Mounties in Music

North West Mounted Police (Royal Canadian Mounted Police after 1920), formed in 1873 to police the area from Lake Superior west to the Pacific.

North-West Mounted Police (Royal Canadian Mounted Police after 1920), formed in 1873 to police the area from Lake Superior west to the Pacific. The Mounties played a prominent role in the settlement of the West, quelling rebellions and representing such law as there was during the construction of a national railroad and the rush for gold in the Klondike. The Mountie emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a symbol of peace and order and has been idealized in literature, poetry, and the visual arts, but to a lesser extent in music. He is little mentioned in the 19th-century ballads which might have been expected to tell of particular events in which the force had been involved.

The Mountie first appears in Canadian music in the piano waltzes North West Mounted Police (1870s) by St George B. Crozier. In 1906 Annie Glen Broder wrote The Ride of the R.N.W.M.P. for band. "The Mountie" (Thompson 1937), an arrangement by Harold Eustace Key of an ancient Welsh air, with words by John Murray Gibbon, portrays the Mountie as a dashing hero: "Muffled in wind come the cantering hoof beats, herald of Mountie patrolling the trail... braving all danger, disdaining bravado, terror to outlaw and tough desperado." But his most romantic treatment remains that accorded him in the popular US operetta Rose Marie. Dolores Claman's The Mounties was published by Severn Music in 1963.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.