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Scarlet Guardians: RCMP officers in training

He's a strong, brave, honest, horseback-riding Canadian in a red tunic who always gets his man. At least, that's the clichéd image of a Mountie. But with a history stretching back to 1873, the real Royal Canadian Mounted Police have always been more complex than their squeaky-clean, steely stereotype.

"These scarlet guardians cast their protective influence over a dominion larger than the United States, and infinitely more rugged," says the narrator in this 1958 CBC-TV special. During this poetically narrated half-hour program about the RCMP titled Scarlet Guardians, we get to see the "modern Mountie" using the latest scientific methods in his crime detection laboratory. We also get a peek at this "special breed of male" performing his fitness and training regimes, which include swimming, running, callisthenics, martial arts and even wrestling each other off of horses.
• The Mounties in this clip are perfect examples of the clean-cut, strong young men who the 1950s-era Canadian public would likely picture when they thought of the RCMP. As Michael Dawson wrote in his 1998 book The Mountie: From Dime Novel to Disney, "The 'appearance' of the Mountie has always been central to his appeal. His manly and respectable appearance in the classic literature of the force differentiated him from his antagonists and identified him as suitable for the task of administering justice."

• The word "scarlet" in the title Scarlet Guardians refers to the bright shade of red on the RCMP's traditional tunic (jacket). Also known as "The Scarlet Serge," it was originally made from a serge fabric imported from England. An early version of the trademark red tunic became part of the Mountie's uniform around 1875.

Medium: Television
Program: Here and There
Broadcast Date: May 17, 1958
Narrator: Joel Aldred
Producer: Douglas Sinclair
Duration: 29:27

Last updated: May 22, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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