Imperialism at its Finest: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and The Musical Ride
By Natalie Bosc
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Although the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride began as a way for officers to showcase their horsemanship skills, it has since evolved into a show/ritual that is publicly performed at various national events. This article explores and problematizes the role of the Musical Ride as a tool and representation of Canadian nationalism. It does this by first historically situating the role of the RCMP within Canadian meta-narratives, demonstrating how the “Mountie-Myth” supports a specific white-settler representation of Canada and Canadian identity. As an extension and representation of the RCMP, the ride is the beautification of Canada’s imperial history. The ride annually visually re-imagines the RCMP into mythical heroes and physically enacts romantic images of Canadian identity. Further, it assesses the Musical Ride as an invented tradition and argues that it articulates and supports official narratives of ‘Canadianness’ as ‘strong’, ‘northern’, and ‘free’. More specifically, it argues that the ride maintains through its continued practice and performance (and commemoration), exclusionary settler representations of the nation. Thus, this paper contributes to already existing discourse by looking at the role of the RCMP as an idealized symbol of Canadian identity but produces a fuller conceptualization by analyzing the role of the Musical Ride within these frameworks and by discussing what its continued practice says about Canada and Canadian identity within current post-colonial contexts.
Musical Ride, RCMP, identity, mythmaking, commemoration
I am an undergraduate student in my fourth year at Carleton University double majoring in Canadian Studies and Human Rights. Although I have found it difficult to narrow down my research interests and fields of study, the interdisciplinary nature of these faculties is ideal for my multiple interests. However, more recently I have been particularly interested in how some traditions become valued over others within Canadian meta-narratives and what this inadvertently or advertently says about dominant constructions of Canadian identity. I am considering pursuing a master’s degree in Canadian Studies.