Thanks for taking time to respond, RileyLewis and uglyredhonda. Much appreciated! I did lots of researching, and couldn't find a way around the crazy costs for one-way rental cars. So, whereas the original plan was more of a cross country route, I really had no choice but to keep the start and end point the same.
Love the Ontario tips, uglyredhonda, but unfortunately October is a busy month, so my trip needs to be in November. That said, I booked flights to Calgary last night. My plan is to spend a few days exploring the Canadian Rockies (fingers crossed for managable weather), then drive east to the Medicine Hat show (bought tickets), maybe hit Edmonton the next day (still TBD) and wrap it up with the Calgary show on Nov. 15 (hooked up the VIP tickets). Fly home to North Carolina the next day.
Would ideally like to hit more provinces, but given costs and the time of year, sticking to Alberta is probably the best way for me to go. Solo trip, so that'll be interesting, but memorable for sure. Pretty excited. Thank you again.