Queen’s Jubilee medal holds special meaning to Southey Mayor Leigh Bishop

Southey Mayor Leigh Bishop is a fixture in the Southey community with a long record of community service. It’s his second stint as Mayor in the community North of Regina; he was also a councillor for six years after retiring from a 35-year career with the RCMP in 2005.

On December 10th, Bishop received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medal for volunteer and protective service at a ceremony at the Saskatchewan Legislature. The commemorative medal holds special significance to Leigh. During his career, he had a connection to the Royal family when they visited Canada.

Originally from the lower mainland of British Columbia, his career with the RCMP took him across Canada. He first started in Ottawa after the FLQ crisis providing relief to other members. He spent time at Government House - the Governor General’s residence, and the Royal Canadian Mint before going into Embassy security, covering the embassies and Supreme Court Judges.

After a year and a half in Ottawa, he was transferred to Cut Knife Saskatchewan, where he met his wife, Marlene. “Back in those days, you had to apply to be married. They would do background checks on your inlaws and wanted to make sure you were financially able to be married. Two weeks after I put in my paperwork, I said now would be a good time to go North. I got sent to Southey,” he laughs. The Bishops were in Southey for five years, then Fort Quappelle for three before going to the Migratory Bird Canada Shipping Act checking boaters in the summer and migratory bird hunters in the fall. Winters were spent at Customs and Excise.

He was then transferred to Immigration and Passport, and was promoted and went to Swift Current for eight years. He returned to uniform after Swift Current, moving to Kelvington before finally returning to Southey for his last eight years.

Retirement hasn’t slowed down Bishop much. In addition to serving on the town council, he was a peer support facilitator for four years with OSICAN, an organization assisting veterans and front-line protectors with operational stress injuries. “In 1985 I was VIP trained so I would be seconded any time the Royal family came. I remember we were flown to Birds Hill Park when the Pope was there.”

“To me, it was very special because right from 1973, I was involved with various visits of the royal family.” Bishop was involved in visits of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew. And after he was trained, he was the motorcade coordinator for the Queen Mother. “But the most meaningful part, before I retired was in 2005 the Queen came to Regina, and I was part of her security detail in the motorcade. And then, when she was finished in Regina, they took everybody that was in the motorcade and we went to Calgary...and we were her motorcade over there, and that way she would recognize the same faces.”

People would ask Bishop if he met the Queen because he was in such close proximity to her, “As part of her security detail, you are never looking at her. People would say, ‘oh, have you ever met her?’ Nope, it’s not my job. Yes we were close, but we aren’t supposed to look at her. We are not doing our job if we look to her, we are looking at the crowd.”

Bishop has received different medals throughout his career, which he wears to special events and ceremonies. He will now add the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal, which he says he will wear with pride.

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times