Any trip to Regina, the provincial capital of Saskatchewan should include a tour of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Depot, or training academy. In my 32 years of law enforcement, training academies were nothing unusual, but here was the famous, often described, center for the training of Canada's heroes. Those soldiers in red, often pictured riding off into the sunset to save a damsel in distress, or to dash some criminal's hope of stealing all the gold, as depicted on many a silver screen in the American Pictures of mid '50s. "The Mounty always got his man". Off the screen, the RCMP, as it is referred to now in Canada, is a vibrant full service national police force made up of over 20 divisions with a total strength in the thousands. They are contracted by all the territories and all but two Provinces for provincial police service, something akin to State Police in the U.S. Ontario and Quebec being large enough to provide their own Provincial Police. In addition, many towns throughout Canada privately contract with the RCMP for police protection. The RCMP takes full advantage of its colorful image and goes to great effort to afford an opportunity to the public to see the Depot in action. The center point of this opportunity is the RCMP Museum on the east side of the parade field. Here the epic story of the RCMP unfolds in picture and artifacts. From the desperate original writings of Inspector Fitzgerald of the lost patrol, to the suppression of the Great Canadian Rebellion, the work of the Mounties is laid out in a wandering maze of glass cases and free standing displays. The small theater seating only a few dozen, shows films on the history of the organization as well as a great film on the famous "Musical Dance" which is performed by the mounted honor guard, most familiar as a symbol of the RCMP, seen around the world. The red-coated Mounties on huge black horses. From here we went to the parade ground for the Friday afternoon Sergeant Major's parade. The Academy is made up of over 50 buildings situated on 740 acres of land. It generally houses some 600 cadets for the 22 week basic training course plus any number of non-RCMP officers taking special training offered at the Academy. Today's parade consisted of 4 platoons of 26 cadets each, led onto the field by a talented band, which included a lone piper. The inspection and march was very crisp and military-like. In precision movements, with swinging arms, the platoons moved about for their inspection. Each move or turn was executed with a high stepping snap of the right leg by the inspector in motion. It was reminiscent of old movies of the British Army on parade. As is the case the RCMP is very British. From the famous red fringe tunics to their marching order, they are British through and through. After the parade, we joined a tour given by a local university student working a summer job. This took us into the Academy itself. Next to the museum stands the original chapel which has served the non-denominational religious needs of the Depot since its creation. Inscribed along the walls are the names and circumstances of those who died in the line of duty. In the front of the chapel flanked on either side of the alter are two large stain glass windows depicting the past and future of the RCMP. The chapel is still in use today and any deceased, retired Mountie has the right to a funeral service there. One was actually scheduled for later in the afternoon, as we watched cadets mastering their martial arts or practicing the drill. As we prepared to depart, I found myself leaning against the front desk chatting with an old retired Mountie with a gruff Scottish brogue. I asked him what he thought would be equivalent to the Mounties in the U.S. He smiled, thought for a moment and then said "FBI agents with ticket books." Having known many an agent for our FBI, the image I conjured up of one of them making a traffic stop was most amusing.
*** THE END ***