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-- Jonathan Swift

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A Virtual Sampler of American Small Town Life


Looking Back --

Sumas's Wild Rodeo Days, 
Circa 1910

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Hans Richter and Paul Scherson at the Sumas Rodeo in 1910.

DURING THE FIRST few years of this century, an annual cavalcade of big-hatted, noisy cowboys raised the dust in Sumas, Chilliwack and other towns in the lower Fraser Valley. Among the best known was a towering wilder from Keremeos, B.C., Hans Richter, the fifth son of an early provincial cattle baron, Francis Xavier Richter, and his Indian wife, Lucy.

Hans was a real cowboy who herded wild horses from the Kootenays clear across B.C. for his shows. Similkameen Bill, Wampus Maude, Tiger Jim, Yellow Mustard, and Little Wonder were some of the famous horses which were once part of his rodeo string. He won the Canadian National Championship at Vancouver riding a horse called Rattlesnake in 1906. After taking first the following year, he was in position to win a permanent trophy with a victory again in 1908.

Instead, he busted. When anyone asked what happened, he'd just say, "I got drunk," and smile. That same smile is evident in the photo of Hans Richter on the cover of this issue of the Astonisher. Taken in Sumas in 1910, the photo shows Richter and his neighbor, Paul Scherson. The two Osoyoos cowboys were in town for the old Sumas Rodeo, which drew thousands in the years before World War I.

Apparently Richter and Scherson enjoyed some success in Sumas that year, for another photograph survives of them sitting astride their horses on Cherry St. outside the photography studio, which was located next to where Lo's Garden is now. From looking at the photo, you get the impression they owned the town.

A towering figure, he was famous for his good looks -- and the fact that his first wife, Rachel, wouldn't let him out of her sight. She rode with him on even his roughest jaunts.

-- Ann Briley

(Ann Briley lives on Wannacut Lake, WA, near Keremeos, B.C -- Ed.)

Reprinted from the February 1992 Sumas Astonisher


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149 Years of El Pelota, 1866-2015

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