Enjoying the show
Marie Claire Ivanski poses as the RCMP Musical Ride takes place behind her. Van Dusen photo

ST. ALBERT – Horsepower old and new combined on Sunday to entertain three bleachers full of enthusiastic fans to a performance by the fabled RCMP Musical Ride and to a warm-up by antique threshing machines preparing to challenge the Guinness Book of World Records here Aug. 11.

The highly-trained RCMP horses and riders added St. Albert to their 2019 tour when they heard that the cause was breast cancer research, said Marie Claire Ivanski a prominent Eastern Ontario volunteer for the cause over 15 years.

Offering the kick-off salute to La Nation Mayor François St-Amour, the riders took their steeds through their patented paces, demonstrating the various formations that have made them famous. Despite all the water in the region this spring, only one corner of the cordoned off performance ring was wet, with the horses kicking up water and mud when they passed through it. 

Guinness Book challenge leader François Latour has pledged all proceeds from the Aug. 11 event to the breast cancer campaign. Latour estimates $100,000 will be raised, an amount that Ivanski said is realistic with more than $30,000 already banked from donations and sideline projects. The Musical Ride attracted 650 people at $10 each, most of which will be added to the cancer coffers.

“Not bad for a long weekend when the weather was iffy,” stated Ivanski as she coordinated sales of memorabilia; she added that by the end of the summer, she expects to have spearheaded contributions of close to $1-million since starting as a volunteer in the name of a friend, a breast cancer victim. 

Pink is the colour of the Guinness challenge, with an antique Massey-Harris tractor pinked out as well as the same brand of thresher painted free of charge by Robin Cayer of Embrun Collision Inc. who also donated $10,000 to the cause.

For the second time, tractor-powered threshers mustered by Latour will seek an entry in the famous big book during the annual St. Albert Curd Festival, with the lead organizer promising more than 200 of the cumbersome-looking machines gathered to attempt the feat.

Back in 2015, Latour won the title by assembling 111 threshers which operated for 15 minutes straight in a field behind the St. Albert Cheese Factory; in that first outing, $23,000 was raised for breast cancer in the name of Latour’s wife Suzanne who died of the disease that same weekend.

The euphoria was short-lived with a Manitoba group snatching victory away the following year with 139 threshers. Now Latour wants the title back again… and in a resounding way. He doesn’t want to have to compete for it again any time soon.