BANFF – The RCMP Musical Ride likely isn’t riding into Banff any time soon unless there’s a cancellation.
Silvio Adamo, director of protective services for the Town of Banff before his May 31 retirement, said the RCMP informed the local detachment earlier this year that the 2023 tour is full, with all openings for Alberta fully subscribed.
“Banff is on the list as an alternate in the event of a cancellation,” said Adamo, during his last council meeting on May 23. Council had previously asked administration for an update on the possibility of bringing back to Banff the famed RCMP Musical Ride for 2023, which was last in the community in 2017 during the 150th anniversary celebrations of Canada’s confederation and before that in 2010 and 2003.
A symbol of tradition, honour and pride, the Musical Ride is a troop of up to 32 police riders and their horses performing intricate formations and drills set to music. These movements demand the utmost control, timing, and coordination.
The Musical Ride performs in up to 50 communities across Canada each year between the months of May and October. It travels to each province once every four years to ensure as many Canadians as possible can experience this spectacle.
Alberta is next on the schedule in 2025.
Coun. Grant Canning said he intends during 2024 service review later this year to bring up the possibility of hosting the Musical Ride in 2025.
“The RCMP Musical Ride is Canadiana at its finest … the image of the Musical Ride crossing the bridge and coming down Banff Avenue was truly iconic,” he said.
“When the ride has come to Banff in the past it’s been hugely popular with both residents and visitors.”
The history of the Musical Ride goes back to the North-West Mounted Police, who would commonly compete amongst themselves and perform tricks on horseback to break the monotony of endless riding drills.
In 1876, some of these tricks and exercises were performed at Fort Macleod in Alberta. This is believed to be the first public performance of what would eventually evolve into the Musical Ride.
Adamo said the Musical Ride performances help raise money for local charities and non-profit groups.
He said they also require investment to secure space and resources to coordinate community activity, which usually includes hosting stables for all horses on site, and opening access to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for the multi-day visit.
“The Musical Ride also attracts visitors from large regions, which would contribute to parking and traffic considerations,” said Adamo in a report to council.