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Snapshots in History: May 23: Remembering the North-West Mounted Police

May 23, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)


On May 23, let us take a moment to remember the North-West Mounted Police on its 140th anniversary, the forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. On May 23, 1873, the Dominion of Canada’s Parliament passed legislation to establish a “Mounted Police Force for the Northwest Territories”.  The NWMP actually came into existence on August 30, 1873 as a paramilitary body divided into troops under the overall command of a Commissioner with the following objectives: to stop alcohol trafficking in the then-Northwest Territories; to obtain the confidence and respect of the aboriginal people; to collect customs duties; and, to perform police force duties.

The NWMP expanded its jurisdictional hold into the Yukon Territory in 1895 and to the Arctic coast in 1903. The NWMP became the Royal NWMP in 1904 and it broadened its jurisdiction in 1905 with the creation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and into an expanded province of Manitoba in 1912. The Royal NWMP merged with the Dominion Police in 1920 to create the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Want to learn more? Consider reading these titles from Toronto Public Library collections:


The wild ride a history of the North West Mounted Police 1873-1904

The wild ride: a history of the North West Mounted Police, 1873-1904 [1st ed.] / Charles Wilkins, 2010. Book.  Adult Non-Fiction.

Follow the history of the young Dominion of Canada through the lens of the North West Mounted Police established in 1873 to provide law, order and stability in what is now northern and western Canada today. The initial recruits endured challenging conditions, substandard clothing, and poor diet to reach Fort Garry (now Winnipeg) to establish a presence on the Prairies. Read about the relationship of the NWMP and the indigenous peoples with the driving out of the American whisky traders and the establishment of trust between Commissioner James Macleod and aboriginal chiefs.

Read the review from Canada’s History


The lost patrol the Mounties' Yukon tragedy

The lost patrol: the Mounties' Yukon tragedy / Dick North, 2008. Book.  Adult Non-Fiction.

Read about a true mystery from December 1910 when 4 Royal NWMP officers travelled in the Canadian North by dogsled on a 475-mile journey to Dawson City, Yukon but died only 35 miles from their starting point, Fort McPherson in the Northwest Territories.


The Mounties march west the epic trek and early adventures of the Mounted Police

The Mounties march west: the epic trek and early adventures of the Mounted Police / Tony Holihan, 2004. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

Follow the story of the North West Mounted Police enhanced with black and white photographs of major personalities and drawings of historical scenes. The lack of an index and a glossary might make using this book frustrating for some readers but for those looking for a well-researched “true story”, such shortcomings might be overstated.

Read the review from CM Magazine


MacLeod of the Mounties the North American saga as seen through the life of a Scottish Canadian hero

MacLeod of the Mounties: the North American saga as seen through the life of a Scottish Canadian hero / Michael Crawford-Lewis, 1999. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

Biography lovers might appreciate following the history of the North-West Mounted Police in conjunction with its second Commissioner, James Farquharson Macleod (1836-1894) and his influence in shaping the mounted force during his tenure of office from July 22, 1876 to October 31, 1880.


Readers interested in reading novels or fictional accounts of the Mounties should read the recommendations from the Book Buzz blog under the post Books for the 140th Anniversary of the North-West Mounted Police .


Those who like watching documentaries might consider borrowing this DVD from Toronto Public Library collections about the North-West Mounted Police:


The North-West Mounted Police the great march [DVD] / 2005. Documentary. 



What about feature films? Try the following:


Dudley Do-Right

Dudley Do-Right [DVD] / 1999. Feature Film.


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