Fort Macleod celebrated the 140th anniversary of the arrival of the North West Mounted Police on Thursday with a party for the ages.
“Our great town is so proud of its heritage and culture,” Deputy Mayor Trish Hoskin said. “Just look what we have here. We have a community that shines.”
Hoskin welcomed hundreds of people to The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police for the afternoon celebration.
Hoskin spoke of the special relationship Fort Macleod has with its neighbours, including the Piikani Nation, Blood Tribe, MD of Willow Creek and nearby towns and cities.
Hoskin included in the town’s good neighbours farmers, ranchers and Hutterite colonies.
“Today as we celebrate Fort Macleod’s birthday, we celebrate its people,” Hoskin said. “Our people carry with them the very history upon which Canada was built. The pioneer blood of our ancestor pulses through our veins.”
“We are hard-working, dedicated, community- and family-oriented,” Hoskin added. “We love to contribute and participate. We are proud of our community and proud of our town.”
“We are Macleod Proud.”
Macleod MP John Barlow urged people as they reflect on the town’s past, to consider the future.
“Although we are celebrating Fort Macleod’s past, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate Fort Macleod’s future,” Macleod MP John Barlow said. “We have some amazing innovative business people in the community and some great programs.”
Barlow brought greetings on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a letter that he read to the audience.
“Residents of Fort Macleod can be proud of this special community,” Harper wrote.
Harper reflected on the arrival of the North West Mounted Police to the area in 1874 led by Col. James Macleod.
“The settlement that grew up around the fort is rooted in western resourcefulness and frontier spirit,” Harper added.
Harper said the anniversary was a chance to reflect on Fort Macleod’s many milestones and share memories.
Harper also praised Fort Macleod for its commitment to preserving historic buildings that led to the downtown core in 1982 being proclaimed Alberta’s first provincial historic district.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Craig MacMillan reflected on observations by Inspector Cecil Denny, who was part of the March West.
“The location chosen looked beautiful to us after the long and weary march west,” Denny wrote. “Beautiful indeed it was with the lofty barrier of snow-draped peaks to the west, the timbered range of the Porcupines to the north and the Oldman valley as far as the eye might reach lined with sheltering woods.”
“The scene was one of peace and loveliness, the atmosphere home-like and restful,” Denny added. “I was glad to learn that our stay here would be permanent.”
MacMillan said Fort Macleod became a “spoke in the wheel” for the development of southern Alberta, the province and western Canada.
“North West Mounted Police and the RCMP have always been privileged in being part of maintaining the communities they came to serve,” MacMillan said.
MacMillan said that is recognized in the work of people such as Col. Macleod and scout Jerry Potts to the men and women who serve today.
The 140th anniversary celebration at the Fort Museum included a free barbecue served by members of town council.
There was a demonstration of 1885 cannon and rifles by the South Alberta Horse Artillery, and the museum’s own Musical Ride.
The scene then shifted to the Devonian Walkway for music and face-painting.
People then moved to the west end of Main Street for entertainment, including singers, highland dancers and First Nations dancers.
A small parade that included RCMP in red serge marching on foot, the Fort Museum’s Mounted Patrol and First Nations riders made it way along Main Street to Midnight Stadium.
At Midnight Stadium a large crowd was treated to performances by Smokin’ Aces Trick Riders, Leon Goodstriker’s Warrior Games and the Fort Museum’s Musical Ride.
The 140th anniversary celebration was capped by a performance by the RCMP Musical Ride.