I can’t even remember how many times I’ve driven through the town of Fort Macleod, Alberta. Having gone to Lethbridge for school, and to visit friends, I’ve driven from Calgary to Lethbridge dozens of times and never took the time to stop and see what Fort Macleod had to offer. It’s a very small town and there’s this old fort I always drove by, which made me curious as to what lay behind the wooden posts. Well, I finally had the chance to check it out, and it’s really quite impressive.
The Fort, which is home to the Museum of the Northwest Mountain Police and First Nations Interpretive Centre, is situated just 30-minutes west of Lethbridge and 1.5 hours south of Calgary. For those driving from Calgary to Lethbridge, you’ll literally pass right by the main doors if you drive through Fort Macleod. For those of you interested in Alberta history, the RCMP, vintage artifacts, and/or horses, this is one place to add to your bucket list.
The Fort Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the NWMP and local First Nations people and is a replica of the original fort that was located two miles away. We learned about the First Nations that occupied this area as well as the Northwest Mounted Police (they weren’t the RCMP yet) through a series of exhibitions and artifacts such as clothing, weapons, tools, and model representations. They even recently acquired a beautifully restored carriage ambulance. Another feature of the Fort Museum is all the heritage buildings that would have made up a fort like this. On top of the fence and above the buildings (the equivalent of a second floor) is a catwalk where mounties would have patrolled the area. This is a great place to walk for views of the surrounding area.
However, the real treat of the day was witnessing a well-performed replica of the RCMP Musical Ride. While it is not the official RCMP musical ride, it is offered daily during the summer months and is a great way to see a part of RCMP culture and history. We had a chance to visit the horses before and after they performed, giving us a look into how they’re cared for. During the performance, which is narrated by a member of the museum and performed to music, the riders and their horses entertain us with a series of intricate figures, choreographed drills, and charges. Demanding the utmost control, timing, and coordination, it’s truly a beautiful Canadian experience.
With an incredible museum wrapped up inside a historical fort, combined with an RCMP Musical Ride, Fort Macleod is a great place to learn about Canadian history and the history of Southern Alberta. It’s also located just 20-minutes away from the equally incredible Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which combines for an amazing one-day itinerary of First Nations culture.
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(Disclosure: This article is part of an assignment with ZenSeekers to showcase Southern Alberta)