The pageantry, the pride, the power. Pretty soon, all of Jasper will get to experience the artistry and majesty that is the RCMP Musical Ride.
The world-famous equestrian tradition of the nation’s mounted forces has a history going back 150 years. This summer, the ride is coming to town, thanks to a small team of local organizers including Pattie Pavlov, executive director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, and Sgt. Rick Bidaisee from the local RCMP detachment.
“The two of us want to give back a little bit. We know how big of a deal the musical ride is,” Pavlov said.
It is a big deal. Back in 1873, the North-West Mounted Police (precursor to today’s nationwide police force) served its communities with skilled officers riding horseback. But anyone who has ever ridden a horse knows of that unmistakable connection that one feels with a steed and how that connection can bring with it a heightened ability for the team to dance in union.
And so even those riders, staid in their objectives to keep the law during this country’s early days, discovered their interests in horseplay, for lack of a better term. They engaged in competitions and horse-riding tricks amongst themselves. Over time, that developed into a formal synchronized ride with up to a few dozen horse-rider teams moving in beautiful choreography to musical accompaniment.
When the RCMP was formed in 1920, the tradition carried forward under its new banner with riders now wearing the red serge uniform. It has continued ever since and the RCMP Musical Ride performs multiple times a year across the country and even internationally, much to every crowd’s delight.
It was last performed in Jasper in 1979. The ride will return for two performances in Centennial Park on June 19, a venue that Pavlov says will offer those in attendance an unparalleled view. It’ll be snug in between the soccer pitch and the baseball diamonds.
“It’s amazing. We’re so excited because we have a perfect spot for the public to be able to view from a little bit higher up,” she said. “That would then allow the public to be able to look down on the performance and see some of these very intricate formations that the members are able to achieve.”
The troop includes more than two dozen horses and riders, explained Marc Dureau, the retired RCMP member who now works as the RCMP Musical Ride’s tour planner. He rode with the troop for three years and still holds fond memories of those days.
“To me, it was one of the best jobs ever,” he said. “We travel across Canada. My first show in the public was in Switzerland. It’s amazing. You do a show for 35 minutes. [The audience gives a] standing ovation. One of the best parts is not just doing the show, but it’s after where the public comes and sees you in the stables and you have a chance to interact with the public. They ask you all sorts of questions. It’s a great job.”
The local organizing team (consisting of Sgt. Bidaisee, Pavlov and Pavlov’s husband, ex-RCMP member Stephen Pavlov) is working to make the most of that public engagement while the riders are in town. The three hope to co-ordinate school groups and seniors groups for special visitations. An exhibit at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum is also in the planning stages.
There is still much work to be done before June, Pattie Pavlov said. The horses will be stabled in the hockey arena, which in and of itself will require a cartload of planning and effort. For that, the organizers hope to enlist a team of volunteers for the hands-on work.
Beyond that, there is also the matter of covering the costs. As hosts, Pavlov and the two other organizers (who colloquially call themselves “The Fellowship of the Ride”) are fundraising through a variety of methods in order to finance the special event. Interested members of the public can contact her via the Jasper Chamber of Commerce.
So far, she has only heard the same kind of enthusiasm for the RCMP Musical Ride as she and her Fellowship hold themselves.
“We’re pretty pumped… not going to lie,” she said.
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 09, 2023 at 06:00