This could well have been one of the defining moments in Canadian history since we are probably the only country whose most famous national symbol is a police force.
|The "new" red serge uniform with Stetson.|
As respected as the NWMP were in the Prairies and Klondike, in Ottawa there was a push to disband the force as the west became more settled. This movement ended in 1897, at Queen Victoria's Jubillee parade in London.
"A contingent from the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) was rear guard to the Canadian section. This sparked a number of unfavourable comments from the London press. Placing them at the rear must have been a blunder, reported one paper, as they were a star attraction, resplendent in their red serge uniforms and western-style Stetson hats. The British and Canadian press praised their physical appearance, their riding, and their general demeanour. The NWMP, by their mere presence, had captured the imagination of Londoners."("A Glorious Moment" The Popular Hero, Collections Canada)
"Hollywood never did right by the mounties. The challenge was there, with unlimited opportunities for adventure with fresh, picturesque locales; a group of law enforcers with a noble, proud and inspiring tradition, not to mention their distinctive redcoats; and the potential of blending rugged, Western-type action with, to non-Canadians, a tinge of the exotic allure of a foreign country. With everything at their disposal, the movies generally blew it."("Trails North" Hollywood Corrals, 1976)
Flawed as they were, those movies are as much a part of the "Mountie" mystique as the more accurate, albeit tongue in cheek portrayals in Due South and Gunless. The fictional stories - whether in print or film - are as much part of the heritage of the RCMP as Sam Steele and almost as iconic as the Musical Ride.