Saturday, June 28, 2014

Canada Day 2014: RCMP and Railways

It's always been a Trackside Treasure tradition to honour our home and native land on Canada Day. Sometimes with views from a train, sometimes with other non-train scenic views. Check out links to each Canada Day tribute in this Canada Day 2013 post. In light of recent newsworthy events in Moncton, NB involving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, it seemed that this famous force was a natural nexus for a traditional/train tribute this Canada Day, with some RCMP photos I've taken. I had the opportunity to visit "Depot" Division, Regina in 1982 with my aunt and uncle, who snapped these two photos. The RCMP Chapel is the oldest remaining building in Regina:
The RCMP Museum, (which became the Heritage Centre in 2007) included a short section of track, a handcar, and various artifacts associated with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A young, sunburned future blogger ponders the endless prairie stretching out to the horizon: The Great Lone Land/L'Immense Solitude. Lawlessness there led to The March West, setting out from Dufferin, MB on July 8, 1874 just over one year after the North West Mounted Police was established by Parliament on May 23, 1873. This epic journey was re-enacted 125 years later in 1999!
What could be more Canadian than the RCMP Musical Ride? This exquisite equestrian exhibition embodies the synergy between man and horse. This connection was a main part of the force's storied history as well as the only way to patrol vast expanses of the Canadian west. At the Kingston Exhibition in 1984 (above) and Expo 86 in Vancouver (below) the riders perform The Maze and The Dome, respectively.
After the Expo performance, the Ride returned to their specially-constructed stables nearby. I made sure I sat in the last row of the grandstand at one performance, just to make these photographs. The pennons on the 9-foot lances have a particularly bloodthirsty origin. Equitation training for every recruit was discontinued in 1966; the Musical Ride now operates from "N" Division, Ottawa.
Note the fused 'MP', a registered brand symbol allotted to the NWMP on June 7, 1887 and the yellow-trimmed shabracque saddle cloth, with the officer's version displaying unique symbol and piping (above)
The horses cool down in the paddock. Can you see the maple leaf symbol high on each horse's rump, made with a wet brush and stencil before the Ride begins?
RCMP contingents rode in the Diamond Jubilee parade for Queen Victoria in 1897, and every Royal Jubilee and coronation since. Receiving the designation "Royal" in 1904, then the RNWMP, the force was renamed the RCMP in 1920. Members served in the Boer War and World War I as Cavalry, then in World War 2 in the Provost Corps. At Brockville ON in June 1994, the Ride takes the field:
 Can't you hear the horses puffing in the humidity?
The March West included some larger-than-life figures. "B", "C" and "F" Divisions, under Assistant commissioner James Macleod, who would establish Fort Macleod,passed through the scenic Cypress Hills, where they established Fort Walsh. Named for Superintendent James Walsh, the post was nicknamed "The Cradle of the Force", and was the site of the RCMP horse-breeding ranch from 1942 to 1968. The NWMP was charged with safeguarding railway construction after 1881, as well as being the de facto civil authority, serving as mail carriers, census takers, customs collectors and maintaining weather records.
Snapped form the Park car dome aboard No 1 in 1986, Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevators at Walsh (above) and Irvine, (below) named in honour of Col. A. Irvine, NWMP commissioner are just over the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Both towns are now sans elevator.
Serving as the contracted provincial police force for Saskatchewan since 1928, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island since 1932, then Newfoundland and British Columbia since 1950, a visit to "Depot" Division in 1985 netted this view of the car park with seemingly endless cherry-topped cruisers. Also on hand were Dodge Diplomats with speedometers that reached 120 mph!
With a historic connection to the Canada's unifying railway, it's inevitable that there have been subsequent connections with Canadian ferroequinology:
-the application of the Musical Ride logo to CP GE locomotives
-an RCMP-painted track speeder operated on CN from Gillam, Manitoba UPDATE: Found this photo, taken by CN employee Joe Jarvie, patrolling Gillam-Ilford MB in 1986. Thanks to M A P.
-Kamsack RCMP responded and photographed the washout under VIA's Churchill train near Togo, Saskatchewan in April 2013
-RCMP pallbearers carried the caskets of Prime Ministers Trudeau and Diefenbaker to their funeral trains
-CBC's Due South series featuring Paul Gross included an episode in which the Musical Ride travelled by rail, the riders disembarking from three special RCMP-decalled COFC cars! (Below) Photo from William and Elyse's Due South website, showing the train pulled by CP 3072- three COFC flat cars - VIA Hunter Manor - VIA coaches 8100 and 8103 and a CP van, filmed on CP's Owen Sound Subdivision in March-April 1996:
The RCMP motto is the French Maintiens le Droit. In English, this translates to Maintain the Right, not Drive on the Right, nor Hold High the Finger. A horse and rider survey Rocky Mountain scenery in this stereotypically Canadian postcard view from my collection. The top photo also shows other views of Canada's Number 1 postcard subject!

Running extra...

What's Canadian/What's Not?
Stephen Harper/Valerie Harper; PEI/pie; poutine/Putin; Wayne & Shuster/Simon & Schuster; Budd Wiser/Budweiser; Gulf of St. Lawrence/Gulf of Tonkin; Guess Who/The Who; Standard Time/Greenwich Mean Time; Mike Myers/General Richard Myers; Canadian Club/Rotary Club; Eaton's/Eton; Churchill MB/Winston Churchill; BlackBerry/Chuck Berry; Robertson screws/Phillips screws; Niagara Falls.

It's hot outside! You kids go play in the sprinkler. Even if you are moose.

Randy O'Brien sent a photo of the latest addition to his Clifton Junction Railway layout - Tangent Scale Models' CRDX Manitoba covered hopper car. Read more here - thanks, Randy!


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Great post on the Musical Ride! We saw them in Prince Rupert in 1957. Very spectacular to have a group of Mounties heading at you at top speed! Still have a record of it on silent 8mm film! Actually, we enjoyed other cultural events in Rupert, such as the Don Cossack Choir. And who could forget Ken Hurtley's Hell Drivers. Couldn't round up a junker that ran, so thy pushed cars through their daring stunts with a tow truck!

Eric said...

Right, Robert. The Charge was always at the end of the program, just before the march past to the regimental march. A similar program for the Kingston Exhibition in 1988 included the Carleton Show Band, Hell Drivers, RCMP Musical Ride and even pig races! Oh, and don't forget Canada's country gentleman, Tommy Hunter.

Thanks for your comment, and Happy 1st and 4th to all!

Jason Sailer said...

Love it Eric! I grew up in the area of Irvine & Walsh, Alberta and often remembered the grain elevators there. Those elevators inspired me to photograph them after seeing these ones fall. FYI the RCMP musical ride horses were raised at Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan on the former location of the original NWMP fort in the Cypress Hills. The horse program at Fort Walsh existed from 1942 to 1968 when it was moved to Ontario. The recreated buildings at Fort Walsh originated from the horse breeding program, and are used today as an historical recreation of the NWMP presence in the Cypress Hills

Eric said...

Thanks, Jason! I'd planned to do a post on the CP, wildlife and history of the Cypress Hills. This will have to do for now. It is a very scenic area, especially to those who think the Prairies are just flatland.

But I will be sharing photos of my trip through Sask/Alberta taken from the Park car and vestibules aboard VIA No 1.


Kevin said...

Wow , I am thrilled to discover this blog! My dad was a CPR man for 38 years in Moose Jaw. My Grandpa was before him and I have 3 Uncle's who retired as CPR men.I also worked a few years in Moose Jaw. I will pass the word!
PS - I am looking for one of the original "Beaver Shields" ( metal ones) that were on the side of the old passenger trains. Any idea where to find one and/or what they are worth? Thanks.

Eric said...

Kevin, welcome aboard - glad you found Trackside Treasure. Unfortunately, the Blogger platform is not that great at hosting a table of contents, but like most blogs, you can find archived posts and post labels in the right sidebar.

I would imagine an actual beaver shield would be fairly valuable. There have been some reproductions made since that will look just as good but be less expensive.

By all means, spread the word about this little corner of Canadian railway cyberspace!