA. 5 decades later we are still enjoying the stories, the standings and information that this publication supplies to the rodeo competitors, committees, contractors and fans of Canadian Professional Rodeo.

Pearl Mandeville, the wife, the mother, the business woman, the first fashionista lady of pro rodeo, the cowgirl and the publisher is also now, and has always been, a Builder of Canadian Professional Rodeo and we welcome her into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.


A rare Pearl, indeed



‘Good Sport’ column by Dylan Purcell

Pearl Mandeville invented a revolutionary newspaper. She met her husband at a poker game. She was a pioneer of high school rodeo. She once gave a young Jerri Duce all she could handle in barrel racing at the Calgary Stampede. She was Guinea pig to a myriad of inventions. She was a fashionista without peer.

She is also a Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee and a former beauty queen.
She was wife to a rodeo legend and a champion of the sport in her own right. She raised two kids and was a mom to dozens more.

She once halted a rodeo by starting her clothes dryer.
Pearl Mandeville has lived a resounding life, one that was duly recognized by the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame this year, and that was remembered fondly by her son, Bryan, on Thursday at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge.
Pearl’s health is failing, and she’s at the hospital receiving treatment, surrounded by family and friends.

A city girl from Winnipeg, Pearl met eight-time Canadian rodeo champion Harold Mandeville at the El Rancho in Lethbridge, where she worked as a waitress. Harold was at a poker game, and its safe to say he came home a winner. Harold died in 2008, married for 56 years to beauty pageant winner Pearl.

Bryan said his mother only held those two jobs in her life: She was an usher at a movie theatre in Winnipeg — “She loved movies,” said her son, who works in movies.
Pearl’s most-known contribution to the world of rodeo came as a matter of practicality. She was driving home with Harold from the Toronto Rodeo when Pearl told her husband they should put together a newsletter to keep people apprised of his go-rounds.

“By Regina, it was a newspaper,” said Bryan.
The family had a ping pong table that didn’t see much ping pong. Instead, it became the distribution centre for the best rodeo news outlet in the world: The Canadian Rodeo News. That publication is now the property of the CPRA and has been running since the Mandevilles — all of them — started it in 1964.

Bryan said he spent countless hours folding newspapers on that table, which turned black from ink. Bryan turned black from the ink, too.
They’d glue the addresses onto the editions — first by painting the backs of the labels with glue. After hours of work, he said they’d emerge dark as night.
“I don’t think I’d want to see a ping pong table now,” said Bryan.

Pearl was also a hostess to an endless lineup of cowboys who would come to the family’s Coalhurst home to participate and train in their rodeo arena — which ran all year round. There were jackpots and steer wrestling nights, including one where Pearl put the whole arena into darkness. Bryan said the house and the homebuilt arena were on the same breaker — and there was laundry to do. So when Pearl turned on the dryer, she left some pretty startled bulldoggers scrambling for steers.

Bryan said his dad built the arena for himself, but it attracted a number of rodeo superstars like Arnold Haraga, Malcolm Jones and many, many more.
Rodeo nowadays is a community, but back then, in the 60s and 70s, it was a family. One big family. And a mother to one was a mother to all. Pearl, who was always at the top of fashion — and won several best-dressed cowgirl competitions — was pretty good at it.
“We all looked out for each other, not just keeping an eye out but as a family,” said Bryan. “You never wanted for anything because everybody was there for each other. No matter what, it was a family.”

Pearl’s volunteer work was unsurpassed. She timed almost every rodeo in Canada, including Expo ’67 in Montreal. But she also looked after her family, Bryan and his sister Vicky, and their extended rodeo family.

Her duties as a wife to a larger-than-life cowboy like Harold didn’t end outside the dirt of a rodeo infield, either. A creative and mechanical thinker, Harold often tested out his ideas and inventions on his wife.

Bryan said at one point, his dad decided to build a set of heated overalls, wired up and hooked up to the battery of the tractor. Harold was no slouch with a sewing machine, and custom-built a pair, even going so far as to try for a patent.

“Mom was his test pilot, and when she got up there, we were all watching, thinking we would see her hair explode,” said Bryan. “But dad was pretty good with his hands, and sure enough, it worked.

“But mom was often a test pilot for some of dad’s ideas.”

Bryan was a rodeo competitor himself, and said his mom was his biggest supporter — emotionally and financially. Never accepting a dime back, she’d help her son out with entry fees when he needed it. She never took a cent back.

“Anytime I won any money, she’d just double down,” he said. “She never made a dime off me, wouldn’t take it, that’s just the way she was.”

When pressed, Bryan said he couldn’t come up with the words to describe his mom. Her accomplishments in the world of rodeo touched many lives and, since there’s still a thriving high school rodeo scene and still a Rodeo News, she continues to make an impact. But Pearl never set out to be a hall-of-famer. She didn’t go looking for a Cowboy of the Year when she waited a poker table. Her modest newsletter, still around after 52 years, was just a way to keep people up-to-date and avoid having to answer the same question over and over. She volunteered as a timer, and as director of high school rodeo. She judged Miss Rodeo Pageants and designed and made outfits for Harold and herself and her children because it’s what you did, and she knew how to do it well. She took cowboys like Harold, Marty Wood, Tom Butterfield and Bill Linderman on hospital visits because it made kids feel better.

But any Google search can tell you what Pearl did. Bryan said why.

“She was the true ideal of loving unconditionally,” he said. “She just loved us and that was it.”
That rodeo family, the one that extends beyond blood, will be saying a prayer for Pearl, who loves them all, unconditionally.