Fifty years ago, just days before Canada’s 100th birthday and when they all expected to soon fit trimly into their red serge uniforms, members of Troop 7 began their RCMP recruit training.
Training started in Regina and finished in Mynarski Park, now known as Springbrook. The majority of members of Troop 7 graduated after the six months of training, between June 28, 1967, to Jan. 8, 1968, before being dispersed to postings across the country. Many of them would never to see one another again throughout their careers.
Now, during Canada’s 150th birthday, that’s all about to change. Many members of the troop will attend their 50th anniversary on Canada Day in Ottawa.
Bill Kendall, who served 25 years with the RCMP and who is now retired and living in Red Deer, will be one of those heading east in about a month for the unique reunion.
One of their activities over a few days of meeting and reminiscing — no doubt about the toughness but camaraderie of the paramilitary-type training — they will gather for a new troop photo. A few of the members have passed away and so their spouses or children will be in the photo shoot instead, Kendall said.
Since the former Mounties have aged a bit, and for some, their iconic red serge uniforms don’t quite fit anymore, they’ll all be wearing red shirts instead, Kendall says.
He was posted to Rocky Mountain House for nine years. He started his career in Drumheller, and also served in Medicine Hat, Calgary, Banff, and the Northwest Territories.
There were so many RCMP cadets being trained when Kendall joined the RCMP, that they also used space at Mynarski Park, which had then recently closed as a military flight training base. Kendall said his troop was one of the last ones to train at the old military base.
One day they had marched into the pool and the rest of the troop began singing, “Kendall’s going to learn to swim, doo da … because I did not know how to swim at the time.” Recently he learned that the organizer of the reunion, Greg Legrand in Ottawa, had been trying to locate him. They hadn’t seen each other since graduation. As soon as Kendall called, Legrand immediately started singing the swimming song.
He said that the one area he’s been able to surpass all his troopmates over the years is “I’ve got more hair than all of them, and mine’s real.”
Both current RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson of the RCMP and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been invited to meet the former members, although they haven’t had confirmation either will attend.