Anyone who follows the news is aware that the newly married British Royal couple, Prince William and Princess Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were on a tour of Canada earlier this month. One can only imagine the surprise of Bolton, who now resides in Calgary, when he got a call from the Office of the Prime Minister, inviting him and his wife to a reception to be held the day before commencement of the Calgary Stampede, wherein not only Stephen Harper, but Prince William and Princess Kate would be in attendance.
“I got a phone call from the Office of the Prime Minister, inviting us (Bolton and his wife Jan) to a reception with him,” Bolton explained during a telephone interview with the Neepawa Press from Calgary on July 13, “I got the call because I am the chair of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce, and I'm a board member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.”
Bolton, who grew up in Neepawa, was a 1977 graduate of Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute, and played hockey for the Neepawa Natives before leaving his home town to pursue other interests, but has not been a stranger to his roots.
“In 1979 I moved away from Neepawa, but I've been back several times. We did some golfing, camping at Riverbend Park, and visiting with friends.”
Local residents should remember Bolton's father, the late Cecil Bolton, who for a time managed the Imperial Oil Esso bulk station in Neepawa, and in his latter years was superintendent of the Neepawa Golf & Country Club. However, he was probably best known in town for his skills as an accomplished hockey player who, as captain of the Neepawa Intermediate 'A' Natives, saw his team win the Manitoba Provincial Hockey Championship during the 1966 – 1967 season.
“My dad grew up in Neepawa, and lived there his whole life,” said Bolton in retrospection, “And if you talk to anyone in town, they'll tell you my dad was like a hockey hero in Neepawa.”
After moving west, Bolton had been on the Alberta Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee for several years, where he worked his way up until his appointment as Chair of the organization this past May. At the reception, which took place on July 7 at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park near Calgary's downtown business district, there were about 500 guests in attendance, and the dinner was somewhat informal, geared to suit the western flavor of the stampede's kickoff.
“When the Royals arrived, there were several thousand people outside to greet them, and there was a rodeo preview put on. They had the kids doing mutton bustin', and there was bull riding, and a chuck wagon race demonstration,” said the former Neepawa resident, “The whole party was hosted by the Prime Minister and his wife.”
At the reception itself, which Bolton described as “a very casual party,” the menu consisted primarily of hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and beef on a bun, and entertainment provided by Paul Brandt and Beverly Mahood. Meanwhile, guests in attendance were decked out in western apparel, including the PM and the royal couple.
After enjoying the royal feast, Bolton had opportunity to chat briefly with Stephen Harper as well as Prince William.
“They were very friendly, not snobbish or pretentious at all,” remarked the bank manager, “Prince William was very quick to offer to shake my hand – very nice people.”
Although he didn't have a chance to chat with the Princess, who was also decked out in jeans, western shirt, and cowboy hat, Bolton said she was just as stunning as portrayed on television.
“She is a beautiful lady – absolutely gorgeous.”
Bolton noted that during the reception he had also had a good chat with Canadian Paralympian Rick Hanson, famous for his Man In Motion World Tour, who was parade marshal at this year's Calgary Stampede.