Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 1, 2013
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

February 1, 1920: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) begins operations. As early as 1873, Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, based a national police force on the principles put forth by the Royal Irish constabulary and mounted rifle units of the US Army. The purpose of the new mounted forces was to bring law and order to the North-West Territories (Alberta and Saskatchewan). The troops were known as the NWMP or North-West Mounted Police.

A group of 22 officers and 287 men were the first police force. They were supplied with 310 horses, 67 wagons, 114 ox-carts, 18 yoke of oxen, 50 cows, and 40 calves. They headed west from Dufferin, Manitoba on July 8, 1874 and reached Alberta by October. Their mission included general law enforcement as well as providing a visible police presence. Their patrol system covered the entire region. They established friendly interaction with the First Nations, enforced prohibition and contained whisky trade, and supervised treaties. They assisted settlers by fighting prairie fires and the spread of disease.

By 1895 their jurisdiction had spread to the Yukon and by 1903 to the Arctic coast. King Edward III bestowed the “Royal” to their title in 1904. RNWMP now patrolled the western half of the country. The Dominion Police combined with RNWMP to become the RCMP and it finally became a true national Police Force.

Today they have about 26,000 employees supported by over 75,000 volunteers. The Canadian Information Centre shares electronically stored data with more than 80,000 law enforcement officers nationwide. Since 1873 more than 200 Mounties have fallen in the line of duty. Cst. John Nash, the first man to die in action, was killed near Fort MacLeod on March 11, 1876. Sgt. Mark Gallagher was killed in Haiti on January 12, 2010. He was training police officers in Port-au-Prince when the 7.0 earthquake struck. Also found amidst the rubble was Chief Superintendent Douglas Coates. The two men were returned to Canada for burial. Women joined the ranks in 1974. Today, William J.S. Elliott is Commissioner of the RCMP, taking over from Interim Commissioner Beverly Busson in 2007.

“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” – Albert Einstein

“Any community’s arm of force – military, police, security – needs people in it who can do necessary evil, and yet not be made evil by it. To do only the necessary and no more. To constantly question the assumptions, to stop the slide into atrocity.” – Lois McMaster Bujold

“Justice is incidental to law and order.” – John Edgar Hoover

“In keeping people straight, principle is not as powerful as a policeman.” – Abel Hermant

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: John A. Macdonald was born in 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland. His father failed at entrepreneurship and after falling into debt, he moved the family to Kingston, in what is today Ontario. They moved in with relatives already in Canada. He continued to fail at business and moved around the country. John’s parent encouraged him to study law, which he did. Macdonald served during the Rebellion of 1837 and came to public notice at that time. He ran for office (alderman) for the first time in 1843. He rose through the political world and when Canada gained independence from Britain he was the first to hold the title of Prime Minister, although his government ran into problems almost immediately. He was out of office from 1873 until 1878 and then remained Prime Minister until his death in 1891 at the age of 76.

Also on this day: Big Bangs – In 1814, the Mayon Volcano erupted.
Grand Central Terminal – In 1913, Grand Central Terminal opened in New York City.
The Hajj – In 2004, a stampede took place at the holy pilgrimage.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on February 1, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    “A group of 22 officers and 287 men were the first police force.” is not correct- there was a local authority police force- the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were the 2nd- maybe much better but they were the 2nd.

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