Photos: Creativecommons.org/Kevin M Klerks
When it comes to being Canadian, the Royal Mounted Police are as Canadian as maple syrup. Saskatchewan’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre celebrates the story of how the Mounties conquered the Wild West of Canada. Located in the beautiful capital city of Regina, the centre is conveniently right across the street from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters.
The Feature Gallery in the RCMP Heritage Centre hosts rotating exhibits that cycle through the other RCMP museums within Canada, as well as from the RCMP Historical Collections Unit. The gallery has some fascinating exhibits coming up, such as the iconic portrayal of the Mounted Police by American artist Arnold Friberg. The Beyond Friberg exhibit will also feature works by famous Group of Seven artist Franz Johnston.
The centre’s permanent collection began in 1933, and the collection has since grown to include 33,000 objects that date back to the formation of the North West Mounted Police in 1893. This is by far the largest collection of RCMP memorabilia in Canada. Highlights include the evolution of the uniform throughout the ages, medals, badges, artwork, vehicles, firearms and souvenirs of all kinds.
The collection tells the story of the Mounted Police, highlighting policing during the Klondike Gold Rush, Sitting Bull and the acceptance of uniformed women in 1974. The centre also maintains an archive of dairies from some of the first ever recruits, letters, scrapbooks and photographs. There is also a small library collection of published materials, research files and videos.
There are guided tours every hour in both English and French, as well as audio guides. The first part of the tour starts in the gallery where visitors can listen to stories about the formation of the Mounties, which were originally called the North West Mounted Police. Moving on, the tour follows the Mounties famous March West and visitors can learn about their role in establishing friendly relations with Canada's First Nations and Metis people. From there the tour follows the force’s role in ensuring peace during the Klondike Gold Rush. Visitors should visit the two audio theatres to hear the famous stories of the Lost Patrol and the Mad Trapper of Rat River. The tour takes visitors through the expansion of the Mounties and how they came to earn their royal title.
The final exhibit is all about preserving the traditions of the Mounted Police. Horses have always played an integral part in the force and today the equestrian tradition is kept alive. The RCMP Musical Ride exhibit is new to the Heritage Centre and it demonstrates the formations performed by riders as well as some of the service’s most famous horses.