Fredrick William Perry
Training Division: “Depot,” “N”
Troop: TR. N61/Depot B Troop
Regimental Number: 16131
Divisions Served: “K,” “Depot”
Pillar Location: Pillar VII, Row 35, Column B
Bill Perry joined the RCMP in June 1949 at Ottawa in N Division to begin training at the age of seventeen. He was part of the first troop to land in N Division from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Throughout his RCMP career, Bill was involved in the RCMP band and played an integral role in both historical events and ceremonies, some of which are still hosted today.
He graduated from the first part of training in February 1950 and transferred to Depot Division in Regina, Saskatchewan, for the rest of training and equitation. In addition to his daily duties at Depot, Bill took part in two/three hours of band practise daily as part of the Western Band for which he was considered a Special Constable.
The Western Band was the second active band in the force, organized in 1949. The band travelled across the province for RCMP public relations promotions, until it folded in 1959.
At the start of his career, Bill’s hourly wage was $3.50/hour. With his first paycheque being a mere $100, he made sure to send half home to his mom. Members lived in the barracks in Regina, Saskatchewan during this time in the RCMP until you were qualified to be married. Bill was married at 24 years old.
In 1952, Bill got into Physical Training, where he learned boxing, self-defence, and taking parades every day at 6:30 AM. He became Corporal in the late 1950s and Sergeant in his thirties during the 1960’s. In 1960, Bill started teaching physical training and was part of various committees.
Playing the trumpet is one of the things most well-known about Bill. In 1962, after the band had folded, a small group, including Bill, formed the Trumpet and Drum Band, which ultimately was the start of the Sunset Ceremony at Depot. This ceremony still runs today, celebrating the RCMP’s history and is one of Canada’s #1 tourist destinations in Regina, Saskatchewan.
In 1966, it was time to pack up the family and move to Penhold, Alberta. Bill helped open and lead Physical Training at the brand-new P Division – which was a temporary training facility for the RCMP during the expansion of Depot. This transfer was the only transfer during his career.
In 1970, Bill came back to Regina to help with the new gym built at Depot. He was part of the advisory board instrumental in collaboration with the architect to design the gym layout. He would also fill in as instructor from time to time for drill and gas training.
Although the Western Band had folded years earlier, Bill still played trumpet – a lot. Bill was an official trumpeter for the RCMP and performed at many prestigious events, including the 1973 Queen’s Parade, for dignitaries, Governors General, and Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Armoury. He also played at funerals to honour members, rain, shine or forty below.
1973 marked an especially meaningful celebration for the force; it was the 100th year of the RCMP, which also brought on the RCMP Centennial Review Tour. Bill was part of the troop of 250 Mounties who travelled across Canada from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, exhibiting the Musical Ride, RCMP Band, RCMP Choir and drills, of course. For seven months, Bill oversaw two troops leading drills, gymnastics, self-defence, and choir.
During the tour, there was a stop in Regina for a Royal visitor, Queen Elizabeth II. During her Canadian tour, the Queen presented a new guidon to the RCMP and Bill was part of the guidon escort.
Bill continued his work at Depot for the remainder of his career as Sergeant, leading as drill and physical training instructor, teaching many cadets boxing and self-defence. He coached the RCMP hockey team for several years in the Saskatchewan Men’s Hockey League and a coached a team that played in the Western Canada RCMP Hockey Tournament in the 1970’s.
Bill retired from the RCMP after 25 years in June 1974 but stayed connected to the force with the Veteran’s Association. To commemorate the force’s 80th anniversary of police work in the province of Saskatchewan, the Friends of the RCMP Heritage Centre put together a tattoo festival. In true Saskatchewan style, a thunderstorm rolled in at the same moment as a thunderstorm in the show. Guests had a full experience with thunder, lightning, and rain as it dripped from the roof and poured down the stairs in the old stadium at the Regina Exhibition grounds.
In 1998, as General Manager of the Regina Exhibition, Bill worked to produce an incredibly special Musical Ride and Tattoo for the 125th Anniversary of the RCMP. Performances of the RCMP Musical Ride happened throughout the province, with four sold-out shows in Regina with proceeds going to the Friends of the RCMP Heritage Centre.
Bill was the president of the RCMP Veterans’ Association in 2000 and was part of the RCMP Veterans’ National Executive Committee from 2001-2005. He currently resides in Regina, enjoying retirement spending time with his four children, ten grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and the love of his life Dorothy. Bill remains active with the RCMP Veterans’ Association and is always proud to share a story, or two, of his time as a Mountie.