I do not imagine there are many places where one can hear, “And then the cop pulled up next to me on his horse”, and not break a stride. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, are our national police force. Though they no longer carry out typical duties from horseback, horses are ridden ceremoniously or in more picturesque scenes. They are still on-duty police officers
Our Mounties, as we prefer to call them, wear a bright red jacket and black pants. The look is completed by a wide-brimmed hat and boots. Inside sources say these boots are handed to new recruits as black boots which they then must polish until they become the brown we all know and love. These outfits are, though, not used within regular duties, as they are not practical once in a car or walking the beat.
The RCMP have been around officially since 1920. They are a national symbol. In fact, souvenir shops are filled with little Mountie figurines and various Canadian wildlife dressed in wide-brimmed hats.
Mounties go through an intense training program in central Canada, where they learn not only discipline and loyalty to the force, but extreme driving skills, police tactics, and how to take pepper spray to the face. Extra training can include taser use.
As the RCMP services the majority of Canada (a few cities and provinces use their own policing force), Mounties can be deployed any where in the country once they have completed training. Typically, rookies spend their first 4 years in less desirable locations- in the north and smaller towns far from home. Within their career, they will move between many locations. The hope is, especially in smaller towns, that they will not bond past the ability to properly police residents; or create enemies due to their need to arrest or fine individuals.
Mark McLean, a Canadian prairie boy who moved to the West Coast, has spent the past few months living in Michigan and sixteen months prior in Dominica. His time abroad has allowed him not only the opportunity to meet locals and expats alike, but also to get writing. May we all be especially grateful for the latter.
We are taking a fun look at food vans around the world this month. This week we kick off with a photo of a van in Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto, Canada. Our photographer, Ana, says, “They sell ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, fries and poutine. ”
This traffic pattern was never something I had considered before. I grew up with it. We learn how to take advantage of the situation practically as soon as you learn to drive. Then, I had some friends visit from Australia who just had to know how this amazing display of courtesy actually worked. I also heard, recently, that this may be a purely Canadian phenomenon, not North American as I assumed. Maybe someone can chime in.