We never know how the decisions we make will impact our lives until years down the road when we look back.
Heartland's Amber Marshall was named the Parade Marshal of the Calgary Stampede for 2019, following in the footsteps of other famous women who have previously held the honour, such as Patsy Rogers, Jann Arden, and Catriona Le May Doan. The Calgary Stampede website has a full list of Parade Marshals from the past.
This year's theme is A Salute To Women in Western Culture. Amber Marshall, who plays Amy Fleming on CBC's popular series Heartland, has a passion for horses and ranch living, and is certainly representative of western culture in Canada in this respect.
We got a chance to connect with Amber and she shared her thoughts about the Calgary Stampede, growing up with horses, and Heartland...
BW: Have you been involved with the Calgary Stampede in the past? What was your first Stampede parade like? What is one of your favourite things about it?
AM: My first experience with the Calgary Stampede Parade was in 2007 when I first moved out to Alberta to film Heartland. I’ve been able to partake in the parade several times since then and have always enjoyed the excitement and western spirit. Riding my horses to interview the parade participants for the CBC Parade Broadcast has always been my favorite. I am right in the middle of all the action and get a close-up view of all of the entries. The costumes, the floats, the horses, it’s all amazing.
BW: How would you explain the significance of the Calgary Stampede to people outside of Calgary/Alberta?
AM: The Calgary stampede parade is legendary. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the west or not, Canadians from coast to coast tune in to watch. I remember as a child growing up in Ontario tuning into the broadcast. With close to 4000 participants and over 700 horses Calgary really sets the bar for a true western experience.
BW: Being from Ontario, do you see any differences in the culture of Ontario and Alberta? Similarities? Is there anything that stands out?
AM: It’s funny how Ontario has more horses in the province that Alberta does, but the horse culture is so much more accessible out west. Growing up I lived in the city of London Ontario, but I couldn’t get enough of horses. I boarded my horse north of the city and spent all of my free time there. After moving out west for Heartland, I’ve completely adopted the western way of life. I now live on 100 acres with my husband and our many animals, including six horses. All the things we love to do are so accessible. Riding our horses in the mountains, team roping at local jackpots, or just helping friends move cattle from grazing areas.
BW: Is there someone who represents western culture that you are particularly inspired by?
AM: I have made so many great friends since moving to Alberta over a decade ago. Most, are heavily involved in ranching and western living. My friend Kerilee runs 600 head of cattle and continues to inspire me with her hard work and dedication. I get out there as much as I can to help her with whatever I can. It is always a rewarding experience.
BW: You have been playing Amy Fleming on Heartland for more than 10 years. What parts of your personality have made it into Amy's or vice versa?
AM: I believe that over the years my character Amy has become more like myself and vice versa. The writers seem to gravitate to stories that of happened in my real life, and by living on a ranch in Alberta myself, I have intern adopted similar traits to my character. It makes what I do come easily and I love being able to bring a realism to the character.
BW: Recently, we asked Heartland fans what their favourite story is on the series. Do you have a favourite Heartland story or episode?
AM: We have told so many great stories over the years. I think the stories I enjoy the most are the stories between Amy and her horse spartan. I love the connection between girl and horse and how much it has grown over the many seasons. The horse who plays Spartan is named Stormy and he has been playing the role since the first season. Rightfully so, him and I have formed quite the bond. I am very happy to say I will be riding Stormy in the Parade!