A familiar face is saying goodbye to the Saskatchewan legislature this week. After two decades, Pat Shaw is hanging up his ceremonial hat as the sergeant-at-arms.
The sergeant-at-arms has been a full-time position since 1986. The role is two-fold: it is ceremonial, by carrying in the mace at the start of each day’s session and ensuring decorum and order in the chamber, and head of security.
Speaking from his office in his final weeks, Shaw says after 21 years as an RCMP officer and then over 20 in this role, it is the right time to go.
“This is the winter phase of my life. I have done spring, summer and fall, it is time for winter … and before the snow gets too deep,” he joked.
Shaw has has many memorable moments. He has met the Queen on numerous occasions and several other dignitaries during Royal visits.
Over the years the legislature has also been the location for many rallies or protests. One that sticks out for Shaw is a farm rally.
“The building was occupied by the farmers and ranchers 15 years ago and that was kind of stressing.”
His role has often been seen as nothing but ceremonial but that changed after the Ottawa shootings on Parliament Hill. Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons, tackled the gunman.
“You never know, just because it has never happened, doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” Shaw said.
Shaw thanked the security team he is surrounded by, many of whom are ex-military or police. Plus he said he has shared many a laugh with the speaker of the day and the many MLAs that have called the legislature home for a while.
He hopes this retirement is more of a new beginning, time to spend with his wife and family.
Shaw’s grandchildren are wishing he could take the famous cocked hat with him. The pages of the legislature once gave him an eye patch and a hook that slid under his sleeve.
“My grandson once asked me, are you a pirate? Ah, some days I am and some days I’m not,” he laughed.
The search for a new sergeant-at-arms will begin in the new year.