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Canadian rodeo legend Jack Daines dies

Former Innisfail Auction Market general manager, Innisfail Pro Rodeo organizer was 85
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Jack Daines at the Innisfail Auction Market on June 18, 2014. File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – Legendary Canadian rodeo promoter, competitor and announcer as well as successful Innisfail-area businessman and auctioneer Jack Daines has died.

His brother Ivan Daines confirmed that the 2000 Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and 2009 Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee died shortly after Christmas in Red Deer. He was 85.

Among his many rodeo accomplishments, Daines was also the general manager of Innisfail Auction Market for years as well as the organizer of the Innisfail Pro Rodeo.

“Over his career, Jack was one of the biggest promoters of the sport in North America, if not the biggest.  His impact was far reaching, shining a spotlight on rodeo in Central Alberta and bringing world-class cowboys to our country,” said Kynan Vine, rodeo administrator of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association when Daines announced his retirement from the Innisfail Pro Rodeo in 2014.

Vine added at the time that Daines’ legacy to his family and community was widespread.

“Jack’s lasting impact on rodeo has been that of sport builder, promoter and supporter and we are sure that the Daines family, which has been part of the sport since 1950, will be ongoing,” said Vine back in 2014. “Jack’s direct hand on rodeo in Alberta will be missed but will never be forgotten.”

Born on May 18, 1936, Daines spent his entire life in the Innisfail area. His father, Snowden Daines, was born in Norfolk, England and came to Canada and Innisfail at the age of three in 1911. Jack’s grandfather, Bill Daines, was a blacksmith in Innisfail.

In his childhood, Daines rode horses to the local Niobe School and met cowboy Jack Wade, brother of the Niobe elevator operator.

Wade, a saddle bronc rider, had tales of rodeoing in the United States and Daines was impressed with Wade’s personality and lifestyle, wrote Audrey Daines, Jack’s wife, in a submission to the Albertan in 2017 when Jack was profiled as one 150 Albertans who helped shape the province and Canada.

When Daines was 12, he braided his own rope, hitch-hiked to Olds and entered the steer riding competition at the local rodeo.

“When he went to get on, he never knew how to put his hands around the rope. He took hold like you go to pick up a rock with knuckles up. The cowboys helping him said ‘you don’t ride like that.’ He said ‘Oh yes, that’s the way I’ve always done it,’ but he had never done it before,” wrote Audrey in the submission.

He did well and still had the trophy for winning the steer riding competition that day in 1949.

In the 1950s, there were no professional rodeo schools but Audrey wrote that her husband's boost to his riding ability was the fact that his father was an auctioneer and also traded in horses. In 1953, Daines progressed from steer riding to riding bulls and saddle broncs while at the same time farming with his brother Jim.

In 1955, Innisfail Auction Market was built and Jack was on staff. A year later, he won the Canadian novice bronc riding title and repeated the feat again in 1957.

He married Audrey (nee Severtson) in 1957 and the following year their son Duane was born, followed by daughters Brenda-Lee in 1960 and Joanne in 1963.

Daines started as an auctioneer in 1959 to help his father with the increased workload of farm sales and the auction market. He was able to continue the rodeo circuit and then in 1961 he added another accomplishment. When central Alberta rodeo announcer Archie MacDonald retired, Daines tried his hand at announcing.

“…and with his knowledge of rodeo events and competitors, found that this was a job he was well qualified to do,” wrote Audrey. “For the remainder of the decade, Jack attended rodeos in the double role of contestant and announcer.”

With Daines' interest in rodeo, he helped his brothers Ivan, Glen and Franklin in boys steer riding. Ivan was the only one who continued with rodeo as a career.

In 1961, Daines started plans to build rodeo grounds north of Innisfail on ranch land owned by the family. Audrey wrote that he built 52 gates over the winter. The Daines Ranch, as it would become known, was the site of the Little Britches Rodeo which ran for 25 consecutive years and is where he held his first Innisfail bucking horse sale which has gone on for decades. He then later organized the first Innisfail Pro Rodeo which endures today. During the 2014 rodeo, he announced he was hanging up his hat and the rodeo continues to be run by a new generation of the Daines family.

The 1969 Calgary Stampede board sponsored its first boys steer riding school and asked Jack to be the instructor.

In the 1970s, with the demands of announcing and being manager of the Innisfail Auction Market, Audrey said her husband phased out of active rodeo competition.

Audrey’s submission included the story of a fateful day in the fall of 1970, when Daines tried to treat a 900-pound steer suffering with pinkeye. Letting go of the restraining rope, she said the knot at the end of the rope hit her husband's face and he lost one eye and spent six weeks in an Edmonton hospital with his remaining eye covered.

“During his enforced rest, Jack had time for reflection to consider his own future and he reached a decision to make the market not the biggest -- but the best running, a top-quality service -- a priority,” she wrote. “Also, to continue his love and promotion of the sport of rodeo.”

Over the years, Daines' service as an auctioneer has benefited numerous charitable functions including 4-H calf sales, cancer fundraising trail rides, as well as Lions Club and sports medicine events.

His awards are numerous and include what some would call an especially apt one earned in 2010 -- the Good Old Cowboy Award given out during the National Finals Rodeo Cowboy Reunion celebration.