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WPCA Grieving The Loss Of Pioneer Bernice Cosgrave

Posted By Billy Melville on August 29, 2023

Bernice Cosgrave
September 1, 1938 – August 15, 2023
Proudly Receiving The Calgary Stampede’s Pioneers of Rodeo Award From
Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Committee Member J.C. Penny (L) At The
Calgary Stampede’s 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2012
Photo By Billy Melville

The World Professional Chuckwagon Association is grieving the loss of chuckwagon pioneer Bernice Cosgrave, who passed away from natural causes on Tuesday August 15, 2023 at the age of 84.

Bernice Cosgrave born and raised in the Drumheller Valley. She was the youngest of  twin daughters born on September 1, 1938 to Edwin and Hughene Burt.   She met Bob Cosgrave at the Hanna rodeo after her and 20 other girls decided to play hooky from school, and the two were married in the Knox United Church on March 10, 1956. Soon after the Cosgrave’s were blessed with 3 children – Richard, Ronnie and Robin.

Bob and Bernice were an integral part of the Calgary Stampede’s Downtown Attractions for many years. She shared in much of her husband Bob’s success as a chuckwagon driver through a host of victories along the way, with the most prestigious wins coming at the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby in 1967 and 1969.

In addition to being a wagon wife and mother, Bernice Cosgrave carved out her own legacy in chuckwagon racing. Beginning in 1956, Bernice worked with Calgary Stampede Announcer Warren Cooper as a statistician for five years. In 1961 Bernice joined radio station CJDV Drumheller and began to cover the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby doing phone in chuckwagon radio reports for 10 years until 1970.  In 1971 she provided race coverage for CFAC radio in Calgary through to 1982 when she joined CFCN television. Although Bernice retired from active duty in the the Eye In the Sky at the Calgary Stampede in 2009, she remained a lifelong fan of chuckwagon racing until her passing.

Over her active involvement in chuckwagon racing covering an incredible 8 decades, Bernice was very proud of her children and grandchildren as the 3rd and 4th generation of Cosgrave’s all became involved in chuckwagon racing as chuckwagon drivers, outriders, administrators, chuckwagon judges, officials and broadcasters.

In 1986 Bernice and Bob were honored by the World Professional Chuckwagon Association with it’s highest annual award – the Chuckwagon Person of the Year, and at the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial Celebration in 2012, they both were inducted into the Calgary Stampede’s Pioneers of Rodeo. 

Bernice Cosgrave was truly a remarkable woman who was not only one of the pioneers of chuckwagon racing, but who made significant contributions of her own to shaping the sport we know and love today. She loved the chuckwagon life and all the people involved in it Bernice Cosgrave was one of the great ladies of chuckwagon racing, and an inspiration to many.

Bernice is survived by her son Ron (Dalene) Cosgrave, daughters Robin (Wes) Walker, Yvette (Tom) Cassidy, daughter-in-law Tara Cosgrave (Ross Nelson), Cody (Miranda) Brown, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her sister Shirley Jean (Burt) Pozzolo and her brother Ken Edwin Burt.

She was predeceased by both her parents Edwin Mchardy Burt, Hughene Vera (McLean) Burt, her husband Robert (Bob) Francis Cosgrave, twin sister Bonnie Jane Koller, brother Glen Murray Burt, grandson Colin Francis Cassidy and her beloved son Richard Robert Cosgrave.

The family wishes to express their thanks for the prayers, kindnesses and sympathies extended during this time.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, September 7, 2023 at 1:00 P.M at the Knox United Church, 195 3 Ave E, in Drumheller, Alberta. Those wishing to remember Bernice with a memorial donation please consider any charity of the donor’s choice.

Bernice will be missed by all in the WPCA, by chuckwagon fans everywhere, and we extend our sincere condolences to the Cosgrave family.

Billy Melville

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