RCMP honoured with sunset ceremony in Charlottetown

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on August 24, 2014
Retired staff Sgt. William John Roderick Macdonald, right, holds up a flag he received from P.E.I. premier Robert Ghiz and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, left, during a sunset ceremony recognizing the RCMP at the 2014 Celebration Zone in Charlottetown Sunday.
Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

Not a day goes by where William Macdonald doesn't miss serving with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The retired staff sergeant found himself in the spotlight during a sunset ceremony honouring the RCMP in Charlottetown last night at the 2014 Celebration Zone.

The ceremony also brought Saskatchewan Week to a close, with Regina being home to the training academy for all of Canada's RCMP recruits.

Macdonald, who is also known as "Mack", was presented with a flag from premier Robert Ghiz and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.

For Macdonald, the honour was unexpected.

"Having served in this province for quite a while, it's a great honour," said Macdonald, who is the oldest member of P.E.I. division of the RCMP Veterans' Association. "I was in every detachment on the Island."

Originally from Windsor, Ont. Macdonald joined RCMP in Jan. 1951 and served in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

After 20 years of dedicated service to the RCMP, he retired from the force in May 1971.

However, he wasn't finished of police work and served as director of Atlantic Police Academy between 1971 and 1976 and Summerside chief of police from 1976 to 1990.  

"You always miss serving," said Macdonald reflecting on his time in the force. "But you're always proud of your service."

Macdonald is one of the thousands of recruits that trained at the RCMP Academy Depot Division in Regina since it was established in 1885.

The flag he was presented with had flown over the parade square at the academy earlier this year. On Aug. 12, following the final sunset ceremony at the depot for the season, the flag was lowered for the last time in Saskatchewan and shipped to Charlottetown.

Wall said that 1873 was a significant year for both Saskatchewan and P.E.I.

While P.E.I. joined Confederation that year,  it was during the same time when the Northwest Mounted Police was established in western Canada.

With the mounties then bringing order to the area, the first training depot was established in 1885.

"Through the years, thousands of young Canadian women and men have come to Regina to be trained and have then served our country and, indeed, served around the world taking the red surge with them," said Wall, before handing the flag to Ghiz. "From Regina, Saskatchewan, the cradle of the RCMP, to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The cradle of our confederation."

Ghiz said the sunset ceremony was originally created to thank citizens for their support of the RCMP.

"A major part of the P.E.I. 2014 celebrations is about recognizing our past. It is therefore fitting that we take part in the historical tradition such as this evening's sunset ceremony," he said.

However, Ghiz said it was also an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the country and recognize those that protected citizens for past 150 years.

"And to thank those who continue to keep us from harm's way throughout Canada," he said. "It is because of this dedication, bravery and courage shown by members of the RCMP and Canada's law enforcement agencies that we're able to live in the most peaceful and respected country in the world."