A Brief History
On July 8, 1874, about 300 newly recruited troopers of the North-West Mounted Police began the trek Westward to the vast prairie areas of Canada, what is now Manitoba and Alberta to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Canadian government created this force to patrol and protect this area in the wake of violence that culminated in the Cypress Hills Massacre, a battle between White, Native, and mixed-race hunters, trappers, and traders.
An intriguing fact about the deployment of this new force was that each of the six divisions was given a particular color of horse for the troopers, Dark Bay, Light Bay, Dark Brown, Black, Grey, and Chestnut.
The traveling to and life on the prairie was harsh, and many troopers took ill and some deserted. Still, the NWMP managed to keep the peace and prevent possible intervention by the US government.
In 1920, the NWMP was dissolved, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was formed in its stead, today employing over 30,000 Canadians and 1,600 volunteer constables, serving as a national police force for Canada.
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For more information, please see…
Macleod, RC. The NWMP and law enforcement, 1873-1905. University of Toronto Press, 1976.
Stenson, Fred. RCMP: The March West. GAPC Entertainment, 1999.
The featured image in this article, an illustration of a mounted policeman in 1874, depicted by Henri Julien, is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1928.
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