Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) has a long and distinguished history that started like this:
In January 1900, Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona and MountRoyal) offered to raise and equip a mounted regiment at his own expense to serve in the South African or “Boer” War. Because of their toughness, most of his recruits were cowboys and frontiersmen from Western Canada and members of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP). Command of “Strathcona’s Horse” was given to the now famous Superintendent of the NWMP, Sir Sam B. Steele.
Lord Strathcona’s Horse arrived in Cape Town, South Africa in April, 1900 and quickly became essential to the British Army. Employed as scouts because of their background as frontiersmen and cowboys, the regiment was involved in numerous skirmishes and bloody battles against the Boer mounted riflemen. The bravery of the soldiers of the regiment is legendary. Since its inception, three men from this regiment have received the Victoria Cross.
Many wars and a century later, Lord Strathcona’s Horse has evolved with the times. To put it simply, the Strathconas turned in their horses and took up tanks instead. It is now a regular Canadian force armoured unit based out of Edmonton.
But the rich history of Lord Strathcona’s Horse lives on through the Strathcona Mounted Troop, an authorized volunteer display unit. The Troop is reminiscent of Lord Strathcona’s Horse in the nineteen twenties and thirties. The twenty-horse, twenty-five member Troop performs their version of the Musical Ride. The ride draws from the Regiment’s traditions of the 1920’s and 1930’s and is performed to honour and maintain the cavalry traditions of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).
But do not get me wrong! The twenty-five members of Lord Strathcona’s Mounted Troop are soldiers — real soldiers — of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). The members of the Troop volunteer for one or two years to serve in much the same manner as Strathcona’s did in the nineteen twenties. Their daily schedule concentrates on the care of their mounts and equipment, and in cavalry drills and training, but these modern day soldiers are also responsible to remain ready for active modern military duty with their regiment.
So why am I telling you all this? Because Lord Strathcona’s Horse Mounted Troop is coming to do their musical ride and tent-pegging demonstration on Saturday, September 1st, at Trail’s End this year! I am so excited I could scream! (More about “tent-pegging” in another blog.)