Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. – This year’s Canada Day marks the 150th anniversary of our country’s confederation. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the RCMP in Alberta will reproduce the last leg of the 1999 re-enactment of the March West, the cross-country journey that first brought the then North West Mounted Police (NWMP) to our province.
“The 150th is a chance to reflect on and celebrate Canadian history and as we look back, we realize that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police plays an integral part in that history,” says Sergeant Jack Poitras, Media Relations Manager, Alberta RCMP. “The re-enactment of the March West is our way of showcasing a pivotal moment in both Canadian and RCMP history.”
The original March West took place in the mid-1870s following a recommendation from Prime Minister Sir John A. McDonald to establish a police force for the North West Territories. The force would protect Canadian sovereignty and protect inhabitants from whisky traders who preyed on vulnerable communities. The North West Mounted Police Act was passed in May 1873 and Colonel George A. French was appointed Commissioner in October 1873. In late 1873, a troop of 300 men marched from Dufferin, Manitoba to Fort Whoop-Up, now known as Lethbridge, Alberta.
This year’s re-enactment will consist of approximately twelve Mounties on horsebacks and three wagons. Mounties will be clad in both current and period uniforms to showcase the evolution of the Force. On June 30th, 2017, Mounties will begin their ride at 9 a.m. at the Gymkhana Site (Josephburg, Alberta) following a prayer and smudge given by Elder Roy Louis. The procession will end in the Heritage Precinct of the Fort Saskatchewan at approximately 4 p.m. that afternoon. While the procession makes its way to the Fort, members of the public are invited to visit with RCMP veterans and Elder Roy Louis in a traditional tipi set up within the precinct. The veterans and Elder Louis will be sharing personal stories and RCMP history with interested visitors.
On July 1, 2017, a procession of Mounties and wagons will participate in the City of Fort Saskatchewan’s Canada Day parade to celebrate Canada’s 150thbirthday. The group has been named Parade Marshall by the Fort Saskatchewan Parade Committee this year.
The City of Fort Saskatchewan has strong ties to the RCMP dating back to the 1870s. In 1875, the NWMP fort, eventually renamed Fort Saskatchewan a year later, was built as a permanent post for the then NWMP. The current Fort Saskatchewan is located a few kilometres north of the original location and was built with the same dimensions as the original buildings, giving visitors an authentic experience of life for Mounties in 1875.