Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Volunteers laying the foundation for RCMP stories of service

By Paul Northcott

People and culture

Any RCMP employee can purchase a space to have their name engraved on a plaque or a brick. The funds raised will support the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina.
Image by RCMP

June 9, 2024

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Retired Staff Sergeant Garth Hampson spent 34 years in the RCMP. He arrived at the RCMP training facility in Regina in 1955, not having to come far as his family lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

His work took him all over the North, including stops in Yellowknife and more remote detachments where taking care of sled dogs was one of his tasks. Later, his career took a different turn when he joined the RCMP Concert Band and travelled across Canada and internationally to perform. Hampson's time singing with the band led him to meet almost all the immediate Royal Family, including the late Queen and Prince Philip.

He has many memories of touring, from playing in front of tens of thousands at international events to a few dozen in small communities.

"I also remember how we'd always make connections with kids," says Hampson, recalling one event during which an officer made a presentation to young people about the RCMP and their work. "You could tell the kids were kind of nervous and didn't know how to react to the officer, but after we played, they were all coming up and asking us questions."

One story among thousands

Stories of RCMP service like these are why the names of thousands of current and former RCMP employees are displayed on pillars lining the Princess Royal Walk outside the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina. Each is a piece of a project called Pillars of the Force, which recognizes current and retired RCMP officers and employees.

Even more, they're meant to share something bigger with Canadians.

"They tell the story about our country," says Hampson. "RCMP officers live and work in every corner of Canada. All Canadians should know more about our country and who's better placed to tell that than our officers."

Kernel of an idea

The Pillars of the Force evolved from a brainstorming session on how to improve financial support for the Heritage Centre, which is operated by a non-profit organization and supported by the RCMP's Historical Collections Unit, and where visitors can explore displays and exhibits that highlight significant events in the RCMP's 150-year history.

The Pillars initiative was officially launched in September 2020.

"We hope to have members and employees participate in a lasting way to the story of the RCMP," says retired Sergeant Al Nicholson, spokesman for the project and one of its biggest promoters.

Any employee can purchase a space to have their name engraved on a plaque or a brick. RCMP troops can also purchase a group plaque.

Each plaque will be displayed on one of the 21 pillars that line the "Princess Royal Walk" and will feature up to 36 names and regimental numbers of serving and retired officers, and employees of the RCMP.

Nicholson says in some cases, the spouses of officers who helped in remote one-person detachments — referred to as the "Second Man" — can also be recognized. "They provided crucial support back in their day and are very much a part of the RCMP's story of service," says Nicholson.

A "virtual" pillar has also been set up online and inside the Heritage Centre to showcase more detailed, individual stories and photographs on a digital screen.

Nicholson says the funds raised by purchasing plaques and bricks help ensure the Heritage Centre has the financial resources to continue sharing RCMP history with future generations of Canadians.

For more information about the project, visit: Friends of the Mounted Police Heritage Centre.

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