It’s a bittersweet day for the Toronto mounted police unit as they bid a fond farewell to a long-serving member retiring from duty.
After 13 years of diligent service, Tecumseh the police horse will be riding into the sunset at a farm in Cambridge, Ont.
Staff Sgt. Graham Queen says he is a “gentle giant” who is relaxed and comfortable around kids, but also holds his own when the going gets tough. Being a Percheron Cross, he is powerful but quick on his feet.
“He’s probably one of the bravest horses we’ve ever had here at the mounted unit,” says Queen. “He’s been a brave warrior for us for many years. He’s a gentle soul, but out on the road when he had to deal with crowds, he was fearless … and he went into those crowds and did his job with great ease and people respected him for that.”
When Tecumseh first joined the force in 2005, the mounted unit and the police’s aboriginal peacekeeping officers teamed up to give him a name. They decided to name him after the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh, who fought in the War of 1812. Tecumseh the horse has represented the force at First Nations events around the city.
Frances Sanderson, co-chair of the Toronto Police Service Aboriginal Community Consultative Committee, says Tecumseh was a friendly fixture in the community and will be greatly missed
“He’s been a standard at each event that we hold — whether it be National Aboriginal Day, whether it be the school picnic or whether it just be a gathering, a powwow that he’s at … so it’s going to be sad,” she says
“He’s one of my favourites,” says Queen. “When I was training eight years ago, I rode Tecumseh (a lot). So I know him very well and I’m going to miss him dearly.”
As they say goodbye to one equine colleague, another is ready to join the force. Queen says Tecumseh’s replacement has already arrived, but does not have a name yet. Children at Eastview Public School in Scarborough and the First Nations School of Toronto on the Danforth are holding a competition to name the newbie this fall.
Tecumseh was sent off with a traditional native drum ceremony where his police saddle was removed for the last time. Queen said Tecumseh now has the luxury to simply “be a horse” and he will be taken care of for the rest of his life by his new owners at the farm.
Tecumseh is 19 years old and Queen says horses can live to around 40, so the now retired police pony can look forward to about 15 years of rural relaxation.