The Vancouver Police Mounted Squad was first formed in 1908, with 11 officers and 12 horses. A year later, the first patrolman on horseback was assigned to patrol Stanley Park, a large, urban, and heavily forested area now home to the Vancouver Aquarium, several restaurants, and public recreation facilities.
The stables were at Cordova and Main, allowing easy access to other areas of the rapidly growing city. By 1911, the Squad had 20 riders and a second stable near the entrance of Stanley Park.
World War I led to drastic cuts, and the Mounted Squad was reduced to only two members by the end of 1916.
The 1920s and 1930s were a time of labour unrest, unemployment, demonstrations, and riots, and the Mounted Squad began to rebuild. In 1939, they provided escort for the Royal Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on a Vancouver visit. By 1949, the Squad was disbanded after it was decided that it was no longer needed.
In 1951, the Squad was hastily and temporarily re-established in order to provide an escort for Princess Elizabeth and her husband Philip for their tour of Stanley Park.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Mounted Squad was again used in major crowd control situations, such as the Gastown Riot and numerous Grey Cup games.
Choosing and Training a VPD Horse
This is what we look for in potential VPD horses:
- at least five years of age
- 16 hands high or better
- dark in colour
- quiet disposition
Horses are brought in on a 60-day trial basis, during which the horse is subjected to nuisance training in the paddock, such as balloons, firecrackers, and obstacles. If the horse passes these tests, he is slowly introduced to the trails of Stanley Park, eventually moving to the more crowded areas, such as the Aquarium and the beaches.
If accepted, the horse is purchased and issued a badge number. A police officer is then assigned to complete the training of the new recruit.