Troop 17: The Making of Mounties
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title: Troop 17: The Making of Mounties; text by James McKenzie,
photography by Lorne McClinton; Publisher, Detselig Enterprises
Ltd; Hardcover, 184 pages; $ ??.??;
Reviewer: A. T. Connellan
Turning iron into steel
What an image, Redcoats, Maintiens Le Droit, "the Mounties always
get their man", The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP/GRC,
the musical ride. All are part of Canada's most recognizable symbol,
maple leaf flag notwithstanding. The reality behind the image is
what this fascinating book is all about.
This over-the-shoulder, literal/visual account of the 28 men and
4 women who made up Troop 17, 30 of whom survive to graduation
6 months later gives an inside-out view of the total development
process that produces the members of one of the worlds finest
"elite" police organizations.
It is surprising the force allowed the authors to get so "close and
personal" in their examination of the training that, based on over
100 years of tradition, develops these national " icons." Training
that at times has elements of violence and brutality. Members of
the RCMP are required to exercise a level of self-discipline in
performance that is beyond the understanding of the general
public or ordinary city cops.
On completion of their training, and during their career they may
be directed to serve in any part of Canada decreed by their superiors.
The training therefore, is total in every respect, and requires nothing
less than maximum effort and enthusiasm in order to develop "the
right stuff." Those who fail to measure up are given the opportunity
to leave "voluntarily."
The book moves in step with the education of the recruits
uncovering facets of "The Force" as the members of Troop 17 progress
through the rigors of their course. For all of us, and those in particular
who seek a career as a "Mountie," the selection process is examined
in detail. We come to understand that combined with the training, a
work ethic unfettered by a union, and ongoing superior management,
Canadians receive at a bargain price of $40,000/graduate a police
person second to none, anywhere.
There is an air of self assurance, and self confidence on the part of
members. One sought to join the RCMP "because he had found that
city cops had" negative attitudes "and didn't take pride in their
work....I don't want to sit around in a car eating doughnuts." That is a
sentiment that many taxpayers will be in agreement with.
In the mid-summer of 1992 four tourists in Quesnel, British Columbia
faced with a threatening situation called the RCMP. The response
came in the person of Constable Baltej Dhillon, who is identified in the
book as " the first Sikh recruit to wear a turban ", and who, as a member
of Troop 20, was a few weeks behind Troop 17 in training.
Constable Dhillon resolved the problem, in short order, in exemplary
fashion, and the tourists spent a carefree night. They were very
impressed with the Constable turban and all.
Both McKenzie and McClinton are with the School of
Journalism and Communications at the University of Regina, and
should have provided us with an index, as well as locating the town
of Unity 150 kilometres west not east of Saskatoon.
Other than that, this is a fine book, enjoy.
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