PREFACE [George Shepherd, Museum Curator of Western Development Museum, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has written quite a lengthy story on the Mounted Police for a local paper. He condensed it for the readers of Iron-Men Album, thinking they would enjoy it. While it does not deal directly with our hobby material of the magazine, it is representative of our past history. We feel it will be well accepted. Our hats are off to the Mounted Police and their century of significant work Anna Mae]
On the 23rd day of May 1873, only six short years after Confedertion, the Dominion Parliament authorized the establishment of the North West Mounted Police. It had been the intention to call the Force 'Mounted Rifles' but in deference to protests from Washington as to the advisability or necessity of Canada having an armed body of mounted riflemen patrolling the International border, where the United States already had military posts established, Sir John A. Mac-Donald reached for a pen. Crossing out the word Rifles he wrote in the word Police. This year of 1973 the North West Mounted Police celebrate one hundred years of brilliant and colorful history. It was a breath taking project. A force of men, hastily recruited, was to patrol an inland empire, the size of Europe -on horseback.
Much organization work was done during the first winter, but on June 6th, 1874 two special train-loads of men, horses and equipment left Toronto bound for the Far West. The country, now known as Western Canada, was unpeopled by white men, except for isolated Hudson's Bay Trading Forts, and had an estimated population of some 25,000 warring Canadian Indians, assisted by sporadic incursions of Sioux and Crow Indians from the Montana Territories. The two special trains travelled via Chicago and St. Paul to Fargo, North Dakota, which was, at that time, the end of steel.
Pictured are my Dad's two model steam engines. The small one is modeled after a Case and Woods Bros, as parts permitted. He made this one with hand tools only. The cylinder is made from a hydraulic brake cylinder. The back wheels are 8 inches high, front are 4 inches.
The large one is a 4 inch scale Avery return flue. This engine was made by J.W. Parolek and formerly owned by Artie Hudson, both two true Iron-Men.
We also have eight gas engines, several small stationary steam engines and a model A Ford
THE GREAT MARCH BEGINS
By early July men and equipment were all assembled at Dufferin, south of Winnipeg, and on July 8th, 1874 the cavalcade moved off the camp grounds for the West. With bugles blowing, lance pennants fluttering in the breeze in full marching order, the line extended for a distance of three miles. It was an historic occasion. Law and order had come to the Canadian West. Queens law was to be imposed upon a fretful realm.
Their destination was Fort Whoop-up, the Montana whiskey traders stronghold operating in Canadian territory. It flew a Stars and Stripes flag, was armed with two small cannons and was one thousand miles away in the Foothills of the Rockies over the treeless sunbaked plains.
As the travel-worn expedition struggled on day after day over the unmarked and unmapped plains, there developed a stamina and endurance among the little Force that augured well for future traditions that were being forged on the one thousand mile march. On October 13, the Police reached the Old Man River and here they built their first log fort naming it Fort Macleod in honor of their commanding officer Col. F.G. Macleod.
By the spring of 1875 it was realized the Mounted Police had overshot their mark and in May 1875 Major Walsh and a detail of 30 men returned to the Cypress Hills and established a strongly stockaded log fort on Battle Creek naming it Fort Walsh. It is often alluded to as the cradle of the Mounted Police.
The following year, in June 1876 the civilized world was shocked and horrified by the wanton slaughter of General George A. Custer and his entire command of 280 men in the Valley of the Little Big Horn River in southern Montana by the Sioux under the leadership of Sitting Bull.
Fresh from the Custer Massacre, Sitting Bull and the Sioux crossed the 'Medicine Line' into Canada at Wood Mountain seeking the protection of the Great White Mother. The controlling of over five thousand warlike Sioux was placed squarely on the shoulders of the Mounted Police personnel at Fort Walsh. This developed into a test of strength and willpower between Major Walsh and Sitting Bull. In many tense confrontings Major Walsh and Sitting Bull were eyeball to eyeball but Walsh never blinked. This is one of the epic chapters in Mounted Police history until the Sioux moved back to the United States three years later. It had been a keg of dynamite with the Mounted Police sitting precariously on the lid.
During the Riel Rebellion of 1885 the police performed a vital role in keeping the unrest from spreading and Crowfoot, due to the good relations, established by the police, was able to prevent the Blackfoot Confederacy from joining in with Louis Riel. Riel met death on the gallows at Regina, November 16, 1885, while Gabriel Dumont fled to Montana. He was later granted amnesty. He died at Batoche in 1906 at the age of 68.
With the Klondike gold strike in the late 1890's one of the most thrilling and colorful pages in the history of the Mounted Police was turned. The placing of the Yukon under the supervision of the Mounted Police called for the utmost in courage and determination. Skagway on the United States side of the Alaska-Yukon Boundary had earned the title of 'the roughest place on earth'. But on the Canadian side of the boundary, the law of the Police prevailed. By 1898 there were 252 officers and men doing duty in the Arctic and Yukon, almost one third of the entire force of Mounted Police.
The police took part in the great procession in London celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. In 1900 the Boer war broke out and 245 members of the Police served with distinction on the veldt in South Africa. For their services, the Force was given the prefix Royal and in 1904 the force became known as the Royal North West Mounted Police.
In the meantime the police on the prairies were supervising the last great land rush on the North American Continent. Settlers from the four corners of the earth streamed out on the prairies of Western Canada and never in the history of any country was such a wave of settlement accomplished with so little violence and crime. Credit for this is almost entirely due to the Mounted Police. Their small detachments, often manned by one lone constable, dotted the countryside. Under their beneficial care the settlers knew that persons and property were safe.
The late Ward Rennie of Montezuma, Kansas at the controls of Ernest Bressler engine at the Bird City, Kansas Show.
At the present time the total command of the Force stands at some 13,000 members policing Canada from sea even unto sea. In 1920 the title of the Force was again changed to Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The top man of the Force, Commissioner W.L. Higgett, is also president of Interpol, which in effect makes him top policeman of the world. Could anything more be said to show the high regard in which the Mounted Police are held? We congratulate the Police on their one hundredth anniversary on a job well done. And they are still doing it.