John Stolarski’s Old Newspaper Clippings

MP shabrack Musical Ride



With the exception of his first two years in the Force, John Stolarski spent his entire career as a Police Dog Services handler.






Throughout this career, John clipped newspaper articles about members who he had worked with.

Despite the fact that John has passed away, his family has agreed for us to re-post these articles for the interest of RCMP Veterans and current members of the Force.



September 22, 1977 (Nanaimo Times) – Thirty-two coated riders mounted on sleek black horses are lined up.

Riders and animals alike impatiently wait the trumpet call.

The trumpets are sounded and the thunderous charge conclude the performance in a thrilling display of Canadian pageantry.

This charge is the highlight of the RCMP Musical Ride, to be performed at four and seven p.m. in the Grandview Bowl at Beban Park on September 24.

The musical ride, in Nanaimo Kinsmen Club, is one of the best known spectacles of Canadiana.

The ride, recently returned from a command performance in England for the Queen’s silver jubilee, is the present-day link with the history of the police force, being derived from the cavalry drill that made up part of the conditioning and training of the RCMP in its early days.

One man considerable experience with the Ride is Sergeant Norm Medley of the Nanaimo detachment.

Photograph of

Photograph of Sergeant Norm Medley of Nanaimo Detachment looks back on his days with the Musical Ride with fondness.

Sgt. Medley rode as a member of the ride in 1963 and ’64 and then worked as a riding staff member, or riding instructor, from 1968 to 1971.

In ’69 and ’71, he says, “I was a Corporal travelling with the Ride in the lead file position.”

Medley talked to The Times about the training for the ride.

It’s done on a volunteer basis now… at one time you were selected and told to report… now it’s only those who are really interested in the work who do it.”

Twelve constables are given three months training and there are four training sessions a year.  From these 48 trainees the next’s riders are chosen.  There are a total of 36 riders each year… one half are new and the others experienced.”

The first three months is very basic training in equitation only.  It give a young policeman a very sound basic knowledge of horsemanship, but they do not get into the Ride figures.”

From the beginning of January until about May the new Rid is put together.  The new horses and riders are given training in Ride manoeuvres and the riding master designs the new Ride.”


Medley feels that there is a special challenge for each riding master to design a Ride that will be better than that of the previous year.

They just try to keep improving it… and it’s always a little better.”

The horses, according to Medley, work in the ride for an average of eight to ten years, “some of the horses, though were nearly twenty years old when I worked for the Ride …. and had started when they were five or six years.”

Many of the horses after their stint in the Ride are used for the training purposes with the new Ride recruits.

The ride does an average of 100 performances per year, mostly in North America, but with frequent sojourns overseas.

The Ride has grown greatly from its practical cavalry origin to become a spectacle of international repute.

From 1876, only three years after the Force was established, when one Troop of the NWMP first used the musical ride as a diversionary form of cavalry drill, until today, little has changed about the ride.

The scarlet tunic was adopted early in the Force to gain the respect of the Indians who trusted the “Redcoat.”  The popular cowboy hat was connected into the more military broad-brimmed felt and the long brown Strathcona riding boots replaced the original Wellingtons in 1901.

The original breeches were flesh coloured or grey, but changed to blue-black with a yellow cavalry stripe in 1878.

The ceremonial blue shamrocks, or saddle blankets, are bordered in yellow, bearing the fused letters “MP” which was the registered brand given to the Force in 1887.

The Riders carry an eight-foot lance of male bamboo with a steel point and butt and bearing the red and white pennon.  The lance was originally issued for the Great March of NWMP in 1874.

No history or description of the Musical Ride, and especially the Charge, can possibly convey the reality of the stirring spectacle.

The only way to fully predicate it is to see it firsthand.

And with tickets costing only $1.25 for OAP and children under 12 and $2.25 for adults, no one can afford to miss this brilliant display of horsemanship and historical pageantry.

Photograph of

Photograph of Inspector George Strathdee (OIC Nanaimo Detachment) taking the salute from the RCMP Musical Ride.


NANAIMO – RCMP dog-master Constable Dale Marino let loose his tracking dog early Monday to capture a motorcycle driver whom Marino later charged with carless driving.

Melvin Wowchuk, 22, of 660 Chelsea St., pleaded guilty in magistrate’s court later, and was fined $100.

RCMP prosecutor Cpl. Ron Gordon told court Marino chased Wowchuk at speeds up to 60 miles per hour through Departure Bay streets after he noticed Wowchk driving without headlights.

Gordon said Marino released the tracking dog when Wowchuk fled into the darkness after he abandoned the motorcycle and after narrowly missing another vehicle.

The dog cornered Wowchuk near a Departure Bay home and held the accused at bay until Marino arrived, Gordon said.

Gordon said Wowchuk’s driving licence had been suspended by the motor vehicle branch for failing to prove financial responsibility.

Magistrate Eric Winch suspended Wowluck’s right to obtain a licence for six months.



William Bernard Lepine, 27, was charged in Nelson, BC, with the murders of six persons in a shooting spree Monday.  Dressed in oversized green overalls, he sat quietly beside his guard, as the names of the six shooting victims were read out in court.  He entered a no plea to the charges.  Levine was arrested Tuesday night at galena Bay, BC, about 135 miles northeast of Oliver, where the shooting spree began.


Photograph of

Photograph of Constable Bill Van Otterloo.


Dogs are ideal instruments in reaching the public, proved by their popularity when local youngsters are given a tour of the police detachment.

Youngsters could in the future receive an added treat, with the addition of Cpl. John Stolarski and his German Shepherd Aro. About a month ago, Cpl. Stolarski joined Const. Bill Van Otterloo and his dog Lucky in Nanaimo. Both dog masters have entered schools with their dogs, introducing students to the work undertaken by members in the RCMP dog section.

Cpl. Stolarski joined the RCMP in 1958 and became a dog master in 1961.  Constable Van Otterloo, a member of the force since 1969, became a dog master in 1971.  Both said they were always interested in animals and wanted to work with them after becoming police officers.

Cpl. Stolarski was born in Saskatchewan but grew up in the Fraser Valley.  His postings sent him from Rockcliffe, Ont. to Edmonton, Alta., Constable Van Otterloo was born in Holland and raised in Brooks, Alta.  His postings took him from Regina to Surrey, and then to Nanaimo in 1972 prior to dog service training in Innisfail, Alta.


During his years of service, Cpl. Stolarski has worked with five dogs.  Aro, a male German shepherd, is eight years of age and is regarded as the finest in the field by his master.

But you can ask any dog master and he’ll tell you his dog is the best,” Cpl. Stolarski admits.  Lucky a 3 1/2 year old male German shepherd, is Constable Van Otterloo’s first dog.

He picked up Lucky, then 11 months old up while in Edmonton from Bel Alta Kennels, regarded as “world renown” by the constable.  He took a three-month basic training course covering  association, teaching the dog and master to work effectively together.

Cpl. Stolarski’s dog originated from the RCMP’s past breeding program.  A similar basic training course was taken but in Ramsille, Ont.  Each year, a refresher course is taken by the men.

Additional courses are offered in such diversified fields as avalanche training, drugs and explosive.  Are is trained in all these areas, but Lucky is not yet training in explosive work.

Both dog masters agree the most gratifying work is the search for lost children and a successful search which sees the dog finding the lost youngster alive and well.

Cpl. Stolarski, who can recall several exciting experiences with his dog, said one assignment was a search for a five year old boy in Manitoba.  The child was returned home safe and sound.

One of Constable Van Otterloo’s first assignments saw Lucky track down a convict who had escaped from a federal penitentiary on the mainland. Constable Van Otterloo was also involved in a reason search for a lost boy near Shawinigan Lake.

The success of your dog is the basis of people’s feelings,” Constable Van Otterloo said.

As an example, some say if a dog cannot find an item being sought in an area, the dog’s ability could be questioned, but both dog masters “accept it as fact” that the item may not have been found because it could be in another location.


Although working with the dogs allows both men to understand them better, both admit Lucky and Aro can still surprise their masters.  Both related similar incidents where drugs received special treatment prior to being sealed in containers and any human scent was destroyed.

The drug was placed in carton, in a room surrounded by additional boxes containing other material, yet both dogs quickly found the special carton.  it can’t be explained how the dogs were able to do it.

Police service dogs are used to assist RCMP in their duties.  Dogs are sensitive to movement and smell and human limitations can often be lessened with the assistance of these well trained animals.

The RCMP tend to use male German Shepherds more than other types, because it was found short-haired dogs were not as hardy.  The dog masters said each dog has a separate personality but both are “part of the family.”

Lucky at first was like a guy who wears a leather jacket all the time,” Constable Van Otterloo says with a smile, adding the dog was quite aggressive.  “Now, he’s just independent.”

Aro is described by his master as “happily effective.”  If Cpl. Stolarski is working out in his yard, often Aro can be seen “assisting.”  Constable Van Otterloo had Lucky join him in the coffee room of the local RCMP detachment prior to the highway patrol taking over the basement.

One general myth is that our dogs are vicious,” Constable Van Otterloo said.  But both men emphasize this is not true. “They are aggressive on command,” Cpl. Stolarski said, adding the dogs are trained to accept commands only from their master.


Photograph of RCMP Cpl. John Stolarski and his police service dog

Cpl. Stolarski disagrees with the concept one cannot teach an old dog new tricks. “It’s harder” he said, because like people , older dogs can be set in their ways.  However, a dog can be taught new things.

Both dog masters said their workload “is directed by circumstances.”  There could be a lull and the general public may not hear of the dogs successes on assignments, but neither the dogs nor their masters are resting.

During such a lull, it is not unusual for Constable Val Otterloo to phone home prior to leaving the office, and request his wife hide some material in the house, so Lucky can continue practising his skills.

The men’s respect for their dogs is evident and the admiration the dogs have for their masters can be found in their only reward – a word of praise – for a job well done.


John Stolarski block