How A Horse’s Hotel Access Became The Biggest Story In Canadian Football

  • Glenn Davis

On Sunday*, the Calgary Stampeders play the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup, the CFL championship game… and all anyone’s talking about is a horse. Why? Well, there’s someone named Marty**. Marty is a horse – not a person dressed in a costume, but an actual real live horse. And whenever the Stampeders make it to the Grey Cup, there’s something they like to have Marty do:

On Thursday, the group’s chairman trotted a horse named Marty through the front doors of the upscale Fairmont Royal York Hotel as a crowd of cheering fans hooted and chanted “Go Stamps Go!” The tradition of Stamps fans riding a horse into the hotel lobby began in 1948 when Calgary won the CFL championship in Toronto.

Just riding a horse into a hotel. No biggie. But it wasn’t easy to make happen: at first, the hotel turned Marty away:

But the backlash was too much, so they reconsidered:

…and finally relented:

Tradition upheld. And people went nuts. Columns were written in Marty’s honor. Poems were written in Marty’s honor. As you can see above, the guy riding Marty into the hotel was sure loving it. Marty made the front page of Canada’s biggest newspapers. And I even managed to get a taste of Marty-mania via Hilary George-Parkin, associate editor of our sister site Styleite. Hilary’s currently in Toronto, where she’s originally from, and in discussing this matter with her, its national import became more and more clear:

Hilary: my parents contend that there is nothing weird with a horse walking into a hotel
“it’s not like it was a moose or something” – direct quote
they are now arguing over which bar the horse went to for a guinness later in the evening

(Ed. note: Yes, Marty later enjoyed a beer at a local watering hole. This is the best story ever.)

he also went to a bank! #torontonews

With Canada’s opinion clear, there was someone we still hadn’t heard from: SportsGrid’s resident horse expert, Horse_ebooks. I tried to contact Horse directly to get his opinion, but sadly I didn’t hear back, so I’ll just have to divine what he thought from his Twitter account. So what’d you make of all this, Horse?

Well, I agree it’s marketing gold for the Stampeders, Horse, but I certainly don’t think it was hype-free. Why, I’ve spent this whole post documenting just how hyped Marty’s hotel visit was. What’s the big takeaway from all this, you think?

Now that’s a good point. You’re saying you’ve got to take advantage of your chances. Marty got turned down at first, but did he give up? No, and look where it got him. That could be a real inspiration to the Stampeders as they play for the title, I think. Anything else we should know about the Marty saga?

Wait, did you go to the bank with Marty?

Okay, we get it, you think you’re a big financial expert now. We should probably wrap this up. Any message for Marty before you go, Horse?

Strong words from a strong horse. Well done, Marty. And just in case you were worried the hotel didn’t have a way to properly commemorate his stay: Marty signed the guestbook.

It was a great honor. For the hotel.

Photos by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press (via the National Post’s sports tumblr) and via National Post, by Peter J. Thompson

*/** Fixed after it was pointed out that I screwed up: 1) the day of the Grey Cup; 2) Marty’s affiliation. As always, if it looks like I screwed something up, it’s probably because I did.