With his signature fringed buckskinned jacket, 10-gallon hat, and powerful, booming voice, “Big Henry” Castillou was more than a staple at the Nicola Valley Stampede for years.

He was the announcer of the event, and an ardent supporter from it’s inception, to the time it was cancelled due to the ongoing war overseas in 1940. He was the “cowboy judge,” who donated his time and money to the event, supporting local riders and ranchers. Perhaps most memorably, he donated and lent his name to the stampede’s most prestigious trophy: the Castillou Cup, awarded each year to the stampede’s champion bronco rider, along with a crisp $20 bill.

The only stipulations for winning the cup: the rider must hail from the Nicola Valley, riding on a Nicola Valley horse.

But after the stampede was cancelled in 1940, and “Big Henry” turned his attention towards his burgeoning career as a court judge, the Castillou Cup also faded from memory.

Now, the granddaughter of “Big Henry” is returning to her grandfather’s ancestral home in the Nicola Valley, in part to present stories and photos of her remarkable relative.

But also, in part, to find the Castillou Cup.

Jolene Castillou-Cumming is a historical enthusiast who now lives on the coast in Vancouver, where she has put together a number of historical talks, often centred around women’s roles in local history.

When she comes to the Senior Citizens Recreation Centre Hall on June 9, however Castillou-Cumming will be focusing on one “big” man — her grandfather, Big Henry, and the role he played in the Nicola Valley Stampedes — and the long lost cup which shares his name.

Big Henry was born in Coldwater, about ten miles south of Merritt, in 1896. The son of two immigrants, Castillou grew up as a cowboy and a rancher, riding horses throughout his youth, explained Castillou-Cumming.

But it wasn’t until later in his life that Castillou would truly realize his passion for rodeos and stampedes. From 1934 to 1940, during the depths of the Great Depression, the City of Merritt and surrounding ranches, came together to create the annual Nicola Valley Stampede.

Although he wasn’t officially involved right from the get-go, his booming court voice would echo throughout the grounds, and his familiarity with the horses, and the people in the Nicola Valley made him an easy pick to be the official Stampede announcer.

Stories from the Merritt Herald’s archive describe him thusly: “He knows everyone and will entertain with descriptive touches about local figures, whites and Indians, from behind the loud speaker.”

And should she find the cup, Castillou-Cumming said it belongs in Merritt.

The talk is free, and open to the public. For more information, contact the Nicola Valley Museum and Archives at (250) 378-4145 or by email at [email protected].