Calgary Stampede and Spruce Meadows 100 Man Guard

By: Lieutenant Justin Salter
2 September 2010

Everyone has times in his or her career when he or she is overwhelmingly reminded of why they have chosen to do what they do. For soldiers, these times are certainly more frequent and often more emotionally charged, but never in my life have I experienced anything quite like the reception of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) by the City of Calgary during the opening weekend of the Calgary Stampede 2010.

Soon after our arrival, the entire 100 man guard was treated to a wonderful afternoon at The Military Museums. Warrant Officer Ted Macleod opened the door to a rich Unit History that would be built upon during our all too brief stay in Calgary. Our hearts were brimming with pride at the great achievements of our predecessors, as the Strathcona 100 man guard stood ready to launch itself forward with heads held high. As the guard marched in the parade to mark the opening of the Stampede the next morning, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that what we do as soldiers could never be found in any other line of work. Thousands of Canadians, from Calgary and elsewhere across the country, stood as we passed and clapped their hands, shouted accolades and cheered us on like nothing I have ever heard before. To say that my heart was all but bursting with pride would not be at all far from the truth. The celebrity treatment did not stop there, as many members of the guard found Calgary to be an even more gracious host by night than by day, and the memories made will bring a smile to the face of those involved for years to come.

Once the guard finally reached Spruce Meadows and began its first run of the Feu de Joie, there could be no doubt in our minds that each and every one of us had picked the right career. Amidst the show jumping and sight-seeing, the 100 man guard made a lasting impression on audiences both on Saturday and on Sunday. The detailed preparatory work of the Officer Commanding C Squadron, Major Derek Chenette, and the Squadron Sergeant Major, Master Warrant Officer Mark Riley, allowed the guard to shine in front of an audience of thousands, with even more watching from home on national television. With chests out and heads held high, the 100 man guard stole the show at Spruce Meadows for yet another year, and added a further footnote to the already proud and storied history of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). I daresay that even the Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal himself would crack a smile if he could see us now.

“A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods. It is a principle, and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.” -- George William Curtis