WPCA Saddened By The Passing Of Legendary Calgary Stampede Track Announcer Joe Carbury
April 4, 1926 - October 17, 2017
The World Professional Chuckwagon Association was saddened by passing of legendary Calgary Stampede Track Announcer on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 from natural causes at the age of 91 years.
Joe Carbury was the youngest of six children born to Peter and Susan Carrabre in the Fort Garry district of Winnipeg, Manitoba on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1926.
Despite his mother’s objections, he followed the lead of his older brothers and joined the Navy in 1944 when he turned 18. For the last two years of the war, all 5 Carrabre boys were in active duty in the Royal Canadian Navy.
Joe was assigned to the merchant navy to make the crossing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool, England. He made a total of 16 crossings (8 round trips) during the last two years of the war. These ships were loaded with war supplies such as tanks and ammunition, and with the Atlantic waters infested with German submarines who were determined that these merchant navy ships did not make their destination. Upon his discharge from the navy, his older sister was disillusioned that people could never pronounce their last name properly from the spelling Carrabre, so she legally changed the spelling of her name to “Carbury.” Joe followed his sister’s lead, and he officially became “Joe Carbury.”
In late 1948 Joe began his broadcasting career at radio station CHAT in Medicine Hat – CHAT in the Hat. His first job as a play-by-play announcer was doing the hockey games for the Medicine Hat Tigers junior hockey team. It was here Joe met a nurse named Rose Renner and on July 16, 1949 they were married. A few years later they welcomed daughters Colleen and Kathleen, and eventually grandchildren Amanda and Garratt. It was a union that would last over 60 years until Rose’s passing on March 11, 2011.
In 1951, Joe left Medicine Hat for the big city and ended up working for CFAC Radio in Calgary. From 1953 to 1958 Joe did the play-by-play for the Calgary Stampeders Football Club. In 1959 Joe and Rose moved east to Hamilton, Ontario to continue doing football play by play only now it was for the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Missing the west, the Carbury’s returned to Calgary permanently in 1961, and Joe began work at both CFAC and CKXL radio.
While working for CKXL, Joe did it all - hockey, football, curling, boxing – you name it. Around 1963 while the thoroughbreds were running down at Stampede Park, Joe took a tape machine and called a couple of races that would air later on. After the races aired on CKXL, a member of the racing association heard it, thought it was pretty good, and asked Joe if he wanted to be the P.A. announcer for the thoroughbreds. It was the start of a new career that he would eventually be best known for.
In 1964 the Calgary Stampede approached Joe about the possibility of doing the evening chuckwagon races. Although he didn't really know what it was all about, he was somewhat familiar with the chuckwagon races, and he was explained to by Stampede officials some of the rules and regulations. Joe agreed to give it a shot and from that day on, the chuckwagon races would never be the same. “There’s the horn! And They’reeeeee Offfff” became a catch phrase that will be forever etched in the brains of anyone who ever experienced a race.
Joe Carbury called his last chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede on July 8, 2008, ending a run of 45 incredible years. Following his final call, Joe was brought in front of the grandstand to say his last farewell. He was joined by his wife and daughters in an emotional moment, and a capacity crowd gave Joe a well deserved standing ovation. A few months later at the World Professional Chuckwagon Association’s (WPCA) annual banquet, Joe was honored with Tourism Calgary’s “White Hat Ceremony.” He received Special Recognition from the WPCA in 1993, and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Joe is survived by daughters Coleen (Jim) Hutton and Kathleen Carbury; grandchildren Amanda and Garratt Hooker. A Memorial Service for Joe Carbury will be announced at a later time.
Joe will be missed by all in the WPCA, and we extend our sincere condolences to the Carbury family.
“And We’reeeeee Offfff.”