Monday, May 20, 2013

Victoria Day at Fort Calgary

The Mounties just had their 140th birthday and we were a part of the action.

The Canadian Parliament passed an act to form the North West Mounted Police in on May 23, 1873, and the force's first action was to march from Winnipeg to Fort Whoop-Up (modern-day Lethbridge) in summer of 1874 to clean up the cross-border whiskey trade. They arrived to find Whoop-Up deserted, so they moved further along the Oldman River to establish Fort MacLeod. The following summer the force began construction of Fort Calgary at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers.

The fort was rebuilt in 1882, and then demolished in 1914 for use as a rail terminal. The site was later planned for a freeway, but in 1974 the city of Calgary chose to reclaim the land, removing the warehouses and rail facilities to reveal remnants of the original fort walls. A replica of the 1888 barracks was added in 2000.

Thirteen years later we showed up at the Fort to eat cake, try on authentic uniforms, receive balloon animals, have faces painted, check out exhibits about Calgary history, and watch an episode of Dudley Do-Right.

Scott thought he got an exceptionally good deal. He observed that some kids only got small spider design on their cheek, but he got a Spiderman half-mask that was WAY better. He also noted that he wasn't interested in getting a balloon animal until he saw a boy get a Spiderman balloon, and then he was convinced. He observed that the final creation didn't really resemble a real Spiderman very much, and commented that it looked like stick figure more than anything.

Katie was super-excited about her butterfly face paint and her purple-heart balloon wand. She especially liked all the vintage toys that they had set out. I was a bit surprised myself at how fun and interesting some classic wooden toys really are.

I have done a few early-morning runs near the fort and I have appreciated the beauty of the area and I think the city has done a really good job here. I had very little knowledge of the history and I found it all fascinating. We have had a special spot in our hearts for the RCMP since our time in Ottawa watching the Musical Ride, so it was fun to see how the force was instrumental in the founding of our home town.

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