Lord Strathcona’s Horse – Mounted Troop

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Trooper, Strathcona’s Horse in South Africa. This image strikingly shows why Strathcona’s Horse, perhaps more than any other unit in South Africa, became identified with the popular image of the Canadian cowboy.
HISTORY & ORIGINS : Canada & The South African War, 1899-1902

On 10 January 1900, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, the Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, offered to raise a regiment at his own expense for service in the British Army in South Africa. The Imperial authorities accepted his offer and thus was born one of the more unusual regiments of the South African War. While officially a British unit, the distinction was lost on the Canadian public, politicians, and the men serving in its ranks. It could hardly have been otherwise, as the unit was recruited entirely in the Canadian West. It was equipped by the Canadian government, quartered in Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, and paraded on Parliament Hill. The men cut impressive figures, resplendent in wide-brimmed Stetsons, and mounted on cow ponies with western saddles and lassos.

The unit was known as Strathcona’s Horse. It was made up of three quadrons recruited in Manitoba, the territories that would later become the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and British Columbia.

A cadre of mounted police joined Strathcona’s Horse, among them the commanding officer, the legendary Superintendent Sam Steele.

Strathcona’s Horse arrived in Cape Town on 10 April 1900, and was delayed there by an outbreak of disease among its horses. Finally, in June, the regiment joined General Buller’s Natal Field Force and took part in the clearing of the Boer forces from that colony, and also in operations intended to link up with the main army in the Transvaal. On 5 July, at Wolve Spruit, a member of the unit, Sergeant Arthur Richardson, was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a wounded and unhorsed comrade.

The regiment experienced a considerable amount of hard fighting during the remainder of its tour of operations. In January 1901, the Canada-bound unit stopped in London where the new monarch, King Edward VII, personally presented its members with their South African campaign medals, while Lord Strathcona proudly looked on.

Map Indicating the Movement of the Strathcona’s Horse, 20 June – 1 September 1900

The Troop Today

The Strathcona Mounted Troop is 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 the Musical Ride. The ride is drawn from the Regiment’s traditions of the nineteen twenties and thirties.
When was the Troop Formed?

The current Strathcona Mounted Troop was formed in 1977. The original Ceremonial Mounted Troop was formed in 1923 as a means of honouring and maintaining the Cavalry traditions of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). The original Troop was disband in 1939 when the Regiment moved to armoured vehicles as Canada joined the world in preparations for the Second World War.

Who are the people in the Troop?

The twenty-five members of the Strathcona Mounted Troop are 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. In addition, they are responsible to remain ready for active military duty, and must therefore participate in trade specific training. The Troop Leader is Captain Corey McLean and the Troop’s Ride Master is Warrant Officer James Clarke.

What is Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians)?

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) is a regular force armoured unit of the Canadian Forces. The Strathcona’s primary fighting vehicle is the Leopard tank. Its reconnaissance squadron utilizes the Coyote, of the Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) family. The Strathcona’s are the only regular force armoured unit in Western Canada.

Who owns the horses?

The mounts of the Strathcona Mounted Troop are provided through the Ceremonial Mounted Troop Foundation, and remain Foundation property. The mounts are neither purchased by nor maintained by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defense.

Does the Army issue the uniforms and equipment?

The uniforms, accoutrements (badges and buttons) saddles and tack are not the property of the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defense. These items are provided through the Ceremonial Mounted Troop Foundation, and remain Foundation property.

How does the Strathcona Mounted Troop Travel?

Public support is provided in transporting the Strathcona Mounted Troop with regards to personnel and support vehicles. Transportation of our 20 horse trailer is provided by one of our proud sponsors, Bison Transport. The twenty-horse trailer purchased in 1998, however, was provided by the Ceremonial Mounted Troop Foundation with the assistance of the Wild Rose Foundation.

What is the Ceremonial Mounted Troop Foundation?

The Ceremonial Mounted Troop Foundation is a non-profit company registered in the Province of Alberta. This registered charitable organization has the sole object of providing for and maintaining the Strathcona Mounted Troop for the enjoyment of the general public, and to provide public education on Canadian Cavalry heritage, history and tradition. From its inception in 1984, the Foundation has grown from the generosity of Alberta corporations and friends of the Strathcona’s. The primary source of funds remains private donation, and honourariums.

Can the Strathcona Mounted Troop be booked by any organization?

Any organization or individual can book the Strathcona Mounted Troop throughout the active display season May through October. Availability is dependent on the distance from Edmonton, Alberta, and on conflict with annual commitments. The Troop, for instance, is booked for all major events at Spruce Meadows. An information and requirements package will be forwarded to interested parties. Please contact smt@strathconas.ca.

Click here to link to the full Lord Strathcona’s Horse website

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