Okanagan’s very best cowboy

Canada’s greatest rodeo cowboy has found a home in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Kenny McLean riding saddle bronc in a competition against Casey Tibbs in 1963.

Kenny McLean riding saddle bronc in a competition against Casey Tibbs in 1963.

Canada’s greatest rodeo cowboy has found a home in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Kenny McLean, born and raised in Okanagan Falls, was inducted on July 13, 2013 with his honour accepted by McLean’s only son Guy McLean in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Guy said it was a proud moment to represent his late father.

“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.”

During Kenny’s career, which began at age 17 according to his induction profile into the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Vernon, he was the U.S. national bronc riding champ in 1964, ‘68 and ‘71.  In 77 rides at the National Finals Rodeo, 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.

He 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.

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 during a video montage highlighting McLean’s career.

“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.”