Canada’s greatest rodeo cowboy has found a home in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Kenny McLean, born and raised in Okanagan Falls, and who lived for many years at a property on Pottery Road in Vernon, was inducted in Colorado Springs, Colo. on July 13 – exactly 11 years to the day of his death from a heart attack.
McLean’s only son, Guy – born, raised and who continues to live in Vernon – accepted McLean’s induction at the Hall of Fame.
“It was an honour. It was cool. It was good for my boys too,” said Guy, whose father died in 2002 while on his horse between events at the Senior Pro Rodeo in Taber, Alta.
“Tayber, my youngest, didn’t get to meet him. It was kind of a good thing for them (sons) to see and recognize what he accomplished and can accomplish if you try.”
An original inductee into the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in Vernon in 1982, Kenny McLean started his rodeo career at the age of 17.
He was the U.S. national bronc riding champ in 1964, ‘68 and ‘71. In 77 career rides at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), he was bucked off only five times.
Versatility helped Kenny win the Linderman Award (1967, 1969) given annually to the cowboy who displays the highest level of excellence at both ends of the arena.
Kenny won the B.C. Amateur Bronc Riding title in 1958 and is a five-time Canadian Saddle Bronc champion. He won a total of 14 Canadian championships in his professional career, and is the only rodeo cowboy ever to be inducted as a member of the Order Of Canada and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Kenny McLean married Vernon’s Joyce Reimer, Guy’s mom. Joyce passed away in 1989.
Guy learned of his father’s induction early in 2013 and had time to think about it. He was feeling nervous about delivering a speech about his dad.
“It was kind of a hard thing to do to stand up there and say a few things,” said Guy, adding that he’s the same as his father in the sense of how much talking he does. “We don’t say a whole bunch if we don’t have to. We just kind of do things and let whatever we do show.”
Talking about his father in front of the crowd brought back memories, especially in a video played.
“They showed him and I at the very end fishing when I was four,” said Guy, who doesn’t have memories of his father in rodeos. “It was pretty tough to kind of … had to take a moment. Sort of a tough one to do. It would have been a lot better if he took it.”