Last month, I finally got to see the RCMP Musical Ride. I’ve wanted to see it for as long as I can remember, and I finally had the chance at the Barrie Fair that took place in August at the Essa Agriplex in Ontario.
Why the RCMP Musical Ride?
There’s something about the Mounties in the Red Serge dress uniform. All in a group, it feels like watching celebrities, not just members of law enforcement. Those comprising the RCMP Musical Ride are a level even higher.
They’re kinda like the pilots the fly the Snowbirds, or even the Men of the Deeps among miners. As I write this, I realize that I’ve now seen all three of those groups in person. That’s quite the trifecta of Canadiana!
My Teenaged Obsession with “Due South”
In the 90s, a there was a show called “Due South” on TV. It was about a Mountie named Benton Fraser who, with his deaf wolf Diefenbaker, traveled to Chicago where, due to convoluted circumstances, he became a liaison officer partnered with Detective Raymond Vecchio, then later Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski of the Chicago PD.
I freaking loved that show. I looked forward to watching every single episode and even watched a few of the scenes being filmed when the crews set up in my neighbourhood or at a mall near where I lived at the time. I was absolutely certain that I would marry actor Paul Gross (who played Benton Fraser) when I grew up. I was right! We’ve been happily married for years. Okay, he’s actually been married to Martha Burns since 1988, but hey, I’m a fiction writer, living in my imagination is what I do best!
Since there’s nothing more powerful than the type of obsession you build for something in your teen years, it was at that time that I first heard of the RCMP Musical Ride and became determined to see it one day.
What is the RCMP Musical Ride?
For those of you reading this (thank you!) and who didn’t have the same Mountie-focused obsession that I went through, and who didn’t consider themselves Due South superfans, here’s what the RCMP Musical Ride is and why it’s so unbelievably awesomepants.
The RCMP Musical Ride is a show put on by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, riding black horses while wearing their dress uniform known as the Red Serge. It’s about a half hour long and involves as many as 32 riders, each of whom are RCMP police officers. The show is done to music while the riders complete complex choreography that require immense timing, skill, and coordination, not to mention control over the horses!
It’s been around for over a hundred years and was first used to help break the monotony of training and drills. It ended up being so cool that they started doing performances, first in Canada, and then internationally.
It’s a big stinking deal (I know, my linguistic mastery is astounding), and I got lucky enough to catch it this year.
The 167th Annual Barrie Fair
I went to the Barrie Fair with my mom this year. I hadn’t been to this particular fair before but was looking forward to it since the local agricultural community has become so important to me since the last fair in 2019.
Mom and I found where the RCMP Musical Ride would be taking place and claimed our spots in the bleachers early, to be sure we’d have great seats. Fortunately, my mother is a seat selecting master, and we had a fantastic place to sit.
The wait didn’t feel that long, and the bleachers filled up quickly, despite how many of them there were! We could see the riders warming up in another paddock, though not yet in their red uniforms. That said, before we knew it, the fully dressed Mounties were entering the paddock in front of us and the performance began.
It was such a rush to see them snap to attention and approach in neat lines ahead of us. Even more of a rush? Their tradition is to request permission to perform from a representative of the space and to salute that person at the close of the performance, and it turned out that I knew the person! It was a friend who worked very hard to make the fair happen, and who deserved every bit of the attention she was given.
The entire event took place in cold, windy, grey, and occasionally drizzly weather, and I barely noticed! I was entirely absorbed in the performance. It was incredible. Astounding! I was in awe and occasionally overwhelmed enough that I cried. Every single second was fascinating.
The RCMP Musical Ride was everything I had hoped to see all these years. It was one of those rare occasions when something completely lives up to all expectations and hopes. I’m grateful to have had the chance to go and to share the moment with my mom (who loved it too, eeeeee!). If you have the chance to see it, I highly recommend it – Due South fan or not.