The White Hat Ceremony is a long-standing tradition in Calgary, a symbol of the Western hospitality and good cheer we like to share with visiting guests. The white Smithbilt hat has been bestowed on numerous celebrities and dignitaries on their visits to our city since the 1950s, when Calgary's Mayor, Don MacKay, started the tradition.
MacKay was inspired by the white hat after traveling to Toronto with 250 excited Calgary fans to see the Stampeders compete in the 1948 Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League championship game). The exuberant group sported white cowboy hats, which soon became a hit with easterners, and presented a hat to Toronto's mayor as a way of saying 'thanks' for the city's hospitality. Years later, when he was mayor of Calgary, MacKay began distributing them to visiting dignitaries.
Today, Tourism Calgary and The Mayor's Office welcome dignitaries visiting Calgary with a special white hat ceremony. If you're bringing someone to the city and would like to request a ceremony, please contact Tourism Calgary for more details.