This summer we had the wonderful privilege to attend a R.C.M.P. Sunset Ceremony in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. This was the 1st such ceremony to take place in Alberta.
If anything screams Canadian it’s our wonderful Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in their Red Serge. Whether it’s the Musical Ride, a parade or a ceremony such as this it makes my heart swell with pride at being Canadian it’s seeing these men and women in their ceremonial serge’s.
The Fort Saskatchewan historical society has recreated the first Fort that was put in place in 1875 with the arrival of the NWMP, there were 20 officers led by Inspector William D. Jarvis. The Fort was open in this capacity until 1885 with the decline of the Fur trade in this area. The Historical Society of Fort Saskatchewan started construction to rebuild the Fort in 2009. It includes stables, barracks and cells. All surrounded by walls just as the original had, that protected the officers and civilians of that era. At that time, our RCMP were called the North West Mounted Police or NWMP. The museum is right beside the Fort which takes you right back to the era with the old schoolhouse, the warden’s house, an old courthouse, a blacksmith shop, as well as other buildings and machinery.
The Fort was built as it became a main stopping area for fur traders in the late 1800’s. With that, came the unrest of lawbreakers. Some order was desperately needed and the NWMP were brought in to keep law and order. Prisoners were also transported and kept in cells there while awaiting trial, execution or transport to another area. Things weren’t quite so “civilized” in those days and I’m sure there are numerous stories to be had. Some have been passed down and are on display within the Fort and the museum.
The stables were also available for weary travelers and their tired mounts to rest up, have a good night’s sleep and something to eat so they could be on their way.
The Sunset Retreat Ceremony dates back to the 17th century. It was, at that time, referred to as a military tattoo, which comes from a Dutch phrase of “turn off the tap”.
When the sun went down, a lone drummer would take to the streets of the town to beat out a tattoo. This signalled tavern owners to shut down for the night and for the officers to return to their barracks. Flags were lowered in a ceremony to mark the end of yet another day.
On this evening, there were canon displays as well as the firing of the canon, mounted police in attendance, a robot from the explosives disposal unit, a helicopter, a RCMP race car, a demonstration with the police dogs, as well as a Pipe Band and traditional Pow Wow dancers and a drummer. We were able to chat with the officers before and after the ceremony and learn a bit more about what they do.
This truly was an experience that I will not soon forget and I highly recommend that if you are able, to go and attend this ceremony, or a musical ride and see our Majestic Mounties. We thank them for their service each and every day!
If you want to know more about our RCMP and/or the ceremony please visit their site http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/news/2018/summer-sunset-retreat-ceremonies-start-canada-day-rcmp-academy
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