Fort Macleod's NWMP Musical Ride is Western Canadiana


A ZenSeekers' road trip isn't complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, and culinary, learning and cultural experiences. During summer 2018, create your #BucketlistAB itinerary in Southern Alberta and come and stay a night and see a sight.

Matthew Bailey

When a town is named after the main attraction, you know it's a place you don't want to miss. The Fort, which is located in Fort Macleod, is home to the museum of the Northwest Mounted Police and First Nations Interpretive Centre. I decided it was time to check it out. For all the history buffs out there, this is one place to add to your bucket list.

The Fort Museum is a recreation of the original fort that was located just about three kilometres away. Created in the 1950s, it was built to highlight what the original fort may have looked like. Dedicated to preserving the history of the NWMP and local First Nations people, the museum houses a variety of artifacts such as NWMP uniforms, First Nations clothing, a beautifully restored carriage ambulance, and various heritage buildings.

Watch The Fort Museum #BucketListAB on YouTube.

Aside from getting a look at what the fort looked like back in the late 1800s, the uniforms worn by the NWMP and First Nations artifacts, one really cool feature is getting to walk the catwalk. This was the perimeter where the Mounties kept watch in the event of any potential threats.

Fort MacLoed
Photo: Matthew Bailey

The riders show off their horseback riding skills during the NWMP Musical Ride in Fort Macleod. 

But the real treat of the day was being seeing the NWMP Musical Ride. Although this is not the official NWMP Musical Ride and is not operated by NWMP members, it's an excellent replica and is offered daily all summer long. It’s the only onsite musical ride performance in Canada. Happening four times daily in the summer, you’ll be entertained by the talented, beautiful and perfectly trained horses. Well, except for Canada Day that is.

"On Canada Day each year, one of the horses always bucks one of the riders off. After that, he no longer misbehaves,” says Sandi Davis, executive director. “It's almost like he knows it's a big event and he just wants to show off this one time. It's quite funny."

Fort MacLoed
Photo: Matthew Bailey

Riders wet and scuff the horse’s hair into the shape of a maple leaf.

Before the show started, we took a tour through the stables to see the horses up close before the show began. (The Fort also offer a unique Groom A Horse program for people who are crazy about horses.) Some of the stars of the show were there, including Belle, Jesse, and Bayley. Noticing a maple leaf “tattoo” on the rump of each horse, I wondered how they do it. It actually involves a bit of artistry, using a brush, a stencil, and a little bit of water. When the show is over, they just brush it off. It's a beautiful touch and makes it a truly Canadian performance.

Sitting in the stands to watch the horses, the show is narrated by a member of the museum, while riders and their horse's parade around the outdoor arena, showcasing their skills through a series of intricate moves and drills choreographed to music. The history of how the musical ride got started is simple. The first recorded ride happened it 1876 and was a way for the officers to have a little relaxation and fun from the demanding drills and daily work day.

With the utmost control, timing, and coordination, it’s an impressive sight that goes off without a hitch, with all of the horses behaving and no one getting bucked off.

The Fort Macleod NWMP Musical Ride is an entertaining glimpse into the heritage and traditions of Canada's national police force, all within a beautifully maintained historical site.

If You Go

Fort MacLeod is around two and a half hours south of Calgary.

Learn more about BucketlistAB here.

Grab an awesome itinerary and start your Southern Alberta adventure.

Check the Fort Macleod website to start planning your trip and find other activities in the area.

Travel Alberta also has lots of great information about things to do and places to see in Fort Macleod.

Matthew Bailey is a Canadian travel writer, photographer, and video host with . Follow his travels on Instagram and Twitter @MatthewGBailey and @MustDoCanada.

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