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Why was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police formed?

Posted by mandyf on April 22, 2012

As many people know, Canada did not become an independent nation until 1867, which was after the United States for those unfamiliar with the time line. However, while Canada was under British rule, the U.S. was viewed as a neighbor to fear and the thought at the time was that if the U.S. wanted to annex Canada they most likely could and had the force to make it happen. As a result, worried colonies began to band together to protect themselves against the possible threat.

 As time marched on the idea of a national police force was developed to not only enforce the border that American fur trappers and traders had little regard for, but to protect native Americans as well as they were viewed as their best potential domestic ally. In May of 1873 a tragic event transpired which brought it all together. A group of American trappers had their horses and pelts stolen overnight and wanted revenge. They followed the thieves tracks to Saskatchewan where the only people they could find were the members of the Assiniboine tribe. They didn’t have the horses or the pelts, but that didn’t stop the Montana trappers from raping the women and massacring most of the tribe in what became known as the Cypress Hills Massacre.

By September 300 recruits of “high moral character” were recruited and trained to become a force known as the Northwest Mounted Rifles or “Mounties” for short. They were scarlet coats which were similar to those of British soldiers, something that has always been a familiar identifier of this crew. They were tasked with two jobs initially, the first was to stop American trappers from crossing the border to hunt game, and the second was to stop them from selling whiskey to the Native Americans. Before long the Mounties gained the trust of the First peoples (As native Americans are called in Canada) and had nearly clamped down all illegal cross-border activities.

By the time Gold was discovered in the Yukon in the 1890’s talk of disbanding the mounties stopped dead in it’s tracks as U.S. prospectors crossed the lines looking to make a fortune. The Canadian government had no problem with them working the area, they did have a problem with their mistreatment of the First peoples and their generally wild behavior. The Mounties were dispatched in greater numbers to handle the situation. Within a year their legend spread to the U.S. with stories detailing how these good men kept the peace with an iron fist. it didn’t take long for them to become iconic romanticized figures which inspired many young men to seek a future as a Mountie. As a result rather than fading into oblivion the Mounties remained a part of the landscape and continued to grow with each passing year.

Since then much has changed about the Mounties. For starters they haven’t been mounted outside of ceremonial displays since 1966. Their motto today is the same as it was in 1877 which is “Uphold the right”, not “We always get our man” which was the product of an American reporter. The Mounties also do not refer to themselves as Mounties, but rather “The Force.” What hasn’t changed is that they wear the same style uniforms (if they choose to as many wear regular police uniforms) and they are just as popular as ever.


One Response to “Why was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police formed?”

  1. txwikinger said

    Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog and commented:
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