Follow my mountie exploits this week at #MountieLand
I don't remember when I first heard of mounties, or wanted one of their red serge tunics and carefully pressed, flat-brim Stetson hats. It was definitely before Canada Day when I was 9. That's when my gerbil Steve bit my finger, I bled, I fainted, then flew to Calgary for a family vacation to Banff and Jasper. I never got the hat.
Today I'm off to Regina, Saskatchewan to make a Lonely Planet video on how one becomes a mountie. From the inside. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police "Depot" has trained mounties there since the late 1800s. Recently I asked about joining as a cadet for a '24-hour immersion.' And they surprisingly agreed. One official told me, 'They WON'T go easy on you.'
Meanwhile, a few things to consider about mounties:
- They may be mounties, but they don't mount horses in Regina. Horse riding hasn't been part of the six-month training since 1966.
- Women are mounties too. Since 1974.
- Americans were once mounties. In the early 20th century, most mounties were recruited from elsewhere -- chiefly England but also the US. Canadians took over after the Depression. And now you have to be a Canadian citizen to qualify.
- Mounties aren't for show. They're Canada's full municipal and federal police, akin to 'Canada's equivalent to the FBI,' per the New York Times.
- Mounties still wear the red serge tunic and Stetson (yay!), but only in special occasions, like the daily 'Noon Parade' in Regina, at graduation.
- Dudley Do-Right was invented by a couple blokes from Berkeley, California, and animated in Mexico. And, yes, it IS the same voice behind Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle and Dudley (Bill Scott).