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Title: Policing the Plains - Being the Real-Life Record of the Famous North-West Mounted Police
Author: MacBeth, R.G.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Policing the Plains - Being the Real-Life Record of the Famous North-West Mounted Police" ***

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by C. W. Russell, Montana._ _Courtesy of the Osborne Coy., Toronto._]



By R. G. MACBETH, M.A., Author of "The
Romance of Western Canada."





I       A GREAT TRADITION                                        7
II      ENTER THE MOUNTED POLICE                                25
III     MOBILIZING                                              33
IV      THE AMAZING MARCH                                       48
V       BUSINESS IN THE LAND OF INDIANS                         57
VI      HANDLING AMERICAN INDIANS                               78
VII     THE IRON HORSES                                         93
VIII    RIEL AGAIN                                             106
IX      RECONSTRUCTION                                         126
X       CHANGING SCENERY                                       141
XI      IN THE GOLD COUNTRY                                    153
XII     STIRRING DAYS ABROAD AND AT HOME                       175
XIII    MODESTY AND EFFECTIVENESS                              206
XIV     ON LAND AND SEA                                        233
XV      GLORY AND TRAGEDY IN THE NORTH                         255
XVI     STRIKING INCIDENTS                                     266
XVII    THE GREAT WAR PERIOD                                   281
XVIII   GREAT TRADITIONS UPHELD                                297


Mounted Police Rounding Up Horse Thieves          (_Frontispiece_)
Sir John A. Macdonald                                           16
Hon. Alexander Mackenzie                                        16
Hudson Bay: R.N.W.M. Police with Dogs                           17
Major-General Sir A. C. Macdonnell, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.      32
Major-General Sir Samuel B. Steele, K.C.B., etc.                32
Superintendent A. H. Griesbach                                  33
Inspector J. M. Walsh                                           33
Commissioner A. G. Irvine                                       48
Commissioner George A. French                                   48
Commissioner James F. Macleod                                   49
Commissioner Lawrence W. Herchmer                               49
Sitting Bull                                                    64
Colonel James Walker                                            65
Colonel T. A. Wroughton                                        112
Lieut.-Col. Aylesworth Bowen Perry, C.M.G.                     112
Colonel Cortlandt Starnes                                      113
R.N.W.M. Police Wood Camp, Churchill River                     113
Indian Tepee                                                   128
Dog-Train                                                      129
Yukon Rush: Summit, Chilcoot Pass                              144
Group of Indian Children on Prairie                            145
Chilcoot Pass: R.N.W.M. Police and Custom House                160
Klondyke Rush: Squaw Rapids, between Canyon and                161
  White Horse Rapids, 1898
Supt. Constantine in Winter Uniform on the Yukon               176
Piegan Indians at Sun-Dance                                    177
Rev. R. G. Macbeth, M.A.                                       192
Group, R.N.W.M. Police, Tagish Post, Yukon                     193
Fort Selkirk, Yukon                                            208
Esquimaux Family                                               209
Coronation Contingent, London, 1911                            224
Indians Receiving Treaty Payment on Prairie                    224
Fort Fitzgerald, Athabasca                                     225
Ice-bound Government Schooner                                  225
Herschell Island, Yukon Territory                              240
Esquimaux Visiting R.N.W.M. Police Tent                        240
Barracks at Fort Fitzgerald, Great Slave River                 241
R.N.W.M. Police Shelter, Great Slave Lake                      241
Cabin of Rev. Fathers Le Roux and Rouvier                      241
R.N.W.M. Police Barracks, Churchill, Hudson Bay                256
Police with Dogs and Equipment on Split Lake, N.W.T.           257
Inspector Fitzgerald                                           272
Supt. Charles Constantine                                      272
Inspector La Nauze                                             273



A few years ago I was away north of Edmonton on the trail of Alexander
Mackenzie, fur trader and explorer, who a century and a quarter before
had made the amazing journey from the prairies over the mountains to the
Pacific Coast. We looked with something like awe and wonder at the site
of the old fort near the famous Peace River Crossing, from which, after
wintering there in 1792, he had started out on that unprecedented
expedition, and we followed up the majestic Peace to Fort Dunvegan, past
whose present location Mackenzie had gone his adventurous way. And
during our trip we came across a little frontier encampment building
itself into a primitive wooden town in view of the advent of a railway
that was heading that way. It was a characteristic outfit with lax ideas
in regard to laws which touched upon personal desires as to gambling,
strong drink, Sunday trading and the rest. These men were out to make
money as their type has been on most of the frontiers of civilization,
and the unwary traveller or the lonely settler who ventured unduly was
promptly fleeced of his possessions and turned out amidst a good deal of
revelry in the hours of night. And then one day there rode into that
shack-town a young athlete in a uniform of scarlet and gold, the
rough-rider hat, the tunic of red, the wide gold stripe to the top of
the riding boots and the shining spurs. He rode in alone from the
nearest post some 60 miles away and, when he dismounted, threw off the
heavy saddle and picketed his horse, a sudden air of orderliness
settled on the locality. The young man, going around with that
characteristic cavalry swing, issued a few warnings, tacked up a notice
or two and then saddling his rested steed rode away at a canter over the
plain. But the air of orderliness remained in that region after the
horseman had disappeared over the horizon just as if he were still
present. This was puzzling to a newcomer who was along, and he asked me
what manner of man this young rider was that he was received with such
deference and that his orders, so quietly given, were so instantly and
so continuously obeyed.

The answer was made out of a life-long acquaintance with the history and
the real life of Western Canada: "Well, it is not the young constable
himself that counts so mightily, though he is a likely looking fellow
enough who could be cool anywhere and who could give ample evidence of
possessing those muscles of steel which count in a hand-to-hand
encounter. But you see he is one of that widely known body of men called
the Royal North-West Mounted Police. They have patrolled and guarded and
guided this whole North-West Country for the last forty years and more.
During that period they have built up a great tradition which rests on a
solid foundation of achievement. Their reputation for courage is
unchallenged, their record for giving every man of whatever race or
colour a square deal is unique, their inflexible determination to see
that law is enforced is well known and their refusal to count the odds
against them when duty is to be done has been absolutely proven again
and again. All these elements and others have created the Mounted Police
tradition to such an extent that the one constable you saw is looked on
as the embodiment of the Empire which plays no favourites but which at
the same time will stand no nonsense from anyone. And perhaps most
wonderful of all is that part of their record which shows that they have
done all this and more without any violence or repression, except as a
last resort. They were always more ready and anxious to save human life
than to destroy it."

"All that is very interesting," said my friend; "I would like to hear
more about these men, and would be glad if you would tell me something
of their history." And out there under the open sky of the North
Country, with the stars sparkling above us and the Aurora Borealis
dancing and swishing over our heads in a wonderful panorama of colour
and movement, we talked long into the night about the men in scarlet and
gold. Their whole story could not be told in a night, but the eager
interest of the listener and the creation of a new pride in things
Canadian in his heart, led me to resolve that the history he was seeking
should some day be published to the world. Many requests for the story
have come since that night in the Peace River country, and now that one
period of Police history is closing through the extension of the
jurisdiction of the Force over the whole Dominion, East as well as West,
accompanied by the word "Canadian" in their title instead of "North
West," the time seems opportune for a real-life record of what these men
throughout the years have meant to Canada. Such a record should cause
every Royal Canadian Mounted Police recruit to realize that he has to be
worthy of the tradition built up by the achievements of nearly half a
century through valorous men, many of whom have now passed over the
Great Divide. It will deepen in all men of sincerity a respect for
authority in a restless age. And it will bring into the light facts
hitherto unrevealed that will fill all men with pride in their country.

I know that the men of the Mounted Police have been averse to saying
anything about themselves. They have the usual British characteristic of
reticence intensified. But though I have been brigaded with them on
active service, I have not been a member of the corps, and hence do not
feel bound by their policy of silence. Let the plain truth, which is
always stranger than fiction, be told about these gallant riders as an
inspiration to young Canadians and to men of the blood everywhere. With
this purpose in view I am now keeping the resolution made that night in
the North, as I am in this book extending and telling to a larger
audience the story then unfolded to an individual. My humble hope is
that the larger audience may be equally interested.


In the year of Grace 1920, we, in the West, celebrated with enthusiasm
the birthday anniversary of the Hudson's Bay Company, which has attained
to the ripe old age of 250 years. Yet the eye of this ancient
organization is not dimmed by time, nor does its power show signs of
impairment. As it is around this old and honourable commercial and
colonizing concern that the early history of Western Canada principally
revolves, a few paragraphs on this subject seem to be necessary as we
begin our story. We must have proper historical setting for the entrance
of our famous police force on the stage of Western Canadian history.

About the end of the first decade of the seventeenth century, Henry
Hudson, the intrepid navigator who was looking for a North-West Passage
by water through the North-American Continent to the Western Sea,
discovered the great Bay which bears his name to this day. Marooned by a
mutinous crew, he paid for the discovery with his life, after the manner
of many pathfinders, but he had unlocked a new Empire for the human
family. Then for years there was silence around the Bay which Hudson had
opened at such great cost to himself.

Away in the East, following the early explorations along the banks of
the St. Lawrence in old Canada, adventurous hunters and trappers began
to push their way westward and northward, past the Great Lakes to the
prairie land beyond. This was about the middle of the seventeenth
century, and at that period the New World was full of opportunity for
the daring who saw visions beyond the sky-line.

And so it came to pass about half a century after Hudson's time that two
French adventurers, Radisson and Groseilliers, reaching out from the St.
Lawrence to the wide north-west, came into contact with Indian tribes
who told about the great bay to the north and the vast riches of the
region in furs and skins. These adventurers went to see for themselves
and they found that the half had not been told. And because, despite
many theories, no one has ever discovered a way to carry on a big
enterprise without capital, these hardy pioneers returned to the East
and endeavoured to organize a trading company from amongst their French
compatriots. But the enthusiasm of the men who had seen could not awaken
response in the men who had not seen. The faculty of faith was not very
highly developed in these French habitants by the St. Lawrence. But the
zeal of Radisson and Groseilliers was unquenchable. They tried Boston in
vain, and then betook themselves to France, where they were not any more
successful, except that they got a letter of introduction to some men of
leading in England. The Englishman generally loves a sporting chance for
exploration and discovery, and so Prince Rupert, more or less a soldier
of fortune who had lent his name and his sword to almost anything that
offered a possibility of adventure or substance, took up the matter of
the fur trade and was instrumental in sending out vessels with Radisson
and Groseilliers to prospect on the shores of Hudson Bay. Once again the
men who went and saw came back, not only with tales of an El Dorado in
fur, but with the furs themselves, and the dashing Prince forthwith
secured from the easy-going Charles II a monopolistic charter to trade
and generally to control the whole vast region drained by rivers that
emptied into Hudson Bay. The territory thus granted, with more added
later by licences, extended generally speaking from the Great Lakes to
the Pacific and from mid-continent to the North Pole. It was as large
as half a dozen European Kingdoms and has become one of the greatest
adjuncts of the British Empire, but King Charles did not know nor care
much more about it than the French king who later on gave up Canada with
a light heart, saying it was only "a few hundred acres of snow."

It is not our duty in this book to follow the fortunes of "the Governor
and Company of the Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay" as
the Royal Charter described this little band of less than a score of men
to whom had been handed over the control of half a continent. It is
enough to say that the Hudson's Bay Company, as the popular habit of
shortening long titles rendered it, held this vast region for two whole
centuries. During that time the immense resources of the country tempted
others to disregard the monopolistic provisions of the Royal Charter and
to venture in upon forbidden ground. Companies such as the North-West
Fur Company, formed by the Scottish merchants of Montreal, rushed to
secure part of the rich harvest in trade that was being reaped by the
English Company, whose employees, it may be said, were largely the hardy
Scots from the Highlands and Islands. But the leaders of the Hudson's
Bay Company, "stabbed broad awake" by this opposition and strengthened
by the trustworthiness and endurance of their employees, held their
ground and extended their operations till they by degrees absorbed all
opponents and became in 1821 monarchs of all they surveyed.

Meanwhile in the Old Land many things of world-wide interest and
influence had been transpiring. The years around the opening of the
nineteenth century were made stormy by the Napoleonic effort to
subjugate Europe and while their men of military age were away fighting
for the liberty of Europe against "the little giant of Corsica," certain
areas in the north of Scotland were "cleared" of their inhabitants by
heartless landlords who felt that sheep were more profitable for the
owner of estates than human tenants. To these evicted crofters in the
Highlands came that noble altruist and philanthropic colonizer, the Earl
of Selkirk, who, having obtained from the Hudson's Bay Company an
immense district principally in what is now Manitoba, offered the
outcasts of a tyrannous land system homes in the great free spaces of
Rupert's Land, as the Hudson Bay territory was called. The offer was
accepted thankfully, and in the years from 1812 to 1815 these Selkirk
colonists came to the Red River of the North.

It is not part of this story to follow the fortunes of these famous
colonists of whom I have written more particularly in _The Romance of
Western Canada_. They encountered unaccustomed climatic obstacles, they
were persecuted and hunted by the fur-trading opponents of their
benefactor, they were tried by the disasters of floods and by plagues of
devouring locusts, but with the dogged and stern determination of their
race and creed they held on and demonstrated to the world the
possibilities of a country which is now the granary of the Empire.

And the world got to hearing of this Arcadian Colony of Scots in the new
North-West. So when the old Provinces of the East were brought together
under the name of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, the men of light and
leading at Ottawa lost no time in looking westward to secure the vast
western domain for the new Confederation. Despite the difficulty of
travel, settlers had already begun to percolate from Eastern Canada
through the States or the wilderness spaces west of the Great Lakes,
into the Red River country made famous by the Selkirk Colony. And it had
been becoming more and more apparent to the Hudson's Bay Company itself
as well as to others that the great fur-trading and mercantile
organization could no longer adequately administer an area which was
soon to overflow with the human sea of an incoming population. For many
years previous to Confederation the Hudson's Bay monopoly in trade had
been more or less of a figment of the imagination and no one knew that
better than the Company itself. It still retained its monopoly
nominally, but it made very little effort to restrain the half-breed and
other "free traders" who opened up stores and bartered for furs with the
Indians. In any case in one form or other all the trade of the country
practically came, in the last analysis, through the Hudson's Bay
Company, who controlled the money market by having their own bills in
circulation. But the wise old Company saw what was coming and began to
get ready to let go its monopolistic fur-trading charter and adjust
itself to the new conditions.

Hence it was not a difficult matter to persuade the Company to give up
its charter for a consideration. My father, who was a member of the
Council of Assiniboia, a magistrate, and a close personal friend of
Governor McTavish, who was in charge at Fort Garry on the Red River
where settlement had begun, always used to say that the Hudson's Bay
Company was glad to find a reasonable way of getting the responsibility
for the government of the growing country off its hands.

Accordingly, when the Canadian Government deemed the time was ripe, two
members of that Government, the Hon. Sir George E. Cartier and the Hon.
William McDougall, were sent to London to negotiate with the Imperial
authorities for the transfer of the North-West to Canada. In view of the
attitude taken by the Hudson's Bay Company, as stated above, the matter
was not difficult to arrange. And after a brief discussion in London,
the famous old fur-trading organization, which had held charter rights
since the days of Charles II, relinquished those rights to the Imperial
Government for £300,000 sterling, certain reservations around their
trading posts, along with one-twentieth of the land in the fertile belt.
Then, as previously understood, the Imperial Government was to transfer
the vast North-West to Canada, which in turn undertook to respect and
conserve the rights of the people in the area thus added to the
Dominion. This arrangement was concluded in the spring of 1869, and it
was then expected that the purchase money would be paid on the 1st of
October following, and that probably on the 1st of December the Queen's
Proclamation would issue, setting forth these facts and fixing the date
of the actual transfer to Canada.

So far all was well. The ideas leading up to the acquisition of this
great domain were in every sense statesmanlike, and, if carefully
carried out, were calculated to be of the greatest benefit to the people
in the new territory and the Dominion as well. We should pay unstinted
tribute to the men whose ideals were for an ever-widening horizon, and
who felt that "no pent-up Utica should confine the powers" of the young
nation just beginning to stretch out and exercise its potentially giant
limbs. Once the older Provinces in the East were brought into
Confederation it was wise to look forward to a Canada stretching from
ocean to ocean, and to take the necessary legal steps to secure the
broad acres of the West as part of the Dominion. But just when
everything seemed to be going well a cog in the diplomatic equipment of
the Canadian Government power-house slipped and taking advantage of the
occasion, one Louis Riel, the son of the old hot-headed agitator on the
Red River, threw a wrench into the machinery.

The Canadian authorities who wisely carried through the negotiations
with the Hudson's Bay Company and the Imperial Government seem to have
blundered by overlooking the fact that the new territory had within its
borders some 10,000 people, apart from the Indians, who ought to have
been informed in some official way of the bargain that was being made,
and of the steps that were being taken to conserve the rights and
privileges of these early settlers.

It is true that rumours of the transaction reached the Red River country
through unauthoritative sources, but the main result was to produce a
feeling of uneasiness amongst the people there. And especially was this
the case when the rumours were given point by overt acts. Even before
the transfer of the country had been legally completed men were sent out
from the East to open roads from the Lakes into the settlements.
Surveying parties entered the new territory and went hither and thither,
driving their stakes and erecting their mounds, to the bewilderment of
the people, and to cap all the indiscretions, a Governor, the Hon.
William McDougall, was dispatched from Ottawa to the Red River before
the Hudson's Bay regime was formally superseded and before a Queen's
Proclamation, which would have been instantly recognized by all classes
in the community, was issued.

The Selkirk Settlers and other people of that class, however perplexed
at the procedure, had the utmost confidence that the Canadian
authorities would ultimately do substantial justice to all, and hence
they awaited patiently though somewhat anxiously the developments of
time. But the French half-breeds, more fiery and more easily excited,
more turbulent of spirit and warlike in disposition, accustomed to more
or less fighting on the plains, and withal, as a class, less well
informed than their white brethren, were not content to wait. They felt
that the course being followed by the Canadian authorities might lead to
the loss of their rights, and so they rose in a revolt, that while
accomplishing some of the objects that could have been reached by
constitutional means, left its red stream across that early page of our
history. But in the midst of all our statements let it be remembered, in
mitigation of the attitude of the Canadian authorities, that
communication between Ottawa and the West at that period was very
difficult. There were no railways nor telegraphs and the mails were few
and far apart. Though, on the other hand, that condition of things
should have made all parties more tolerant and cautious.

Strange that the two Louis Riels, father and son, should lead in
agitations that were somewhat contradictory. The elder Riel was a
famous antagonist of the Hudson's Bay Company regime with its apparent
or alleged monopoly in trade, and the younger Riel, while no lover of
the Company, opposed the Canadian Government which was to replace it.
The truth seems that they were both temperamentally against authority
and that they were both afflicted with a megalomania which led each to
imagine that he was some great one.

[Illustration: SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD. Who, while Premier, founded the
Mounted Police. (_Photo, Pittaway Studios, Ottawa._)]

[Illustration: HON. ALEXANDER MACKENZIE. Who, while Premier, organized
the Mounted Police. (_Photo, Pittaway Studios, Ottawa._)]


The younger Riel had the "bad eminence" of leading two rebellions in
Western history before winding up his tragic career on the scaffold at
Regina. He it was who opposed the entrance of Governor McDougall to the
Red River in 1869. He it was who, after having stopped the Governor,
rode down and captured Fort Garry in which he and his men fared
sumptuously all that winter out of the Hudson's Bay Company store. He it
was who imprisoned those who opposed him and ordered the shooting of
Thomas Scott, a young Canadian prisoner--an act which estranged from the
rebel chief the sympathy of many who believed that he had some grounds
for protest against the incoming of authority without any guarantee of
the settler's rights.

But the reign of the rebel was not long. The Imperial authorities who
have never forgotten the teaching of history in the loss of the American
colonies, have more than once called the governments in free colonies to
a sense of their duty and have followed up their advice with military
backing if necessary. And both were forthcoming in this case. The hand
of the good Queen Victoria is seen in the following dispatch from Earl
Granville to Sir John Young, Governor-General of Canada:

     "The Queen has heard with surprise and regret that certain
     misguided persons have banded together to oppose by force the entry
     of our future Lieutenant-Governor into our territory in Red River.
     Her Majesty does not distrust the loyalty of her subjects in that
     settlement, and can only ascribe to misunderstanding and
     misrepresentation their opposition to a change planned for their

     "She relies on your Government to use every effort to explain
     whatever misunderstanding may have arisen--to ascertain the wants
     and conciliate the goodwill of the people of Red River Settlement.
     But in the meantime she authorizes you to signify to them the
     sorrow and displeasure with which she views the unreasonable and
     lawless proceedings which have taken place, and her expectation
     that if any parties have desires to express or complaints to make
     respecting their conditions and prospects, they will address
     themselves to the Governor-General of Canada.

     "The Queen expects from her representative that as he will be
     always ready to receive well-founded grievances, so will he
     exercise all the power and authority she entrusted to him in
     support of order and the suppression of unlawful disturbances."

The closing paragraph of this fine message indicates the traditional
British Empire position, that though grievances will be heard and
remedied, there will be no quarter given to any nonsense on the part of
rebels. And it was in keeping with this position that Colonel (later
Field Marshal Sir Garnet) Wolseley was dispatched to the Red River
country with regular troops, who arrived at their destination only to
find that Riel and his forces had decamped before their arrival. Two
regiments from Eastern Canada came later and remained on duty at Fort
Garry for some time after the regulars under Wolseley had returned home.

The Red River country was ushered into Confederation as the Province of
Manitoba, and the Hon. Adams George Archibald, of Nova Scotia, was sent
out from Ottawa in 1870 as Lieutenant-Governor. He took a rough census
of the country and with the resultant crude voters' list the first
regular Western Legislature was soon elected and at work.

But west and north of this little Province of Manitoba, itself sparsely
settled, lay an immense hinterland stretching nearly a thousand miles to
the Rocky mountains and northward to the pole itself. This enormous
area, then commonly called "The Saskatchewan," was unpeopled except for
thousands of Indians, many groups of nomadic buffalo-hunters mostly
half-breeds, a few scattered missions of various churches, and a large
number of Hudson's Bay Company trading posts. Manitoba was under the
oversight of a regularly constituted Government and Legislature. But out
in the vast north-west hinterland it was a sort of interregnum time, in
view of the fact that the Hudson's Bay Company, which had controlled the
country for two centuries, had given up its charter and authority to the
Dominion of Canada which had legally but not yet visibly taken
possession. Or, to change the figure, the period was, governmentally
speaking, a sort of "No man's land" with one party technically out of
possession and the other not yet recognized by the traders or Indians as
being in control. Such a situation gave a great deal of opportunity for
lawlessness by warring tribes, horse-thieves, whisky peddlers,
boot-leggers and all the rest of that ilk. And the proximity to the
American boundary line making escape easy was an additional temptation
to the lawlessly inclined. That this class did not allow the opportunity
to go by unused soon became apparent to men who were upon the ground.
Mr. Lawrence Clark, a noted Hudson's Bay officer, whom I remember in his
later years, handsome, eager, alert and well-informed, said that both
traders and Indians were learning the dangerous lesson that the Queen's
orders could be disregarded with impunity.

And it is now pretty well known that our good Queen and her advisers who
had been shocked by the Riel outbreak in 1869 were concerned for the
good government of the vast domain that had been recently handed over by
the Imperial Government to Canada. It was not the British way to allow
things to get out of hand, nor to permit wards of the nation, like the
Indians, to become the victims of the lawless in trade and in morality.
Hence the Governor-General of Canada received for himself and his
responsible advisers more than one dispatch from the Headquarters of the
Empire admonishing that steps should be taken to preserve peace in the
vast new domain and to give all who would immigrate thither the proper
British safeguards as to life and liberty and the pursuit of their
lawful avocations. And, of course, the Canadian authorities, chagrined
over the Riel outbreak and having some knowledge of the immense
responsibilities they had assumed by taking over the North-West, were
anxious to prevent anything that would make the new country unattractive
to the people who were desirous of coming with their families to settle
within its borders.

As a result of all this, Governor Archibald, of Manitoba, within a few
weeks after his arrival in Fort Garry, took steps to secure a report on
conditions on "The Saskatchewan," outside the Province where he was the
representative of the Crown. The fact that he did this so soon after
assuming office and when matters in his own Province required special
attention, indicates strongly the pressure that had been brought to bear
upon the Canadian authorities by headquarters. And when a man was
required for the special mission out over the far North-West he was
there on the spot in the person of Lieutenant W. F. Butler of the 69th
Regiment, afterwards famous as Sir William Butler, of South Africa. On
account of his splendid powers of endurance, his great faculty for
observation and his remarkable literary genius, he was a man with unique
qualifications for the task--the difficult and delicate task--to which
Governor Archibald called him. A person has to be sadly destitute in the
religious sense to believe that Butler was on hand by accident. It is
exceedingly interesting to find that another man, who afterwards became
noted in South Africa, namely the bluff and valiant fighter, Redvers
Buller, was in the Red River expedition with Wolseley and had been
mentioned in connection with the mission to the North-West hinterland.
Years afterwards in the Boer War time this same Redvers Buller, then
commanding the British forces on the veld, said to Colonel Sam B.
Steele, of Strathcona's Horse, who also had served under Wolseley: "I
know Lord Strathcona very well: when I was at Fort Garry on the Red
River Expedition he spoke to me about going out over the plains to
investigate conditions, but I was recalled to my regiment and Governor
Archibald sent Butler out instead, a good thing too; for he wrote a very
good book on his journey which I could not have done." And this
big-hearted, manly, generous reference by Buller properly indicated that
he not only recognized his own limitations, but was glad to pay tribute
to the literary genius who wrote that Classic _The Great Lone Land_ and
the noble biography of General Gordon of Khartoum.

But Butler had more than literary gifts. He had, as already stated,
great powers of observation and that remarkable faculty for forecasting,
which was exemplified, then, on Canadian prairies as it was later on the
South African veld.

In the book _The Great Lone Land_, to which allusion has been made,
Butler tells us with manly frankness that in 1869 he had come to a
standstill in his career as a soldier, because he had neither the means
nor influence to secure any promotion in such a piping time of peace.
And so, when news of the Riel Rebellion in the far West drifted to
London, Butler cabled to Canada for an opportunity to serve in the Red
River Expedition. He immediately followed his cablegram, but on his
arrival found himself too late for a place. However he was given a
special mission to go from Toronto to Fort Garry by way of the United
States in order to find out how the people of that country along the
boundary looked at matters on the Red River. Butler went on to Fort
Garry, passed through the rebel zone, met Wolseley and with him entered
Fort Garry, which had just been evacuated by Riel. As things quieted,
Butler was going to leave for the East, when Governor Archibald got hold
of him, as stated, and sent him out over the West to report on
conditions and make recommendations. He left Fort Garry in October,
1870, treked 900 miles to the Rocky Mountains, then wheeled northward
to Edmonton and down the Saskatchewan River to Lake Winnipeg, boxing the
compass so far as the great hinterland of the plains was concerned. He
heard much and saw more, witnessed the smallpox scourge lashing the
Indian tribes, saw the general disquiet and disorder with no one in
control. The steed of the far West was riderless, the reins had been
thrown away and the country was running wild. Butler's report is graphic
in the extreme and has many recommendations, but the one that mainly
concerns us just now is that which advises the establishment of
constituted authority with sufficient force to back it up, for it was
that recommendation which led to the establishment, though delayed
strangely for two years more, of the famous corps known originally to
history as the North-West Mounted Police.

The particular wisdom of Butler's recommendation lies in the fact that
he advocated along with the civil government a material force which
would be located "not at fixed points or forts." For he said that any
force so located "would afford little protection outside the immediate
circle of these points and would hold out no inducements to the
establishment of new settlements." Wise man was Butler who saw that
settlers must be secured to pour into this vast country and make it the
granary of the Empire, and that a force movable enough to be readily at
the call of scattered settlements would be absolutely necessary. The
sequel has proven how well Butler forecasted events because settlers by
the thousand soon desired to come and it was the presence of the Mounted
Police that gave to these settlers the sense of security that made it
possible for them to turn the vast plains into waving fields of grain
and cause the wide areas of pasture land to shake under the tread of
domestic herds.

And the other special point in which Butler's wisdom in recommendation
comes out in regard to the force to be established is where he states
that such a force should be independent of any faction or party either
in church or state. His wise hint in this regard was taken and
followed, and hence all through their history the Mounted Police have
gone their way, caring for nothing and for nobody in their intentness on
doing their duty. It is quite well known to some of us that in many
places on the plains, in the mountains and away in the land of the
golden Yukon, the Police were often strongly urged to relax their
vigilance in the interests of some political party or some business that
was financially concerned. But all such temptations fell on deaf ears,
and the scarlet-coated riders, looking on intimidation and efforts at
bribery with contempt, pursued the even tenor of their way and gave
every man a square deal according to his deserts no matter who he was or
to what colour the sun and the wind had burned his skin. Such was the
force which this wise recommendation of Butler called into existence.

That such a force would have no sinecure and would have no room for
"misfits or failures," Butler tells us in 1870 in that clause of his
report in which he says, "As matters at present rest, the region of the
Saskatchewan is without law, order or security for life or property;
robbery and murder for years have gone unpunished; Indian massacres are
unchecked even in the close vicinity of the Hudson's Bay Company posts
and all civil and legal institutions are entirely unknown." It was high
time for government control with an adequate material force to give it

And because I have referred to Butler's foresightedness it would be
unfair to his memory to close this section without quoting the
magnificent paragraph with which he ended his report in March of 1871.
It reads as follows:

     "Such, sir, are the views which I have formed upon the whole
     question of the existing state of affairs in the Saskatchewan
     country. They result from the thought and experience of many long
     days of travel through a large portion of the region to which they
     have reference. If I were asked from what point of view I have
     looked upon this question, I would answer--From that point which
     sees a vast country lying, as it were, silently awaiting the
     approach of the immense wave of human life which rolls unceasingly
     from Europe to America. Far off as lie the regions of the
     Saskatchewan from the Atlantic seaboard, on which that wave is
     thrown, remote as are the fertile glades which fringe the eastern
     slopes of the Rocky Mountains, still that wave of human life is
     destined to reach those beautiful solitudes, and to convert the
     wild luxuriance of their now useless vegetation into all the
     requirements of civilized existence. And if it be matter of desire
     that across this immense continent, resting on the two greatest
     oceans of the world, a powerful nation should arise with the
     strength and the manhood which race and climate and tradition would
     assign to it--a nation which would look with no evil eye upon the
     old motherland from whence it sprung; a nation which, having no
     bitter memories to recall, would have no idle prejudices to
     perpetuate--then surely it is worthy of all toil of hand and brain,
     on the part of those who to-day rule, that this great link in the
     chain of such a future nationality should no longer remain
     undeveloped, a prey to the conflict of savage races, at once the
     garden and the wilderness of the central continent."

These great words were written nearly half a century ago. What has taken
place in Western History within that time shows how this remarkable man
"had his ear to the ground," as the Indians used to express it and that
he was in effect saying, with Whittier:

    "I hear the tread of nations,
      Of Empires yet to be;
    The dull low wash of waves where yet
      Shall roll a human sea."



Great bodies are proverbially slow in their movements, and in this
regard all governments seem to be great bodies. It may be that a healthy
difference of opinion within a cabinet tends to cautious procedure, but
that type of caution is rather trying on people whose nerves tingle for

The first Government of Canada under that astute and tactful statesman,
John A. Macdonald, was a sort of composite organization which needed
careful handling to prevent explosions, and some vast new problems such
as the construction of a transcontinental railway were in that day
swinging into politics. So, despite Butler's urgent report in 1871 and
the rumours more or less exaggerated of intertribal Indian fights with
the accompaniments of massacre and scalping-knife torture, the
Government took another year to think over it, and in 1872 sent
Adjutant-General P. Robertson-Ross to make a general reconnaissance and
bring back further expert opinion. And Colonel Ross, after many many
months of travelling, brought in a quite pronounced series of
suggestions pointing out the great need for such a force as Butler had
suggested, and definitely advised the placing of detachments of "mounted
riflemen" all the way from Manitoba to the Rockies, and for that matter
from the boundary line to the Pole.

It is interesting to note in this report of Colonel Robertson-Ross a
reference to the matter of the uniform of the proposed force in the
following paragraph:

     "During my inspection in the North-West, I ascertained that some
     prejudice existed amongst the Indians against the colour of the
     uniform worn by the men of the Rifles, for many of the Indians
     said, 'Who are these soldiers at Red River wearing dark clothes?
     Our old brothers who formerly lived there (meaning H.M.S. 6th
     Regiment) wore red coats,' adding, 'we know that the soldiers of
     our great mother wear red coats and are our friends.'"

The Indians like the bright colour, but they also in this case connected
it with the regular regiment that had come to the Red River to keep the
peace. Referring to this same subject of uniform, Mr. Charles Mair,
noted author and frontiersman, recently said: "There is a moral in
colour as in other things, and the blind man who compared scarlet to the
sound of a trumpet was instinctively right. It does carry with it the
loud voice of law and authority so much needed in this disjointed time.
It disconcerts the ill-affected and has no small bearing in other ways."

The Hon. Frank Oliver, of Edmonton, who has known the West from the
early days, wrote not long ago on this point:

     "For nearly half a century throughout Canada's great plains, the
     red coat of the Mounted Policeman was the visible and definite
     assurance that right was might. A red speck on the horizon was
     notice to both weak and strong, honest and dishonest, that the rule
     of law prevailed; while experience taught white men and red that
     'Law' meant even-handed justice as between man and man without fear
     or favour."

     "The red coat was evidence that wherever the wearer was, he was
     there with authority. In any other colour he might have escaped
     hostile observation. Not so when clad in red."

Following Colonel Ross' report in 1872 the Government at Ottawa was
subjected to a sort of fusillade on the question from the floor of the
House of Commons. Hon. Alexander MacKenzie (afterwards Premier), Hon.
Dr. John Schultz (later Sir John, Governor of Manitoba, who had been
imprisoned by Louis Riel and had escaped with a price on his head), an
ardent Canadian, Hon. William Cunningham, a newspaper man from Winnipeg,
Hon. Donald A. Smith, a Hudson's Bay Company man (who as Lord Strathcona
was to have such a large share in the making of the West) and the Hon.
Letellier de St. Just were some of the members who wanted to know what
the Government was contemplating in view of all the reports received.
Sir John A. Macdonald, who took special pride in the police in later
years, and the Hon. Joseph Howe, whose office was to look after the
West, said that the Government was fully alive to the situation and
would act in due time. As a matter of fact the Government, especially
Sir John, had been for some time in consultation with experienced
service men, notably Major (later Colonel) Arthur Henry Griesbach, who
was in Ottawa for many months advising in regard to the force of which
he was afterwards to become one of the earliest and most honoured
members. It also emerged later that Sir John and his associates had been
making some study of such famous organizations as the Irish
Constabulary, and that he had set his mind on having a force that would
be distinguished for hardiness in service and readiness in response to
calls of duty rather than for "fuss and feathers," as he expressed it in
his favourite way.

Finally, on May 3, 1873, the Premier moved for leave to introduce a bill
dealing with the administration of justice and for the establishment of
a police force in the North-West Territories. It was adopted by the
House on May 20, and so the organization of the now famous corps was
definitely on its way. An interesting fact was that this was to be a
civil force in uniform, not a military organization subject to the
Queen's regulations, but dependent for discipline upon the personality
of the officers, the esprit de corps that would be generated and the
_noblesse oblige_ idea that would emerge in the course of service. And
all these things actually developed as we shall see in the process of
this story.

Having finally passed the Act, the legislators rested on their laurels
a few months more, for it was not until September that actual enrolment
of the new force began to take place. The process of enlistment was then
hurried somewhat and later on some sifting was done in order to throw
out any culls. But in the main the men measured up well to the demands
of that most interesting and important clause in the Act, which says:

     "No person shall be appointed to the police force unless he be of
     sound constitution, able to ride, active and able-bodied, and
     between the ages of eighteen and forty years, nor unless he be able
     to read and write either the English or the French language."

This was sane legislation, for these men were not going out on a picnic.
They were going to patrol the widest and wildest frontier in the world.
And that frontier has always said in the words of Robert Service:

    "Send not your foolish and feeble; send me your strong and your
    Strong for the red rage of battle; sane, for I harry them sore.
    Send me men girt for the combat, men who are grit to the core.
    Them will I gild with my treasure; them will I feed with my meat;
    But the others--the misfits, the failures--I trample them under
      my feet."

And in order that readers may have other testimony than that of the
author on the question of the need for strong men, let me quote words
written by the Hon. N. W. Rowell, who, as President of the Council and
Governmental head of the force, had specially studied the history of the

     "When the Canadian West first saw the scarlet jacket the prairies
     were in a transition stage which contained grave possibilities of
     danger. The old era, in which the Hudson's Bay Company and the
     Indians had dealt peaceably together, was breaking up, and the
     private trader, irresponsible and often not too scrupulous, was
     laying the seeds of trouble in a land where the Indians still were
     numerous and powerful. Tribe waged war against tribe, and
     formidable hosts, fresh from fighting against the American army,
     surged across the forty-ninth parallel."

And the words also of the frontier statesman already mentioned, the Hon.
Frank Oliver, of Edmonton:

     "Ordinarily speaking no more wildly impossible undertaking was ever
     staged than the establishment of Canadian authority and Canadian
     law throughout the Canadian prairies by a handful of Mounted
     Police. The population consisted chiefly of warring tribes of
     Indians, of whom the Blackfeet Confederacy was the most important,
     the most warlike and the most intractable. Next to the Indians in
     numbers were scattered settlements of half-breeds, who lived by the
     chase; no less warlike although more tractable than the Indian.
     Then a few white and half-breed traders and missionaries; and last
     and best, the commencement of white settlements at Prince Albert
     and Edmonton. An imaginary line separated Canada from the United
     States for a distance of 800 miles. South of that line, strategic
     points were garrisoned by thousands of United States soldiers; an
     almost continuous condition of Indian warfare prevailed; and the
     white population in large measure ran free of the restraints of
     established authority. There had been an overflow of 'bad men' from
     Montana into what is now Southern Alberta and South-Western
     Saskatchewan, who repeated in Canada the exploits by which they had
     made Montana infamous. In large measure, world opinion took for
     granted that lawlessness must accompany pioneer conditions.
     Canada's Mounted Police Force was the challenge to that idea."

And as evidence of the way in which the police backed Canada's challenge
nothing finer is written than the following in a letter to me some time
ago from Governor Dr. R. G. Brett of Alberta, who has been on the
frontiers for nearly forty years:

     "The manner in which so small a force kept down the liquor traffic,
     controlled the savage tribes of Indians, protected the lives and
     property of the settlers, affords an illustration of paternal
     administration that is probably without parallel in the world's

These are tributes from men who know. And Governor Brett goes on to
commend the idea of a history of the Police when he adds:

     "Every Canadian cannot but be a better citizen after reading the
     history of the lives of the modest heroes, whose devotion to duty
     and even-handed distribution of justice have commanded the
     admiration of the civilized world."

From the beginning the officers of the force have been almost invariably
of outstanding strength who won the respect of the men under their
command by their willingness to share all the perils of the service and
by being always ready to be in front of the troop when there was danger
ahead. Not long ago a veteran hospital Sergeant of the Force, Dr.
Braithwaite, of Edmonton, said finely, "I know of no officer in the
force who would order any man to do any work at all, that the officer
would not do himself. A man would not be asked to ride a refractory
horse that his officer would not or could not ride. This is what has
given the Force its reputation--the absolute confidence of the men in
their leaders, and the complete esprit de corps that was always there."

That the general spirit of the original legislation which insisted on
good physique and respectable character in the men of the force was
carried out in practice, those of us who have known these men in almost
all circumstances and places can testify. To illustrate, I recall in
Winnipeg seeing the men who were going over to form part of the Empire's
tribute on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. After a
stop-over for a couple of hours they fell in to the bugle call on the
railway platform. The men looked like models for the statue of Apollo,
and with the clear eye, bronzed faces and alert movement born of their
clean and healthful outdoor life on the plains, they were goodly to
behold. And when I remarked to Major (now Commissioner) Perry, who was
in command, that it was generally looked on as rather a dangerous thing
to let a body of men loose amid the temptations of a strange city, Perry
replied: "That has no bearing on these men, even though there was a
saloon on every corner. Every man feels that the honour and good name of
the force depend on his individual conduct, and so he can be trusted."
And when in London, the Mounted Police won golden opinions, not only for
their splendid appearance, but for their gentlemanly bearing.

Still another general remark may be made here. It will be remembered
that Butler had recommended that the force to be organized in support of
constituted authority be independent of any party or faction either in
Church or State. And here also Butler's advice has been borne in mind.
Governments have come and gone in regular cycle of years according as
they were thought worthy or otherwise of the people's support. And
partisan politics have played a considerable, and not always a
creditable, part in Canadian history. But the Mounted Police force has
never been in the game. Mounted Policemen have always been strictly
non-partisan in politics and no interference with them by politicians of
any party would be tolerated for a moment. These law-enforcers have
always been absolutely independent of any local or other influences
except the commands of their officers in the line of duty, and to this
in large measure is due the remarkable reputation of the force for
giving every man a square deal, regardless of race or creed or colour.
Mounted Policemen have never been respecters of persons. They treat
every one alike. Referring to political parties, for instance, it is
recalled that the corps was scarcely organized when Sir John Macdonald
was retired by the Canadian electorate and the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie
was elevated to the premiership. But this made no change in the matter
of the force which from the beginning has been the servant not of any
political party but of the nation. It is historically correct to say
that Sir John Macdonald started the organization, but it fell to Mr.
Mackenzie's lot to perfect the organization, and start it definitely on
its Western career. Governments may come and governments may go, but the
Police have kept on the even tenor of their way throughout all the


[Illustration: MAJOR-GENERAL SIR SAMUEL B. STEELE, K.C.B., etc.,

[Illustration: SUPERINTENDENT A. H. GRIESBACH. The first man to enlist
in the Mounted Police. "The Father of the Force."]

[Illustration: INSPECTOR J. M. WALSH. Who handled the Sitting Bull
situation. _Photo. Murray, Brockville._]



Perhaps the startling story of "The Massacre Ground" at Cypress Hills,
some 40 miles north of the boundary line, and kindred stories were the
last straws which, added to the weight of evidence for the necessity of
an armed force in the West, moved the Dominion Government to active
organization work. This Cypress Hills event is a gruesome story enough,
but it is part of the setting for the entrance of the Mounted Police on
the stage of Western life.

It appears that a party of men--we call them men by courtesy as they
were human beings of the male persuasion--crossed over from Montana on a
trading expedition. They were white men, but perhaps of various races,
for they were mostly adventurers who had served in the American Civil
War and had not much regard for human life. These men deluged an
Assiniboine Indian Camp with deadly whisky in return for every valuable
thing the Indians had to trade. And when the Indian Camp was ablaze with
the light of campfires and was a mad whirl of dancing drunkenness the
miscreant traders from the South, in a spirit of utter wanton devilry,
got under cover of a cut bank by the creek where the camp was, and
proceeded to shoot the Indians who were defenceless in their orgy. A
volley or two accounted for two score killed and many wounded, only a
few escaping to the hills. And this carnival of bloodshed was witnessed
by an American trader, Abe Farwell, who, being alone, was helpless to
prevent, but who testified as to the frightful occurrence.

Nor was this very far from the general order of the day. Bloods,
Piegans, Blackfeet, Crees, Assiniboines and the other tribes maddened
with doped liquor from outlaw traders, fought each other whenever they
met. And some cases were known where Blackfeet and Crees, implacable
enemies, happening to meet at some trading post, struggled with fierce
brutality, while the Hudson's Bay trader in the fort had to barricade
his gate and let them fight it out amongst themselves. I have myself
seen Indian braves with half a score of scalps dangling from their
belts, and others with no end of nicks in their rifle stocks to indicate
the number they had slain. Buffalo-hunters from the white and half-breed
settlements by the Red and the Assiniboine Rivers only ventured westward
in large companies heavily armed. Explorers ran great risks, and the
famous Captain Palliser had to hunt one whole winter with Old Sun, the
Chief of the Blackfeet, that he might become as one of that fighting
tribe and get leave to draw his maps.

Communication was difficult, but the news of these events of
frightfulness percolated through to Ottawa and the order went out in
September, 1873, that officers already appointed should proceed to
recruit in the Eastern Provinces and rush some part of the force to the
far West, so as to be on the ground by the next spring. The principal
recruiting officer seems to have been Inspector James Morrow Walsh, who
became one of the noted men of the Force in later years. It is a
somewhat remarkable coincidence and a decided testimony to the
directness with which the Mounted Police when organized struck at the
very heart of the lawlessness in the West, that Fort Walsh, called after
this recruiting Inspector, was built as a Police post not many months
later practically on "The Massacre Ground" in the Cypress Hills country.
That Fort was a direct and visible challenge to every outlaw, white or
red, who expected to have his own way in British territory.

We shall meet Walsh from time to time in this story and his name simply
occurs here as one of the earliest recruiting officers. I knew him at
different stages in his career, but most particularly when he had
retired from the Force and entered the coal business in Winnipeg. Later
on he was the Civil Governor of the Yukon Territory. Clean-cut in
figure, athletic, wiry and always faultlessly dressed, Walsh was a
good-looking type and bore in his carriage the unmistakable stamp of his
cavalry training. In Winnipeg he was popularly known as the man who had
tamed Sitting Bull, the redoubtable Sioux of Custer Massacre fame, but
others of the Police also had a hand, as we shall see, in that
extraordinary experience.

There was no difficulty in getting men to enlist in the Mounted Police.
This was clearly not due to any mercenary motives on the part of men
enlisting. The remuneration for both officers and men was small, as it
remains comparatively speaking to this day, when we remember that the
work has always called for an unusual degree of endurance, initiative,
reliability and courage. But the Government no doubt placed considerable
reliance on the fact that the spirit of adventure is strong in the
hearts of young men and that the lure of a new land would draw them with
compelling magnetism. In this the authorities were not disappointed. In
fact, Colonel George A. French, a Royal Artillery Officer, then at the
head of the School of Gunnery at Kingston (who died recently after much
distinguished service to the Empire during which he rose to a
Major-Generalship and a Knighthood with many decorations), and who was
early given command of the Mounted Police with the title of
Commissioner, saw the danger of a rush for places in the new Force and
took steps to weed out undesirables. More than once in Toronto and again
at Dufferin in Manitoba when the great venture of the march out into the
unknown began, Colonel French put the matter before the men in a sort of
forlorn-hope admonition. They were to be one of the few forces in the
world constantly on active service and neither Garibaldi nor Bruce of
Bannockburn ever warned men more distinctly of what possibly lay ahead
of them. And the picture, as after events proved, was not overdrawn.
These men were to face cold and hunger and the perils of drought in the
various seasons of the year; they were to leave the comforts of
civilization and live under the canopy of the sky amidst the storms of
summer and the blizzards of winter; they were to be called to root out
nests of outlaws who had no scruples about taking human life, and they,
a mere handful of men, were to control and guide Indians whose brethren
to the south of the boundary were engaging attention of thousands of
soldiers in the endeavour to keep them in order. All this and more did
French tell the new recruits. But only a very few dropped out and
throughout the years the force has attracted a fine class of men both
from Canada and the British Isles. Young men from the towns and farms of
the old Provinces, University Graduates and younger sons of the nobility
in the Mother Land, men of birth and breeding and social advantage have
always been in the ranks. But once in the force there were no social
distinctions sought or recognized. Genuine manhood was the only
hall-mark allowed as a standard. The fine democracy of Robert Burns,--

    "The rank is but the guinea stamp;
    The man's the gold for a' that,--

has had right of way. There was an intangible but real atmosphere in the
corps which in some quiet but quite definite fashion, eliminated any man
who did not measure up to the mark which the members felt they ought to
reach. Mr. Charles Mair, the author and frontiersman, already quoted,
says finely, "The average Mounted Policeman was an idealist regarding
the honour of his corps; and if, as sometimes happened, a hard character
crept into it, physically fit, a good rider or a good shot, but coarse,
cruel and immoral, he fared ill with his fellows, and speedily betook
himself to other employment."

The men who first enlisted in the East, mainly in Ontario, in September,
1873, were sent away westward by the Great Lakes and the difficult
Dawson Route to the Red River country in order to be on the ground and
get down to work preparatory to the trek towards the setting sun. The
Dawson Route, so-called after the designer of it, was a trail which
utilized the water-stretches and on the whole was more suited to
amphibious animals than human beings. Some of the men now coming over it
with the police had travelled it with Wolseley a few years previously
and would have vivid recollections of the flies and mud and portages and
the need of manufacturing skidways over the bogs, but they would also
recall the irrepressible and uproarious spirit in which they used to
sing of their additional accomplishments in the rollicking "Jolly Boys"

    "'Twas only as a volunteer that I left my abode,
    I never thought of coming here to work upon the road."

The Police, however, were coming in the fall of the year and escaped
some of the plagues of the earlier seasons. They duly landed at Lower
Fort Garry, the old Hudson's Bay post still romantically standing on the
banks of the Red River some 20 miles north of the present city of
Winnipeg. They came in three troops or divisions, "A," "B," and "C," of
fifty men each, which was the number of the Force which the law-makers
at Ottawa thought would be sufficient to patrol 300,000 square miles of
territory where lawlessness was beginning to be rampant. In the meantime
it was not very pleasant for the Police to land at the Fort near the
beginning of winter and to learn a few days afterwards that their winter
clothing had been commandeered by the weather and frozen in somewhere on
the Dawson Route. But this too was accepted with good grace by the men
who had declined to be sifted out of the Force by the warnings given
them as to hardships ahead.

These men at Lower Fort Garry had been on the pay-roll since their
enlistment in September, but they were not actually on service till the
3rd of November, 1873, when they were sworn in by Lieut.-Colonel Osborne
Smith, who was then in command of the Western Military District with
headquarters at Winnipeg. It is not generally known that Colonel Osborne
Smith, who had seen service in the Crimea and the Fenian Raid in 1866,
was really appointed Commissioner of the Police so as to give him full
authority until a successor was invested with the command. But I have
before me as I write the elaborate parchment which so appointed Colonel
Smith. It is dated September 25, 1873, and bears the signature of J. C.
Aikins (afterwards Governor of Manitoba) as Secretary of State as well
as that of Sir John A. Macdonald. Colonel Osborne Smith, whom I knew
well in later days and under whom I served in the Winnipeg Light
Infantry, brigaded in 1885 with some of the Police of this original
troop, was an ardent Canadian Imperialist, and I imagine it was he who
drew up the enlistment oath that was subscribed before him that day at
the old Fort. In view of the fact that the word "Canadian" has been
substituted in the name of the Force for the word "North-West" and that
the jurisdiction of the corps has now been extended over the whole
Dominion, it is suggestive of prophetic vision that the original oath
should have borne the heading "Mounted Police of Canada."

It is also interesting to note in connection with this oath, which
pledges faithful performance of duty and the protection and due care of
their equipment and other public property, that the first signature is
that of Arthur Henry Griesbach, who was then Regimental Sergeant-Major,
but who later on became one of the ablest Superintendents. He has
already been referred to as the special adviser of Sir John A. Macdonald
in Ottawa for some months prior to the organization of the Police, and
on this account shares with Sir John the designation of the "Father of
the Force." Griesbach's signature was witnessed by Samuel B. Steele, who
was then Troop Sergeant-Major, and who, after very notable service in
the Police and the Militia, was promoted to a Major-Generalship and
Knighted. Amongst other well-known signatures is that of John Henry
McIllree, then a Sergeant who, with much excellent work in the Force to
his credit, became Assistant Commissioner and is now retired with the
rank of Colonel and the Imperial Service Order. The list of men on that
first roll holds the signatures of many whose names became household
words in Western Canada and whose contribution to the Empire was of
far-reaching value. They were the real originals of a corps which was
looked on by many as an experiment in the beginning. But their work set
such a high standard for those who came after them that men who joined
in later years felt the pressure of prestige to which they must live up
if they were to hold their place in the organization. The result has
been that the reputation of this remarkable corps has grown with the
years and any writer of their history would be sadly lacking in the
historical sense if he did not see how profoundly they have influenced
for good the trend of life west of the Great Lakes.

It is worth while at this point to emphasize and illustrate this
statement for the sake of readers who may not know the history of the
West as some of us do who have lived in the country all our days and
have witnessed the developments throughout the passing years. Nothing
could be a greater mistake than to look upon the Mounted Police as a
body separate from the elements that have gone to the making of the
Canadian West. As a body, it is true, they were aloof from partisan
political strife, from class struggles in the social order and from the
activities of commercial endeavour, but their influence was felt
constantly on the pulse of the growing country which, like a boisterous
growing boy, needed restraint and guidance in reaching the fullness of
its powers. They were not party men, politically or socially, but they
saw that every person and every organization that was sane and
law-abiding and constructive, got fair play without interference from
anyone. The Police did not as a body engage in commercial activities
themselves, but they made it possible for the settler and the miner and
the railroad-builder and others in all lawful occupations to go about
their work in peace and develop the country under the shield of police
protection. In brief, the record of this famous corps is woven into
Western history to such a degree that without the fibre of that record
the present great fabric of a new land, strong, sound and unbreakable,
would have been impossible.

Two things specifically might be said here in this regard. Butler, in
the famous report already quoted, dwelt eloquently, it will be
remembered, on the necessity for the organization of a force that would
be a protector and guide to the settlers who would flow into the West.
It is rather a curious coincidence that when the first of the Mounted
Police contingent came over the Dawson Route they assisted families on
the way to the Red River country who would probably never have got
through without the help of these kindly giants. And that was just a
prophecy of what was to be the rule. Settlers did not hesitate to go
where there was Mounted Police protection and the occasional patrol to
remote homesteaders to see whether there was anything required made the
lot of many a lonely household much more carefree and happy than it
would otherwise have been. There is absolutely no doubt that the tide of
humanity flowed freely into the vast new frontier land by reason of the
fact that the scarlet-coated riders had made the wilderness a safe abode
and a place of opportunity for the law-abiding and the industrious. Thus
did the Police fulfil the vision of Butler and make the settlement of
the great areas not only possible but speedy.

Another impressive way in which the Mounted Police made history was
their extraordinary handling of the Indian tribes who were the original
possessors of the soil. History, both ancient and modern, is full of the
bitter tragedies created by the way in which incoming people have
treated original inhabitants of the lands they were coming to possess.
In our own day just across the border, owing to mishandling by some
unfaithful Government agents and other causes, there was war for decades
between the Government and the Indians, who looked upon the cavalry and
other military bodies in that country as their enemies. This was never
the case with our Western Country. The first business our Mounted Police
did was to stand between the Indians and the vile creatures who would
give them drink and rob them of all they possessed. So that some two
years after the scarlet tunic had made its appearance in the foothill
country, Crowfoot, the famous Chief of the warlike Blackfeet, referring
to the Police, said in his beautiful imagery, "They have protected us as
the feathers protect the bird from the frosts of winter." The Indians
knew that they could not commit crime and go unpunished any more than
the white man, but the Indians also knew that the Police would see that
every man, whether red or white, got fair play. Hence the Indians
recognized the Police as their friends and not as their enemies. With
thousands of Indians, accustomed to almost constant war, thrown upon
their hands, the Police never had any real revolt on the part of the
Indians to deal with save only when the mad Riel inveigled a few of them
on the war-path by cunning guile. And with some personal knowledge of
that whole affair we venture to say that had the warning given by
Superintendent Crozier and other Policemen months before the outbreak
been taken, and had the Police Force been doubled and given a free hand,
there would have been no rebellion and no bloodshed. But when the
outbreak did come we are also ready to affirm, as amongst those who took
part in its suppression, that but for the missionaries and the Police
the rebellion would have been far more widely spread. And equally are we
ready to declare that the Police were the backbone of every brigade in
which they served, and this we say without any desire to minimize the
arms of the service to which we belonged.

It was the swearing in of the "originals" of the Mounted Police that led
to the writing of these special reflections. For on looking back over
the years of this West that I have known from childhood, it seems to me
that the day of that first enlistment oath was a pivotal point around
which much of the destiny of Western Canada would turn for the rest of
recorded time. Hence it is at this stage of the story that the formative
day at Lower Fort Garry should be noted.

That winter in the old stone-walled fort was a busy one for the new
recruits. After they were sworn in by Colonel Osborne Smith, that
officer returned to his duties at Upper Fort Garry. He had done a good
day's work, and if he addressed the men in the crisp, incisive style I
have often heard him use on patriotic occasions, then he had made
additional contribution to the considerations that inspired the Police
to determined endeavour. On his leaving Superintendent W. D. Jarvis, who
had seen service in Africa and became a very popular officer, took over
the duties of Adjutant and Riding Master, Griesbach took charge of
discipline and foot-drill, while S. B. Steele, popularly known in the
West to the close of his days as Sam Steele, looked after the breaking
of the broncos and gave instruction in riding, which latter proved to be
highly necessary. There were no eight-hour days, the only limit being
the daylight each way. Steele drilled five rides a day in the open, and
the orders were that, unless the thermometer dropped beneath 36 degrees
below zero, a rather cool temperature, the riding and breaking were to
proceed. The broncos were of the usual exuberant type, given to every
device to throw a rider, and falls on the frozen ground were not
infrequent, but by spring the men knew how to handle broncos so as to
become the pioneers of fine horsemanship amongst the riders of the

Lieut.-Colonel French came in November, 1873, and assumed his command.
It did not take him long to see that a handful of 150 men, however
gallant, would be totally inadequate for the gigantic undertaking ahead
of them. The Force has always been too small in numbers, but at the
outset the proposed strength was absurdly below the mark. Fortunately
the news of the lawlessness that was abroad in the far West made it
possible for Colonel French to get the proposed number doubled and
brought up to the 300 which Constable T. A. Boys made famous in his
well-known poem "The Riders of the Plains," from which we quote the
following verses:

    "We muster but three hundred
      In all this Great Lone Land,
    Which stretches from Superior's shore
      To where the Rockies stand;
    But not one heart doth falter,
      No coward voice complains,
    Tho' all too few in numbers are
      The Riders of the Plains.

    "Our mission is to raise the Flag
      Of Britain's Empire here,
    Restrain the lawless savage,
      And protect the Pioneer;
    And 'tis a proud and daring trust,
      To hold these vast Domains,
    With but three hundred Mounted Men,
      The Riders of the Plains.

    "And though we win no fame or praise
      But struggle on alone
    To carry out good British rule,
      And plant old England's throne;
    Yet when our task is ended,
      And Law and Order reigns,
    The peaceful settler long will bless
      The Riders of the Plains."

Meanwhile down in Eastern Canada the left wing of the Force was being
recruited and, permission being obtained from the United States, three
divisions, rather over strength, left Toronto on June 6, 1874, and came
west via Chicago and St. Paul to the end of steel at Fargo in North
Dakota. Colonel French had gone back East to come out with them. It was
a motley outfit that dumped itself out of the train on that Dakota
plain. The men were a carefully selected and fine appearing lot, and the
horses were of the handsome Eastern type; but the wagons in pieces to be
assembled, and the saddles shipped from England in parts, were strewn
over the ground for acres. The Fargo people rather enjoyed the idea of
these men with their interesting mission being amongst them for a week
or so getting ready for the trail. But to the amazement of those
townsfolk the Police starting at four o'clock in the morning and working
in four-hour relays "hit the trail" within twenty-four hours and pulled
out their cavalcade for the trip to Canadian Territory. It had taken two
weeks from Toronto, including the rather testing experience for men of a
day off in Chicago and St. Paul, so that we like Colonel French's note
at this point saying, "I must say I felt a great load off my shoulders
at again being on Canadian soil." But the Police had begun early to
create a good impression, and he adds, "The conduct of the men had been
most exemplary, their general appearance and conduct invariably
attracting the favourable notice of the railway officials and others _en
route_." In preparation for the march westward to the foothills of the
Rockies the three divisions "A," "B," and "C" that had been quartered
for the winter at Lower Fort Garry left that point on June 7, 1874, and
were at the rendezvous at Dufferin near the boundary line to greet the
Commissioner and the three divisions "D," "E," and "F," which had come
through as related from Toronto.

Just before leaving Lower Fort Garry with the original divisions,
Inspector James Farquharson McLeod had been appointed Assistant
Commissioner of the Force. Thus one of the noted figures in the after
history of Western Canada came upon the scene of his future work and
triumphs. McLeod had served as Assistant Brigade Major in Wolseley's Red
River expedition and for his services then received the brevet rank of
Lieut.-Colonel and the C.M.G. He was originally from Calgarry in
Scotland (hence the name of the city of Calgary in Alberta in his
honour) and had all the judicial faculty of the Scot coupled with the
ardour of his Highland ancestry. His absolute reliability and fearless
fairness gave him an influence over the Indians in later days that can
only be described as extraordinary, and the time came when that
commanding power over the warlike Blackfeet stood Canada in good stead.

Commissioner French lost no time in getting his men into shape at the
rendezvous. From the divisions he brought with him he drafted fifty men
to bring the original divisions up to strength. He arranged the night
camp with the Eastern horses inside the zariba of wagons, and the
Western horses, mostly broncos, on the outside--an arrangement that
turned out well in view of a stampede that took place. The occasion of
the stampede (and there is nothing more fearful than a stampede of
maddened animals) was a terrific thunderstorm, which transformed the
prairie into a sea of electric flame and sent bolts crashing into the
zariba amidst the horses that were tied to the wagons. Sergt.-Major Sam
B. Steele (that was then his rank), who was riding near this enclosure,
thus vividly described the scene: "A thunder-bolt fell in the midst of
the horses. Terrified, they broke their fastenings, and made for the
side of the corral. The six men on guard were trampled under foot as
they tried to stop them. The maddened beasts overturned the huge
wagons, dashed through a row of tents, scattered everything, and made
for the gate of the large field in which we were encamped. In their mad
efforts to pass they climbed over one another to the height of many
feet. I had full view of the stampede, being not more than 50 yards from
the horses as they rushed at the gate and attempted to pass it,
scrambling and rolling over one another in one huge mass." Inspector
(now Colonel) Walker leaped on a passing horse and went out with them
into the night. He pursued the frightened animals for some 50 miles
across the boundary, and helped to round them up and bring them back
twenty-four hours after they had stampeded. Colonel Walker says: "The
horses did not get over their fright all the summer, and had to be
watched closely as any unusual noise would stampede them." This was
truly an exciting introduction to prairie life.

Commissioner French, who had been sworn into his office on December 16,
1873, was handling the situation with the thoroughness and ability of a
trained soldier. He believed in discipline and showed independence by
declining to tolerate any outside interference with the work of the
Force. Perhaps it was French who laid the foundations for the
non-partisan character of the Police by resisting anything which bore
the resemblance of using political pull to secure place and promotion in
the corps. He stood strongly for merit as the basis for preferment.
Evidence is not lacking to show that Ottawa was rather too much disposed
to run the Force by long-range activity on behalf of some favourites.
Dispatches came from the seat of Government, showing pronounced lack of
knowledge of local circumstances and requirements. To some of these
French replied so forcibly that interference with the internal
management of the Force largely ceased in time. In one case, amongst
French's books of letters, I found this recently: "Sub-Constable ----
has not as yet shown the necessary qualification to justify his
promotion to the position of Acting Constable, much less to that of a
Commissioned Officer." In another case he wrote: "I beg to point out
that if the members of this Force are encouraged to communicate with the
Department direct, thereby ignoring all those supposed to be placed in
authority over them, it will be very difficult to maintain anything like
proper discipline in the Force." Wise man, who saw a dangerous tendency,
and courageous man to point it out with frankness. At another time some
wise person suggested to pay by cheque, to which French replied, "Who
will cash them in the wilderness?" Similarly, he objected to members of
the Force being encouraged to write of their grievances to the

That French looked carefully into details for the sake of the men's
comfort is evidenced by letters in his book which protest against an
inferior kind of tea being sent out for use in the Force, and that he
was very watchful against the class of people who, on various pretexts,
try to get some of the Government property, is attested by the following
letter to a man whom I remember well to be of that shark type: "In
answer to your letter of the 28th of August, I beg to say that I do not
see the necessity of giving you a Government wagon, because, through
some carelessness in your business arrangements, you have lost one of
your own." There is wit as well as rebuke in that communication. On the
whole we repeat that, though he had a task of unusual difficulty, French
laid the foundation of the Force, and gave the superstructure a trend
that affected for good the after history of the famous corps. It was
this man who was now to lead his column on the longest march in history
for a column carrying its own supplies. He was leading it "out into the
unknown," but though many prophesied disaster, he was not to fail.



That thunderstorm, with the resultant stampede at Dufferin, along with
some blood-curdling prophecies of attacks by the scalp-gathering Sioux
Indians, had the good effect of weeding out the few non-adventurous
spirits who, up to now, had thought that the hardships and dangers of
the expedition had been painted in too lurid a colour. This suited
Colonel French, as he had no desire to venture into the wilderness with
any but the very best of men. A very necessary part of Police equipment,
namely their revolvers, did not arrive from England till early in July,
but once they had come French, who was impatient of delay in beginning
so tremendous a trek, gave orders on July 8 for a "pull out," or what
the old traders used to call "a Hudson's Bay start." The idea of a "pull
out" before the real journey began was to shake the line of the caravan
into shape, take out any kinks that might need straightening, and
generally see that everything was working satisfactorily. With field
guns and mortars, seventy-three wagons, and 114 of the wooden prairie
conveyances, known as Red River carts, new harness and other equipment
that needed testing, the "pull out" in this case was highly desirable,
but every care had been taken, and after a 2-mile test, camp was pitched
for a day or so till the real trip, across the 1,000-mile plain, was
commenced on July 10, 1874, a red-letter day in Western history.

The prairie had witnessed many a remarkable outfit striking out over the
plains with dog-trains in winter and carts and buffalo-runners in
summer, but it had never seen anything so business-like and highly
picturesque as this Police marching-out state. The six divisions or
troops of the mounted men, with the convenient alphabetical designation
from "A" to "F," had been given horses of distinctive colour, so that in
order there came for the start, dark bays, dark browns, light chestnuts
with the guns, greys, blacks and light bays. After these came wagons,
carts, cows and calves, beef cattle, and a general assortment of farming
implements. Meat would be necessary when the buffalo were not available,
and it would keep better "on the hoof." Posts would have to be supplied
with food, and haying, ploughing and reaping would be necessary if men
and horses were to live at some of the remote points. So they took the
necessaries along as far as they could. Of course, the impressive order
of march at the beginning could not be maintained throughout the
gruelling expedition. A thousand miles across swamp and _coulées_ and
rivers, over areas of waste and desolate prairie, where fires had swept
every vestige of grass away, through sections where flies and drought
and excessive heat, turning into cold as the autumn approached, played
the inevitable havoc. All these elements combined to throw that ordered
line into confusion at times. Here and there cattle died, oxen gave out
and quit, horses broke down through lack of food and water, men, hardy
as they were, took ill sometimes, but none succumbed, and as Colonel
French observed in concluding his first report to Ottawa: "The broad
fact is apparent that a Canadian force, hastily raised, armed and
equipped, and not under martial law, in a few months marched vast
distances through a country for the most part as unknown as it proved
bare of pasture and scanty in the supply of water. Of such a march,
under such adverse circumstances, all true Canadians may well be proud."
And so say we all.

[Illustration: COMMISSIONER A. G. IRVINE.]




It would be impossible to follow that amazing march in detail--that
would take a whole volume, but the main outlines are within our reach.
The officers who led in that remarkable episode in Canadian history
deserve mention, for it has always been a Police tradition that officers
would never ask men to go anywhere where they were not prepared to go
themselves. Personally, or by reputation, at one time or another, I have
known practically all of these officers, and they would all measure up
to requirements, though some would excel others in initiative and
activity. They were Lieut.-Colonel George A. French, Commissioner; Major
James F. MacLeod, C.M.G., Assistant Commissioner; Staff-Dr. J. G.
Kittson, Surgeon; Dr. R. B. Nevitt, Assistant Surgeon; W. G. Griffiths,
Paymaster; G. Dalrymple Clark, Adjutant; John L. Poett, Veterinary
Surgeon; Charles Nicolle, Quarter Master. Division "A": W. D. Jarvis,
Inspector; Severe Gagnon, Sub-Inspector. Division "B": G. A. Brisebois,
Inspector; J. B. Allan, Sub-Inspector. Division "C": W. Winder,
Inspector; T. R. Jackson, Sub-Inspector. Division "D" (Staff Division):
J. M. Walsh, Inspector; J. Walker and J. French, Sub-Inspectors.
Division "E": J. Carvell, Inspector; J. H. McIllree and H. J. N.
LeCaine, Sub-Inspectors. Division "F": L. F. N. Crozier, Inspector; V.
Welsh and C. E. Denny, Sub-Inspectors. These were the originals amongst
the officers, and the originals always attract our special notice. The
Force has been as a whole, wonderfully fortunate in its officers. Here
and there, as in the rank and file, there have been some throughout the
years who were less strenuous and able than others, but their uniformly
high character, and their incorruptibility at the hands of men who were
ready to pay large sums if the Police would look the other way, have
never been questioned. Many of these officers throughout the years might
have become wealthy had they either neglected their duty to take
business investments on the frontier, or had they been susceptible to
anything like bribery. It stands to their credit that those of them who
have passed on, died in comparative poverty, and that those who survive
have nothing but their not too generous pay, or the still less generous
pension allowance.

The original officers above named set a high standard in that famous
march across the wilds in 1874, and they were supported by as gallant
and hardy a body of men as ever crossed the plains. Most of them were
young men from the Eastern Provinces, who had no experience in the life
of the prairies, and hardly any conception of the difficulties to be met
and overcome, but they faced situations as they arose, and with the same
initiative, resource and courage that have characterized Canadians on
other fields of service, they persevered and won.

Broadly speaking, the aim of the Police expedition was to strike at the
lawlessness which was specially defiant and open in the foothills of the
Rockies, where the proximity of the international boundary line made it
easy for outlaws of all types to evade the consequences of their crimes
and depredations on both sides in turn. Besides that it was proposed, by
a sort of triangular distribution of the 300 Police, to cover the whole
North-Western territory, and in that way give visibility to authority in
all localities. To fulfil these aims and reach these objectives, the
main body of the Police was to be sent on this march out to the Bow and
Belly Rivers, near the Cypress Hills, made infamous by the massacre
already described, and countless other criminalities. Another
detachment, separating from the main body, was to go northward to
Edmonton, by way of forts Ellice and Carlton, while a third, under the
charge of the Commissioner, was to return to the proposed headquarters
at Fort Pelly or Swan River, on the north-west boundary of Manitoba.
These objectives were all reached after many serious hardships, the only
modification in the places being in regard to the Swan River. On
returning to that point in the beginning of winter, Colonel French found
that the barracks were not ready for occupation, some wiseacre having
started to build them amid granite boulders on a hill. Moreover,
prairie fires had burned the hay intended for the Police, and the
Hudson's Bay Company, having lost their supply also, could not assist.
Consequently the Commissioner left only one division there, under that
very competent officer, Inspector Carvell, and with the rest he pushed
on to Winnipeg and the original starting-point at Dufferin, where he
arrived in 30 degrees below zero, November weather, after a total march
for his contingent of nearly 2,000 miles. We shall look at these three
movements of the Force briefly.

The whole column kept together as far as La Roche Percée, or the pierced
rock, on the banks of the Souris, a distance of nearly 300 miles from
the starting-point at Dufferin. Near here the Commissioner established
what he called Cripple Camp for the maimed and halt, both of man and
beast, for already the hardship of the route had begun to take its toll.
But there was no time to lose, and French throughout was insistent on
getting forward, for the way was long, and it was necessary to get out
to the Cypress Hills country, get some shelters erected for the men and
horses, and lay in some stores of provisions. By the end of August they
were pretty well to their destination. In the meantime, Colonel French
had gone over the line to Fort Benton, Montana, the nearest telegraphic
point in those days, secured some stores and learned from Ottawa that
after arrival at the foot-hill points, he was to leave Assistant
Commissioner MacLeod in charge and return himself with "E" and "D"
Divisions to Fort Pelly or Swan River, as the headquarters of the Force.
While Colonel French was in Montana for a few days several half-breed
buffalo-hunters visited the Police camp and told some ferocious stories
about the desperadoes who were entrenched out in the cattle-stealing and
boot-legging belt waiting to dispute possession with the new-comers. The
scarlet-coated men took in all they said and smiled. Forts "Whoop-Up,"
"Stand-off" and the rest, with some of the outlaws in garrison, would
have been a welcome diversion after the hardships they had experienced.

Perhaps the leading incident of this particular part of the big trek was
the discovery by the Commissioner of Jerry Potts, a short, heavy-set,
taciturn man, half Scot and half Piegan, a wonderful plainsman, skilled
in the language of the Indian tribes and a past-master in all the lore
of the prairies. His father was an Edinburgh Scot, who was killed in
Missouri by an Indian, and it is said that Jerry, though a mere boy,
followed the Indian into camp and shot him. Anyway, Jerry Potts became a
splendid help to the Police, a trainer of scouts, a matchless diplomat
with the Indians, an incomparable interpreter, and a highly respected
guide who, without consulting maps, seemed to know the way by instinct
either in summer or winter. He began to be useful as soon as he took
service with the Force in that fall of 1874. He guided them to the best
feeding-places for the horses and cattle, and to the watering-places
which were so constantly needed. And when, a few days after he came, the
column struck herds of innumerable buffalo, it was Jerry Potts who
warned against shooting at certain times, lest the bisons would stampede
and trample the whole cavalcade under foot. Potts remained with the
Police as interpreter till his death in 1906, making a long service of
twenty-two years. We shall meet his name here and there in this story--a
diamond in the rough, entitled to a niche in the hall of the men who
helped to shape the early years of our history.

Shortly after this trip to Montana, Colonel French, with the divisions
above named, left the foothill country, and, coming back by way of
Qu'Appelle, Fort Pelly and Swan River, he reached Dufferin, as already
mentioned, in the 30 degrees below zero weather, he and the men with him
having travelled about 2,000 miles since leaving there in July.

The third party already mentioned as leaving La Roche Percée was a
small detachment under Inspectors Jarvis and Gagnon. With sick and
played-out horses, a lot of cattle, and not much general provision, and
hardly enough men to keep up the rounds of duty, the lot of this
detachment starting out on a march of 850 miles was not very enticing.
The detachment left La Roche Percée on August 3, and reached Edmonton,
by way of Fort Ellice and Carlton, on the 27th of October. Pasture was
poor, water was scarce and, except where they struck Hudson's Bay posts
or, as in one case, met a caravan of traders from whom some rations in
the shape of pemmican were purchased, the outlook all the way was
hazardous. When the weather began to get cold the weakened horses often
had to be lifted in the morning and their joints rubbed, before they
could proceed on the journey. During the last 25 miles it seemed as if
the enterprise would collapse near the goal, as the cold had so
stiffened the half-starved horses that they could not travel over the
hard-frozen and icy ground. They had to be lifted and rubbed hour after
hour. No wonder Inspector Jarvis said after reaching Edmonton, "Had
these horses been my own property I should have killed them, as they
were mere skeletons." However, the detachment got through finally, and
were warmly welcomed by Mr. Hardistry, the Hudson's Bay factor, who, in
addition to his own open-hearted nature, had joy in exercising to the
full that generous hospitality for which the old Hudson's Bay men have
been famous for two and a half centuries. They had ruled in a
benevolently autocratic way throughout the years, and one would almost
imagine that they would have looked askance at the scarlet-coated men
who were representing the powers that were superseding them. But the
Mounted Police had no more loyal friends and helpers than these grand
men of the old Company, who were of enormous assistance to the
Government and the Police in the critical days when there was a change
of rulers taking place and the problem of the Indians had to be
peaceably and satisfactorily settled.

Inspector Jarvis, who was a gallant and popular officer, has this
notable paragraph in his report to Colonel French: "In conclusion, I may
state, on looking back over our journey, I wonder how we ever
accomplished it with weak horses, little or no pasture, and for the last
500 miles with no grain, and the latter part of it over roads
impassable. We made them, that is to say, I kept a party of men ahead
with axes and, when practicable, felled trees and made corduroy over
mudholes, sometimes 100 yards long, and also made a number of bridges
and repaired the old ones. We must have laid down several miles of
corduroy between Fort Pitt and here. Streams which last year when I
crossed them were mere rivulets, are now rivers difficult to ford. _And
had it not been for the perfect conduct of the men and real hard work_,
much of the property must have been destroyed." Loyal men were those
splendid pathfinders, who would do their utmost to conserve the
equipment which belonged to their Sovereign. They had a keen sense of
honour and a fine appreciation of the trust reposed in them.

It is highly interesting to find emerging occasionally in these reports
the names of men who afterwards became outstanding figures in the Force.
Constable Labelle is especially singled out for mention by Inspector
Jarvis, because of his special attention to the horses which were pulled
through largely by his assiduous care. A man of that kind wins our
respect and appreciation. A horse is perhaps the most sensitive animal
in the world, and the West is full of stories of the positive attachment
which grew up between the men on the frontier and the faithful animals
to whose endurance and courage in storm and blizzard the troopers often
owed their lives.

And Inspector Jarvis mentions another in his first report from Edmonton
when he says, "Sergt.-Major Steele has been undeviating in his efforts
to assist me, and he has also done the manual labour of at least two

That Steele, whom we shall meet more than once in this story, could do
the manual labour of at least two men we can well believe. Years after
the date on which this tribute was written by Jarvis I met Steele in the
foothills of the Rockies, and in his tall, powerful figure, deep-chested
proportions and massive shoulders, he suggested prodigious strength to
the onlooker. And that Steele not only could but would do two men's work
if it seemed his duty, goes without saying to those who knew him.
Lieut.-Colonel J. B. Mitchell, of the 100th Grenadiers in Winnipeg, one
of the original '73 men of the Mounted Police, tells us that when he
went to Kingston to take an artillery course, before the Police Force
was organized, he was told by Battery Sergt.-Major John Mortimer that
some of the sergeants might try to take advantage of him, as he was new
at the business but Mortimer added, "You can always rely on Sergeant Sam
Steele." And the certificate of that grizzled old Sergt.-Major never had
to be cancelled.

And thus we have seen the Mounted Police come upon the stage and take
their positions at the end of extraordinary marches. It will be our
place and privilege to follow them as they play their large and serious
part in nation-building in Western Canada.



Orders from Ottawa had disposed the Mounted Police into four different
locations, although, as we have seen, the fourth had become only
necessary at Dufferin, because there was neither shelter nor adequate
provision for headquarters at Fort Pelly. But, when we look back into
the situation, we can readily see that the Assistant Commissioner,
Colonel MacLeod, had the most difficult and dangerous situation of all.
They had all reached their destination after tremendous hardships, the
Edmonton detachment perhaps most of all. But the three detachments,
namely those at Edmonton under Jarvis, Fort Pelly under Garvell, and
Dufferin under the Commissioner, had shelter and reasonable provision.
But MacLeod was out in the open with the winter coming on and no shelter
from the blizzards that blow at times even across that foothill country.
He was hundreds of miles away from any possibility of help in men or
substance from Canadian sources, and he had only three troops of fifty
men each in the midst of a turbulent gang of outlaw whisky-peddlers and
horse-thieves. He was completely surrounded by thousands of the most
warlike of Western Indians, with some thousands still more warlike just
over the line. Perhaps it was well that he hailed from the land where
they say, "A stout heart to a stey brae," because, if a figure of speech
from the sea is permissible on the prairie, he and his men knew that
they had "burned their ship behind them," and that they must hold their
ground or perish. They proved equal to their task, but a sketch or two
from the reports of that period reveal the situation even to those who
do not know the country. Colonel MacLeod decided that he could not hope
to pull the horses and cattle through the winter in the locality where
he was making his headquarters, so he dispatched Inspector Walsh and the
weakest of the horses and cattle to Sun River, some 200 miles to the
south. Walsh was evidently on the look out for service, for MacLeod
says, "Walsh was anxious to be sent, and he deserves great credit for
the way in which he is performing this service." In another place
MacLeod says about November 1: "We had a severe snowstorm, with high
wind and extreme cold, the thermometer going to 10 degrees below zero.
When the storm broke I had all the horses driven into the shelter of the
woods near by; every one blanketed and fed with oats and corn. Then I
was extremely anxious about them, and glad they got through so well."
The righteous man is merciful to his beast, even though the beast is
Government property. And then we come across this fine human touch in
which the emotional nature of the Highlander breaks through: "I hope
soon to have ample accommodation for all if another storm breaks out. I
have made up my mind that not a single log of men's quarters shall be
laid until the horses are provided for, as well as a few sick men." If
the dumb animals cannot speak for themselves, the Colonel speaks for
them. If the men who are laid aside cannot plead their own cause they
will not suffer, for the Colonel does not forget them. And MacLeod is
early teaching his officers that he will have no "carpet knights," who
claim immunity from hardship because of their rank, for he goes on to
say, "Then the men's quarters will be proceeded with, and after that the
officers'." We think the officers would all say amen to this, and that
is why they always had the confidence of their men. By the time it was
20 degrees below zero they had got the men inside buildings with enough
chimney to allow a fire to be kindled. But officers were still on the
waiting list, for the report says in December, "Winder, Jackson and the
doctor are in a tent in the woods."

With officers and men of that stamp we hear no whining about being
unable to enforce the laws of the country. And it was no easy place to
enforce laws of certain kinds. The whole region around Fort MacLeod, as
the necessarily crude outpost was called, being conveniently near the
boundary line, had been for years the favourite stamping ground of the
whisky-peddler. There had been no one to interfere with his activities.
The Hudson's Bay Company regime, never very active in that locality, had
been out of commission for four years, and nothing had taken its place.
For Canadian authority, governing in a long-distance fashion, had not
yet impressed itself visibly on the vast plains. Hence the outlaw trader
had gone his riotous way, and as a result the poor Indian, who had an
insatiable thirst for stimulant, had lived riotously to his own great

And so, busy as the Police were in trying to build some shelter for
their horses and themselves, Colonel MacLeod lost no time striking a
body blow at the liquor traffic. Hearing from an Indian named Three
Bulls that a coloured man was doing business in fire-water about 50
miles away, MacLeod sent Inspector Crozier and ten men, accompanied by
the inimitable interpreter, Jerry Potts, to gather in the outfit. Two
days afterwards Crozier returned, bringing in the coloured gentleman and
four others with some wagon-loads of whisky, a small arsenal of rifles
and revolvers, as well as many bales of buffalo robes, which the
whisky-sellers had taken from the poor Indians in exchange for the drink
that was so fatal to these children of the wild. The whisky was poured
out in the snow, the robes were confiscated for the good of the country,
and the culprits given the option of a fine or jail. This process
revealed the headquarters of the traffic, for a sporting man, rejoicing
in the sobriquet of "Wavey," came up from Fort Benton, in Montana, and
paid the fines of the white men. There was an extra charge against the
coloured man, whose name was Bond, and as "Wavey" would not intervene
Mr. Bond had to go to jail. MacLeod would stand no nonsense. On one
occasion, a gentleman from the same country as Bond, who was sent to
jail without option, and who had in his own locality contracted the bad
habit of talking back to judges, said to Colonel MacLeod, "When I get
out of here, if you put me in, I will make them wires to Washington
hum." "Let them hum," sad the Colonel; "in the meantime you go to jail,
and if you say more you may have your sentence doubled."

This was a Daniel come to judgment with a vengeance. To be more modern,
it reminds one of Begbie, the great frontier judge on the west coast,
who tamed the outlaw miners who tried to start rough-house in the
gold-rush days. The dishonest extortioners on the prairie could do
nothing to frighten or flatter or tamper with men like Colonel MacLeod
and his red-coated patrols. Hence, we read the sequel in the Colonel's
report in December, 1874: "I am happy to be able to report" (happy is a
choice word--there are some things that make a good man happy)--"to be
able to report _the complete stoppage of the whisky trade throughout the
whole of this section of the country_, and that the drunken riots, which
in former years were almost a daily occurrence, are now entirely at an
end; in fact, a more peaceable community than this, with a very large
number of Indians camped along the river, could not be found anywhere.
Every one united in saying how wonderful the change is. People never
lock their doors at night and have no fear of anything being stolen
which is left lying about outside; whereas, just before our arrival,
gates and doors were all fastened at night, and nothing could be left
out of one's sight." And then Colonel MacLeod adds a testimony from the
Rev. John McDougall, of Morley, at the edge of the mountains. He and his
father, the Rev. George McDougall, who had been frozen to death on the
plains, were widely known old-time missionaries. In later years I knew
John McDougall well, missionary, scout and frontiersman, tall,
full-bearded, handsome and keenly alive to everything that affected the
welfare of the West land. And this competent witness said, "I am
delighted with the change that has been effected. It is like a miracle
wrought before our eyes." The Police were fulfilling their high,
benevolent and patriotic mission.

Colonel MacLeod felt that the first business of the Police was to thus
protect the Indians who were the wards of the nation, and so it was that
he had struck a decisive blow at the drink traffic, which was bidding
fair to exterminate these children of the plains. Once that was done the
Colonel set himself to get into touch with the various native tribes,
which from the earliest days of the explorers and fur-traders had been
looked upon as the most warlike and dangerous. It is well known that
even the Hudson's Bay Company, despite the experience and the remarkable
tact of their employees, had always found it difficult to establish
satisfactory relations with the tribes, amongst which at this period
Colonel MacLeod and his men were seeking a sphere of service for the
good of all concerned.

Accordingly, we find MacLeod reporting before the end of 1874 that he
had interviewed the chiefs of the practically confederated tribes of the
Bloods, Piegans and Blackfeet. He found them very intelligent men, and
he described in some detail the stately ceremony with which these chiefs
had conducted themselves in these interviews. They shake hands with
Colonel MacLeod, and then, receiving the pipe of peace from the
interpreter, Jerry Potts, they each smoke a few seconds and pass it
around. MacLeod then explains to them the friendly attitude of the
Canadian Government towards them, that the Police had come not to take
the country from the Indians, but to protect these Indians against men
who would despoil them and destroy them by sowing amongst them evil
practices. And he adds that the Government would send soon some of the
great men of the country to deal with the Indians and make treaty
agreements with them.

At these early interviews the chiefs gave unstinted praise to the
Police, before whose coming there had been constant trouble. The Indians
said they used to be robbed and ruined by the whisky-traders, that their
horses, robes and women had been taken from them, that their young men
were constantly engaged in drunken riots and many were killed, that
their horses were stolen, so that they had no means of travelling or
hunting. All this, the chiefs said, had been changed by the coming of
the Police. One chief, in the graphic way by which they gesture in
accord with what they are saying, crouched down and moved along with
difficulty, and then stood up and walked. "Before you came," said this
chief to the Colonel, "the Indian had to creep along, not knowing what
would attack him, but now he is not afraid to walk erect."

And so that first winter wore on with steady work on the part of the
Police, who, while seeing that the Indians had every protection afforded
them, also helped them to understand that they also had to observe the
laws of the land. In view of the general situation amongst the Indians
and the proximity of part of the North-West Territory to the boundary
line, on the other side of which there was almost continuous warfare
between the Government and the Indians there, posts were established now
at several points all over the vast area that the Mounted Police had to
control and guide. In some respects perhaps the most notable event in
the spring of 1875, was the sending of Inspector Walsh with "B" Division
to the Cypress Hills country, where a fort was built, named after this
active and venturous Inspector. And this Fort Walsh became the centre
around which for several years the Indian problem, in its various
phases, surged backwards and forwards in varying force, but sometimes
within dangerous possibility of becoming a tidal wave of destruction and
death. There is no finer chapter in Canadian history than the one in
which a mere handful of officers and men of the Mounted Police, with
endless patience, unflinching courage and consummate skill in open
diplomacy, kept the peace in an area larger than several European
kingdoms, and within whose precincts thousands of warlike and well-armed
Indians composed the reckless, restless and roving population. Years
afterwards, when the first Canadian railway had crossed the continent
away to the north, and conditions were entirely changed after treaties
had been made with the Indians and reserves allotted to them, Fort Walsh
was abandoned and dismantled, as it had served its purpose. A peaceful
ranch now occupies the site, but though the debris of the old fort is
strewed on the plain, the record of the men who made their headquarters
there and in similar places is an imperishable bulwark and citadel in
the life of our Dominion. Other posts were established about this
period, such as Fort Calgary, Fort Saskatchewan, Battleford, Carlton, in
what is now Northern Saskatchewan, Qu'Appelle in Saskatchewan and Swan
River, an early post, Shoal Lake and Beautiful Plains in the northern
section of Manitoba. All of these had their influence on the progress of
the West, but none had in the pathfinding days the halo of romance that
centred around Fort Walsh.

In the year 1875 Major-General Sir E. Selby Smith, who commanded the
Militia in Canada, made a tour of inspection throughout the Dominion and
spent some months under escort of the Mounted Police travelling from
Swan River to the far West. He was most favourably impressed by the
physique and initiative of the men, commended the work that had been
done, suggested the increase of the Force and the opening of some new
posts, but there were many items in the report which revealed that a man
cannot know the life and the needs of a country by making a trip through
it. Perhaps the best thing in his report was where he said: "Too much
value cannot be attached to the North-West Police, too much attention
cannot be paid to their efficiency." The men on the ground knew the
value of the Force and were taking good care that it would be efficient
to the last degree.

It was at the time of this tour that a fort projected by Colonel MacLeod
to be erected somewhere midway between Fort MacLeod and the Red Deer
River was built by "F" troop of the Mounted Police. It was erected near
the Bow River and for a time was known as Fort Brisebois, after the
officer commanding the division at the time. The name got into orders
once or twice but without authority, and Colonel MacLeod put an end to
any controversy over it by calling it Calgarry, after his birthplace in
Scotland. Our Western mania for shortening names and thereby sometimes
breaking with the historical past led to the cutting out of a letter and
leaving the name in its present form. But the present city of Calgary,
with its great buildings and its distinctive place within sight of the
Rockies, has a definite background of early police history which has
done much to shape her destiny.

In the seventies changes were taking place in the system of government
in the North-West Territories that had pronounced influence on the
future of the country in ways closely associated with police history.
Heretofore the vast territory over which the Police had oversight had
been governed from Manitoba by the Lieutenant-Governor of that Province,
assisted by a small body of men called the North-West Council. But
government at long range is not more successful than diplomacy of the
same variety, and it was becoming evident that some visibility should be
given to control in the North-West Territories that stretched from
Manitoba to the Mountains and from the boundary to the Pole.
Accordingly, in 1876 the Hon. David Laird was appointed
Lieutenant-Governor, with a small Council to assist him consisting of
Colonel MacLeod of the Police and Matthew Ryan and Hugh Richardson,
Stipendiary Magistrates. Ryan was a man of considerable literary power,
and Richardson became prominent as one of the trial judges in the cases
of Riel and the other rebel leaders some years later.

[Illustration: SITTING BULL. Famous Sioux Indian Chief.]

[Illustration: COLONEL JAMES WALKER (CALGARY) The oldest survivor of
those who were commissioned officers during the great march of 1874.]

David Laird was a Prince Edward Islander of great stature and
gentlemanly bearing. He was of imposing appearance, and had the grace of
easy speech with a good voice. Fearless in his general attitude, he had
withal a fine genius for diplomacy, and came to have a remarkable
insight into the Indian mind. The Indians, who prefer giving men names
that describe some outstanding characteristic, christened Laird as "the
man who talks straight," or, in other words, the man who tells the truth
and sticks to it. Few people, perhaps, nowadays know the obligation this
country owes to men like Governor Alexander Morris, of Manitoba, and
Governor David Laird, of the Territories, for the extraordinary success
with which they and their faithful native interpreters, backed and
flanked by the fair-minded Mounted Police, dealt with the Indians. The
impressive scarlet uniform of the Police somehow or other came to be
recognized by the Indians as a sign royal of friendship. Once when
Inspector Walsh with several men was riding into a camp of American
Indians who had crossed to this side in the winter time, with his dark
blue overcoat lightly buttoned and the men in their great coats, the
Indians, thinking they were American cavalry, met them with levelled
rifles and angry faces. Walsh was not the kind of man to halt for that,
and would probably have paid the penalty for his devotion to duty, had
not one of the troopers, catching the situation, thrown his overcoat
open and disclosed the scarlet tunic. In a flash the Indians lowered
their rifles--they recognized their friends. Little wonder that Morris
and Laird and the other treaty-makers were grateful for the high
standing of these stalwart riders of the plains.

This matter of the Indian treaties deserved some special notice, because
it is not well understood by people outside this country and because it
is closely connected, as already intimated with the story of the Mounted
Police. It is inevitable in the progress of human history that higher
civilizations should supersede the lower. Wherever the contrary has been
the case and a lower civilization overran the higher the movement of
humanity was retrograde. Hence, if the Indian type of civilization in
Western Canada was to be superseded by the British type and this change
effected without injustice and hardship for the original dwellers in the
country, the Government of the Dominion must proceed by process of
treaty. By this we mean that the Government had at the same time to
conserve the rights of the Indian and secure to them both a place of
residence and means of subsistence by a system of reserves and money
payments, and also had to so extinguish the Indian title to all lands
outside their reserves as to enable incoming settlers to enter upon
these lands and possess them on fulfilling certain conditions. That the
Government of Canada, without regard to political party, has through all
the years been more successful in these undertakings than the Government
of any other country is generally conceded. This success has been due in
part to the wise leadership of governors and commissioners and native
interpreters. But we reiterate what every one knows who has studied the
real history of this country at first hand, namely that this success was
due in a very large degree to the presence of the Mounted Police who
became from the first in the eyes of the Indians the embodiment of
genuine friendship and British fair play.

The earliest Indian treaty in what is now Western Canada was made by
Lord Selkirk, whom the Salteaux Indians in the Red River Country called
"The Silver Chief," because for sterling gifts he obtained from the
Indians for his colonists a strip of land extending back as far as one
could see a white horse on the prairie in a clear day. That was a
primitive method of measurement and depended somewhat on the
individual's power of vision, but with a vast unpeopled land stretching
a thousand miles to the setting sun no one raised questions about a few
acres more or less. Later, when the country was beginning to fill up,
greater care had to be exercised. Indians, though apparently stoical and
unemotional, are in reality very sensitive and keenly susceptible to
anything that looks like oversight or slight of them and their rights.

The year 1876 witnessed the retirement of Colonel French from the
Commissionership of the Mounted Police. He had wrought hard in the
critical tasks that fall to the lot of the foundation builder, but
desired to return to his duty in the regular artillery service in
England, where his eminent contributions to the Empire have been duly
recognized. Colonel French, who retained to the end a warm interest in
the Police, was succeeded in the Commissionership by Colonel James
Farquharson MacLeod, who had already done such outstanding work during
the long trek to the West and in getting to definite police duty at the
key-position of the whole work in the foothill country. It was a tribute
to MacLeod's work that he was appointed also to aid Governor Laird in
the delicate work of making the treaty with the most difficult tribes in
the North-West to handle. Treaties had been made with the Indians who
had been most in contact with civilization in the more easterly
districts of the Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg and the Qu'Appelle
Lakes. But the most imposing spectacles and the most difficult situation
began to arise when the Governors, flanked by the brilliant scarlet of
the Mounted Police, came to the farther North-West where the Indians
retained much of their native dignity and barbaric splendour.

This point was reached when Commissioners Governor Morris, Hon. W. J.
Christie and the Hon. James McKay came to Fort Carlton to negotiate with
Mistawasis, the great chief of the Crees, and his friend Ahtukahcoop. An
interesting preface to this treaty was a threat made by a rascally
Indian, Chief Beardy, of Duck Lake, who said that he would not allow the
Commissioners to cross the south branch of the Saskatchewan River to
come to Carlton. This information was imparted by Lawrence Clark,
Hudson's Bay Factor at Carlton, to Inspector James Walker, who had
arrived from Battleford with fifty Mounted Police the day before that on
which the Commissioners were to arrive. Walker (now Colonel Walker, of
Calgary), a man of commanding stature and strong determination, at once
decided to take a hand in the proceedings. Initiative has always been
characteristic of the Police. They were often miles away in distance
from and worlds away in chance of communication with, any superior
officer, and so they early developed the powers of resource which had to
come into play in emergencies. Hence Walker, seeing the situation, swung
out with his troop, in the small hours of next morning and hit the trail
for Batoche. On the way he overtook the band of Indians with Chief
Beardy. Walker paid no attention to them, but simply passed them and
continued on the way. These Indians rarely indicate surprise, but this
was the surprise of their lives, and they showed it in spite of
themselves. They evidently did not calculate on the presence of the
force in that part of the world, and to have these stalwart red-coated
riders come up from the unexpected direction was too much even for their
impassiveness. When Walker met the Commissioners farther on, he told
Governor Morris of the situation and then, wheeling his men, formed a
scarlet escort around the carriage. When they met Beardy he was in a
repentant mood and shook hands with the Governor. But this disorderly
Chief would only sign the treaty in his own camp. Not long afterwards
Inspector Walker with two constables had to go to Duck Lake and face
this same chief and a band of his insolent warriors and prevent them
from looting a store at that point. Still later we shall find the
incorrigible Beardy on the war-path with the rebels Riel and Gabriel

The treaty, known generally as "Number Six," was duly made at Carlton by
Governor Morris and the other Commissioners, with a noted half-breed,
Peter Erasmus, as the capable interpreter. Those present who had not
been accustomed to the plains witnessed a spectacle of wild splendour,
as preceding the treaty, over a thousand Indians, brilliantly and
fantastically painted, chanting a weird song, firing rifles, exhibiting
marvellous horsemanship, beating drums and giving strange yells,
advanced in a semi-circle near to the Commissioner's tent. All this was
preparatory to the famous dance of the stem, where the chiefs,
councillors and medicine men seated themselves on buffalo robes and a
beautifully decorated pipe with a long stem was produced. This was
carried around the semi-circle, then raised towards the heavens and the
stem pointed in turn north, south, east and west. With more stately
motion the Indians moved towards the Council tent, where they were met
by the Commissioners who took the pipe and one after the other stroked
it gently to indicate that they reciprocated the peaceful approach of
the Indians.

The Commissioners present with Governor Morris at this treaty and others
deserve special notice. The Hon. W. J. Christie was a famous Hudson's
Bay Company Factor. When in January, 1873, the Ottawa Government
appointed a North-West Council to act with Governor Morris in governing
the far hinterland towards the mountains, Mr. Christie, who had a very
wide knowledge of conditions and who had education and judgment, was one
of the men chosen. An interesting fact in that connection was that when
the first meeting of that Council was held, on March 8 in that year,
Mr. Christie travelled 2,000 miles by dog-train from Fort Simpson to
Winnipeg to attend it. It was a good opportunity for collecting mileage
and perquisites, but the probability is that this public-spirited man
and the great Company he served made the contribution to the country.
His usefulness was so apparent at the meeting that he was asked to help
the Government in the great task of treaty-making which had baffled so
many other countries.

The other Commissioner whose name is found to nearly all the treaties
was the Hon. James McKay, one of the most picturesque figures the
western plains, amid all their unique characters, ever saw. I remember
him in his later years. His father was a Scot, who had been on one of
the Arctic expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin and had married in
the Saskatchewan country one of the tall, stately and handsome daughters
of the land. Their sons were all of distinguished appearance. The
following description given by the Earl of Southesk, who had come on a
hunting tour and a search for health in the great out-of-doors of the
North-West years ago, is true to the subject. He says: "James McKay met
me in St. Paul. His appearance greatly interested me, both from his own
personal advantages and because he was the first Red River man I had
seen. Immensely broad-chested and muscular, though not tall, he weighed
18 stone: yet in spite of his stoutness, he was exceedingly hardy and
active, and a wonderful horseman. His face is very handsome--short,
aquiline, delicate nose; piercing dark grey eyes; skin tanned to red
bronze by exposure to the weather. He was dressed in Red River style, a
blue cloth capote (hooded frock coat) with brass buttons; red and black
flannel shirt, which served for waistcoat; black belt around the waist;
trousers of brown and white striped home-made stuff, buff leather
moccasins on his feet. I had never come across a wearer of moccasins
before, and it amused me to see this grand and massive man pacing the
hotel corridors with noiseless footfall, while excitable little men in
shiny boots creaked and stamped about like so many busy steam engines."
It was this splendid man who was present to assist Governor Laird and
Mr. Christie in making treaties with the Cree Indians at Carlton on
August 23 and at Fort Pitt on September 9. The last time I saw James
McKay was when a number of us schoolboys rode up to Silver Heights to
see some western sports and buffalo running in honour of the
Governor-General, Lord Dufferin. And as the magnificent frontiersman
drove about with his famous cream horse and buckboard, the great Irish
diplomat realized what such men had done to make the great North-West
peacefully into being a part of Canada.

Soon after these treaties, the headquarters of the Mounted Police were
moved from Swan River, which had never been satisfactory, to Fort
MacLeod, where they arrived on October 22. Apart from Swan River being
unsuitable, it was evident that the centre of interest was gravitating
towards that part of the territories where the names of Forts MacLeod
and Walsh, Wood Mountain and Cypress Hills and other points were being
printed indelibly on the map of Western history. This portion of the
territory was close up against the international boundary line across
which might be heard the roar of fighting between the Sioux Indians and
the United States soldiery. To discuss that is not part of our story,
but the Indians there vehemently declared that they had been for years
robbed by swindling government agents and driven off their land by
unscrupulous gold-hunters and lawless speculators. And, as in many other
cases, soldiers who were themselves innocent of these things had to be
called on to fight the Indians who had grown savage under a sense of
wrong and who, savage-like, had taken revenge by killing whenever they
could. That very year, only a few months before the headquarters of the
Police were moved to Fort MacLeod, occurred the tragedy of the "Custer
Massacre," when that gallant soldier and his no less gallant men,
attempting the impossible, were wiped out completely by superior numbers
of Sioux under the redoubtable chiefs Sitting Bull and Spotted Eagle.
"The Long Hair," as General Custer was called by the Indians who always
admired his dash and courage, fought desperately to the end, and was
said to be the last man to fall. Only the arrival later of General
Terry, with whom Custer was to have co-operated, prevented still greater
disaster to the balance of the American force.

All this had its effect on our side of the border. It made our Indians,
Blackfeet, Bloods, Piegans and others, restless, and it became known
that the Sioux on the south of the line were making overtures to the
Indians on the Canadian side either to go over and fight the Americans
or to join with the Indians in the United States to drive all the whites
out of the country on both sides. Inspector Denny, who did much valuable
work in those early days and who made an arrest in a Blackfoot camp,
reported in August of 1876 that he had been consulted by the Blackfeet
Council and told of the efforts made by the Sioux to get the Indians on
this side with them. However, the Blackfeet remained loyal mainly
because they had learned to trust the Mounted Police. But shortly
afterwards, matters were complicated by bands of Sioux crossing over the
line into Canadian territory. We shall deal with this Sioux invasion in
the next chapter, but in the meantime, as this is a chapter on treaties,
shall record how the Canadian Government, being fully aware of all these
events, took special steps at once to make treaties with the warlike
tribes which inhabited that vast area from the North Saskatchewan River
towards the boundary line. For this purpose the Commissioners appointed
were Governor David Laird and Colonel MacLeod, of the Mounted Police. No
better men could be chosen to make this famous Treaty Number Seven with
the Indians at a very critical hour.

Accordingly, on September 19, 1877, at the Blackfeet Crossing of the
Bow River, less than a 100 miles from Fort MacLeod, the Chiefs of the
Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan, Stony and Sarcee tribes and some 5,000 of
their men, women and children met to hear the Great Mother's chiefs. Mr.
Laird's address was full of dignity and impressiveness, and couched in
the picturesque language which, interpreted by the inimitable Jerry
Potts, found its way to the hearts of his audience. Mr. Laird opened by
saying, "The Great Spirit has made all things, the sun, the moon, the
stars, the earth, the forests and the swift-running rivers. It is by the
Great Spirit that the Queen rules over this great country and other
great countries. The Great Spirit has made the white man and the red man
brothers, and we should take each other by the hand. The Great Mother
loves all her children, white men and red men alike. She wishes to do
them all good." Then Mr. Laird made special reference to the Police
which was good diplomacy, for the Indians had known the Police for three
years and the wise Governor saw the advantage of linking up the Police
with the Queen's government. He said, "When bad white men brought you
whisky, robbed you and made you poor, and through whisky made you
quarrel amongst yourselves, she sent the Mounted Police to put an end to
it. You know how they stopped this and punished the offenders, and how
much good this has done. I have to tell you how much pleased the Queen
is that you have taken the Mounted Police by the hand and helped them
and obeyed her laws since their arrival. She hopes you will continue to
do so and you will always find the Mounted Police on your side if you
keep the Queen's laws." Then Mr. Laird explained the terms of the treaty
and asked the Indians to go to their Council tents if they wished to
consider the matter.

Next day the Commissioners again met the chiefs and made all the points
clear, and on the third day the treaty was concluded amid great
satisfaction on all sides. There were some remarkable tributes to the
Police by the Chiefs. Crowfoot, the head chief, said, "The advice given
to me and my people has proved to be good. If the Police had not come to
this country where would we all be now? Bad men and whisky were indeed
killing us so fast that very few of us indeed would have been left
to-day. The Mounted Police have protected us as the feathers of the bird
protect it from the frosts of winter. I wish them all good and trust
that all our hearts will increase in goodness from this time forward. I
am satisfied, I will sign the treaty." Red Crow, head chief of the
Bloods, the most powerful tribe of the Blackfeet Confederacy, said,
"Three years ago, when the Mounted Police came to this country, I met
and shook hands with Stamix-oto-kan (Colonel MacLeod) at Belly River.
Since that time he made me many promises, he kept them all; not one of
them was broken. Everything that the Mounted Police have done has been
good. I entirely trust Stamix-oto-kan (Colonel MacLeod) and will leave
everything to him. I will sign with Crowfoot." Many others spoke in the
same strain, and after this great treaty was signed, on September 21,
1877, there was a salute of guns and general jubilation. The point to be
specially recalled in connection with this treaty is that it was
practically accomplished upon the splendid record that Colonel MacLeod
and his men had made amongst these powerful tribes in the most difficult
part of the West.

The annual money payment to the Indians under the treaties required
careful and honest handling. And at the conclusion of his report to the
Government in regard to this most famous of all the treaties, Governor
Laird made this remarkable witness-bearing recommendation: "I would urge
that the officers of the Mounted Police be entrusted to make the annual
payments to the Indians under this treaty. The chiefs themselves
requested this, and I said I believed the Government would gladly
consent to the arrangement. The Indians have confidence in the Police,
and it might be some time before they would acquire the same respect for
strangers." That this suggestion was carried out, is attested the next
year by that well-known officer, Superintendent Winder, who in his
report says: "Inspector Macdonnell and party arrived from Fort Walsh
with money for the Indian payments. Inspector McIllree paid the Bloods
at MacLeod, Inspector Dickens the Piegans on their reserve, Inspector
Frechette the Stoneys at Morley-ville, and I accompanied the agent to
the Blackfeet Crossing to assist in paying the Indians there." All this
requires no comment further than to say that when the fighting Sioux
across the line tried to inveigle these warlike tribes into a war of
extermination against the whites, and later when the fiercely magnetic
Louis Riel sought to get them to join his revolt, the great work in the
consummation of Treaty Number Seven stood Canada in good stead.

One more great treaty had still to be made, and though it is
anticipating a date twenty years after the famous Number Seven Treaty,
we record it here before closing the chapter of treaties with the
Indians of the North-West. A vast region away northward from Edmonton,
known generally as the Athabasca, Peace River and Mackenzie River
region, had so far not been brought under treaty conditions. This was
mainly due to the fact that settlement had not been making its way into
that region. It was considered the home of the fur-trader and the hunter
more than that of the farmer or the stock-raiser. But the investigations
brought about by the Senate Committee at Ottawa on the motion and under
the leadership of Senator (Sir John) Schultz, had called so much
attention to the great agricultural possibilities of the country that,
despite the total absence of railways, settlers were percolating slowly
into that great northern area. Then the gold-rush to the Klondike began
midway in the nineties, and as some of this rush was either going
through the Peace River country to the Yukon or scattering down the
northern rivers, it became necessary, in the view of the Mounted Police,
who made recommendations to the Government, to make a treaty as early
as possible, in order to prevent trouble. Accordingly, the Hon. Clifford
Sifton, then Superintendent-General of Indian affairs in the Laurier
Government, began arrangements in 1898 which led to the appointment of a
Commission and the making of Treaty Number Eight in 1899. Strangely
enough, the Hon. David Laird, "the man who talked straight," who had as
Governor of the Territories made the famous treaties with the Indians of
the plains twenty years before, was called to head the new commission
and make this final treaty with the Crees, Beavers, Chippewyans and
other Indians of the far North. Mr. Laird, after the term of his office
as Governor had expired, had retired to his home in Prince Edward
Island, but later on was appointed to take charge of Indian affairs in
the West, with headquarters in Winnipeg. Along with this Indian Treaty
Commission was a half-breed commission, of which the frontiersman
author, Mr. Charles Mair, was secretary. The expedition took months, and
involved hard if picturesque travelling, all of which is graphically
described in Mr. Mair's narrative _Through the Mackenzie Basin_. The
treaty was made beginning first at Lesser Slave Lake, and continuing at
other points. Mr. Mair, in his book, gives us the names of the party,
describes the camp equipment and then makes the following fine reference
to the Mounted Police: "Not the least important and effective
constituent of the party was the detachment of the Royal North-West
Mounted Police which joined us at Edmonton, minus their horses of
course; picked men from a picked force; sterling fellows whose tenacity
and hard work in the tracking harness did yeoman service in many a
serious emergency. This detachment consisted of Inspector Snyder,
Sergeant Anderson, Corporals Fitzgerald and McClelland, and Constables
McLaren, Lett, Burman, Lelonde, Burke, Vernon and Kerr. The conduct of
these men, it is needless to say, was the admiration of all, and
assisted materially in the successful progress of the expedition."

Thus did these nation-building Police set their seal to the great
treaties which provided for the future of the Indian tribes and at the
same time extinguished the title of the tribes in order to open up a new
empire for higher civilization.



Nothing in the history of Western Canada was more charged with dynamitic
possibilities of serious trouble than the unexpected influx into our
country of thousands of battle-scarred Indians from the other side of
the boundary line. The whole period for five years, from 1876 onward,
bristled with difficulties. These Indians themselves had to be more or
less provided for while upon our soil--they had to be controlled
according to British law, they had to be kept from interfering with the
loyalty as well as the rights and reserves of our own Indians, and they
had to be restrained from making this country the base of any operations
against our friendly neighbour country south of the line. The whole
situation was filled with dramatic incidents and dangerous possibilities
of international complications. The honour of handling it with masterly,
firm and yet conciliatory methods must be given not to Ottawa, which was
too far away and which often misunderstood, but to the officers and men
of the Mounted Police whose consummate skill, courage and initiative are
the leading features of that serious period. And the amazing thing about
it all is that in the midst of seething thousands of American and
Canadian Indians on the wide and lonely frontier, we had a mere handful
of these gallant red-coated guardians of the peace.

The influx of American Indians began in December, 1876, when some 3,000
Indians, with large droves of horses and mules, crossed over and camped
at Wood Mountain. They told the officers of the Mounted Police who
visited them at once that "they had been driven out by the American and
had come to look for peace; that they had been told by their
grandfathers that they would find peace in the land of the British; that
their brothers, the Santees, had found it years ago and they had now
followed them; that they had not slept sound for years and were anxious
to find a place where they could lie down and feel safe." It was not the
British way to turn a deaf ear to that pathetic appeal, and so Inspector
Walsh, then in charge at Fort Walsh, took charge of the situation, began
at once to regulate the possession of arms and ammunition to what was
necessary for hunting for subsistence and generally to keep in close
touch with the Indian encampments.

In the following May the famous and redoubtable Sitting Bull with quite
a large force came over and joined the American Indian colony. They also
were interviewed at once by the Mounted Police and promised to observe
the laws of the Great Mother. In the following months bands of Nez
Perces and others arrived in flight from the American soldiers. And so
the situation became more involved. Efforts were made to persuade these
Indians to return to their own country, but they declined to do so and
of course no one would compel them. The Indians said they had been
robbed and cheated by agents, and so they had lost faith in the American
Government, for they assumed that the Government knew or ought to know
of these things. It was matter of common knowledge throughout the
Western country that some agents who were receiving a salary of $1500.00
a year retired with fortunes after a few years in office, and even the
most unsuspecting and docile Indian would baulk at that after a while.

Colonel McLeod, a very cautious man, in a report to the Hon. David Mills
at Ottawa, said, "I think the principal cause of the difficulties which
are continually embroiling the American Government in trouble with the
Indians, is the manner in which these Indians are treated by the swarms
of adventurers who have scattered themselves all over the Indian country
in search of minerals before any treaty is made giving up the title.
These men always look upon the Indians as their natural enemies, and it
is their rule to shoot at them if they approach after being warned off.
I was actually asked the other day by an American who has settled here,
if we had the same law here as on the other side, and if he was
justified in shooting any Indian who approached his camp after being
warned not to advance. I am satisfied that such a rule is not necessary
in dealing with the worst of Indians, and that any necessity there might
be for its adoption arose from the illegal intrusion and wrongdoings of
the Whites." Happy country was ours to have a MacLeod on the spot
through these troublous years!

Meanwhile the Police had occasional problems with our own Indians, not
in relation to the Government, but in connection with ancient or modern
feuds or ordinary quarrels between tribes. The Police generally got
things early under control. Here is a case. On May 25, 1877, Little
Child, a Salteaux Treaty Chief, came to Fort Walsh and reported that his
people and a large number of Assiniboines under Chief Crow's Dance had
been camped together. The Salteaux desired to leave, and so notified
Crow's Dance. This individual for some reason refused permission to the
Salteaux to leave camp. But Little Child, feeling that he and his people
had a right to go where they pleased "so long as they kept the laws of
the White Mother," ordered his people to move. Whereupon Crow's Dance,
who had 250 warriors, set upon the Salteaux, killing not any of the
people, but shooting nineteen valuable sled-dogs, cutting lodges,
upsetting travois, knocking down men, and frightening the women and
children by firing off guns and giving war-whoops. When warned by Little
Child, who did not retaliate, that he would report the matter to the
Police, Crow's Dance struck him and said, "When the Police come we will
do the same." Crow's Dance, backed by several hundred warriors, talked
boastfully, knowing that there was only a handful of Police at Fort

But the Police came, all told fifteen constables and a guide, under
Inspector Walsh. They had also the surgeon, Dr. Kittson, along, because
it looked as if his services would be required badly. Walsh and his
handful of men struck that camp at three o'clock in the morning, after
getting the report. He halted his men and inspected their arms and had
all pistols ready. Then they rode swiftly into camp, and before anyone
knew how it happened, he had "Crow's Dance" and "Rolling Thunder" and
"Spider" and "The one who bends the wood" and the other leaders under
arrest and out of camp to a butte near by. There Walsh ordered his men
to breakfast, and sent word to the Assiniboine Chiefs still in camp that
he would talk to them after breakfast. And so he did, making it very
clear that no one had any right to interfere with others who desired to
leave camp peaceably, and that he intended to take "Crow's Dance" and
the others to Fort Walsh for trial. And they were taken accordingly.
Some were sentenced to short terms, others were allowed to go, as they
were not specially involved. In reporting this incident to Ottawa,
Assistant-Commissioner A. G. Irvine said: "In conclusion I cannot too
highly write of Inspector Walsh's prompt conduct in this matter, and it
must be a matter of congratulation to feel that fifteen of our men can
ride into an enormous camp of Indians and take out of it as prisoners
thirteen of their head men. The action of this detachment will have
great effect on all the Indians throughout the country." Right loyally
spoken, Major Irvine!

And Walsh in his report speaks of his men: "In conclusion I wish to say
a few words for the men of my detachment. Before entering the camp I
explained to them there were 200 warriors in the camp who had set the
Police at defiance; that I intended to arrest the leaders; to do so
perhaps would put them in a dangerous position, but that they would have
to pay strict attention to all orders given by me, no matter how severe
they might appear. From the replies and the way they acted during the
whole time, I am of opinion that every man of this detachment would have
boldly stood his ground if the Indians had made any resistance." A good
testimony this from a keen leader of gallant men. And because a note of
appreciation is always an encouragement, we quote the able Comptroller
Fred White, who wrote Major Irvine on behalf of the Secretary of State,
then the governmental head of the department: "The Secretary of State
desires that you will convey to Inspector Walsh his appreciation of the
courage and determination shown by him and the officers and men under
his command in carrying out their duty."

This incident occurred while the Sitting Bull invasion was still an
unsolved problem, and so we take it up again. Inspector Walsh, as
already recorded, met him on his arrival on Canadian soil, and Sitting
Bull promised to obey the Queen's laws and report to the Police anything
that happened. Not long afterwards three Americans, one a priest, the
second General Miles' head scout, and an interpreter, arrived in Sitting
Bull's camp to persuade him to go back south of the line. "The
black-robe" would have been safe, but the other two would have been shot
on sight but for Sitting Bull's promise to Walsh. The Chief sent word to
the Police that three Americans were in his camp, and Assistant
Commissioner Irvine, Inspector Walsh, Sub-Inspectors Clark and Allen
went out to hold inquiry regarding the situation. Including the
Yanktons, a branch of the Sioux, there were some 205 lodges. This was
Irvine's first meeting with the famous Sioux Chief, and he gives us this
pen picture: "I was particularly struck with Sitting Bull. He is a man
of somewhat short stature, but with a pleasant face, a mouth showing
great determination and a fine high forehead. When he smiled, which he
often did, his face brightened up wonderfully. I should say he is a man
of about forty-five years of age. The warriors who came with him were
all of immense height and very muscular. When talking at the conference
he spoke as a man who understands his subject well and who had
thoroughly weighed it before speaking. He believes no one from the other
side and said so. His speech showed him to be a man of wonderful

The conference referred to was between the police officers above
mentioned and Sitting Bull and other chiefs of the Sioux, Pretty Bear,
Bear's Cap, The Eagle Sitting Down, Spotted Eagle and others. Later on
the three Americans were present. But the Sioux flatly refused to return
to the South, Sitting Bull closing the conference with the words, "Once
I was rich, plenty of money, but the Americans stole it all in the Black
Hills. What should I return for? To have my horse and my arms taken
away? I have come to remain with the White Mother's children."

The next step taken by the American Government which seemed anxious to
have the Indians return South and settle down on certain conditions, was
to send special Commissioners in the persons of General Terry and
General O'Neill, replaced by Lawrence, to visit Canada, hold conference
with Sitting Bull and the other chiefs to that end. The Canadian
Government adhered to its position of being willing to protect the
Indians so long as they were on British soil. Hence no undue pressure to
leave would be brought on those who had sought asylum under the British
flag, but at the same time both the Ottawa authorities and the Police
would have been glad to see them go voluntarily. Those who had knowledge
of the situation and the outlook knew that Canada would not set aside
land as reserves for American Indians, and they knew also that with the
early disappearance of buffalo and other game in the presence of
advancing civilization, the burden of feeding and caring for these
aliens would be very heavy.

Word was wired from Ottawa to Colonel MacLeod to meet the American
Commissioners with an escort at the boundary and if possible to get the
Sioux leaders to come to Fort Walsh to meet them and thus save the
Commissioners the necessity for a long journey. Accordingly, MacLeod met
the Americans at the line and escorted them to Fort Walsh, to which
point Inspector Walsh brought Sitting Bull and the other chiefs in due
course. Walsh had great difficulty in getting the Indians to come, as
they said they did not trust the Americans and feared that the latter
might bring soldiers across to attack them. The fact that the day Walsh
was in the camp on his errand of persuasion a band of Nez Perces men,
women and children, wounded and bleeding, after a fight across the line,
had come there for refuge, did not make the Inspector's task any easier.
But because they had received the assurance of both MacLeod and Walsh
that no one could cross the line after them, the chiefs came--Sitting
Bull, Bear's Cap, Spotted Eagle, Flying Bird, Whirlwind Bear, Iron Dog,
The Crow, Bear that Scatters, Little Knife, Yellow Dog and some others
of less importance. The conference was held on October 17, 1877. It is
customary for all parties to shake hands before beginning these "talks,"
but on this occasion Sitting Bull, representing the Chiefs, entered and
shook hands warmly with Colonel MacLeod, but passed the American
Commissioners with the utmost disdain.

General Terry delivered the message from the President of the United
States. Terry was a distinguished soldier, hero of Fort Fisher in the
Civil War, a man of magnificent appearance, standing some 6 ft. 6 in.,
built in proportion, a very gentlemanly officer with a kindly face and
gracious manner. He made known the wishes of the President, told the
Sioux that they were the only hostile band remaining out, offered them
reserves and stock with farm implements and instructors, the only
condition being that they would settle down on their reserves and
surrender their arms and their horses. The General made appeal to them
that, because too much blood had already been spilled, they should all
henceforth live in peace, and the whole bearing and appearance of the
distinguished speaker indicated his personal genuineness.

But Sitting Bull and his friends would not be appeased. They were
embittered by a long course of harsh and unfair treatment by
unscrupulous agents and frontier exploiters. One after the other the
chiefs rose and declined the offer because, as they said, they had no
confidence that these fair promises would be carried out. Sitting Bull
said, "For sixty-four years you have treated my people bad. Over there
we could go nowhere, so we have taken refuge here. I shake hands with
these people (the Police), you can go back home, that part of the
country we came from belonged to us and you took it from us, now we live
here." Some of the other chiefs spoke even more bitterly and even a
squaw, though it was a most unusual thing for a woman to take part in a
conference, added her hot protest against accepting the proposals of the
Commissioners from the States. The burden of the Indian speeches was all
to the effect that they had been given no rest on the other side of the
line, but had been driven about from place to place.

So the United States officers returned to their own country, having
failed in their mission, to their own disappointment, and it may be
added to the disappointment of the Canadian authorities who would have
been glad to be relieved of the responsibility for the care of alien
Indians, but who would not attempt in any way to drive out any who had
sought refuge on our soil.

But as the time passed the position of the Sioux became more and more
difficult. They were kept under strict surveillance by the Police. On
account of their warlike disposition, and their association with the
massacres south of the line, their presence was prejudicial to
settlement by white people. Superintendent James Walker, who was in
charge at Battleford and who, having jurisdiction over a large area,
showed marked judgment as well as firmness in dealing with Indians, has
some very accurate forecasts in a report written at the end of 1879. He
suggests that Police be stationed at Duck Lake and Fort Pitt as well as
Prince Albert. Duck Lake was the home of Chief Beardy, with whom Walker
had already taken some firm measures and who joined with the Riel-Dumont
rebellion later. Fort Pitt was the home of Chief Big Bear, concerning
whom Walker writes in that report: "I look upon Big Bear as one of the
most troublesome Cree Indians we have in the territories." And this same
Big Bear also became a rebel in Riel's day and, after the Frog Lake
massacre, burned Fort Pitt as an extra in his exploits, as I witnessed
with my own eyes.

These items are quoted to show Walker's foresight as well as insight,
for these give special weight to another sentence in that report
concerning Indians of the Sitting Bull tribe. "The very name of Sioux,"
wrote Walker, "strikes terror into the hearts of many of the settlers."
On this account the wanderings of Sitting Bull from Fort Walsh to
Qu'Appelle and generally round about, was an unsettling influence. In a
year or two, however, with the buffalo growing fewer and no land reserve
in sight on the Canadian side, a good many of Sitting Bull's following
began to drop away from him and go back over the line. One day, with
about 1,200 or so of his people, he turned up at Fort Qu'Appelle and
applied to Superintendent Sam B. Steele, who had come to that point from
Fort Walsh, and asked that a reserve be given him and his band in
Canada. Steele told him there was no chance, but sent a wire to Indian
Commissioner (afterwards Governor) Dewdney that Sitting Bull was there.
Mr. Dewdney came to Qu'Appelle and told Sitting Bull that the Canadian
Government would not give him a reserve, as he had a reserve on the
other side of the line which the United States would give him to occupy
in peace if he would go there. Mr. Dewdney offered to ration Sitting
Bull and his band as far as Wood Mountain, and Steele sent an escort
with the Indians to ration them to that point. When they arrived there
Sitting Bull was in a rather vicious temper and went to Inspector A. R.
Macdonnell, the Mounted Police officer in charge there, with a few men.
Sitting Bull asked for food and was refused by Macdonnell, who was
widely known as a somewhat erratic but absolutely fearless and
fair-minded man. The Sioux Chief then said he would take food by force,
but he had mistaken his man. Macdonnell replied that he would ration the
band with bullets if they tried that game. Then said Sitting Bull, "I am
cast away." "No," said Macdonnell. "You are not cast away. I am speaking
for your own good and the good of your people and giving you good
advice. You have been promised pardon and food and land if you return to
your own reservation in the United States. I advise you to go and I will
help you and your people to travel if you accept the terms that have
been offered you." Sitting Bull knew that Macdonnell would keep his word
in either case, and so he concluded to take the Inspector's kindly meant

Accordingly, the next day Macdonnell personally accompanied Sitting Bull
to Poplar River, where the Chief handed over his rifle to Major
Brotherton of the United States Army in token of submission. Macdonnell
then arranged that the Sitting Bull band should be supplied with
transportation and food by Mr. Louis Legarre, a trader, at the expense
of the American Government, and thus they all crossed over the line. A
few years later there was some row on Sitting Bull's reserve over there
in connection with arrests, and in the confusion the famous old chief
was shot, it is claimed by mistake and unnecessarily. Thus ended the
stormy career of a man who seems to have been honest according to his
light in fighting for the rights of his people as he understood them.
His methods in war were no doubt barbaric and cruel enough, but some
civilized nations cannot throw stones at pagans in that regard.

I have written Sitting Bull's story as far as it affected Canada in some
detail, because it was in reality a series of events full of dangerous
possibilities. Papers and persons in Eastern Canada were demanding that
regiments should be raised and sent out to the West to cope with the
situation that foreboded war with the Americans, who had thousands of
picked soldiers on the border to keep the Indians down. But to the utter
amazement of Eastern Canadians and to the more profound surprise of the
Americans our handful of Mounted Police, with masterly diplomacy,
endless patience and steady, cool courage were able to handle the whole
situation and solve it without the loss of a single life on either side.
There are few such chapters anywhere in the records of history.

It is in keeping with the general attitude of the Police towards the
Indians, whom they considered the wards of the nation which the men in
the scarlet tunic represented, that we find many fine incidents
scattered up and down throughout the years. At Qu'Appelle, about the
time above noted, an epidemic of smallpox threatened in the winter time,
when its deadly effects are most in evidence in the Indian camps. The
Police never proceeded on the wretched maxim of some that "the only good
Indian is a dead Indian," and so, when these children of the wild were
attacked by plague or pestilence or other destroyer, the Police fought
for the lives of the afflicted people with all the tenacity and the
courage of their corps. On the occasion mentioned in this paragraph
there was no doctor, but Acting Hospital Steward Holmes, who had studied
medicine, though he had no graduation standing, threw himself into the
struggle against this dread disease. He vaccinated the Indians on all
the reserves, many white people and all the half-breeds in the district.
This meant travelling incessantly in the dead of winter and sleeping
without tent in the snow-drifts with the thermometer down to 30 degrees
below zero and more. He was only drawing the usual constable pay of 75
cents a day, and Steele, who was in command, recommended him for a small
bonus allowance and a promotion. For it was not only vaccination and
treatment of smallpox that had engaged Holmes' efforts, but constant
attendance upon hundreds of Indians who had been so worn down that it
was only by his devoted efforts that they were pulled through that hard
winter. To Steele's amazement neither of his recommendations as to this
toiler for others was acted upon. But I do not suppose Holmes cared. He
had done his duty and was not working for reward. But the ways of men
who could pigeon-hole a recommendation like that are difficult to

A somewhat similar case was away in another direction, where one
Corporal D. B. Smith held the post all alone at the famous old Hudson's
Bay Fort at Norway House on Lake Winnipeg. Scarlet fever and diphtheria
in the most deadly form broke out amongst the Indians and half-breeds,
who were being mowed down like corn before the scythe. Corporal Smith,
though stationed there for ordinary duty, did not hesitate a moment in
facing the situation and going into a fight against these violent twin
epidemics. He looked after the sick with the tenderness of a nurse, he
comforted the dying, he buried the dead when even relatives shrank from
the duty, and by strong disinfectants he sought to clean the huts and
tents of the poisonous germs. There was no glamour of war to lure him
on, no crashing of music, no cheers of comrades, for he was alone. It
was just a grim, determined, silent fight, in which he knew he might
fall at any moment himself, and there was no one to tell of deeds that
were worthy of the Victoria Cross. But he fought the plagues to a
finish. And it is good to know that when the story of it all leaked out
and got to the ears of the authorities the Corporal got an additional
stripe in recognition of his valorous work.

Or take a later case, where one Sergeant Field away in the bitter North
at Fort Chippewyan received word that an Indian had gone insane and
dangerous some 300 miles away at another post. Field had just returned
from a hard patrol and his dogs were fagged. Field was an experienced
man and knew the danger, as he was tired out himself. But he hired a
fresh team of dogs and started out. The Indian madman was hard to
handle, for he was violent and strong. Field had to tie him on the
sleigh, but of course had to release him at times for fear he would
freeze. On these occasions the lunatic would fight like a wolf and make
attempts to get away. It would have been easy to let him get away and be
lost in some night blizzard in the wilderness. But that was not the
Police way, and in due course the unfortunate creature was landed safely
at Fort Saskatchewan and given a chance to recover under new conditions.

When occasion required, the red-coated men could be firm enough, as all
law-breakers found to their sorrow, but there is something amazing in
the way in which these policemen risked and lost their lives at times in
making arrests rather than shoot the Indians they were sent to bring in.
In a most marked degree the police kept to the faith that they were come
to save human lives rather than destroy them. In this connection and
throwing in some incidents as above to illustrate our points, we think
of the case of Sergeant Wilde, of Pincher Creek, who trailed a murderous
Indian generally known as Charcoal into the foothills. When the murderer
was sighted, Wilde, whose horse was one of the best, spurred away ahead
of his men. Charcoal was riding deliberately along with a rifle slung
across in front of him in plain sight of Wilde, who, however, would not
fire upon him, but pressed on to make the arrest and leave the disposal
of him to the law of the land. When Wilde rode up to him, the Indian
wheeled in his saddle and shot him, following this up a few minutes
after by putting another bullet in the body of the policeman as he lay
on the ground. Wilde was one of the finest men who had ever worn the
uniform--one of the men who had built up the great tradition of the
Force. He was greatly beloved at Pincher Creek, where the citizens
erected a monument to his memory. A pathetic incident took place on the
day of his funeral, when a faithful and favourite hound that had always
kept guard over Wilde refused to allow the pallbearers to remove the
body and had to be shot before the funeral cortège could proceed. It was
a pity to have to do this drastic thing, but the loyal and devoted dog
would no doubt have died in any case of a broken heart.

And then there was the case of that other gallant young man, Sergeant
Colebrook, up in the Prince Albert district, who was killed while
proceeding to arrest a notorious Indian called Almighty Voice. Colebrook
knew the character of the Indian because he had arrested him once before
for cattle-stealing. This time Colebrook was trailing him for killing
cattle and for breaking jail, and in company with an interpreter guide
caught up to him on the open prairie. The Indian unslung his gun and
called to the guide to tell the policeman to halt or he would shoot. But
halting was not the Police way, and Colebrook, with the warrant to
arrest, not to kill, as he said to the guide, went steadily forward and
received a fatal bullet through the heart. It was the price he paid for
his devotion to orders, but it maintained the Police tradition. Almighty
Voice, of course, was not allowed to escape. He and two other Indians
took up a stand in a clump of bushes, where they fought like rats in a
hole against the Police and civilians, of whom they killed several
before the bush was shelled and the Indians found dead when Assistant
Commissioner McIllree with several men rushed the position from the open

It was the willingness of the Police, even at great risk to themselves,
to allow the alleged wrong-doer to get the benefit of a fair British
trial after his arrest, that gradually gave the Indians a new sense of
obligation to the men of the scarlet tunic. This splendid part of the
Police tradition won its way steadily till great war camps came to
realize that the Police stood for the square deal, and that if men the
Police wished to arrest were innocent, they would not be punished. And
with that lesson came also into the heart of the Indian the conviction
that if any of their number did wrong they should, as westerners used to
say, take their medicine and reap the due reward of their deeds. In
either case the Police approved themselves to the Indians as their
friends, not their enemies, and thus the famous corps became a very
great asset to Canada in the interests of law and order.



For some ten stirring and formative years the Mounted Police had been
riding their gallant steeds over the virgin sod of the untracked prairie
before the iron horses, crossing the Red River, hit the steel trail for
the mountains and the Western Sea. It is quite certain that the presence
of the men in scarlet and gold on western plains was an element in the
situation which encouraged the promoters of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, our first transcontinental, to undertake their tremendous
project with more assured confidence. For these shrewd students of human
nature knew quite well that people would look in various ways upon the
coming of the railway.

There would be some who, like Thoreau, the hermit sage of Walden, would
resent, though perhaps for a less æsthetic reason, the intrusion of this
noisy and energetic sign of a new era. It was he who cried, "We do not
ride on the railway, it rides on us." For, while there were some in our
West who actually did feel regret at the passing of the quiet day of
their pioneer life, most of those who had the aggressive spirit of the
white race in them, were glad to see the vision of the earliest
colonists being fulfilled by the opening up of the country. But there
were others who had lived on the frontiers, and had been a law unto
themselves, who said, like a trader who saw three wooden shacks built
where Calgary now stands, "I am going to move back--this is getting too
civilized for me," and the man who said that represented a class that
had to be made to realize the presence of government.

Then there were the Indians, who saw in the advent of the railway the
necessary disappearance of big game from the plains, which would become
the habitat of the settler. More than once there were Indians who would
have blocked the way of the railway builders or would even have swooped
down in the night and torn up the rails, but for the restraining
presence of authority. And besides all these, there were some amongst
the huge gangs of navvies and general track-makers who had alien tastes
and habits, who required to be, on occasion, reminded that, while in a
British country no law-abiding man should be coerced into working
against his will if he was not satisfied with conditions, he must
respect the rights of human life and must not destroy the property of
others. All these cases and conditions became actualities in the West,
and with all these the Mounted Police dealt as occasions arose, in such
a way as to enable the march of civilization to proceed unchecked and

For the settlers who made the continuance of the railway possible, the
Mounted Policeman was a sort of guardian angel, and the well-known
painting by Paul Wickson which hangs in the Premier's office at Ottawa
shows how the patrol went about asking the homesteader if he had any
complaints. Only those perhaps who have lived on these far-sundered
homesteads know how much this meant to these lonely men and their
isolated families. Fighting prairie fires, when the mad battalions of
flame wheeled with the gale and charged at the humble dwelling or the
precious hay or wheat-stacks of the settler, was the willingly assumed
duty of many a rider of the plains. One recalls the case of Constable
Conradi, who, while on patrol one fall day when the dry grass was as
inflammable as tinder, asked a settler if there was any homesteader
living in the direction where a fire was rushing. The settler said yes,
that there was a man named Young, his wife and children, that way, but
it would be impossible to reach them through the fiery wall that was so
plainly visible. "Impossible or not," says the constable, "I am going to
try," and putting spurs to his horse he was soon lost to sight in the
rolling smoke. The horse was so badly burned that he had to be shot, but
Conradi saved the family. He found Mr. Young, the settler, exhausted.
They both fought the fierce blaze, and when hope of saving the home was
gone, the constable, plunging through the fire, found Mrs. Young and the
children standing in the water of a slough. He saw that they would be
suffocated when the fire encircled it, and so he plunged and carried the
children to the burnt ground, the mother following. From the settler's
grateful letter to headquarters we make this extract: "His pluck and
endurance I cannot praise too highly, fighting till he was nearly
suffocated, his hat burned off his head, hair singed and vest on fire.
My wife and family owe their lives to him, and I feel with them we shall
never be able to repay him for his brave conduct." Thus did the Police
make the settlers' work possible, that they in turn might make the
railway a reasonably safe investment. Then, when the Indians became
awkward and threatened to stop the progress of the transcontinental
railway across the prairie, it was the Mounted Police that stepped in to
see that the road was not blocked. Eastern contractors and workmen, who
had not been used to seeing war-paint, were somewhat alarmed when a band
of Indians would swoop down with the air of people who owned the earth,
and in all such cases the Police were quickly called by wire or
otherwise. Superintendent Shurtcliffe tells of a rather odd case in
which an Indian chief with the appropriate name of "Front Man" stopped a
railway contractor from getting out ties and caused the whole outfit to
leave the bush in a good deal of panic. Shurtcliffe, a capable officer,
immediately sent for "Front Man" and told him how dangerous a thing it
was to interfere with the progress of work authorized by Canada. "Front
Man" realized that he had rushed in where he had no business, and on his
promising Shurtcliffe that he would behave himself, the contractor and
his men went back to their peaceable but very important tie business.

Then there was the case of Pie-a-Pot, who from the earliest days of
treaty-making was crochety and rather defiantly opposed to the incoming
of anything or anybody that would interfere with his nomadic habits and
general inclination to please himself. He showed a disagreeable tendency
to leave his reserve and wander with his camp following and general
entourage, much to the discomfort of others who were not desirous of his
presence. One day this chief took it into his head that he would wander
on to the right-of-way being mapped out for the Canadian Pacific, and by
spreading his camp across it put a damper on the enterprise. And he
succeeded up to a certain point. The engineers worked up to his camp and
politely asked him to move, but he laughed at them, enjoyed their
discomfiture, while his braves circled around with their ponies and kept
up a rifle fire to indicate what they could do to the engineers in case
of emergency. Of course, the engineers were glad to retire as gracefully
as possible, but they wired the Lieutenant-Governor that they were at a
standstill. The Governor sent word to Police headquarters, whence a
telegram went to the nearest Police post: "Trouble on railway. Tell
Indians to move on." There were only two men there, a sergeant and a
constable. They rode off at once, and when they arrived at the camp of
the Indians and delivered the order, Pie-a-Pot and his chief men, who
had not been much in contact with the Police, only laughed, while the
braves performed their usual firearm feats and the squaws jeered. Then
the sergeant indicated by showing his watch that he would give fifteen
minutes for them to start moving. At this the braves on signal circled
closer, backed their ponies against the troop-horses and made every
effort to get the Police to start trouble, the idea being to let them
take the offensive and be wiped out. But the Police were never to be
drawn that way. In this case the two scarlet tuniced men sat coolly on
their horses, which stood at the door of Pie-a-Pot's tent. And when the
time was up the sergeant, throwing the lines to the constable, sprang
off his horse, leaped past the surly Chief, entered the tepee and kicked
out the centre pole, thus bringing the wigwam down nearly on the head of
the defiant Indian. Without waiting, the sergeant moved to the next tent
and repeated the operation with great precision, and then said to the
chief and his men, "Now move and move quick." The chief was very angry,
but he was no fool, and so in a very short time he and his whole outfit
were on the trek to their reserve. The engineers went on with the
transcontinental, and the two athletes in scarlet and gold, whose names
were not even given out, rode back to their post, having made one more
unadvertised contribution from the Police to the making of the West.

Now let us instance a case in which the Police had to deal with
turbulent navvies on the railway who went on strike and threatened to
destroy the company's property. The Police have never acted in any sense
as strike-breakers, nor have they interfered between the parties. They
simply saw fair play, took care that the country's lawful business was
carried on and provided against destruction of human life and property.
This was the position for instance at the Beaver in the mountains while
the Canadian Pacific was under construction. For the time being it was a
terminus, and all manner of lawless, desperate and disorderly characters
were there to prey upon the navvies, many of whom were foreigners and a
good many of whom were just as reckless and offensive as could be
imagined. To keep these rough men in order, and there were several
hundreds of them mostly armed, there were only eight Mounted Police, but
they were under the leadership of the redoubtable Superintendent, Sam B.
Steele, who had as his non-commissioned assistant Sergeant Fury, a
short, heavy set, bull-dog type of a man, whom I remember well, quiet,
determined and undemonstrative, but who could, while keeping cool, at
the same time be everything his name suggested if occasion required.
When the strike was starting, Steele did not interfere, but warned the
strikers that they must keep the peace and not commit any acts of
violence or he would punish them to the full extent of the law. When the
strike did start, Steele was in bed with mountain fever and Sergeant
Fury had only six men. One of them, Constable Kerr, who had gone for a
bottle of medicine for the Inspector, found on his way back a riotous
crowd with a desperate character, well known to the Police, inciting the
mob to violence and especially to an attack on the barracks. Kerr, who
was not a man to stand nonsense, promptly arrested the man, but a score
of men overpowered him and released the prisoner. Sergeant Fury at once
reported to Steele, who said, "It will never do to let the gang think
they can play with us." Then Fury and another man tried to make the
arrest without resorting to using weapons, but in a little while
returned, with their uniforms torn, to report that once again the
rioters had taken the prisoner from them by force. Steele said, "This is
too bad. Go back armed and shoot any man who interferes with the
arrest." He started off again with Constables Fane, Craig and Walters,
while the other four constables with their Winchesters stood ready to
guard the barracks, which were slated for attack by the mob. Johnston, a
magistrate, was there to read the Riot Act if necessary. In a few
minutes there was a shot. Steele got up and went to the window. Craig
and Walters were dragging the prisoner across the bridge, the desperado
fighting like a demon, and a scarlet woman following them with cries and
curses. Fury and Fane were in the rear trying to hold back the gang of
some three hundred men. Steele called on Johnston to come with him to
read the Riot Act and then rushed out, got a rifle from one of the
guard, and ignoring his fevered condition ran across the bridge,
covering the crowd with the rifle and saying he would shoot the first
man who dared to cross. The crowd could hardly believe their eyes when
they saw Steele and shouted, "Even his death-bed does not scare him." In
the meantime the desperate prisoner was struggling fiercely with the men
who had him, but when on the bridge Walters raised his powerful fist and
struck him over the temple, and with Craig trailed him like a rag into
the barracks. As the woman passed screaming, "You red-coated devil,"
Steele shouted, "Take her along too." Then Johnston read the Riot Act
and Steele made a straight statement that the Police, though few, would
not flinch and that if he saw more than twelve rioters together he would
open fire and mow them down. And the eight Mounted Police stood there
under Sergeant Fury with magazines charged, ready to act when ordered.
The riot collapsed right there, the ringleaders were sentenced next day
and there was no more trouble. The roughs at the Beaver had tried the
game of rioting with the wrong men.

And in order to show that the Police took no sides, but sought to hold
the balance level in these matters, we might recall an instance related
by Superintendent J. H. McIlree, where men had been hired by contractors
on the understanding that when a section of the railway was finished to
Calgary, these men would be paid off and sent back to their homes in the
East. However, the contractors, when they came to that point, would not
provide transportation to the East, but wished to send them farther
West. The men refused, and after a few days took possession of a train
of empty cars going eastward. The Police could not allow this
commandeering of the property of the railway company for the failure of
certain contractors, and so they caused the men to leave the train, but
these same Police, once they discovered the real situation, made it so
hot for those contractors that they were glad to yield and give the men
what they had agreed. So all along the line, from the time it crossed
the Red River in 1881 till it reached the Pacific five years later, the
Mounted Police stood guard over the railway which was the first to link
together with steel the scattered Provinces of the new Confederation and
the construction of which within a given time was required to get
British Columbia to become part of Canada. Thus were these red-coated
men nation-builders, in that it was under their protection that the vast
enterprise was carried forward to completion.

It is not unexpectedly then that we come across two special letters from
the builders of the great railway expressing their warm appreciation of
the work of the Police. The first is from that remarkable man, Mr. W. C.
Van Horne, who was afterwards President of the Railway, and who was
knighted for his distinguished services to the Empire as a builder of
railways. Van Horne was a somewhat extraordinary composite. I recall
having the privilege of being under his guidance around the fine art
gallery of Lord Strathcona in Montreal, and had evidence not only of his
genial companionship, but of his being an art connoisseur as well as a
skilled user of the brush himself. Socially and in his home he was full
of comradeship and bright joviality, but as a railroader he was as
inflexible and apparently unemotional as the material with which he
worked. He was not given to gushing letters, so that the following from
him from his office as General Manager of date January 1, 1883, is

     "DEAR SIR,--Our work of construction for the year 1882 has just
     closed, and I cannot permit the occasion to pass without
     acknowledging the obligations of the company to the North-West
     Mounted Police, whose zeal and industry in preventing traffic in
     liquor and preserving order along the line of construction have
     contributed so much to the successful prosecution of the work.
     Indeed, without the assistance of the officers and men of the
     splendid Force under your command it would have been impossible to
     have accomplished as much as we did. On no great work within my
     knowledge, where so many men have been employed, has such perfect
     order prevailed. On behalf of the company and of all their
     officers, I wish to return thanks and to acknowledge particularly
     our obligations to yourself and Major Walsh.

         "I am, sir,
             "Yours very truly,
                 "W. C. VAN HORNE,
                     "_General Manager_."

     "Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. IRVINE,
             "North-West Mounted Police,

And at the close of the year 1884 the General Superintendent of the
Western Line, Mr. John M. Egan, who was even less than Van Horne given
to incursions into the sentimental, wrote the following:

     "MY DEAR COLONEL,--Gratitude would be wanting did the present year
     close without my conveying, on behalf of the Canadian Pacific
     Railway, to you and those under your charge most sincere thanks for
     the manner in which their several duties in connection with the
     railway have been attended to during the past season.

     "Prompt obedience to your orders, faithful carrying out of your
     instructions, contribute in no small degree to the rapid
     construction of the line. The services of your men during recent
     troubles among a certain class of our employees prevented
     destruction to property and preserved obedience to law and order in
     a manner highly commendable. Justice has been meted out to them
     without fear or favour, and I have yet to hear any person, who
     respects same, say aught against your command.

     "Wishing you the season's compliments,
             "I remain,
                 "Yours very truly,
                     "JNO. M. EGAN."

Taken together these letters, with tributes from two such men, more than
substantiate the claims we have made for the part played by the Police
in that critical era of Western Canadian history.

It is anticipating in order of time, but this is our railway chapter,
and so we note here another service of enormous value rendered the
railway by the men in scarlet and gold. The road was completed in 1886
from Montreal to the West Coast, and people used to wonder how this
railway, traversing some 3,000 miles across lonely prairie and lonelier
mountains, escaped having its trains held up by robbers, as was so
frequently the case in other countries. The reason emerged in a report
given by Superintendent Deane, of Calgary, and that reason was the
preventive power of the presence and prestige of the Mounted Police.
Deane, in his annual report for 1906, refers to the only effort that had
ever been made to rob a train, and starts with the following revealing
statement: "It has for years been an open secret that the train-robbing
fraternity in the United States had seriously considered the propriety
of trying conclusions with the Mounted Police, but had decided that the
risks were too great and the game not worth the candle. After the object
lesson they received last May, it may be reasonably hoped that railway
passengers will be spared further anxiety during the life of the present
generation at least." And Deane's hope has been justified.

The special event of May to which he refers was a train robbery at
Kamloops in British Columbia by a notorious train-robbing expert, Bill
Miner, _alias_ Edwards, etc., assisted by two gunmen, William Dunn and
Louis, _alias_ "Shorty" Colquhoun. A robbery had been committed by the
same parties before nearer the coast, but it had been dealt with by
local authorities and no trace of the robbers was found. However, the
railway authorities were now thoroughly alarmed and, though the
Provincial Police, one of whom, Fernie of Kamloops, did good work, were
on the trail, were not inclined to take any chances. Accordingly, a wire
was sent by C.P.R. Superintendent Marpole to General Manager Mr. (later
Sir) William Whyte, of Winnipeg, who in turn telegraphed to Commissioner
Perry, of the Mounted Police, asking that a detachment of his men be put
on the work of hunting the robbers who had escaped into the difficult
country south of Kamloops. Perry wired Calgary for two detachments to be
in readiness, and left to take charge of the arrangements. From Calgary
Inspector Church, with Sergeant Fletcher and ten men left for Penticton,
so as to cut off the escape of the robbers over the boundary line. The
Commissioner left for Kamloops, accompanied by Staff-Sergeant J. J.
Wilson, Sergeants Thomas and Shoebotham, Corporals Peters and Stewart,
Constables Browing and Tabateau, Wilson being in charge of the
detachment. The weather was bad, the horses they secured at Kamloops
were poor, but despite these handicaps this posse came on the robbers
within forty-eight hours. The outlaws were armed to the teeth, but when
they were discovered off guard were in the bush at dinner. Wilson
reported what happened as follows:

"We all dismounted, leaving the horses standing, went into the bush and
found three men eating dinner. I asked them where they came from. The
eldest man, who afterwards gave the name of Edwards, said, 'Across the
river.' I asked them where they were before that. Edwards said, 'From
over there' (pointing towards Campbell meadows). I asked how long since
they had left there. Edwards said, 'Two days.' I then asked them what
they were doing. The one who afterwards gave the name of Dunn, answered,
'Prospecting a little.' I then said, 'You answer the description given
of the train-robbers and we arrest you for that crime.' Edwards said,
'We do not look much like train-robbers.' Just then Dunn rolled over and
said, 'Look out, boys, it is all up,' and commenced to fire his
revolver. I immediately covered Edwards. Corporal Peters was standing
close to Colquhoun, who was reaching for his revolver, and he covered
him and ordered him to put up his hands, at the same time snatching away
Colquhoun's revolver. Sergeant Shoebotham, Corporal Stewart and
Constable Browning ran after Dunn, firing as they went, he returning the
fire as he ran. After some twenty shots had been exchanged Dunn fell
into a ditch and threw up his hands, saying, 'I am shot.' The men ceased
firing and took two revolvers from Dunn. On taking him out of the ditch
it was found he had been shot in the calf of the leg, the bullet going
right through."

The Mounted Men brought the whole gang into Kamloops, refusing to give
them up to anyone till they landed these desperadoes in jail, whence
they were taken to serve sentences in the penitentiary.

It is interesting to note that at that time Mr. Marpole, in a statement
issued to the press, strongly advocated the extension of the Mounted
Police Force to other parts of Canada in addition to the Middle West. In
recent years that has been done, and the result has been enormously
beneficial, as we shall later consider.

And so Deane's expectation, as we indicated, was fulfilled, for, except
for the clumsy efforts of a couple of foreigners, the train-robbers have
evidently concluded to give a wide berth to any region where the Mounted
Police stand for British Law.

And it is not inappropriate at the close of this railway chapter to
quote Steele's account of the ride given him out of compliment to his
work and that of the Police generally, on the train which was the first
to go through to the coast after Donald A. Smith had driven at
Craigellachie in November, 1885, the spike which united the two oceans
across Canada. Steele was back on duty in the mountains again and, as he
knew some of the party, was invited to go through from Kamloops on a
private car with Mr. Dickey, the government engineer, and the manager of
construction on the coast end of the huge undertaking. And Steele writes
in his most interesting book, _Forty Years in Canada_, "Dickey knew the
Manager well, which was sufficient to ensure a warm welcome, and the
train rushed along at the rate of 57 miles an hour, roaring in and out
of the numerous tunnels, our short car whirling round the short curves
like the tail of a kite, the sensation being such that when dinner was
served Dickey, the manager and I were the only men in the car who were
not suffering from train sickness. I think this was one of the wildest
rides by train any of us ever took. Many years have passed since that
memorable ride, and to-day one goes through the mountains in the most
modern and palatial observation cars, but the recollection of that
journey to the coast on the first train through is far sweeter to me
than any trips taken since. It was the exultant moment of pioneer work,
and we were all pioneers on that excursion." And we add again all due
honour to the famous corps that had watched over the destinies of the
long steel trail.



Some years ago a well-known Senator told me that he was at a dinner
party in Sir John Macdonald's house in Ottawa, when a telegram was
delivered to the Premier at the table. He read it and put it under his
plate. Nothing could be gained by throwing that bombshell in the midst
of his guests. But in a few minutes, as the friends were saying
good-night, Sir John came to the door with the Senator and said, "Mac,
there's the very mischief to pay in the North-West." The wire had
communicated the news of the Duck Lake fight, by which the rebellion,
under that mad egoist, Louis Riel, was publicly staged in its opening
act. And the Senator told me he recalled for all the years that followed
the look on the Premier's face as one of pained surprise and unexpected
shock. If the Senator was a good reader of faces and read that
expressive countenance aright, he could doubtless see indications of
pain, for Sir John was a tender-hearted man. But, if he saw surprise on
the face of the Premier, it is proof positive that official pigeon-holes
in the West had not divulged their secrets to Ottawa, or that his
subordinates were hoping to quell the discontent of the half-breeds on
the Saskatchewan without worrying the "old chieftain" unduly.

And this we say because the outbreak of rebellion was a surprise to
Western residents only in the sense that the resort to arms was
considered unlikely. But every one knew something of the discontent. The
Mounted Police saw it coming to a head, and Superintendent Crozier, who
was in command at Fort Carleton, on the North Saskatchewan, has reported
in July, 1884, some eight months before the outbreak, that Riel had been
brought from Montana to champion the "rights" of the half-breeds.
Superintendent Gagnon, who understood their language well, reported as
to Riel's presence and the discontent of the half-breeds more than once.
The causes of the discontent were not far to seek. Many of the
half-breeds on the South Saskatchewan were the same who had taken part
in Riel's first rebellion on the Red River fifteen years before. They
were not people of a settled temperament. They did not take naturally to
the farm. There was enough of the Indian blood in them to make them
nomadic hunters rather than settlers, and enough of the fiery volatility
of French blood to make them susceptible to the appeals of aggressive
agitation. And Riel, though not specially anxious to fight himself, was
a past master in stirring others up to get into conflicts. And when
Superintendent Crozier notified the Government that this hot-headed,
vain but magnetic agitator had come amongst his old compatriots, steps
should have been taken to deport him, or otherwise put him where he
could do no harm.

Gagnon was quite right when he stated later that the main cause of the
discontent amongst the half-breeds was the introduction by the
Government of the rectangular survey of land on the prairie. Under this
system settlers had to hold their farms in square blocks of 160 acres or
more, and in consequence such settlers would be necessarily some
distance apart. This was not to the mind of the half-breeds, who were
more given to social gatherings than to agriculture, and who preferred
the old survey that they knew on the Red River and the Assiniboine,
where their holdings were in narrow strips fronting on the river and
running two miles back. To introduce this on the prairie, the Government
contended, would lead to confusion, and so it was easy for the agitator
to stir up discontent amongst these inflammable people who had always
been accustomed to the freedom of the plains. It was easy for the orator
to say that the Government was trying to break up their old social
customs, and when such a statement was followed up by saying that their
patents giving them title to land were being long delayed, and that
possibly they would never be granted at all, a live coal had fallen on
material as combustible as the dry grass on the prairie. And once the
half-breeds began to consider revolt it was not hard for them to stir up
certain bad Indians with the proposal that by combining they could drive
out the whites and have the country to themselves again.

In any case our main interest in this book is the story of the Mounted
Police, and we repeat that they did their duty in warning the
authorities a long distance ahead. When their warning was not heeded and
the flame of rebellion broke out, they, as this story will show, did
more than their share in putting out the fire where it had started, and
in preventing it from spreading, as it might have done, over the whole

We have quoted Superintendent Crozier's warning. Let us notice also the
testimony of another experienced officer, Superintendent Sam B. Steele.
It appears that in 1884, when Steele was still in command at Calgary,
Mr. Magnus Begg, Indian agent of the Blackfeet, reported that the former
friendly attitude of those Indians seemed to be changing to one of
sulkiness and hostility. Steele asked him about a certain half-breed who
had been with Riel in Montana, and Begg, on being given the description,
said he was in the camp with Chief Crowfoot. Steele sent and had this
half-breed arrested, but he escaped by making a leap from the train. And
when next day Colonel Irvine and Superintendent Herchmer came to Calgary
to take over the command from Steele, who was under orders for duty in
the mountains, he reported the facts to them with his conviction that
the half-breed was one of Riel's runners trying to stir up the Indians.
They asked Steele to stay over and arrest him in Crowfoot's camp, and
taking two men with him, Walters and Kerr, well known for their strength
and reliability, he went to the camp, and, through L'Hereux, the
interpreter there, demanded the half-breed, whom he found in Crowfoot's
tent. Crowfoot, with the half-breed beside him and his chief men around
him, had evidently been imposed upon by sinister Riel propaganda, and
seemed to be quite hostile. He sprang up and faced Steele threateningly
as he entered the tent, but the giant policeman waved him back and told
him it would be the worse for him if he started anything, because he had
come for the half-breed and that he was going to take him, as the Police
always did when they started after a man. Then Steele, suiting the
action to the word, seized the half-breed by the back of the collar,
whirled him round, and, dragging him out of the tent door, handed him
over to the two stalwart constables, who lifted him into the buckboard
and drove away. Steele remained behind for a while, and told Crowfoot
that he had been misled by the half-breed, and addressing also the
hostile-looking band of Indians present, the Superintendent told them
that the half-breed had spoken to them with a forked tongue, and that it
would be sensible for them to remain friendly with the Government and
the Police. Steele told Superintendent Herchmer, when he came back to
Calgary, that he was sure Riel was going to make serious trouble, and
that he had runners like this half-breed in other places amongst the
Indians, and the sooner the Government knew it the better. So the Police
were doing their part to forewarn the authorities, but the men at Regina
and Ottawa either did not get all these warnings, or else they treated
them too lightly.

And, accordingly, Riel, down at Batoche on the South Saskatchewan, kept
up the agitation, and in the atmosphere of the adulation of his
half-breed admirers his characteristic vanity asserted itself till,
refusing to acknowledge the authority of either Church or State, he
looked on himself as a sort of Divinely ordained leader. Rattle-brained
as he was, he possessed elements of strength and magnetism enough to get
a large following in a short time, and, assuming the name of "Louis
'David' Riel, Exovede," he took the aggressive by plundering some
stores, arresting the Indian agent and others, and sending a flamboyant
message to Superintendent Crozier to come with his men and surrender to
the rebel chief. Crozier, who had done splendid service at Wood
Mountain, Cypress Hills and elsewhere, was not the kind of man to
surrender, but with the hope that he might avert trouble and
incidentally give the Government time to mobilize the long-delayed
reinforcements, he offered personally to meet Riel and discuss the whole
matter with him. Riel, however, would not venture out, and so Crozier
sent Mr. Thomas McKay, a well-known Prince Albert man and native of the
country, to see him at his headquarters. When McKay reached Riel's
council room at Batoche he found things at white heat. Riel told him
excitedly that there was to be a war of extermination, during which the
"two curses," the Government and the Hudson's Bay Company, and all who
sympathized with them were to be driven out of the country. "You don't
know what we are after," shouted Riel to McKay; "we want blood,
blood--it's blood we want." McKay had a cool head and so sparred for
time, till the rebel sobered down somewhat and then McKay left and
returned to Carlton, where he reported to Crozier. Next day, in answer
to a request from Riel, McKay and Mitchell, a merchant of Duck Lake,
with Crozier's consent, met two of Riel's men, Nolin and Maxime Lepine
(a brother of Riel's adjutant in the Red River revolt), who demanded
again the surrender of Fort Carlton. This, of course, was refused, and
in a few days rebellion was rampant, with this man, half-knave,
half-madman at its head.

The first clash came on March 26, 1885, when Crozier sent out a small
detachment of Police with a few civilian volunteers from Prince Albert,
under the general direction of that experienced and fearless
frontiersman, Thomas McKay, above named, to bring in to Fort Carlton
some Government stores from Mitchell's trading place above mentioned.
This little detachment, of some twenty all told, were met when near Duck
Lake by that mischievous Indian, Chief Beardy, with his warriors and
Riel's fighting Lieutenant, a famous half-breed plainsman, Gabriel
Dumont, this rebel force being estimated by Duck Lake residents at
between 300 and 400 men, all well armed, though all did not appear then
on the field. A confab took place, Beardy and Dumont being very
insolent, and endeavouring evidently to get Crozier's men to begin
hostilities so that the rebels might wipe them out. But McKay, though
boldly standing his ground, would not be drawn, and after a somewhat
stormy interview, retired to Carlton, daring the rebels to follow.

In the meantime, the Commissioner, Colonel A. G. Irvine, a careful and
conscientious officer, who had succeeded MacLeod in command of the
Police in 1880, wired from Regina to Ottawa and got orders to take all
available men, less than 100, and proceed to Prince Albert, as that
whole section of country was exposed to the utmost danger. Irvine made a
record march through slush and snow, outwitted Riel's forces at South
Saskatchewan by going through their zone, and arriving at Prince Albert
with horses so used up by the spring roads that a day had to be taken to
get them able to go further. He had received word from Carlton that
there was no immediate likelihood of trouble, but he lost no time in
pressing on to that point, reaching there in the afternoon of March 26,
only to find that Crozier had gone out that day to Duck Lake with his
handful of police and civilian volunteers and had just returned after
experiencing a reverse.

At that time, and later in his formal report, Irvine expressed keen
regret that Crozier, knowing the Commissioner to be within 50 miles with
reinforcements, had not waited. But Crozier had been true to the Police
record of not counting odds when duty seemed clear. And so, when his
first small detachment, under Thomas McKay, had come back, the
Superintendent doubtless felt that unless he acted at once, the rebels
would say that the Police could be bluffed, and would thus be able to
call to the cause of the revolt hundreds of half-breeds and Indians, who
would take courage from the apparent apathy or weakness of the
Government forces. Besides this, it became known later that the
volunteers from Prince Albert were anxious to settle the rebels, as
their homes were menaced by the uprising.

So the Duck Lake fight took place between Crozier, Inspector Howe, with
Surgeon Miller and fifty-three men of the Mounted Police, aided by
forty-one civilian volunteers from Prince Albert, under Captains Moore
and Morton, a total of ninety-nine on the one side against Gabriel
Dumont, Chief Beardy and a force of nearly 400 half-breeds and Indians
on the other. The rebels first used a flag of truce, and under cover of
conference partially outflanked our men on the one side, while the rest
of their forces were well concealed under cover of log buildings and
brush. The thing was too unequal, and our men, after fighting in the
open with the utmost coolness and courage against a practically hidden
enemy, gathered up their nine dead and five wounded, who needed care,
and retired in good order to Carlton. The loss of the rebels, who
concealed their dead, was not known, but Gabriel Dumont was wounded by a
bullet which plowed along his head and felled him to the ground. A few
years later Mr. Roger Goulet, a famous loyalist French half-breed
land-surveyor in Winnipeg, who was on the Commission to inquire into the
question of half-breed rights, said to me: "The Duck Lake fight was
worth while, because Gabriel Dumont's wound, which I saw later when he
took off his hat to make an affidavit, cooled his ardour to such an
extent that he was timid for the rest of the campaign, or the rebellion
might have lasted much longer." Goulet's theory possibly accounts for
the fact that Dumont, whose judgment was for a night attack on
Middleton's camp at Fish Creek, gave up the idea rather swiftly when
Riel did not seem to see its advisability. When Colonel Irvine reached
Carlton, as related, and found out how things stood, the immediate thing
to settle was as to whether he should hold that post or not. This was
not hard to decide. Carlton was simply a Hudson's Bay post without
population, while Prince Albert was the largest white community in the
whole region. The people there must be protected as a first duty, and it
was only fair to the Prince Albert volunteers, who had left their homes
and came so splendidly to the aid of the little body of Police, that the
latter in turn should not leave those homes exposed to the barbarities
of the rebels now intoxicated by a certain success. Accordingly, Fort
Carlton was abandoned. It took fire from a hospital mattress and an
over-heated stove, just as the Police were leaving, and burned to the
ground. Irvine and his men, with their wounded, arrived in due course at
Prince Albert, which they found full of refugees from surrounding
homesteads as well as the town. Most of these refugees were in the
church there, which they had surrounded with a wall of cordwood in dread
of attack. The women and children were wild with apprehension of
possibly falling into the hands of Beardy's tribe. And there was a band
of Sioux to the north that it was feared might at any moment assert
their traditional love of the warpath.

[Illustration: COL. T. A. WROUGHTON. Asst.-Commissioner in command at
Vancouver, B.C. _Photo. Steffens-Colmer, Vancouver._]

[Illustration: LIEUT.-COL. AYLESWORTH BOWEN PERRY, C.M.G. Commissioner
since 1900. _Photo. Rossie, Regina._]

[Illustration: COL. CORTLANDT STARNES. Senr. Asst.-Commissioner, Ottawa.
_Photo. Topley, Ottawa._]



The Duck Lake fight, with its balance in favour of the rebels,
encouraged Big Bear up near Fort Pitt to rebel and do all the damage he
could, starting in with the massacre of nine white men, Government
agents, etc., on the reserve and imprisoning the rest, including the
Hudson's Bay factor and his family, who gave themselves up to the
Indians at Fort Pitt. It stirred up the powerful Cree element under
Poundmaker at Battleford, where depredations were committed, and where
the white people barricaded behind stockades suffered siege and the
imminent danger of famine and attack for many weeks. It sent its echoes
down into the south-west part of the territories where the warlike
Blackfeet confederacy had its centre. At each of these points, as at
Prince Albert, the few Mounted Police that were on duty became a literal
tower of strength. At Battleford, Inspector Morris, with his few men,
organizing also a home guard, guarded nearly 400 women and children who
sought refuge inside the stockade. And Constable Storer, riding out
alone from that stockade, when all the wires were cut, though pursued
for 60 miles, carried the dispatch to the relieving column at Swift
Current. At Fort Pitt, in the Big Bear country, Inspector Francis
Dickens, son of the famous novelist, with a mere handful of men, one of
whom, young Cowan, was killed by the Indians, and another, Loasby, was
wounded, held that Hudson's Bay post until the factor and his family and
employees gave themselves up to the Indians, when Dickens, having no
farther object in staying there, dropped down the river to Battleford
and took part in the fight against Poundmaker. And away in the
south-west, where the whole region was charged with the electricity of
revolt, the masterly hand of Superintendent Cotton, a cool, courageous
and diplomatic officer, ably assisted by Inspector Antrobus and Surgeon
Kennedy, was able to restrain the most dangerous of the Indian tribes in
the West. Superintendent McIllree commanded at Maple Creek and Medicine
Hat, and kept a constant eye by scouting parties on the Cypress Hills
region, and Inspector McDonnell's services at Wood Mountain were of much
value. Superintendent Deane was in charge at headquarters in Regina, and
did a great deal of important work in recruiting men and using his
influence for peace amongst Indians, such as Chief Pie-a-Pot and others.
Northward, in the Edmonton country, where there were great numbers of
Indians, amongst whom Riel and Big Bear had runners, that experienced
soldier, Inspector A. H. Griesbach, "the father of the Police Force," as
he was often called, accomplished tasks of first importance by holding
Fort Saskatchewan, where many settlers took refuge, and by assisting
with the organization of the Edmonton Home Guards, as well as patrolling
the whole region round about. No one who knew the situation as it really
existed at that critical hour, could ever dream of apportioning honours
differently to men who were actually in action and those who stood guard
over helpless settlers, or prevented by determined diplomacy the
uprising of the Indians in their localities.

Some who did not know the situation--arm-chair critics at a safe
distance--levelled some darts of fault-finding at Colonel Irvine at
Prince Albert, and I write a paragraph or two in reply, because I know
whereof I speak. I have some reasons for claiming to know Prince Albert,
which was founded as a mission and named by some of my relatives in
1866. At the time of the rebellion there were two brothers and a sister,
as well as many other relations there whom I saw on my way down the
Saskatchewan after the rebellion was over. They knew that some people in
the East had raised the question as to Irvine remaining at Prince Albert
during the rebellion. But they spoke with indignation in regard to all
such critics, and said if these people who were talking in that way only
knew what panic would have ensued if the Police had been withdrawn, and
how likely it was that the whole settlement would have been pillaged and
probably wiped out, the criticism would cease. If the British way is
"women and children first," then the duty of protecting them against
death or worse comes before the desire to save oneself from possible
criticism. The Mounted Police, in over ten years' previous service on
the plains, had established an unprecedented reputation for courage
under all circumstances, and wherever in the rebellion time they had
opportunity in the field, they shone out conspicuously as men who had no
thought of self when fighting was the duty of the hour. In proportion to
the numbers engaged, more men of the Mounted Police were killed or
wounded than any other military body in the field. But when savages were
on the warpath, and defenceless people, principally women and children,
rushed for refuge to Prince Albert, Battleford or any other point,
nothing could be so un-British, not to say inhuman, as to abandon them
for the more exciting life on the field. Not only on Western plains, but
in India and other such portions of the Empire, has this been
exemplified. This much is said from the viewpoint of the ordinary
sensible and chivalrous onlooker. But more can be stated.

When the rebellion started with the fight at Duck Lake, the Government
dispatched General Middleton from Ottawa to the West. The plan of
campaign outlined had three objectives. General Middleton was to attack
Riel at Batoche, where the rebel headquarters were; Colonel Otter was to
march from Swift Current to the relief of Battleford, where Poundmaker's
band was in arms; and General Strange, a veteran of many years' service,
was to mobilize at Calgary whatever forces he could muster and go
northward into the Big Bear country, to relieve the Edmonton district,
settle with Big Bear and release the prisoners he had taken at Frog Lake
and Fort Pitt. Middleton, a good soldier and a brave man personally, was
in the supreme command of all the forces in the field, including the
Police, and it is not too much to say that he asserted that fact very
strongly all through the campaign, partly because of natural disposition
and partly because he under-estimated the value of the "raw soldiers" of
Canada, as he called them in a famous dispatch. Withal, while he was
totally unaccustomed to the kind of warfare he was facing, he was not
given to receive counsel from those who did know, and from close
personal contact with the situation at the time, as well as from careful
study since, I feel that General Middleton rather resented the dominant
place of the Mounted Police in the mind of the West, and was more ready
to make some slighting remarks about them than to take their counsel.
And this I say without seeking to disparage the general quality or the
personal valour of the officer in supreme command.

Hence it was that General Middleton never intimated in any way to
Colonel Irvine that he or any of his men should leave Prince Albert and
come to the seat of war at Batoche. On the contrary, Majors Bedson and
Macdowell, who made their way to Prince Albert from Middleton's camp by
way of Carrot River, told Irvine that the General wished the Police to
stay where they were and look out for the scattered half-breeds. And one
day, when things were quieted around Prince Albert and Irvine made a
reconnaissance in force to the south as far as Scott's, some 14 miles
out, he was met by one of Middleton's scouts with a message to return to
Prince Albert.

That the above represents General Middleton's general attitude is
further attested by the fact that when Riel's stronghold fell and
Middleton was on his way by Prince Albert to close the campaign by
proceeding against Chiefs Poundmaker and Big Bear, he declined Irvine's
offer to go with him with his men, who knew the country and the Indians
at first hand. Irvine offered to take his men, carrying their own
rations, and go a day ahead of the General, or to go on the other side
of the river, but was refused. Yet orders came back to Irvine a few
hours later to go to Carlton, which he did, arriving there before
Middleton, and sending out scouting parties in search of Big Bear's band
that, as we shall see in a later page, had been scattered by Strange's
column. It was not long before one of these Police scouting parties had
captured Big Bear with some others and landed them in the jail at Prince
Albert. And it is rather interesting to recall that it was big Tom
Hourie, a Police interpreter, accompanied by two Police scouts,
Armstrong and Diehl, who captured Riel and took him into Middleton's
tent at Batoche. It is also interesting at this point to reproduce an
overlooked extract from a letter written by the Earl of Minto, who, as
Lord Melgund, was chief of General Middleton's staff, and who,
therefore, wrote out of personal knowledge of the situation. After
speaking of our three main columns, this fine soldier, who was wounded
on duty, says:

     "Besides these three columns there was another force in the
     field--the North-West Mounted Police detachment, under Colonel
     Irvine, the value of which has always seemed to me underrated. The
     fact of Colonel's Irvine's force being at Prince Albert afforded a
     safe refuge to many outlying settlers, and, if it had not been
     there, the task General Middleton had to solve would have been
     quite a different one. Hampered, as Colonel Irvine was, by the
     civilian population of the settlement and by a difficult country,
     the possibility of successful junction with Middleton must always
     have been doubtful, whilst the moral effect of the force at Prince
     Albert was certain."

I have gone ahead of the history in mentioning the capture of Big Bear,
the pursuit of whom is the record of General Strange's column which, as
already noted, mobilized at Calgary. In addition to the 65th Rifles of
Montreal, the Winnipeg Light Infantry, with whom I served, and some
irregular scouts under Major Hattin and Osborne, we had two Mounted
Police detachments, one from the mountains under Inspector Sam B.
Steele, and the other from Fort MacLeod under Inspector A. Bowen Perry,
the present able Commissioner of the Force. Both these officers, coming
at that time under the command of General Strange in the Militia, were
given the Militia rank of Major. Steele enlisted a number of men, mostly
ex-Mounted Policemen, as scouts, his whole corps, thus augmented, being
generally called Steele's scouts. Perry, who was selected by
Superintendent Cotton on account of special fitness, brought with him a
nine-pounder gun, which did unique service in demoralizing and
scattering Big Bear's murderous and pillaging band, to whose outrages we
have already referred. These two Police detachments became the tentacles
of our column and the mainspring of its ultimate success.

Of the two officers Steele was the senior in years and in length of
service. He had been in the Red River Expedition, and was in the School
of Gunnery at Kingston, when he enlisted in the Mounted Police at its
organization and worked his way up from the ranks. Powerfully built, he
had all the appearance and carriage of a frontier soldier, accustomed to
unexpected situations and always ready for any action that might be
necessary. Perry attracted me first by his stalwart appearance and fine
horsemanship. Even in a country where riding was a fine art, Perry was a
distinguished figure on a horse, and later on I discovered that he made
a point of doing everything well. He was a graduate of the Royal
Military College, and had served with the Royal Engineers before joining
up with the Mounted Police, where his genius for thorough administration
and his general popularity raised him to the highest position in the

The news from the North coming to us at Calgary, indicated that the
whole country north of the Red Deer River to Edmonton and beyond was
full of rather surly and hostile Indians, who would rise at any moment
if they thought there were any chances of success. Hence, General
Strange, a thorough-going soldier greatly beloved by all of us,
determined to push on to Edmonton with all speed accompanied by Steele.
We of the Winnipeg Light Infantry waited a few days till Perry could
reach us from MacLeod, and then we also started north under his
guidance. We forded the Bow River, but when we got to the Red Deer we
found it flooded by the spring freshets into what our Adjutant
Constantine, who later did such splendid service with the Mounted
Police, called, in warning the men, "a wide, swift-flowing and
treacherous stream." Strange had crossed before the river rose, but how
we were to get over was a problem. Our chances of getting on to the
north looked slim. It was well that Perry, whose service with the Royal
Engineers meant something, was along in command of the column. He
decided to throw a rope across with the little skiff, which was the only
thing in sight and then construct and cross by a swinging raft. The raft
was constructed under his direction, and his own detachment of Police,
with the gun and ammunition and harness put on board. Of course, he went
himself, as he never asked his men to go anywhere without him. Things
went fairly till near the other side, when the rope made out of the
picketing lines of the horses broke by binding round the tree, from
which it was being paid out, and the raft began to go down the raging
current. At the risk of their lives Perry and Constable Diamond,
grasping another rope, plunged into the torrent and managed to reach the
shore and fasten it to a tree. But the current was too strong and this
rope gave way. The boat went down a mile or so and, being caught in an
eddy, was beached, and the stuff on board dragged up a steep cut bank.
Then Perry commandeered lumber from a primitive saw-mill down the river,
and built a ferry on which, in a day or two, we crossed. In the
meanwhile, as we were in the hostile Indian country, Perry had
accomplished the difficult task of crossing the 65th Regiment in the
little skiff, taking a whole dark night to do it. He kept our regiment
on the south side till the ferry was built. He thus had both sides
guarded against any attack. Once over the river, we made a quick march
100 miles to Edmonton, where General Strange paid a high compliment
publicly to Major Perry for the splendid way in which he had overcome
obstacles and got our relief column through in such good time. The
people of Edmonton gave us a hearty welcome, as their position in the
midst of a big Indian country was very serious for a time.

Big Bear, with the prisoners, was now treking away to the north, and it
was our business to overtake him. The Infantry went down the river,
while the Mounted Men went by trail near the river bank, or our clumsy,
open flatboats might have come under fire. Forced marching, from Fort
Victoria by Frog Lake to Fort Pitt, brought us to the scene of the Big
Bear's atrocities, as we saw from the Sun-dance Lodge, the mutilated
body of Constable Cowan and the charred remains of the nine white people
who had been massacred at Frog Lake reserve. Fort Pitt was burning, but
we saved two buildings. Big Bear and his marauding band in large force
had kept up their retreat and vanished, but whether it was on the north
side of the river, or the south side where they would effect a junction
with Poundmaker could only be ascertained by scouting parties.
Accordingly, General Strange at this point detailed Major Perry and
seventeen men of his detachment (keeping the rest for the nine-pounder
gun) to cross the river to the south side and move towards Battleford.
It was not an enviable duty, and as the men crossed the river in the
darkness and started their ride through a region that was supposed to be
infested with hundreds on the warpath, it looked rather like a last
patrol. However, after a hard ride they made Battleford to find that
Poundmaker had surrendered, Middleton having just then arrived. Perry
reported to Middleton with the information that Big Bear must be on the
north side, arranged for a steamer to go up with supplies, which we
needed very badly, and got on the steamer to return with his men. When
part of the way back he got word that we were engaged with Big Bear, and
so he landed his men and sent the steamer back to Battleford for
reinforcements. After one of the most severe and risky rides of the
campaign, Perry and his men rejoined us to find that his gunners under
Sergeant O'Connor, and the nine-pounder, had made fine gun practice, and
had been mainly instrumental in demoralizing the forces of Big Bear,
with whom we had been in contact for two hot days. General Strange was
much pleased with the way in which Major Perry had carried out the
difficult reconnaissance with a handful of men.

Meanwhile, after our fight with Big Bear and his flight from Frenchman's
Butte, where he had a strong and well-fortified position, Major Steele,
with his mounted detachment, had made a rush to Loon Lake, where, in a
rattling encounter during which Sergeant Fury was severely wounded, he
completed the defeat of Big Bear. Two days or so afterwards our scouts
crossed Gold Lake in birch canoes and secured the release of the
remaining prisoners of Big Bear, the others having come in to our lines
after the fight at Frenchman's Butte, where Constable Donald McRae,
still happily surviving, was wounded, but refused to leave the field
till he had exhausted his ammunition.

On the disbanding of the Alberta Field Force General Strange, who had
served ever since the Mutiny, warmly commended the Infantry, and
expressed the opinion that he had never commanded better soldiers than
were in the Mounted Police detachments, ready for all kinds of duty.

Preceding the surrender of Poundmaker, already mentioned, at Battleford,
the fight at Cut Knife Hill had occurred. Colonel Otter had made a swift
march from Swift Current to Battleford and relieved the beleaguered
garrison and civilians there. With Otter came Superintendents W. M.
Herchmer and Neale with a few Mounted Police. And when Otter decided to
go out and attack Poundmaker these, with the few who had been at
Battleford, and those who had come from Fort Pitt under Inspector
Dickens, made up seventy-five Police, who went on that errand with
Otter, and some 200 of his infantry and artillery. Just why Otter went
out has never been very clear, except that he possibly wished to punish
the band of Indians and prevent a possible junction of Poundmaker and
Big Bear. Anyway, the Police were under his command, and they went in
obedience to orders, as was their fashion. And the Police, being the
advance guard to Cutknife, and both the advance and rear guard on the
return, as well as in the hottest part of the fight for seven hours,
where they behaved with great gallantry, lost heavily in killed and
wounded in proportion to their numbers. It is not any reflection on the
gallantry of the other corps, who were totally unused to Indian warfare,
to say that it was the masterly tactics of the Police which extricated
the column from the ravine after Colonel Otter saw that it was not
advisable to continue the conflict against the large force of Indians
who had every advantage in position. A few days after this Poundmaker,
who was a very splendid-looking Indian, and who had given the order to
cease fire when Otter was retiring, came in and surrendered to General
Middleton, and the rebellion was practically over, though it was still a
few days before Big Bear was captured, as already related.

Perhaps there is no finer summing up of the services of the Mounted
Police during the rebellion than that given by Dr. A. Jukes, Senior
Surgeon of the Force, in his report at the end of that year. He says,
"While I must leave to those whose duty as combatant officers it more
especially becomes to record with sorrow, not unmingled with pride, the
names and services of the gallant men who have fallen unflinchingly in
the path of duty, I cannot withhold my humble tribute to the courage and
fortitude of the mere handful of Mounted Police who, fewer in numbers
than any battalion engaged in active operations, and generally far
over-matched by enemies wherever it was their privilege to meet them,
have left beneath the bosom of the prairie of their dead, 'killed in
action,' a number greater than that of any battalion in the field, save
one whose record, at least, they have equalled."

And one cannot close this chapter without emphasizing what has often
been overlooked by those who do not know Western affairs at first hand.
Looking back now over the years, one is not surprised to have to see
that the collapse of the rebellion, instead of leaving the Mounted
Police Force carefree, actually added to their burdens and ushered them
into a period of pronounced and continuous strain. The Militia, which
was made up of several thousands of men--infantry, artillery,
cavalry--all were withdrawn and scattered to their homes in various
parts of Canada. The Mounted Police stayed at their posts or moved from
place to place, as required in a readjustment period. The defeated
rebels and many of the Indians were in a sullen mood, the year had been
wasted from the standpoint of producing anything for food, the Indians
were off their reservations in some cases, in others the reservations
had been laid waste, and the buildings that had been erected for their
comfort had been burned or wrecked by themselves when the spirit of
destruction arose as they went on the warpath. Yet the officers and men
of this remarkable corps, without any cessation or furlough, took up the
ravelled skein of human life around them, and with great patience, skill
and tact, soon had things running smoothly again. It was a wonderful
piece of reconstructive statesman-like work and, as it proceeded, both
the half-breeds and Indians who had been disaffected began to regret
deeply the action they had been misled by agitators into taking contrary
to the advice of the men in the scarlet tunic, who had always been their
friends, and who always had stood for the square deal for every one. It
was not only not the fault of the Mounted Police, but largely through
ignoring their long-repeated warnings to the Government that the
rebellion had taken place. While it lasted these Police did their duty
like men at great cost without ever saying, "We told you so." And when
it was over they so comported themselves in the midst of a distracted
population that it could never occur again.



In writing these chapters it is necessary to throw in a story or
incident here and there out of the regular sequence in time, so as to
relate cognate subjects to each other. Hence, as their names have all
been already mentioned, it may be well here to indicate the terms of
office occupied by the several Commissioners who have directed the
destinies of the famous corps. With all of these, except Colonel French,
who was the first in order, I have had some personal contact. The office
of Commissioner has been held by Colonel G. A. (later Sir George) French
from 1873 to 1876, by Colonel James F. McLeod from 1876 to 1880, by
Lieut.-Colonel A. G. Irvine from 1880 to 1886, by Colonel Lawrence W.
Herchmer from 1886 to 1900, and from 1900 up to date by the present
Officer Commanding in the person of Colonel A. Bowen Perry, C.M.G. These
all had their distinctive traits of character and each had his own
speciality--foundation building, discipline, organization and so on--but
they all meet on a common plane as soldiers and gentlemen without fear
and without reproach. Of Colonel French we have already written--he was
the layer of the corner-stone--and the after-history of the Police as a
spirit level proves that it was well and truly laid. Colonel McLeod came
into the command when the Indians, under changing conditions at home and
amidst perplexing problems born of the Indian situation south of the
boundary, had to be handled with unusual discreetness and care. And
MacLeod was distinctly the man for such a period, of wide human
sympathies, absolutely impartial and even-handed in his magisterial
decisions and inflexibly courageous, he became to Indian and white man
alike a sort of embodiment of the highest ideals of British

Colonel Irvine had served with credit under Wolseley and was highly
esteemed by his men. His commissionership fell within the stormy time of
the second Riel rebellion, and despite the fact that he was not
generously treated by the Commander of the Militia forces during that
period, he emerged from it with an enhanced reputation and with the
respect not only of his own men, but of all who knew how difficult and
important his task had been.

Colonel Lawrence W. Herchmer, besides some service with Imperial forces,
had been through some especially important work in connection with the
Frontier Boundary Commission. This experience proved of much value to
the Force and the country when he became Commissioner. Coming in the
restless period succeeding the rebellion, Colonel Herchmer's
contribution to Police history was his extension of the patrol system
all over the vast territory under his oversight. A man of fine
appearance and courteous bearing he was well liked and popular with the
men and the community during his term of office.

Colonel Perry, the present Commissioner, has had the longest term of
service in the supreme command. As his name will come up frequently in
the remaining chapters of this story, we need not make special note of
his work here. But it is not too much to say that owing to his
outstanding ability and his wide range of general knowledge, as well as
his keen perception, he has during his long term of office practically
recreated the Force in many particulars. He has unusual power for
getting to the heart of a situation by a sort of intuitive insight. He
has the reputation of being able to grasp and analyse the contents of
documents almost at a glance and seize their salient points for action.
His decisions are thus made after rapid assimilation of the facts, and
he expects his orders to be carried out with exactness and dispatch. In
this he is not disappointed, as the officers and men under his command
have such confidence in his judgment that they work out his plans with
enthusiasm. He is fair to all classes, but will not tolerate movements
that make for the subversion of the constitution or the wanton
disturbance of law and order. Intensely Canadian, he is not insular, for
few men in his line have read more extensively in the fields of history.
Having made these notes on the men who have guided the Force, we can
take up the story again where we ended the last chapter with the close
of the second Riel rebellion.

As intimated at that point, the Militia Forces were withdrawn and the
Mounted Police were left alone to deal with the problems of
reconstruction and peace. Certain of the rebels who had been specially
seditious and murderous had to be rounded up and dealt with by process
of law in order that such unseemly doings should not again menace the
safety of the settler and the march of civilization. It fell to the lot
of the Police to gather the evidence, to secure the presence of
witnesses, to furnish guards, and at headquarters in Regina the duties
were very heavy. But these trained men worked with steady precision, for
the lesson had to be taught that insurrection and murder were not to be
tolerated under our flag. The men in the scarlet would see that whatever
had been true of other frontiers, Canada was not to have a wild west or
a wild north either. So the rebels suffered the due reward of their
deeds. Louis Riel was tried and, despite the efforts of his lawyers,
Lemieux and Fitzpatrick, brilliant men who came from Quebec to defend
him and whose conflict with the Crown lawyers, B. B. Osler and
Christopher Robinson, afforded a consummate spectacle of dialectic
sword-play, this leader of two rebellions was executed at Regina.
Several Indians, notably Wandering Spirit, who was the evil genius of
the Big Bear revolt, were also visited with capital punishment. Big Bear
himself, who had become decrepit, and the lordly Poundmaker, who
sturdily maintained that he had only defended himself when attacked at
Cutknife, were confined to the Stony Mountain penitentiary for a time,
but released when a medical board decided that the change from out of
doors would soon end their lives. Poundmaker was a splendid-looking man,
stately and grave in manner, and his chivalry at Cutknife, where he
ordered the "cease firing" when Otter was withdrawing, entitled him to
consideration. I recall his pride in the long pleats of glossy black
hair that adorned his handsome head. It was a graceful recognition of
his gallantry that the authorities at the penitentiary, at the instance
of the Department, left the fine locks of their captive unshorn during
his prison term. At the suggestion of the Mounted Police officers many
of the chiefs who had remained loyal were taken on a tour of the east,
where they received many tokens of the kindly attitude of Canadians
towards them.

[Illustration: INDIAN TEPEE.]

[Illustration: DOG-TRAIN.]

I recall a story in that connection--a missionary story. It is in place
here because no one knew so well as the Police what a large part in
preserving peace in the rebellion time was played by missionaries like
John McKay, of the Mistawasis Reserve near Carlton, John McDougall, of
Morley, George McKay, of Prince Albert, Père Lacombe and others. In the
partnership of the Police and the missionaries the law and the gospel
wrought together for good ends. The story was told a group of us by John
McKay, to whose influence over Chief Mistawasis was largely due the fact
that that powerful Cree chief, whose reserve was almost within sound of
the guns of Duck Lake, did not join in with Chief Beardy and Dumont.
After the rebellion, Mistawasis was one of the chiefs taken east as a
reward for his loyalty. I recall seeing some of them being driven around
eastern cities in cabs to see the sights. They preserved the usual
stoical silence and evinced no surprise, but they missed nothing and
when they got back home their tongues were loosed and for many a day
they recited their experiences and told the story of the white man's
great cities and manifest power.

Mistawasis, on his way home, met John McKay on the plains, and they sat
around the camp fire late that night as the chief poured out his
recollections of what he had seen. One thing had puzzled the Indian,
though he had thought much over it. "The strangest thing that happened,"
said Mistawasis, "was in Ottawa, where some good people had a missionary
meeting at a house, and they were singing songs, and a lady played on
the singing machine (piano). At last they asked me and Star Blanket to
sing. We both were ashamed, because we could not sing much. But I told
Star Blanket I would sing what the missionary taught us out on the
plains and I began, and all of a sudden the lady ran to the singing
machine and began to play and then they all joined in and I was leading
the whole band." "Now," continued the Chief, "how did they know in
Ottawa the same thing you taught us out at the reserve in Saskatchewan?"
And then John McKay told him the tune was "Old Hundred," which all good
people knew, and that the company sang it in English words while he sang
in Cree, but that they were singing the same thing. This delighted
Mistawasis, who felt that he and the white people there were really one
in the deep experiences of life. And that meant brotherhood to him.

But all the Indians were not like "Big Child," as this chief's name
meant, and so the Mounted Police had strenuous work for some years after
the rebellion, when scarcely a thousand of them had to patrol and guard
a territory twenty times as large as some European kingdoms.

From the ably written and graphic Police reports for the years following
the rebellion, one can visualize the changing conditions of the country.
The outbreak had undesignedly advertised the wide West. The thousands of
men who had come out on military duty, having spied out the wondrous
fatness of the land, had gone back to the east to become unofficial
immigration agents by telling what they had beheld. And so the tide of
humanity began to flow over the plains towards the setting sun. This
means that the buffalo were gone for all time and that game generally
would become a precarious means of existence, that the ranch and the
farm would supersede the open plain, that settlers would need much
guidance as well as protection, that the Indians would have to be taught
to stay on their reserves and make a living there, and that the
half-breeds, who were no lovers of agriculture, would have to be weaned
from their nomadic inclinations. In some parts of the vast country, as
at Prince Albert, Superintendent A. B. Perry, who took charge there
after the rebellion, states, "The general attitude of the half-breeds
and Indians was one of regret for what had happened." All was going
well, but in some other quarters there was a sort of sullenly defiant
spirit abroad which took all the tact and the courage of the Police to
overcome. It was fortunate that the officers and men of the Police had
from the beginning so commended themselves to the Indians and
half-breeds as exponents of fair play that these natives of the country
never seemed to hold the Police responsible for the errors, delays or
mistakes of any government.

In speaking of Police reports I would like the reader to bear in mind
that, in addition to the reports furnished by the combatant officers
generally so classified, commissioners, superintendents, inspectors and
others, some of the most remarkable and important documents sent forward
to the proper authorities, through the usual channels, were written by
the surgeons and their assistants, and also by the veterinary surgeons.
Men and their troop horses were companions on the long trails, and they
both had to be cared for by sympathetic experts in each line. It was
vastly important that both should be kept fit if the work was to be
done, and of the two the men themselves were always more anxious about
their horses than about their own comfort. Hence these health-preserving
specialists were of peculiar value for the efficiency of the corps. And
as they were men of education as well as keen observers, their reports
bore the evidences of research, which made them treasuries of

As an indication of the way in which the Police showed that they were in
the country not only to preserve law and order but to guide settlers in
the interests of the country's development as well as for their own
welfare, I quote from one of Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer's annual
reports this valuable statement in 1886: "As a rule too little fall
ploughing is done in the North-West, and there is consequently too much
hurry amongst the farmers in the spring and large tracts of land are
sown, but not sufficiently worked--nearly all the farmers work too much
land for their strength. Very few of them made any use of the manure
from their farmyards, and although at nearly all Police posts, farms are
quite close, I am not aware that any manure is drawn from our stables by
any farmers." This statement was amply justified and very much needed,
as those of us who knew the country then can affirm. Many had rushed
west with the idea of getting rich "quick." They spread themselves over
too much land, they neglected fall ploughing and ran the risk of getting
caught with frost next season, and they thought they could save
themselves time and money by doing without a fertilizer and taking all
they could get out of the land. No doubt Herchmer and his thousand men
preached the gospel of good farming with effect, for not many years
passed before the flagrant mistakes he pointed out were remedied, to the
great benefit of the country which has become in large measure the
granary of the Empire.

In patrol work the following from Superintendent Neale throws a little
side-light on some of the frequent experiences of the Force in that
period. The reference is to the "Old Man's River" in the foothill
country in December. Neale says: "I had gone ahead to try the ice and
found it unsafe. The saddle horses were then crossed, followed by the
wagons, one of which, the hospital spring wagon, came to grief by the
horses refusing to face the wind, trying to get on the ice and breaking
the pole. Both men and horses were covered with ice, as the wind was
very strong and bitterly cold. The stopping place at Kipp being only in
course of erection, there was no place to go into, and the raising of a
tent was an impossibility. However, the horses were placed in the
shelter afforded by some haystacks, and after being dried and fed the
men managed to get a cup of tea and then turned in with their horses."
There is not much detail here, but one who knows that country at that
season reads between the lines and shivers. And that the conditions
might crop up at other dates is evident by a line in the same report
which says that "Inspector Sanders travelled the whole distance from
Lethbridge to Bull's Head _coulée_ in a driving snowstorm." That would
be a dangerous outing.

That others of the Police were taking note of new conditions for the
benefit of the country, as Lawrence Herchmer did in his remarks on
farming above quoted, is evidenced by a recommendation by Superintendent
Steele, who says in 1886: "I wish to call your attention to the quality
of wood used last winter for fuel, causing large fatigues, much waste
and consequently great expense. This could be avoided by entering into
coal contracts with people residing near the coal beds on the North
Saskatchewan, who would be able to supply at low rates." Thus were these
guardians of the peace keeping their eyes open and urging forward the
proper industrial development of the country.

There is a striking and characteristic passage in a later report from
Superintendent Perry, the general truth of which is just as vital to the
well-being of the State to-day as it was when written not long after the
rebellion. It appears that Perry and his men had traced and brought for
trial a good many cattle-killers, mail-robbers and others, but found
much difficulty in getting convictions in local court where jurymen and
others seemed to have more sympathy with the accused than necessary.
Perry sees the far-reaching danger of this attitude, and refers to it as
follows: "I regret that convictions for the serious crimes were not
secured against the guilty parties. Evidence was produced for the
defence which could well be doubted. Not only has this case produced
sympathy for crime, but in other cases, it has been plainly manifested.
Petitions have been forwarded to lessen the penalties where laws of the
country have wilfully and knowingly been broken. So notorious has this
become, that it has disheartened us in attempting to secure criminal
convictions. There seems to be an absurd idea that the dismissal of a
charge means a snub to the Mounted Police, whereas it strikes home at
the root of society and threatens the lives and property of the very men
who jeer and flaunt." The frontier was fortunate in having men who saw
and pointed out this tendency in time. There is the ring of a statesman
in that declaration.

But Perry and his men were by no means deterred, even if feeling
disheartened by that state of apparent sympathy with law-breakers. This
is attested by the fact that when the first stage robbery ever
accomplished in the territories took place by the holding up of the
Prince Albert mail near Humboldt, Perry and his detachments under
Inspectors Begin and Guthbert so combed the whole country in search of
the perpetrators that this attempt to introduce the Jesse-James
programme into Canadian territory was effectually discouraged. It took
some time to land the robber, a man named Garnett, in the north country,
who was given a long term sentence in the penitentiary.

The Police were always on active service, but the service was very
varied in character. It is interesting to find this note in one of the
reports of that period written by Superintendent Deane, then in command
of the Headquarters District at Regina. "On the 15th of August it was
reported to me that a child about two and a half years old, the daughter
of Mr. and Mrs. Pringle, of Regina, had strayed from her mother, who was
on a visit to Pense. A Police party was dispatched to search the
neighbourhood. The child was lost on the evening of the 15th, but the
loss was not reported to me till the following afternoon. The child was
found on the evening of the 17th in some bushes a mile or two away from
the house from which it had strayed, and beyond being somewhat
frightened, was little the worse for the exposure." One can quite
imagine the concern of these red-coated knights of the saddle for the
lost child. They would not say much, but thoughts of food and sleep
would be put aside till the child was found. What plan they employed is
not stated, but I have seen men under similar conditions, mounted or
dismounted, holding hands and swinging in compass circles on the plain
so as not to leave a foot of ground unsearched. Deane's report is as
above, but again those who know the country and the men will read
between the lines and see these uniformed athletes quieting the fears of
the little one and then going away to some other duty glad with the
remembrance of the child and the rejoicing parents.

For a few years after the Riel outbreak there was a lot of unrest
amongst the Blood Indians down to the south, where the proximity of the
boundary line gave much opportunity to horse-thieves, cattle-killers and
smugglers of whisky, but the watchfulness of Superintendents Neale and
MacDonnell, Inspectors Howe, Sanders, Wattam, Sergt.-Major Lake and
others checkmated every effort at lawlessness. Inspector Sanders made a
clever capture of two Bloods, "The Dog" and "Big Rib," who were tried
and sentenced, but who escaped to the other side of the line from the
sheriff. This escape led some of the Bloods to think they could get
ahead of the Police. In fact one of the chiefs, "Calf Shirt," brought in
liquor from Montana and said he would defy the Police, while another
Indian, "Good Rider," tried cattle-killing on the Cochrane Ranch. But
the Police took a hand at this point. Superintendent Neale wired
Superintendent MacDonnell for a detachment of officers and men, and
MacDonnell sent Inspector Howe with twenty men to meet Neale with a like
number at Stand Off. The result was that both "Calf Shirt" and "Good
Rider" were arrested at two different camps, and each was duly tried and
sentenced to a term with hard labour. This nipped the law-breaking in
the bud. That was the Mounted Police way.

After this experience it is not surprising to read in Commissioner
Herchmer's report for 1888, "There has been a remarkable absence of
crime during the past year and, outside arrests of criminals from the
United States, we have made no important arrests in our territory." This
was the gratifying result of the thoroughness of the Police patrol
system, and the natural sequence to the fact that there was not much use
or profit in trying to thwart the law when these red-coated guardians of
the peace were around, and as the Indians found that law-breaking did
not pay, they turned to more profitable pursuits, in which they were
encouraged and helped by the Government and the Police. Hence this
observant Commissioner is able to say that "in all quarters of the
territories the Indians are making rapid strides towards self-support."
The day was coming when, under the same paternal encouragement, the
Indians would be the prize-winners at the fairs on the plains where they
had once hunted buffalo--a very remarkable transformation.

In the same year Herchmer calls attention to the highly pleasing fact
that the introduction of the telephone would lead to an enormous saving
of men and horses, and notes the able and diplomatic way in which
Superintendent Steele, assisted by Inspectors Wood, Huot and Surgeon
Powell, had quieted matters in the Kootenay country where Chief
Isadore's attitude had discouraged settlement. With his usual social
insight, Herchmer indicates that the Mormon settlement in southern
Alberta, with its possible polygamy, will be the better of some
oversight in the interests of British law. This latter was a wise
decision, and led at least to the practical abandonment of a doctrine
that had brought much odium upon that sect.

It is interesting to find in that period of the late eighties a letter
to Superintendent Deane, at Lethbridge, from the Montana Stock Growers'
Association conveying a resolution of "thanks to the officers and men of
the North-West Mounted Police and also to the Canadian authorities
generally for assistance given to many of the citizens of Montana in
recovering horses stolen from our territory." And that the Police were
just as ready and willing to see the Indians got their dues either way
is evidenced by another entry in which Deane pithily says, "A Blood
Indian named 'Mike' laid an information against a Blackfoot for stealing
his horse. 'Mike' recovered his horse and the Blackfoot is now serving
three months' imprisonment here." Touching on the question of smuggling
near the boundary, Deane tells of a patrol consisting of Constables
Campbell and Chapman who, between Pendant d'Oreille (evidently a place
where people should step lively, for the Superintendent says it
"bristles with rattlesnakes") and Writing-on-Stone. These constables
came across a man named Berube with five horses and a wagon. His story
did not sound well to them, and so they asked him to come to camp. He
agreed with evident reluctance, and when he said he was hungry and his
team tired, the Police told him to unhitch the team, mount one of them
and come along to camp for breakfast. Then Berube wished to get his
pocket-book out of the wagon, but instead he fished out a revolver and
galloped away saying he would riddle them if they followed. Of course
they followed. With the usual Police restraint they forbore to shoot.
Campbell overtook the smuggler, but just as he ranged alongside the
policeman's horse stumbled and fell, Campbell, leaping off as the horse
fell and grabbing at the halter of Berube's horse, but failing to hold
him owing to the speed. Berube again threatened the riddling process,
but the constables chased him to a slough, where the smuggler's horse
got mired, but Berube tried to lead him out. Campbell fired in the air,
but Berube kept going, whereupon Campbell shot the smuggler's horse, and
the patrol took Berube and his four horses into camp. Deane says that as
the horses appeared to be glandered, he wired for Veterinary Surgeon
Wroughton (now the able Assistant Commissioner), who declared the case
virulent, and ordered everything destroyed. This was done, and Deane
adds, "The slaughter and destruction were carried out by the Police,
some of whose clothes suffered destruction in the process for which
they, not unreasonably, look for some compensation." And we hope they
got it. Handling glanders was almost as dangerous as either the bullets
or the rattlesnakes.

Superintendent Perry, who with the good assistance of Inspector Cuthbert
commanded in the Prince Albert district in 1888, made some specially
valuable recommendations as to the future care of the Indians, and
praised the work of the missionaries amongst them. He said, "The hope of
improvement in the Indian lies in the training of the rising generation,
and it is to be hoped that before long the children will be taken in
hand." And Perry's recommendation then made as to Industrial Schools
bore fruit not many years later to the great advantage of the Indian and
the country as well. Thus were the Police doing social service work as
their duties proceeded.

An interesting side-light is thrown on the changing conditions of the
West by our finding that in the late eighties a detachment of Police was
sent by request from that Province into southern Manitoba. This
detachment, under Inspector J. A. McGibbon (recently Assistant
Commissioner at Regina, now retired), who had done important work at
Moose Mountain and other far western points, had headquarters at Morden.
The business of this detachment was to patrol the whole country near the
boundary line, to grant special "Let Passes" to people who were entitled
to cross backwards and forwards, to prevent wood being taken from the
Canadian side by Dakota settlers, and generally to stand for law and
order. In connection with other work I was up and down that region a
good deal in those days, and recall the sense of general security the
scattered settlers had because of the presence of McGibbon and his men.

After five years in command of the Prince Albert district, which had
been the critical storm centre around which the winds of the Riel
rebellion had beaten fiercely, Inspector A. B. Perry, before changing to
another command, makes another valuable contribution to the development
of Western history when he writes some special paragraphs in regard to
the future of the half-breeds. Game was disappearing and the occupation
of freighting on the prairie was being rendered useless by the incoming
of railways. Perry says, "The mass of the half-breed population must
therefore turn their attention to other methods of making a living. They
have no alternative: farming must become their occupation in earnest.
The English and Scotch half-breeds have already done this successfully;
but very few of French descent have yet made any real attempt at it."
Perry was right. These people had the blood of the nomad and the
volatile in their veins. Perry continues, "As farming is the inevitable
pursuit of the French half-breeds, all who are friendly to them should
agree in urging and encouraging them to remain on their present
holdings, so that they may at once face their destiny and ultimately
obtain the position of a self-supporting people. They should be treated
with patience and aided generously, remembering that it is not easy for
white men possessing all the advantages of education and civilization to
change their occupation. Can the half-breed hunter or freighter be
expected to be more apt in adapting himself to change? It would be an
astonishing thing if they quietly and quickly adapted themselves to the
work of a farm on which success is only obtained by hard, patient and
continuous labour." And Perry goes on to advise special instruction for
these people. And he concludes, "There is a tendency on the part of some
to regard the problem of the future of these people as insolvable.
Knowing their many sterling qualities I cannot despair, but believe
their descendants will be prosperous and desirable citizens of our
North-West Territory." Words like these could not be written by a man
who contented himself with the routine duty of a policeman, but by a
wide-awake Canadian who was anxious for the future of his country and
his fellow-citizens, and it is because there were so many in the Force
who saw these questions in the light of Canada's future that we have
always placed the Mounted Police amongst the real nation-builders of
this new Dominion.

And the decade which ended with 1890 finds one of the new pages in the
story of the Police in the patrol by Inspector J. V. Begin across the
stormy waters of Lake Winnipeg up to the bleak shores of Hudson Bay at
the famous old post of York Factory. This patrol involved much hardship
and danger, but it stabilized conditions in that remote Keewatin area.
In this regard Inspector Begin's trip was successful, but during his
absence in the north there occurred the wreck of the Police boat on Lake
Winnipeg, taking down with it Corporal Morphy and Constable Beaujeu, to
both of whom the Inspector was warmly attached. They were splendid young
men, full of gallantry and courage, but they answered the last roll-call
while in the discharge of duty in a Force that has always been on active



The decade from 1890 to 1900 witnessed changes and incidents that were
fully up to the Police history record for matters of thrilling
importance. In 1891 Sir John A. Macdonald, who was the originator of the
Force, and who had always taken great pride in its splendid efficiency,
passed away after a brief illness at the historic homestead,
Earnscliffe, in Ottawa. Not even Sir John's most rabidly partisan
friends had ever claimed perfection for their political idol, but I did
hear one man say that he was so devoted to "The old Chieftain," that he
was quite prepared to support him whether he was right or wrong. This
was probably an extreme case, but it illustrates the extraordinary
magnetism of the remarkable man who had been the chief pilot in taking
the country through the shoals and rocks that threatened to wreck
Confederation at its launching. Sir John's Canadianism was intense and
so was his Imperialism, for was it not he who said, "A British subject I
was born and a British subject I will die"? The undoubted political
lapses in his career seemed to proceed from his being possessed with the
idea that his presence at the head of affairs was so necessary for the
well-being of the country that he should get there and stay there at any
cost. His two great achievements in connection with Western Canada were
his inauguration of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and his organization
of the Mounted Police. This does not mean that in these two projects he
had not the aid of others, for in some measure he had the support of
even his political opponents, who differed from him in considerable
degree on the railway policy, but who supported him in his proposal to
organize the Mounted Police.

When I last heard this Disraeli-looking man speak, it was in Winnipeg,
when he was making his first and last trip across Canada on the railway
for which he had done and ventured so much. In his semi-humorous and
semi-serious way he said, "I used to state that I never expected to live
long enough to see the road completed, but that when my friends would be
crossing the continent upon it, I would be looking down upon them from
another and better sphere; my opponents said I would be looking up, but
in reality to the surprise of both, I am doing it on the horizontal." On
that same trip the veteran took great delight in seeing the scarlet and
gold uniforms of his favourite corps on their "native heath" in the
great prairie land of the West. Such was Sir John's interest in the
Force that, despite his heavy duties, he retained the headship of the
corps to the end of his days. In later years Sir Wilfred Laurier, Sir
Robert Bordon, and the Hon. N. W. Rowell were outstanding also in their
high opinion of, and their great interest in, the riders of the plains.
In fact all public men who really understood the Western situation and
the wide-reaching influence of the Police on Western history have always
been ready to estimate highly the great services rendered by these
remarkable men. During that same decade which rounded out the century
Colonel MacLeod, who had been appointed to the Bench and whose fine
character had endeared him to the Police and the country, crossed the
Great Divide amid the grief of all who knew him. The Assistant
Commissioner, W. M. Herchmer, who had throughout nearly thirty years
served with distinction in the Militia and the Police, died much
regretted, and was succeeded by Superintendent John H. McIlree, who
retired in 1911 after thirty-eight years of most valuable service.

It was in that decade also that the gold-rush into the Yukon took place,
as we shall see, and furnished a new occasion for one of the most
remarkable periods in the history of the Police, replete with incidents
of adventure and tales of endurance along with a devotion to duty and a
triumphant enforcement of law which added immensely to the already great
prestige of the Force, and made a record that not only astonished but
won the admiration of the world. We will, however, review some notable
events of that decade before coming to the Yukon.

Tragic but glorious was the fate of a young constable near Pendant
d'Oreille, who was out on special duty when a blinding snow-storm
gathered to the height of a blizzard across his path. Losing the way,
the troop-horse stumbled into a ravine and broke his neck. But the
athletic young policeman, who had developed muscle as well as mind in
his university, extricated himself and struggled on in his determination
to carry out his commission. The odds of blizzard and cold were too
heavy, and the gallant lad succumbed in the unequal contest. But he
would bring no discredit on the Police tradition, and when his body was
discovered by a search party the following words, scribbled with
freezing fingers, were found on a paper in his dispatch bag, "Lost.
Horse dead. Am trying to push on. Have done my best." In the long roll
of honour there are few more remarkable incidents than this of the young
policeman battling with the relentless elements which some of us have
witnessed raging on these Western plains. But he did not fail. From his
numbing hands he had passed on to others the supreme duty of upholding
the great tradition.

And then we can swing to another and lighter, but still very important
phase of Police life. In the nineties Superintendent Steele, who was at
Fort MacLeod, gives us some vivid and interesting pictures of social
evenings in the winter, and out-door sports in the summer. The Police
were leaders in these gatherings, but all the country-side turned out,
and the barrack hall was thrown open on occasion for winter gatherings.
There was wisdom in all this, for to teach people to enjoy proper
recreation and play is to make them better citizens and more cordial one
to the other. In the summer the Bloods and Piegans with their ponies and
dogs attended the sports, and took active part under the general
oversight of that incomparable scout and interpreter Jerry Potts.

In the roping of the huge wild steers there was much opportunity for the
display of skill and nerve. When these big steers had been run out and
had passed the line the cowboy on his trained pony followed at racing
speed. His pony seemed dowered with full knowledge of the methods, and
so watched the lasso thrown over the steer's head, when the wary pony,
with all four feet braced to meet the strain, came to a sudden halt.
This swift stop caused the steer to go heels over head and fall on his
back, the pony holding the rope tight till the rider dismounted and tied
the steer up in orthodox fashion, the pony watching every movement till
the task was finished.

Bronco-breaking was a regular industry, and every meet of the kind just
described had its bucking contents, but not after the manner of circuses
with a few dispirited animals that go through a programme without
springing any surprises on the rider. A real prairie bronco five or six
years old, that had never been ridden or even handled since he was
branded when a foal had no set programme. The rider never could tell
what that bronco would do next. The animal might start away quietly, as
if he was wondering what had gotten on his back when he was blindfolded.
Then suddenly he would leap right up into the air, "swap ends," so the
cowboys said, and come down facing the opposite way Then he might rear
up and fall backwards, or throw himself down and roll over, but the
rider was always on the bronco's back before he could get going again.
This went on for some time, varied by a swift race out over the plain,
from which the return would be made with the froth down over the hooves
of the horse. Then the cowboys pronounced the bronco broken, but woe
betide the unsuspecting tenderfoot who was tempted to get on the
hurricane deck of what these men called a broken horse.



The Police were good riders and each Division had several constables who
made a speciality of breaking refractory broncos. And the work was
necessary because for months after the horse was first broken he would
break out again on occasion. One day on our line of march to the north
from Calgary, a constable after the noon hour stop found on mounting his
horse that the bronco spirit was still existent, and that bucking was
evidently the order of the day. But the policeman was ready. He banged
the horse over the head with his hat and used the spur till the unruly
animal made a few kangaroo-like leaps and came to a sudden halt at the
edge of the hole where the camp fire had left a bed of hot coals. The
rider was not disturbed by the shock, but the buckle of his cartridge
belt gave way under the strain and the whole thing dropped over the
horse's head into the fire. Those of us who were looking on lost no time
in taking cover when the fire got at those cartridges.

Steele tells us in this same connection of an extraordinary feat of
horsemanship he witnessed by Mr. Charles Sharples, of the Winder Ranch.
Sharples had brought some horses to MacLeod to sell to the Mounted
Police, and had them in a stable near the Old Man's River, where there
was a perpendicular bank about 30 feet high. He started out to show one
of the horses to the Commissioner at the Fort, but the brute bucked
fiercely towards the cut-bank, sidling and fighting against its rider
until at last there seemed to be nothing for it but to go over the bank
side-on. That did not suit Sharples. He turned the brute sharply towards
the precipice, gave it the spur and went out into space. Everybody
rushed to the top to see what had become of this bold horseman, and were
amazed to see him still firm in the saddle with the horse swimming
towards the opposite bank, none the worse for his wild leap. Steele does
not tell us whether Sharples made a sale of that horse, but he deserved
to succeed in so doing. A horse like that would come in handy.

Perhaps the races and other sports inaugurated by the Police had their
effect in discouraging the Indians from the barbaric Sun-dance which the
Government sought to end as soon as possible, although not desiring to
repress them by force. The Sun-dance was a semi-religious, semi-tribal
festival for the purpose of enabling young braves to prove that they had
courage and stamina enough to go on the war-path. While we were engaged
in the Riel rebellion campaign we saw several Sun-dance lodges along the
line of our march after Big Bear, these lodges being left standing with
a view to frightening our men from pursuing braves who could demonstrate
their courage in the way the lodge indicated.

The Sun-dance lodge was a circular wooden structure of poles with
rafters coming together to a point above. From these rafters hooks were
suspended by thongs of tough leather. The prospective braves danced
around furiously within the structure in a frenzy of excitement,
fastening the hooks in their skin and thus lacerating themselves till
they sometimes fainted away. This performance was an annual affair on
the general principle that they should be always ready for war. There
was nothing in the festival that would justify a forcible suppression of
it, which would offend the Indians by interference with an ancient
custom. But the Mounted Police used their persuasive influence against
it and showed the younger Indians how foolish and useless it was.
Accordingly, we find Superintendent Steele, who was in command at Fort
MacLeod, saying in 1891, "This year both Bloods and Piegans indulged in
the time-honoured Sun-dance. From personal observation and careful
inquiry I am convinced that this festival has almost entirely ceased to
have any significance except to the old people. The vanity of the
ancient warrior is no doubt gratified when he recounts his scalps, but
there seemed very little interest and no enthusiasm on the part of his
audience. The young Indians of both sides seem to look on the whole
thing as an excuse for a picnic. Many Indians on the reserves did not
take sufficient interest in the festival to attend it. Two braves were
made at the Blood dance and none at the Piegans'." So this pagan custom
was vanishing. It is now a thing of the past, but we must credit the
Police with gradually ending it. About this period there were still some
rumblings of discontent amongst the Sioux Indians south of the boundary
line in the region of Manitoba. There were recurrent "scares" and many
rumours of "Ghost dances" on our side of the line, in expectation, it
was said, of an incursion by the Sioux, who were reported to be stirring
up our Indians to commit depredations on the settlers. But the presence
and the constant patrols of Inspector J. A. McGibbon and his men in the
scarlet tunic soon restored the equilibrium of things and calmed the
fears of the settlers so that they went peacefully on with their work. A
literary outcome of the situation was the widely quoted and beneficially
humorous utterance of a punster on the staff of the Winnipeg Free Press,
who asserted that the Sioux (sue) scare was seizing a lot of fellows who
owed money.

The relations existing between the Mounted Police and the American
soldiery south of the line were always of the most cordial and fraternal
type. Superintendent A. W. Jarvis, who was in charge at Lethbridge in
the nineties, refers to this in one of his reports. He says, "Several
deserters from the American army arrived here in the spring, but only
one of them brought a horse. This was taken from him and was sent back
to the officer commanding at Fort Assiniboine. This was the only
opportunity I had to reciprocate the courtesy so freely extended to us
under similar circumstances by the American officers at that post. These
gentlemen have always shown themselves ready and willing to assist the
Mounted Police by any means in their power." Speaking of desertions it
was generally felt that a man who would desert was not really worth a
search. So far as the Mounted Police were concerned, there were not many
desertions, but there was probably more relief than otherwise when some
unworthy man took French leave and escaped. Such a man was not wanted.
The standing of the Force was to be maintained, and so the statement
once made by Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer became a classic: "I want to
see the Mounted Police Force to be the hardest to get into and the
easiest to get out of in the world."

There is a fine human picture in another clause of Superintendent A. W.
Jarvis' report already mentioned. He says: "On November 20 two boys,
aged 16 and 10 years respectively, sons of leading citizens of Medicine
Hat, were caught in a blizzard a few miles south of that town and frozen
to death. Two days later the Police Patrol from Bull's Head found the
bodies. Sergeant Mathewson remained alone all night on the open prairie
to watch them and protect them from the cayotes, till the Police team
came next day to take them to town." Mathewson had a lonely and
dangerous vigil on the blizzard-swept plain, but it was characteristic
of these big men to stand guard in such pathetic cases.

The same fine touch comes out in a brief medical import in 1892 from
that able man Senior Surgeon Jukes at the Regina headquarters. It had
been a time of stress in the hospital work, and Dr. Haultain, the
assistant surgeon, had been laid completely aside by illness. So Dr.
Jukes cut out the office work and let reports go in order to devote
himself to the sick. Then Assistant Surgeon Fraser arrived from Calgary
to help, and Dr. Jukes has time to send in a brief note before the time
for having reports in the printer's hands expires. And he says at the
end of it, "I am assured by the comptroller that in consideration of the
enormous amount of work which has been thrown on me for the last three
months, no censure can possibly be passed on me for having devoted the
whole of my time to the sick under my charge and other professional
duties, in preference to the writing of an annual report." Well spoken,
Dr. Jukes, and the authorities saw the point at once. Reports could
wait, but the sick had to be looked after at once. That, too, is a
police tradition. Take care of the casualties now and report later.

That the Mounted Police Force was continuously progressive to ever
higher efficiency was due in no small measure to the fact that officers
and men were encouraged to be on the look out for improved methods and
to feel free to suggest these to those in command. Superintendent Perry
had been the means of bringing about a system of districts and
sub-districts with constables scattered over many points rather than
concentrated at headquarters, qualified only by the suggestion that
changes be often made so as to keep all in touch with regimental duties.
And I find that Inspector Constantine, a man of quite unusual gifts and
powers, as we shall see later, makes a striking recommendation in his
report from Moosomin in 1893. He says that the farther division of
districts into groups in charge of a non-commissioned officer has
increased the self-respect of these men and developed their interest and
initiative. He says men are more to be trusted than regulations. "Get
good men forward, give more power to individuals, create a confidence
through all ranks one with the other and things will work harmoniously
in maintaining the peace of the country." And because all the men cannot
be experienced from the outset Constantine suggests that a special
instruction book should be issued to every recruit, a necessary part of
his equipment, and to be produced at kit inspection or whenever called
for by the officer commanding. And this keen Inspector adds that young
men who had this book would be in a better position to carry out their
duty "besides having the confidence inspired by a knowledge that they
were right and not being in an agony of indecision caused by being
advised by parties having different interests." Happy the Force that had
leaders able and free to suggest new departures to greater efficiency.
That the officers were always careful about minor details with a view to
the comfort of the men and economy at the same time as far as possible
is evidenced by some suggestions from Inspector A. C. Macdonnell, who
was in charge at Wood Mountain in 1893. Macdonnell (now Sir Archibald,
Commandant at Kingston Military College and the wearer of many war
decorations) says that he had the old mud-roofs removed and replaced by
shingles and painted, and makes the recommendation which those who know
the country will understand, "that next year all the log-buildings be
chinked with mortar. It would last five years and be much cleaner and
neater in appearance than mud, and save the cost of the annual mudding."
These officers kept their eyes on everything. It is in keeping with what
was said above as to deserters that Macdonnell reports a desertion and
adds, "As this constable was the possessor of an exceedingly bad
defaulter's sheet, the Force sustains no loss." Let the Force be made
easy for undesirables to leave, as Herchmer said some years before.

In 1893 Superintendent Perry, in referring to the reports he was
transmitting from Superintendent F. Norman, of Wood Mountain, Inspectors
McGibbon, of Saltcoats, J. O. Wilson, of Estevan, C. Constantine, of
Moosomin, and W. H. Routledge, in Manitoba, says these reports show "how
varied and multifarious are the duties which are demanded of us--at Wood
Mountain our men are found acting as cowboys, rounding up and driving
back across the boundary vast herds of wild American ranch cattle which
again and again wander northward in search of better feed and more
water. At Estevan and Gretna they are seen in charge of large herds of
quarantined cattle, attending sick animals, milch cows, and at the
expiration of their term in quarantine driving them long distances by
trail, loading on trains and conveying them to their different
destinations; in Manitoba they are engaged in enforcing the customs
laws, aiding the regular customs officials, whose duties they at times
perform, and executing the Crown Timber and Dominion Land regulations;
and, in addition to this work of a special nature, everywhere carrying
out their regular duties of detecting crime, aiding the administration
of justice, acting as prairie fire and game guardians, and maintaining a
patrol system which covers weekly some 1,200 miles." No wonder Perry
adds, "Such extended duties test the capacities of the Force and their
successful performance illustrates the diversity of attainments in the
personnel of the North-West Mounted Police." And those of us who have
seen them under many circumstances can vouch for their being not
stereotyped officials, but all-round adaptable men. There are flashes of
humour all through the reports of Police Officers. Sometimes they may
have been unintentional, but humour is a saving grace and men who were
facing tragedies almost every day would have given way under the strain
if they had not put a little comedy into life even in their reports.
Here, for instance, is an item from a report by Inspector Z. T. Wood,
who later on did such splendid work in the Yukon. Writing from Calgary
in 1894 he reports a case by saying, "On the night of July 5 a man named
Wilson took his effects from a C.P. Railway car and started north
without going through the usual form of paying the freight thereon. He
was caught, brought back and committed for trial." Superintendent Deane
exposes one of the peculiar technicalities of law when he says, "On the
15th of August a traveller had a pair of field glasses stolen from his
buckboard at a ranch about 12 miles from Lethbridge. We know who took
them, but the one witness who could convict the thief had disappeared."
The same officer elsewhere observes, "On the 15th of September last, in
the Pot Hole country, a saddle was stolen from the back of a piqueted
horse whose rider had dismounted to shoot some ducks. We know who is
responsible for this piece of impudence, but shall be lucky if we
succeed in recovering the saddle." Deane saw humour in the situation,
but was evidently rather sceptical about the ways of law. These examples
of wit could be multiplied readily from what to the casual student seem
to be dry annual reports. In reality these same reports pulsate with
life. But it is often only found between the lines by the reader who
knows the history of the land.

Nearly midway in that last decade of the last century the golden Yukon
swung out of solitude into the vision of the world and there as
elsewhere in the vast north-land the Mounted Police were to play a large
and brilliantly useful part. To some study of that part we shall come in
succeeding pages.



Away on the banks of the Red River hard by where the City of Winnipeg
with its aggressive business marts and its surging polyglot population
now stands, there is the old Kildonan Church, which the original Selkirk
Settlers, pioneers of the West, built for themselves and their children.
These early colonists, unmindful of worldly gain, had the traditional
hospitality of the Highland race to which they belonged, and the
proverbial absence of class distinction which always obtains on a

    "No bolts had they to their doors
      Nor bars to their windows,
    But their houses were open as day
      And the hearts of the owners."

It was natural that to such a place should come on frequent visits the
Hudson's Bay men, the explorers and pathfinders, most of whom were of
the same race and creed as the pioneers. And it was natural too, that
when these pathfinders came to the end of the long trail their bodies
should be brought back to rest in the God's acre around that old church,
the famous cemetery where

    "Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
    The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."

There were other lines of Gray's immortal poem that could be applied
with great appropriateness to that churchyard that lay in the midst of a
settlement in which were men of undoubted talent and power had their lot
been cast in other surroundings. Such lines, for instance, as these:

    "Some village Hampden, who, with dauntless breast,
      The little tyrant of his fields withstood:
    Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest:
      Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood."

But there are many resting there who became known far beyond their early
circle. Most of them are not connected with our present story, but one
monument in that ancient churchyard bears the name of a man whose record
shines out with splendour in the history of the Yukon, which region was
afterwards the scene of one of the most brilliant, successful and
grandly tragic chapters in the record of the Mounted Police. The name is
that of Robert Campbell, the famous Hudson's Bay Company explorer, who
threescore years before the famous gold-rush which required the guardian
presence of the Police had discovered the Yukon River, and had travelled
for years in the regions which later on became known as one of the great
gold-fields of the world. Campbell was not looking for gold or caring
for it. He was opening out a new Empire for trade with the usual
self-forgetful devotion of its employees to the interests of the great
Fur Company.

I remember Campbell, guest often in my father's house on the Red River
in my boyhood, and later, for he lived to a great age. A Highlander too
was he, from Glenlyon in Perthshire, tall, stately, handsome, with black
hair and beard, his whole bearing suggestive of power. A modest man
withal, for he refused to call after himself the great river he had
discovered, and he left no material out of which a real biography could
be written. But it was because he had blazed the way and because another
Hudson's Bay man, Hunter Murray, had built Fort Yukon, that others
throughout the years began to penetrate into the wild until, in the
nineties, there came the discovery of acres of gold which attracted the
wildest rush in the history of mining. There have been many wild rushes
in different parts of the world, but those who went on the Yukon rush
faced climatic conditions in blizzards, bottomless snow drifts and
desperate cold, as well as on torrential streams and treacherous rapids,
which, from the standpoint of hardship and privation, dwarf all other
mining expeditions into insignificance. Of all this burden and exposure
and hardship the Mounted Police, in the simple discharge of their
duties, bore the lion's share, and that without any financial
compensation such as others expected who were drawn to the north by the
lure of gold. The Police had nothing beyond their small pay, and they
kept themselves strictly and sternly aloof from opportunities to enrich
themselves either in the way of business or in the way of allowing any
offers to be made them as a price for shielding law-breakers. They did
not make any money, though it was being made by thousands all around
them. But they did their duty so valiantly and so uncompromisingly that
they added to their already great prestige and showed the world a new
record in keeping potentially dangerous frontier camps almost entirely
free from crime. There was hardly any gun play. There were only two or
three homicides, and there were no failures in justice and no lynchings.

When in 1894 the first rumours of a probable rush into the region came
to the outside, the Dominion Government felt that it was imperative
that, in order to prevent lawlessness as well as to protect the
interests of Canada in respect to the area within her boundary, the
famous corps that had policed all the western frontiers should be
represented immediately in the gold regions of the far north. And it was
vitally important that a man should be sent in as officer commanding who
would be specially fitted for such an unprecedented and extraordinary
task. That man was found in the person of Inspector Charles Constantine,
and he, taking with him other picked men in Inspector D. A. E.
Strickland, Assistant Surgeon A. E. Wells, Staff-Sergeant Brown and
twenty non-commissioned officers and constables, left for their distant
field of action in the month of June. Strickland, who had done fine
service on the plains, was to be of great value in the north on account
of his knowledge of woodcraft logging, building and such like, in
addition to his regular police duties. Wells was to have his hands full,
since for some time he was, as some one said, the only doctor in a
region as large as France and had, with sometimes inadequate means, to
fight scourges of scurvy and the other diseases incident to food and
climate. The men in the detachments were experienced and hardy enough to
face anything that might turn up either in the shape of man or beast or
difficult atmospheric conditions.

Constantine had served in the Red River expedition, and then, on account
of special qualifications, had been made chief of the Provincial Police
in Manitoba, where he was a terror to evil-doers. When the second Riel
rebellion broke out and a volunteer regiment was being hurriedly raised
in Winnipeg for service in the Big Bear country, Constantine, to the
great delight of all of us who joined up with that regiment, became
Adjutant. During that campaign he was always to the fore in every crisis
and showed particular skill in rooting out men who were inciting the
Indians to revolt. One morning of dense fog away beyond Fort Pitt our
outside picket was fired on when I had charge of the guard. Calling out
the guard and getting them under arms I went over to notify the officer
commanding in the camp, but met Constantine with his forty-five ready
for action. He had scented the alarm and did not wait for notice before
getting out to see what was doing. A less keen-sighted or an excitable
man would probably have shot anyone looming up through the fog, as I did
from the direction of the shooting, but Constantine, though as quick as
a flash, always had himself in hand. After the rebellion he became an
Inspector in the Mounted Police, and had so approved himself as a
wide-awake, intelligent and courageous officer that when the Yukon
sprang up with its special demand he was appointed to be the pioneer in
that far region of the north. Of medium height but very compactly built,
Constantine was immensely strong, quick in his movements and capable of
enduring tremendous strain. If it came to a rough and tumble he was as
hard a man to handle as anyone would care to find. These qualities,
along with his mental alertness and judicial training, made him a good
man to send to a region where he had to exercise many functions until
fuller government could be established. Constantine first of all made an
investigating and exploratory trip accompanied by Staff-Sergeant Charles
Brown. Leaving Moosomin in May in obedience to orders to report in
Ottawa for special duty, Constantine received instructions to proceed to
the Yukon and make recommendations as to general administration. He
accordingly left for the north and by crossing over by the Lewes-Yukon
he reached Fort Cudahy on August 7, where he remained about a month
before returning by St. Michaels and arriving at Victoria in October. He
reported elaborately on the resources, climate and possibilities of the
whole country. This was in 1894, and in consequence of Constantine's
grasp of the situation and his talent for organization he was sent back
next year with the officers and men above indicated, arriving at Fort
Cudahy on July 24.

It was well that Strickland was a practical logger and builder, for
quarters had to be provided. It was a land of extremes, with intense
cold in the winter and equally intense heat in the summer. Constantine
speaks of an occasional 75 degrees below zero in the winter and the heat
as high as 120 degrees. In another report he writes, "The miners have a
simple method of determining when it is too cold to work by hanging a
bottle containing mercury outside the house. When it freezes it is time
to remain inside." We should rather think so. Albeit, the climate is dry
and healthy when people are prepared for it and are not found fasting
after prolonged exposure.

It was in the hot weather that Strickland and his picked men went up the
Yukon amid the heat and flies, cut down the logs and floated them to
where Fort Constantine was built before the extreme cold struck the
region. The men who stayed with Constantine had cleared the ground of
moss and brush with great effort. The moss varied from one to three feet
in depth. Below it was ice, so that the report says the men worked a
good part of the time up to their knees in water. "If it was not 90
degrees in the shade it was pouring rain." Up the river Strickland and
his men were getting out the logs as stated, but without any appliances
except their own physical strength and energy. Only men of the finest
type could have stood it, and the Inspector gives them unstinted praise.

The buildings were rushed up as stated before the winter. They were
chinked with moss and the roof covered with earth, there being no time
to saw boards to cover. All this was not so bad for the winter, but when
the spring came the men who had fought the intense cold were subjected
to another kind of hardship. Constantine says in a later report, "During
the heavy rains the roofs leaked so badly that oil sheets and tarpaulins
had to be put up over all the beds to keep them dry. The earth roofs of
this country will only absorb a certain amount of moisture and when the
limit is reached, a deluge of very dirty water is the result." Evidently
the men were not having a picnic.

However, Constantine and his detachment keep the country in order,
administer justice, collect customs due to the Dominion and generally
make conditions civilized and British. There was a time when it was
generally believed that most of the gold-bearing creeks were on the
American side of the line, but a survey made under direction of the
Police revealed the opposite to be the case and Constantine notified the
miners on Miller, Glacier and other creeks that they were on Canadian
territory, subject to British law and amenable to regulations as to
mining fees, Constantine's modesty and determination are illustrated in
one quiet paragraph, which some of us who knew him will find luminous
between the lines. He says, "A few miners denied Canada's jurisdiction
and right to collect fees on the ground that there was a possibility of
error in the survey. However, I went up to Miller and Glacier Creeks and
all dues were paid without any trouble except that of a hard trip, but
as all trips in this country are of that nature, it was part of the
bargain. On Glacier Creek a number of miners undertook to run matters in
accordance with their own ideas of justice and set themselves up as the
law of the land. The trouble ended, however, by the Canadian law being
carried out." Constantine was clearly serving notice on all and sundry
that the Mounted Police were on hand to live up to their reputation of
seeing justice done and playing no favourites. The authorities had made
no mistake when they sent him in as the pioneer.

Then he speaks in 1896 of new discoveries which began to cause the mad
rush from all parts of the world as the news percolated through to the
outside. "In August of this year a rich discovery of coarse gravel was
made by one George Carmack on Bonanza Creek, a tributary to the
Klondike. His prospect showed $3.00 to the pan." Not bad picking for
George, who became wealthy. But George's shovel and pick and pan,
clattering as he worked, awakened echoes to far distances and the wild
stampede of all kinds of people, prominently the adventurous and the
get-rich-quick class, began with a vengeance.

Constantine got ready for it, strongly recommending the establishment of
civil courts, the appointment of an administrator and law-officer and
the reinforcing of the Police so that they could be scattered up and
down the new mining areas as required. A post called Fort Herchmer,
after the Commissioner, was built at Dawson which was to become the big
centre shortly, and the Police Force was augmented by the arrival of two
small detachments under command respectively of two well-known officers,
Inspectors Scarth and Harper. And not any too soon were these
precautions taken, for Constantine lets light in on the kind of people
who began to head for the diggings when he says in his graphic way, "A
considerable number of people coming in from the Sound cities appear to
be the sweepings of the slums and the result of a general jail delivery.
Heretofore goods could be cached on the side of the trails and they
would be perfectly safe, now a man has to sit on his cache with a
shotgun to ensure the safety of his goods. Cabins in out-of-the-way
places are broken into and everything cleaned out." That was before the
newcomers realized that the Mounted Police were to the fore. Constantine
and his men kept on their track and perpetrators of ordinary offences
were astonished when they were run out of the country in order to save
food for the decent people who were willing to work without preying on
others. And the Inspector gives parting salute to the deported
individuals by saying, "Many of them could well be spared in any
community, for the rush had brought in toughs, gamblers, lewd women and
criminals of almost every type, from the petty thief to the murderer."

But Constantine gave them no quarter, and so it was that by the time the
big stampede took place into Dawson and the Creeks it had become known
far and wide that the Mounted Police would stand no nonsense. So the way
was made simpler, though not at any time a sinecure, for those who
followed the intrepid pioneers in the scarlet tunic. But coming at the
summit of an active and strenuous life, the exposure, responsibility and
general wear and tear of his Yukon years undermined the once rugged
strength of Constantine. He was transferred to the prairie after nearly
four years in the Yukon, but never fully recovered his vigour. His
leaving the Yukon had a very human side. The miners showed their
appreciation of his manly, straightforward character by crowding in and
presenting him and his wife and boy with nuggets of gold and indicating
in their diffident but genuine way that if ever any of them needed help
they could count on their Yukon friends for anything required. Which
reminds us that tribute should be paid to the wives of these policemen
who braved the wilderness places of the west and north to be helpers to
their husbands and to make their homes centres of social refining
influence where such influences were of untold value.



Inspector Cortlandt Starnes, the present efficient
Assistant-Commissioner at Ottawa Headquarters and who has done valuable
service all the way across the country from Hudson Bay to the Yukon as
well as on the plains, took over the command from Constantine and
remained in charge till the arrival of Superintendent Steele, a period
extending from June to September, 1898. Starnes, who is a short, heavily
built and powerful man, capable of enduring much hardship, had come
through in the previous winter, staying some months at Lake LaBarge and
Little Salmon, accumulating stores of goods from the coast to be taken
through in the spring to Dawson, where a shortage was impending. He had
no easy time getting over the route, he and his men only saving
themselves from wreck on Lake Bennett by throwing overboard some of
their freight. With forty below zero and everything frozen up, Starnes
had to build winter quarters at Little Salmon, and with the true
democracy of the frontier we find the officials he was escorting into
the Yukon giving a hand--Judge McGuire, Mr. F. O. Wade, Crown
Prosecutor, Dr. Bonnar and others. But early in the spring Starnes moved
on to Dawson. The rush was setting in and with Inspector F. Harper and a
few men he had to hold the place for law and order during a sort of
interregnum period. No civil courts were established till Judge McGuire
came, and to administer the law under such conditions was always trying.
But it was done. Offenders were given no rest. "Gunmen" were made
impossible and gamblers found no city of refuge in the gold country. In
three months Starnes and Harper, principally the former, tried 215
cases, these being all the way from dog-stealing (dogs were dogs in the
north), drunkenness, keeping or frequenting disorderly houses to
vagrancy, using vile language and refusing to work. If men would not
work when free they were sentenced to jail with hard labour, because
these experienced men knew that idleness is the prolific progenitor of
crime. In consequence crime never got a start in the most quickly
crowded mining camp in the world. It had been held down from the
beginning. The place had its saloons and dance hall and fools were
fleeced there as they are in older centres, but the superb strength and
incorruptibility of the Mounted Police proved too much for the lawless
element, and the whole period makes one of the proudest records in the
history of this wonderful force.

The big stampede for Dawson started in 1897-98, and to cope with the
incidentals and probably accompaniments of it, there was a whirlwind
series of movements by the Mounted Police which seemed to anticipate
every contingency, head off all manner of calamities, make provision for
protecting the boundary line against infractions of the customs
regulations, and generally see that law and order should prevail all
over the wide area that was soon teeming with a nondescript
heterogeneous population of excited gold-hunters. Two of the big men of
the Force, Superintendents A. B. Perry, a masterly organizer, and S. B.
Steele, a determined enforcer of law, were called on to go up to the
north and meet the unprecedented situation. That these two superior
officers did not shirk any of the hardships could be demonstrated from
many an instance like the following related casually by Steele as to an
incident at the outset. "At Dyea I met Perry and together we returned to
Skagway in a small sailing boat. The weather was very cold and as the
tide was out we were obliged to wade through the pools in our moccasins.
When we embarked we were soaked to the hip and our clothes were frozen
like boards." And they came that way the whole distance to Skagway,
where they got no time to change as Perry had to leave for Vancouver
that night in regard to further arrangements.

With these two from the beginning, indeed some were in the country ahead
of them, was a group of very able officers, Superintendent Z. T. Wood,
Inspectors P. C. H. Primrose, C. Starnes, F. Harper, W. H. Scarth, A. E.
Strickland, R. Belcher, A. M. Jarvis, F. L. Cartwright, Surgeons W. E.
Thompson and S. M. Fraser. Non-commissioned officers like Tucker,
Macdonnell, Barker, Bates, Graham, Hyles, Corneil and Raven were amongst
those in charge of early detachments or attached to hospital bases in
the first year of the big rush, and these with the help of as able and
resolute a body of men as ever wore uniform led the way to a new world
record for policing a country in a paternal method of oversight which
guided and controlled but never resorted to shooting. The use of the
word paternal calls to mind the way they threw a cordon around the
country to prevent at the threshold the entrance of men who were
unprepared for the hardships with either clothing or supplies or
physique. And the manner in which the Police interposed against the
madness of inexpert men who were anxious to run the White Horse Rapids
and the Miles Canyon in crazy boats on the way to Dawson was admirable
in its quiet forcefulness. A good many of these people were men and
women from offices and stores in American cities who knew boats only by
hearsay. So when Steele arrived at the Rapids he gathered the stampeders
together and said:

     "There are many of your countrymen who have said that the Mounted
     Police make the laws as they go along, and I am going to do so now
     for your own good, therefore the directions that I give shall be
     carried out strictly and they are these: Corporal Dixon, who
     thoroughly understands this work, will be in charge here and be
     responsible to me for the proper management of the passage of the
     Canyon and White Horse Rapids. No women or children will be taken
     in the boats. If they are strong enough to come to the Klondike
     they can walk the five miles of the bank to the foot of the White
     Horse and there is no danger for them here. No boat will be
     permitted to go through the Canyon until the corporal is satisfied
     that it has sufficient free board to enable it to ride the waves in
     safety. No boat will be allowed to pass with human beings in it
     unless it is steered by competent men, and of that the corporal
     will be the judge. There will be a number of pilots selected, whose
     names will be on the roll in the Mounted Police Barracks here, and
     when a crew needs a man to steer them through the Canyon to the
     foot of the rapids, pilots will be taken in turn from that list. In
     the event of the men not being able to pay, the Corporal will be
     permitted to arrange that the boats are run without charge."

Some of the impetuous who were willing to risk everything for the
glitter of gold rather demurred at this strong paternalism, but when it
was all over they thanked their stars that the Mounted Police had been
on hand to head off the folly of fools.

We have anticipated in the last paragraph in order to illustrate how the
Mounted Police guided the wild stampede. But let us get back and find
Superintendent Perry on the ground just as the rush was starting for the
passes. He made a swift trip and placed detachments of police on the
Chilcoot and White Passes, putting those reliable officers Inspectors
Belcher and Strickland in command. Up to a certain date it had almost
been taken for granted that the whole country was on the American side
as the names of Miles, the Indian fighter, and Gordon Bennett had been
given by enthusiasts to the Canyon and the lake. But when Perry put
Belcher on the Chilcoot and Strickland on the White Pass to hoist the
British flag and collect customs levies, intimation was given that the
great gold country was on the Canadian side of the line and that all who
wished to pass that way must contribute to the Dominion exchequer and
thus swell the revenue of Canada. Weather conditions were nothing less
than awful. Steele, who, with Constable Skirving, went up the Chilcoot
from Dyea where they had come on a craft which was covered from stem to
stern with six inches of ice, says, "As we proceeded up the pass we
faced a wind so cutting that we had often to make a rush for the shelter
of a tree or walk in a crouching position behind the tailboard of a
sleigh for a few minutes' respite. We overtook some on the trail next
day out of a notorious tent town known as Sheep Camp. Many of them were
staggering blindly along, with heavy loads on their backs, some of them
off the trail and groping for it with their feet. These we assisted or
they would have fallen by the way."

The same writer goes sympathetically into the following vivid
description: "It would be difficult to describe the hardships gone
through by the Mounted Police stationed at the passes. The camp at the
Chilcoot under Inspector Belcher was pitched on the summit, where it is
bounded by high mountains. A wooden cabin was erected in a couple of
days. The place where it was in the pass was only about 100 yards wide.
Below the summit, on the Canadian side, was Crater Lake, named after an
extinct volcano. On its icy surface the men were forced to camp when
they arrived. In the night of February 18 the water rose to the depth of
six inches. Blankets and bedding were wet, the temperature being below
zero with a blizzard. The tents could not be moved and the sleds had to
be taken into them to enable the men to keep above the water at night.
The storm blew for days with great violence, but on the 21st abated
sufficiently to admit of the tents being moved to the top of the hill,
where, although the cold was intense, it was better than in the
water-covered ice of Crater Lake."

"The nearest firewood was seven miles away and the men who went after it
often returned badly frost-bitten.

"Belcher, collecting customs, performing military as well as police duty
on the summit, lived in the shack, which had all the discomforts of a
shower-bath. Snow fell so thickly and so constantly that everything was
damp and paper became mildewed. For some weeks the weather was very cold
without storm, but on the 3rd of March there was a terrific day when the
snow buried the cabin and the tents on the summit, the snowfall for the
day being six feet on the level." The occupants had to shovel constantly
to keep from being suffocated.

On the White Pass Inspector Strickland and his men had to pitch tents on
the ice at first, no timber for cabins or firewood being nearer than 12
miles. Logs were cut and hauled in by horses. There were raging
blizzards and great danger constantly threatened the men, who had to be
on the alert to avoid being lost or frozen. However, on February 27 the
Union Jack flew to the breeze and collection of customs began. A strong
guard kept the trail and men were told off to examine the goods of the
stampeders. There was a tremendous rush, and Strickland, overworked and
suffering from severe bronchitis, struggled along, ably assisted by his
splendid men. An enormous amount was gathered from those who were
rushing in by thousands from the other side of the line bringing their
supplies with them.

About this time Inspector Cartwright arrived from Regina with twenty
men, and Steele, going up the White Pass with him, put him in charge,
sending Strickland to Tagish, where the dry air soon restored him to
health. It is an illuminating comment on Steele's disposition to look
after others and forget himself that he was also, as Dr. Grant said,
suffering from bronchitis which he had contracted weeks before when
wading through icy waters to a boat. But as there was no one around to
order him off duty he just kept right on, trusting that his strong
constitution would see him through.

If physical conditions were bad with storm and cold, moral conditions
from the coast to the summits were worse. The authorities on the
American side seemed to accept as a sort of axiom the statement that a
frontier had to be lawless. Anyway "Soapy Smith," a notorious gunman and
gambler, who was eventually killed by a United States Marshal who was
going to arrest him and who was killed by "Soapy" at the same time, both
firing at one moment, had, with a big gang like himself, terrorized
Skagway and the trails for months. Murders, robberies, shell games and
the rest were practised without cessation up to the Mounted Police line
on the summits, where they suddenly ceased because things of that sort
would not be tolerated for a moment. At that point the incomers put
their "guns" away and went quietly about their business. One finds it
difficult to account for this difference unless by the assumption that
immigrants into the American Republic had taken advantage of her wide
proclamation of the ideal of liberty and had abused the ideal by turning
it into licence. In this way nests of law-breakers and anarchists were
allowed too much opportunity by local officials, where in a similar case
a compact force like our Mounted Police with no local strings on them
and with intense sentiment for the honour of the whole force, never
permitted a situation to get out of hand in any locality however remote
from the centre of government.

In a preceding paragraph I mentioned the name of Dr. Grant. He is the
Rev. Dr. A. S. Grant, a Presbyterian Missionary who went in over that
White Pass trail with a pack on his back. He could stand it better than
most men, for he was a broad-shouldered and powerfully built man. Going
as a missionary he was a man of peace, but he would not allow anyone to
be imposed on in the difficult road. Hence one day when a bully elbowed
a grey-haired man roughly into the snow, Grant interposed and receiving
only insult, taught that bully a lesson he did not forget. To the credit
of the bully be it recorded he took his medicine and shook hands with
the man of peace who believed in protecting the weak.

Grant had taken a course in medicine which proved of immense value on
the trail and during the early days in Dawson. Steele says of him, "Dr.
Grant, a clergyman as well as physician, treats hundreds of sick without
remuneration. Our force owes him a heavy debt of gratitude for the way
he saved our men. More than half of those at the summit and Lake Bennett
had pneumonia but were so well treated that we lost none. I have never
seen men in such a dangerous state and it seemed impossible that they
should recover, but they were pulled through."

This same Grant when he got into Dawson started the Good Samaritan
Hospital with his own funds and became a large factor for the physical
and moral well-being of the place. And his tribute to the Mounted Police
is unstinted, for once he wrote me saying, "Canada owes to these men a
debt of lasting gratitude. A true history of the West will say much
about the self-sacrifice and heroism of this body of men. Many of their
noblest deeds will remain unknown but they will be registered in a
higher type of civilization expressed in a truer type of citizenship.
Many of these deeds will find register only in the writing of the
recording angel."

The official reports of the officers of that period as of others are
full of self-suppression. For instance, that able and unassuming officer
Superintendent Z. T. Wood, says in one place, "I received orders to take
the money of the Government in customs, licences, fees, etc., to be
deposited in the bank at Victoria. I accordingly left Bennett going out
by the Chilcoot and Dyea and took $150,000 in gold and bills. I reached
Victoria in due course and handed over the money." That is all, but in
fact it was a very dangerous journey. He had the stuff in police
kitbags, but those were the days of "Soapy Smith's" gang of ruffians.
Going from Dyea to Skagway, Wood had to threaten to fire on a boat that
was following. Soapy Smith and his toughs were on the wharf at Skagway,
but the determined bearing of Wood and his few men, together with the
presence of the crew of the C.P.R. boat _Tartar_, got them through. It
was a ticklish situation.

A word should be added here as to the famous gold escorts. The practice
was to turn the gold into ingots and send these to the coast under care
of the Mounted Police in small detachments of from two to six men. The
amounts thus carried often ran into tens of thousands and the care of
these valuable loads of gold could only be given to men of the highest
trustworthiness such as these guardians of law and order had always
proven themselves to be. Not a mite ever went missing. It is a fine
thing to quote this as a testimony that strengthens our faith in
humanity. And this splendid incorruptibility was shown by men serving
amidst difficult conditions in trails and rivers in all sorts of weather
for a mere pittance a day.

Inspector A. M. Jarvis speaks about the "continuous roar of the
snow-slides" which one would imagine to be rather disturbing music. He
relates that when he started to collect customs at Dalton cache the
first man to pay was a doctor from St. Thomas, Ontario, who had been
living in the Western States for over twenty years. "The doctor came
over, saluted the flag by taking off his hat, and said it was the first
time he had seen it on British soil in that period." Of a trip taken with
Constables Shook and Cameron on snow-shoes Jarvis says, "The snow was
soft, and despite the snow-shoes we sank deep at every step. The
following afternoon we returned to camp, having been travelling
forty-six hours without blankets and only one meal."

Inspector Cartwright, who relieved Strickland at the White Pass, gives
us a little insight into the problem of keeping warm in rather porous
canvas tents by remarking that wood cost as high as $110.00 a cord. It
was a case of supply and demand. And so in the manner recorded in this
chapter did these pioneer policemen in the Yukon possess the land in
gallantry under the Union Jack.

Meanwhile back on the prairie, the Mounted Police were alive to every
movement and much was done to save people from their own overweening
desire to get into the gold country by any route that might show
possibility of success. Thousands had gone in by the front door of the
coast and then over the passes, but a good many tried to enter by the
back door, going by Edmonton and then over the routes that had been
trodden years before by great explorers like Alexander Mackenzie and
Robert Campbell. Hence Commissioner Herchmer thought it wise to send
patrols out over this vast region of the Peace, Athabasca and Mackenzie
rivers in order to prevent the loss of any of these more or less
inexperienced gold-seekers.

The big patrol of that period was made by Inspector J. D. Moodie, who
was sent out from Edmonton on September 4, 1897, to discover the best
route for those who intended to get to the Yukon by the way of the Peace
River and then over the Mountains. Moodie was accompanied by Constable
F. J. Fitzgerald, Lafferty, Tobin and a French half-breed guide Pepin.
They went part of the way with horses, part with dogs and part with
boats. There was endless hardship through difficulty as to supplies and
transportation and this long patrol to Fort Yukon took a year and two
months. Moodie made a detailed report and his complete diary was
published. Some idea of what the patrol involved may be gathered from
the following paragraph in the report: "We arrived at Fort Graham on
January 18, and were then entirely out of supplies for men and dogs.
There was no dog-feed here and very limited supplies in the Hudson's Bay
Store. Hearing that fish could be secured from some lakes about 25 miles
away I next day sent out some of the men to fish with nets through the
ice while others tried their luck after moose. Neither, however, were
successful. I sent out in different directions to find Indian camps
which were supposed to be somewhere within 50 miles of the post. These,
however, could not be located. The dogs were almost starving, the snow
was five feet deep in the bush and no guides to be had. I had therefore
reluctantly to give up all idea of going farther till spring." In spring
a start was again made and Fort Yukon reached as stated in about
fourteen months after leaving Edmonton. Moodie's description of the
route and the difficulties was not such as to encourage anyone else to
try it. In that way the patrol did good service. For the rest of it, the
collapse of the gold rush after 1898 made it practically unnecessary.
But it demonstrated again the endurance, judgment and reliability of the
police in carrying out any duty assigned to them.

To show the thoroughness with which the country was covered by the
police in order to prevent danger and catastrophe to the rather
improvident gold-seekers, a patrol was made by Inspector (later
Assistant Commissioner) W. H. Routledge a distance of 1,100 miles or so
from Fort Saskatchewan away north to Fort Simpson. This patrol was of
value in getting into touch with many groups of "Klondikers," taking in
their mail and bringing it out and also in making known at remote points
the laws that were specially applicable to their situation. And there
was also a patrol under Inspector A. E. Snyder undertaken with a view to
seeing whether Inspector Moodie had been successful in getting forward
towards the Yukon. This patrol under Snyder went as far as Fort St. John
up near the sources of the Peace River and returned to report that
Inspector Moodie and his men had gone on to Fort Graham, whence their
way would be clear in the spring for the last lap of the long patrol as
above related.

While the Yukon was being opened up the members of the Force on the
plains and in the mountains were steadily doing their duty. They were
perhaps less in the limelight for the time being since the attention of
a good part of the world was centred on the gold country, but their
presence was equally necessary as a terror to evil-doers and an
encouragement to those that did well.

The construction of the Crows Nest Branch of the Canadian Pacific
Railway entailed a very heavy amount of work on the Mounted Police. This
came under the oversight of Inspector G. E. Sanders, who in turn was
under the nominal direction of Superintendent Deane, then in command at
Fort MacLeod. Deane had a busy time, as he had to cover about 400 miles
of front with less than 200 men, of whom as many as fifty at a time had
to be at certain construction points in British Columbia. Referring
especially to the railway part of the work Deane says, "Inspector
Sanders' report which I enclose will give a good idea of the amount of
duty devolving upon him and his men, and I beg leave to record my
opinion that it was well done. The effect of even a single mounted
policeman's personality upon a lawless mob requires to be seen to be
fully appreciated, and there were countless occasions where the
qualities of tact and readiness of resource were required to supplement
the prestige which is begotten of discipline alone."

"It would be impossible to estimate the thousands of men that have
passed hither and thither along the line during its construction. A
considerable proportion of them were entirely unsuited to the work. The
construction authorities claim that by the operation of the Alien Labour
Act they were deprived of the services of the professional railroader,
the man who travels with his outfit all over the continent from railway
to railway, and who would have made light of the difficulties of which
so much has been said. It is undeniable that many men have suffered
great hardships, but it is equally true that many of them should never
have turned their attention to railway construction. Some have never
done a day's work on the railway in their lives, and some have never
done it at all."

There was a good deal of wage dispute on the line, but Inspector Sanders
says, "As to the amount of wages received by the men and their not
having any money to send to their families in the east, it was very
noticeable to me that the men who complained most drank most." This
needs no comment.

It is interesting to note here the outside opinion of the "Fort Steele
Prospecter" as contained in an editorial in that paper in February,
1898. After giving a general description of the mixed class of men on
the road it says, "The crimes along the road, however, are surprisingly
small, considering the vicious element which comprises the contingent of
camp followers" in the way of whisky sellers, gamblers and disorderly
characters. "This happy state of affairs is due to the innate fear of
Canadian justice and the scrupulous surveillance of the efficient corps
of the North-West Mounted Police into whose hands the enforcement of law
is committed. No one can travel over the line without a feeling of
admiration for the system which can produce such excellent results, the
absolute security of life and property in a region infested by rogues
and adventurers from every clime." Sanders agrees that hosts of men had
taken up work to which they were wholly unaccustomed. A lot of men were
happy when handling an axe, but the pick and shovel had a saddening
effect on them. And Sanders is in keeping with the general habit of the
Police when he says, "We tried our utmost to have the real grievances of
the men settled, and my representations to the general manager of
construction always met with prompt attention." So they should, for they
would be fair and just.

Inspector Howe, who was in charge in 1898 at Regina, had a wire from
Boston about a man who had robbed the merchants of that æsthetic city of
large sums of money. The man was supposed then on the train heading
towards Regina. Howe sent a sergeant to Qu'Appelle, who boarded the
suspected train and located his quarry in a Pullman compartment, which
was locked. The man within, who was accompanied by a lady, would not
open the door. At next station a Mounted Police constable got on board
and the two men in scarlet uniform smashed the door. The woman
threatened to blow their brains out, but failed. The runaway couple had
the money and bonds, and after due process went back to Boston to serve
a term.

Inspector Howe tells rather a rich story of a Police Inspector in
Montana who apologized profusely to Howe for not answering by wire a
telegram in which Howe had notified the said Montana Inspector of the
whereabouts of a man much desired by the Police in that State. The
Montana Inspector writes, "I handed my deputy a telegram and told him to
send it off to you at once. He went out to send it but was shot dead,
and this morning the coroner handed the telegram to me. It had never
been sent, so you will see I am not altogether to blame." Howe
considered the excuse valid, but the estimate of the value of human life
in Montana it disclosed did not suit the ideas of a Mounted Policeman.



In the report of Superintendent Cotton for the year of the big Yukon
stampede there is related one of the many incidents which indicated that
on the plains the Mounted Police were keeping up to their record for
initiative and daring, even though their work was less in the limelight
than the spectacular world rush to the Yukon furnished. It seems that
some months before the date of the report a prisoner named Nelson,
sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a serious offence, escaped by
jumping from a train on the way to the Manitoba Penitentiary from
Regina. Constable Clisby, who was on duty at Saskatoon, was notified by
wire from Dundurn station, and at once took up the recapture. The
Saskatoon ferry was out of order, so he could not use it. But he was not
to be deterred from the pursuit of a criminal by a trifle like that, or
he would not have been up to the Mounted Police standard in resource and
inventive capacity. So, as the river was impassable in the ordinary way,
Clisby commandeered a railway hand-car, and possibly nailed an extra
plank or two upon it. Then he got his troop-horse to climb up and stand
upon it, while this strong-armed constable took hold of the
"pump-handle" and worked his way across the trestle railway bridge many
feet above the surging river. One can easily see what a desperate risk
this was to take in cold blood. The big bronco had been broken enough
for use on the solid earth by an expert. But to venture into the air
with a semi-wild horse, which by any movement of fright at the unusual
experience might upset the whole outfit into the river, was about as
daring an experiment as anyone could try. But the strange transport got
safely over, and Clisby, shaking out that bronco into a long gallop,
found his man in the home of a settler, engaged in filing off the
leg-iron in order to be able to get away more swiftly. Of course the
prisoner was gathered in, as was also the settler who had loaned the
file and was standing by watching the interesting process. The peculiar
thing was that when the settler, who had given the escaping prisoner the
file and stood by to see him use it to make his escape more certain, was
brought up before two magistrates for helping a prisoner to elude his
sentence, these sapient administrators of law dismissed the charge. This
miscarriage of justice so disgusted both the constable and his
superintendent that in, contemplation of it they seemed to forget the
astonishing feat with the hand-car. But we dig it up proudly from the
old report. It is in keeping with this desire on the part of the Mounted
Police to see justice meted out to the guilty for the protection of
society that we find them impatient with legal technicalities which
freed the guilty, or the views of any legally constituted body which
headed off further investigation into what was possibly serious crime.
And this remark is made at this point, because I come across a report in
which a Mounted Police Superintendent, while not openly complaining,
thinks it worth while to call attention to a Coroner's jury which, after
inquest in the case of a man who had been found dead with his neck
broken, brings in the unexpected verdict that the man died by the
visitation of God. The fact that the Superintendent simply states the
matter without note or comment indicates pretty clearly his opinion of
the intelligence of that jury. It recalls the case of the famous
frontier judge, Sir Mathew Begbie, of British Columbia, who is said to
have been much disgusted and amazed when a jury acquitted a prisoner
whom the evidence clearly indicated had sand-bagged an innocent citizen.
The judge had no option but to discharge the notorious character whom
the jury of his peers had exonerated. "You may go," said the indignant
judge, "but it seems to me that you would be doing good service to this
country if you sand-bagged every man on that jury."



While the gold-rush of which we have been writing was at its height in
the Yukon there were rumblings of conflict on the dark continent where
Paul Kruger, the grim old President of the Boer Republic, was getting
ready to launch a war which he said would "stagger humanity." The
trouble had been brewing for some years. Many thousands of British men
were in the Transvaal, developing its resources, adding to its wealth
and doing everything for its upbuilding but without the privileges of
citizenship. And these British men were agitating for representation in
addition to the taxation they already enjoyed for the benefit of the
Boers. It is doubtful whether Canadians generally took much trouble to
investigate these questions of franchise and suzerainty, which have
always had two sides up for discussion. Canada was willing to trust the
judgment of British statesmen on the subject, and when Britain is at war
Canada is not disposed to stand back. Conan Doyle probably sensed the
situation when he wrote the stirring lines:

      "Who's that calling?
    The old sea-mother calls
    In her pride at the children that she bore
      'Oh, noble hearts and true
      There is work for us to do,
    And we'll do it as we've done it oft before
      Under the flag,
      Under the flag our fathers bore.'"

There had been a swift sting, too, in a certain telegram sent by the
Kaiser of Germany congratulating Kruger on the failure of the raid under
Doctor Jamieson, for "Doctor Jim" was a popular idol. And the rather
crude but strong lines of a music-hall song had percolated to the
outposts of Empire:

    "Hands off, Germany; hands off, all.
    Kruger boasts and Kaiser brags.
    Britons, hear the call.
    It's back to back around the world
    And answer with a will;
    It's England for her own, my boys,
    And Rule Britannia still."

So the "sons of the Blood" began to foregather from the ends of the

And when cavalry units were desired from Canada the Mounted Police got a
certain degree of opportunity. We put it in that way because for reasons
known to the Dominion Government there was always necessity for keeping
the larger part of the corps in Canada. They could not be allowed to
enlist in a body for any war, and men who had special grasp of the
problems at home could not be spared to go abroad. Nothing can be gained
for the Empire through losing ground at home in efforts to gain it
abroad. And this applied to both the Boer War and the recent Great War,
in so far as the Mounted Police were concerned. At the Boer War period,
we had the Yukon rush, which meant an extraordinary mob of desperate
characters to deal with, in addition to the problems ensuing from large
immigration into the Middle West. And at the period of the Great War,
there was a singularly elusive but definitely pronounced tendency to
destructive revolution in various parts of Canada, which only a corps
with the great prestige of the Mounted Police could successfully meet
with firmness and tact. The undisciplined violence which raw forces
might use in such a restless, mutinous period, would work positive harm
to the whole Dominion. Hence we could not on either occasion let the
whole Force go abroad.

But on both occasions some opportunity was given to a certain number of
officers and men, the main difficulty being, as the Commissioner said,
"not who would go, but who _must_ stay at home." However, in the Boer
War the Mounted Police furnished, most being on the active roll, but
some ex-members, nearly 300 officers and men to the Canadian Mounted
Rifles, Strathcona's Horse, South African Constabulary, and other corps.
Their identity was lost by merging them with various units, but,
nevertheless, they did conspicuous and distinctive service. It is no
reflection on those with whom they were merged to say that the special
qualities which came from years of discipline and esprit de corps, as
well as the decided initiative which their training on the frontier
always developed, gave the Police a place of peculiar influence and
prominence on the veld. And this was true of ex-members of the Force who
served in various corps. There was "Charlie" Ross, for instance, whom I
recall meeting at Battleford in Riel's day as the Mounted Police scout
who seemed to bear a charmed life, and who did much to save the
situation in the fight with Poundmaker at Cutknife Hill. Ross went to
South Africa as a sort of free lance, but he joined up with a scout
body, and so distinguished himself that he was permitted to form a corps
of his own which, as Ross's Scouts, did some dashing service. All the
Western Canadians gave a good account of themselves. They were not
strong on the fine points of military etiquette, and sometimes offended
by failing to recognize and salute officers in strange uniforms. They
were rather restive in barracks, and did not take kindly to the life in
Cape Town, but they were at home when in the saddle on really active
duty, and got their full share of it before the war was over. Their
presence on the veld and their effective work won high praise from such
high-class officers as Sir Redvers Buller, Lord Dundonald, Lord
Kitchener and, later on, in London, "the first gentleman of Europe,"
King Edward himself.

A thoroughly characteristic story is told by several writers about a
C.M.R. man who had been a cowboy and "bronco-buster" in Alberta. An
Imperial Regiment, under General Hutton, was bewailing the fact that
they had a magnificent black Australian horse, a regular outlaw so
vicious and powerful that none of their men could handle, much less ride
him, and they were quite sure that no one else could, so that the animal
might as well be shot. One of the C.M.R. officers who was present said
some men in his troop could ride, and he would ask them about it. He
went over and several of them volunteered, but they settled amongst
themselves that Billy should tackle the situation. Next morning was the
time fixed, and Billy, in cowboy costume, carrying his own trusty saddle
and a quirt, sauntered over to the spot careless-like, and not knowing
the insignia of rank very well, walked up to an Imperial officer in gold
lace, and prodding him jocularly with the quirt, said, "Where is the
black son of a gun that you say can't be rid?" The officer looked amazed
at being so accosted, but, like a good sport, laughed and ordered the
horse to be turned loose. Billy's friends promptly lassoed the "waler,"
hogtied and saddled him in a hurry. Billy was in the saddle when the
snorting animal was on his feet. The horse put up a game fight, bucking,
kicking, biting, "swapping ends," and doing everything else that a
thinking bronco can indulge in to get rid of his rider. But Billy
enjoyed it. He banged the horse over the head with his big hat, smote
him with the quirt, and used the spurs, till the mad animal raced in
fury a mile or two, only to come back with froth down to the hooves. But
Billy had him under thorough control, quiet enough to eat out of his
hand. And when Billy pulled off the saddle he remarked casually to the
astonished officers who had expected an inquest over him, "Out in my
country that hoss would cut no figure, for out there we can ride
anything with legs under it, even if it is a consarned centipede." The
Canadian Mounted Rifles 1st, 2nd and 5th, had some 220 officers and men
of the Mounted Police, while Strathcona's Horse had only some forty or
so, though the rest were men accustomed to the kind of irregular warfare
they found on the veld. The fact that Strathcona's Horse was raised,
equipped and wholly paid for out of the private purse of Lord
Strathcona, the only case in the Empire during the war, gave that corps
a unique place in the public eye. Lord Strathcona, who was a member of
the House of Lords and High Commissioner for Canada, placed it in
command of Superintendent Sam B. Steele, a widely known officer,
entertained the corps lavishly both before and after the war, fitted it
out as no other regiment was equipped, brought the officers and men into
contact with Royalty, kept it more or less in touch with the Associated
Press--and all of this tended to put this regiment more in the limelight
than others from Canada. This, of course, did not make their task any
easier, but rather the contrary, since any failure on their part would
have been quickly known. As a matter of history they did their part in
such a way as to bring the utmost credit to all concerned. The corps was
officered by highly capable men. The Mounted Police officers, serving in
Strathcona's Horse were: Superintendent S. B. Steele (in command),
Inspectors R. Belcher, A. E. Snyder, A. M. Jarvis, D. M. Howard, F. L.
Cartwright and F. Harper: included also were, Ex-Inspector M. H.
White-Fraser, Sergt.-Major W. Parker and Staff-Sergt. H. D. B. Ketchen.
The two last named were granted commissions in the Army and Colonial
Forces. The commissions of the other officers of this corps were all in
the Imperial service. Strathcona's Horse took part in many major
engagements, did much scout and patrol work, and one of the Mounted
Police serving in it, Sergeant A. H. L. Richardson, on July 5, 1900, won
the highest of all the decorations for valour, the Victoria Cross. At a
hot engagement in the village of Wolvespruit the odds were so heavy
against our men that they were given the order to retire. One of our
dismounted men, wounded in two places, lay on the field, and Sergeant
Richardson, seeing his plight, rode back and brought him in, although
exposed to a warm cross-fire at close range, and despite the fact that
Richardson's horse was so badly wounded that he could only go at a slow
pace. It was a very gallant action.

When at the close of the main part of the war the South African
Constabulary was formed, Steele, of the Strathcona's, was appointed its
Colonel, and much "mopping up" was done in the pursuit of irregular Boer
bands. Inspector Scarth, Constables C. P. Ermatinger, and J. G. French
were given commissions. For their service with the 2nd and 5th C.M.R.,
Inspectors John Taylor, Demers, Sergt.-Major J. Richards, Sergt.-Major
F. Church, Sergeant Hillian, Sergeant H. R. Skirving, Constables A. N.
Bredin and J. A. Ballantyne were also granted commissions.

I have mentioned certain circumstances which set Strathcona's Horse more
in the public eye than the Canadian Mounted Rifles, in which the
majority of the North-West Mounted Police served, but the latter took a
part in the war which involved much hard fighting, and did much to
enhance the prestige of Canadian soldiers, whose service abroad up to
that time had not been in military units. The North-West Mounted Police
officers who joined the various units of the C.M.R. and received
commissions in the Militia were: (2nd C.M.R.) Lieut.-Colonel L. W.
Herchmer (the then Commissioner of the Police, who commanded the
battalion), Superintendent J. Howe, Inspector A. G. Macdonnell
(afterwards in command of 5th C.M.R.), Inspector J. D. Moodie, Inspector
J. V. Begin, Inspector T. A. Wroughton, Superintendent G. E. Sanders,
Inspector A. E. R. Cuthbert, Inspector H. J. A. Davidson, Inspector
F. L. Cosby (Adjutant), Inspector M. Baker (Quartermaster), Inspector
J. B. Allan, and Veterinary Officer Lieut. R. Riddell. These officers
and the men they commanded were intent upon their duties, and such able
soldiers as General Hutton, General Lord Methuen, and others, gave them
unstinted praise for their work in the Orange Free State and their
advance guard work on the march to Pretoria, under Lord Roberts, who was
greatly impressed by their ability in scouting and patrol work.

It fell to the lot of that able and popular officer, Superintendent
(Major) G. E. Sanders, to show on two special occasions, with small
detachments against large odds, the mettle of the North-West Mounted
Police. Near Middleburg, when Sanders with 125 men was guarding the
railway, he was attacked by a considerable force of the enemy with
artillery. A hurry call for reinforcements was issued, but before they
came the Canadians had beaten the Boers back, Major Sanders and
Lieutenant Moodie, as well as some of their men, being wounded in the
determined resistant fight. Two months later, Sanders, with a handful of
sixty men, formed the advance guard for General Smith-Dorien's column,
but his guide missed the way and all of a sudden Sanders and his men,
completely out of touch with the General's column, came in contact with
a larger force of the enemy. The rifle fire of the enemy was very heavy,
but the handful of Canadians held on till orders came from the General
to retire. While they were retiring Corporal Schell's horse was killed,
and the corporal was hurt by the horse falling on him. Sergeant Tryon
most gallantly gave his own horse to Schell and himself continued on
foot. And then Major Sanders, taking in the situation at a glance,
galloped to the assistance of Tryon, whom he endeavoured to take before
him on the saddle. It was a splendid effort, but, as Sanders endeavoured
to lift Tyron, the saddle cinch slipped, the saddle turned to the side
of the horse, and both men fell heavily to the ground. Sanders was
stunned somewhat by the fall, but pulling himself together ordered the
Sergeant to make for cover and he would follow. But a Boer sharpshooter
dropped Sanders wounded in his tracks. Then another fine thing took
place. Lieutenant Chalmers, a former Mounted Policeman also, who had led
one wing of the advance guard, wheeled his horse and spurred to the help
of Sanders, but he was unable to move him alone, and started for the
firing line. The Boer sharpshooter was still abroad and, turning his
attention to Chalmers, shot that brave officer, who fell mortally
wounded from his horse. Major Sanders and Tryon were both rescued by a
rush of reinforcements, and the Major is still doing effective service
for the country as Magistrate in Calgary. It would seem to an onlooker
that the decoration "for valour" should have been awarded to Sanders for
his gallant and dangerous endeavour to rescue Tryon, and in a posthumous
way to Chalmers, who sacrificed his life in the effort he made to save
his superior officer. One recalls in this connection the similar action
of former Inspector Jack French, whom I recall well as a stranger to
fear, who at Batoche rushed in on foot and carried the wounded body of
Constable Cook in his powerful arms from the fire zone to a place of
safety. Many of the sacrificial deeds of men are unheralded.

Officially, the officers and men of the North-West Mounted Police who
served in the Boer War, were noted as on leave from their own corps, and
therefore their services to the Empire are not recorded in the Police
reports. But Commissioner Perry, in this particular case, gives in his
annual report an extract from Militia orders, in which Lord Roberts
wires the War Office: "Smith-Dorien stated Major Sanders, Captain
Chalmers, behaved with great gallantry rear-guard action, November 2."
To this the Commissioner adds: "I greatly lament the untimely but
glorious death of the gallant Chalmers, with whom I had not only served
as an officer in this corps, but also as a cadet in the Royal Military

And then the Commissioner expresses this well-grounded opinion: "I
regret much that the identity of the Force was lost in South Africa. The
North-West Mounted Police are well known beyond the bounds of Canada.
And I would like that it had been known to the world as one of the corps
which had taken part in the South African War. With but few exceptions
all ranks were willing to go, and it was not a question of who would go,
but who must stay at home." This is well and wisely expressed. If ever
there should be another war, which we hope not, unless absolutely
unavoidable, Canada should strive to have her units kept intact.
Destruction of identity leads to destruction of great traditions to
which men should be true, and to the loss of the esprit de corps and
_noblesse oblige_ elements, which go so far to creating unconquerable

At the end of the war, in addition to the Victoria Cross won by Sergeant
Richardson, as already related, the following honours, gained by members
of the North-West Mounted Police while on service in South Africa, were
announced in general orders:

_To be Companion of the Bath and Member of the Victoria Order, 4th

Superintendent S. B. Steele, Lieut.-Colonel commanding Lord Strathcona's

_To be Companions of the Order of St. Michael and St. George:_

Inspector R. Belcher, Major 2nd in command, Canadian Mounted Rifles.
Inspector A. C. Macdonnell, Captain Canadian Mounted Rifles.
Inspector F. L. Cartwright, Captain Lord Strathcona's Horse.

_Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal:_

Sergeant J. Hynes, Sergt.-Major Lord Strathcona's Horse.
Sergt.-Major Richards, Sqd. Sergt.-Major Lord Strathcona's Horse.
Constable A. S. Waite, Private Canadian Mounted Rifles.

The conclusion of the Boer War, with the additional service in the South
African Constabulary, marked the transference of Colonel Sam B. Steele
from the North-West Mounted Police to the Militia service of Canada, as
he was appointed to the command of Military District No. 13, with
headquarters at Calgary, though later he took over Military District No.
10, with headquarters at Winnipeg. He was one of the "originals" of the
Police, joining up in 1873, and became one of the distinctive and
picturesque figures in the famous Frontier Force. Capable of an enormous
amount of work in a given time, he had never spared himself in efforts
for the country and for the Force. He had large gifts as an
administrator, as well as a fighter and enforcer of law, and these he
placed unstintedly at the disposal of his generation. When he left the
Police Force and accepted service in the Canadian Militia, he did much
to recognize existing work and establish new units. When the Great War
broke out he offered his services at once, and while waiting for
overseas service he was intent on recruiting all over Canada. He went
over in command of the Second Contingent from Canada, but the tremendous
strain of his forty years of service began to tell on his once powerful
physique, and to his deep disappointment he was prevented from leading
his men in the field. In recognition of his services to the Empire he
received Knighthood and a Major-Generalship, which represented a long
and strenuous road travelled up from the ranks. He died in England while
the war was still raging, and a funeral service in London was attended
by a great number of people prominent in the world of affairs. But his
body was brought back to Canada, the land he loved so well, and was
buried with full military honours in Winnipeg, the city to which he had
come long years before as a soldier under Wolseley.

It is not generally known that, though he had not been in the Force for
nearly twenty years, one of his last acts was the writing of an
earnestly worded and, under the circumstances, a pathetic letter, to Sir
Robert Borden, Premier of Canada, then in London, pleading for the full
recognition of the military standing of the Mounted Police in Canada. In
that letter he recounts out of his own recollection the history of the
corps in which he had served from the outset for some thirty years. He
recalls the work they had done as a military force on what was really
active service all through the years, points out the high military
qualifications of the men who were officers in the corps, as well as the
uniformly high type of men in all ranks, to the large contributions the
Mounted Police had made to the Empire in wars abroad, and spoke of the
heavy responsibility resting upon the Force in the Dominion. He said: "I
question whether the present command of Canadians overseas in England is
equal to the great responsibility held by the Commissioner of the
Mounted Police and his Assistant in Canada." The letter asks the Premier
to do certain things for the officers and men, the effect of which would
be to give them equal rights with members of the permanent Militia Force
in respect of titles, decorations and general standing. And the result
of the requests, if granted, would be to place the Mounted Police in the
same position as the Militia in regard to medals, pensions and land
grants, a matter of great interest and importance to the members of the
Force. There is something very fine in this personal endeavour of "Sam"
Steele, who, with many anxieties and responsibilities of his own at the
time, made a serious appeal to obtain what he considered the rights of
the comrades with whom he had shared hardships and dangers all over the
vast North-West of Canada. A copy of this letter of Steele's, which was
occasioned by changes then taking place in the Police organization, came
into my possession from a private source, but it is not a confidential
document, and is published here in recognition of the enduring loyalty
of this sturdy old soldier to his companions, the veteran riders of the
plains. They richly deserve the recognition for which he pleaded.

And we cannot turn over the page of the Boer War and leave it in history
without recalling that a few pages above reference was made to the fact
that Canada had gone into the war more because she had faith in the
judgment of the statesmen of Britain, whose life-long training and
world-vision inspire confidence in their decisions, than because she had
studied out the situation at first hand. British statesmen have made
mistakes here and there, but since the tragic day when through ignorance
of the situation they failed to recognize the rights of British
colonists on the American continent to have a voice in the government of
the country, they have not erred by refusing their Dominions overseas
the privilege of governing themselves where they have proved their
capacity for so doing. But there was a bold and world-startling faith
manifested when they granted self-government to the Boers within a short
time after the war ended. True, these same statesmen had led up to it by
the ministry of reconciliation exercised by the high-souled Kitchener
with a Canadian Mounted Policeman, Colonel Steele, a noted
administrator, as Chief of the South African Constabulary. And these and
others who worked with them to remove bitterness and misunderstanding
from the minds of the conquered Boers had supporting evidence of
good-will on the part of the conquerors in the fact that our soldiers
had acted chivalrously in the enemy's country during the years of war,
so that no woman or child in all that region was ever knowingly hurt or
molested. All this with the gift of responsibility transformed our
gallant enemies into loyal friends who stood by us splendidly in the
recent war, and who contributed to the councils of the Empire in a
critical hour the magnificent ability and statesmanship of Botha, Smuts
and others.

Meanwhile, in the homeland here in Canada, the steadfast, unflinching
and imperturbable Mounted Police were doing their duty just as
pronouncedly as their comrades on the veld. They had practically all
wanted to go if required, but the Government had interposed and, as we
have already quoted, it was not a question of who should go, but who
_must_ stay at home. And they were greatly needed here, for nothing is
gained by consolidating the Empire abroad if we allow it to disintegrate
right under our eyes and around our own threshold. The Pax
Britannica--the orderliness of British rule--had to be preserved in the
vast spaces of the North and West of Canada. Thousands of potentially
lawless men were surging through our mining country in the Yukon,
challenging Canadian administration with the dictum that huge frontier
mining camps had necessarily to be outlaw regions where every man did
that which was right in his own eyes. And it became the duty of the
Mounted Police to back the administration of law, to answer the
challenge of lawless men, and to prove to them and to the world that the
dictum above quoted was a lie in so far as Canada was concerned. And
these intrepid men in the scarlet tunic did their duty so well that the
world learned a new lesson by seeing policemen preserving order without
killing anyone where it could be avoided, even at the cost of their own
lives. The Mounted Police know how to use their "guns," but they never
in all their history degenerated into "gun-men."

And, in addition to policing the Yukon mining country, these few hundred
men had to guard human life and property in the immense stretches of the
Middle West where, into a country larger than several European kingdoms,
tens of thousands were pouring in a tidal wave of immigration. From the
ends of the earth these immigrants were coming, hosts of them, alien in
race and tongue, as well as in religion and morals--people who had lax
ideas as to the sacredness of human life and the sanctity of home. They,
too, must be taught to keep the peace, and to become loyal to the
institutions of the free land where they had sought asylum from
despotism and oppression. And nothing but consummate tact, endless
patience along with unvarying coolness and courage, enabled the men of
the old corps successfully to meet this unprecedented situation.

Besides, all that great north country had to be patrolled hither and
thither into the circle under the shadow of the Pole itself. Wherever
the flag flew, Indians and Esquimaux, as wards of the nation, had to be
protected against the dangers of famine, the inroads of sickness, as
well as from the exploitation of unscrupulous men. And they, too, had to
be taught the sacredness of human life, as well as the rights of private
ownership, in order that no loose ideas about property should prevail in
the land. Few things, if any, in the history of the Empire equal the
hardiness, the courage and endurance manifested in the great patrols of
the Police into the ice-bound regions of the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas
of Canada. For years the explorers who have searched for the Poles have
been the heroes of many a story of thrilling influence on the minds of
readers. One would not detract an iota from the achievements of these
gallant adventurers. But for the most part they were equipped and
outfitted abundantly with everything that money could buy in order that
all requirements and emergencies could be met as they arose, and their
expeditions were few throughout the years. The Mounted Police, on the
other hand, were incessantly at this work, not in parties and highly
equipped, but in twos and threes and sometimes singly, with nothing
beyond their winter and summer uniforms and dependent largely on their
own efforts for food, as they were not possessed of the means of
carrying any large quantity. Many of these men probably said, as
Inspector F. H. French recorded in his diary during the famous Bathurst
Inlet patrol, of which we shall read later: "Have had no solid food for
two days, and every one is getting weak; dogs are dropping in their
harness from weakness. This looks like our last patrol." Only a brave
man could write down words like that, and it detracts nothing from the
splendid courage of him and his men that the words were not long written
when providentially some deer were sent across their path and saved
these men for future work. These men who went out on patrol only gave
the barest outline of their experience in the reports which they had to
make to their superior officers, and through them to Ottawa, but those
who know the country could read between the lines and feel the thrill of
admiration and wonder. And these same officers, when not on the
particular patrol they were commenting upon, paid unstinted praise to
their men in their own reports, but even these reports were buried in
the mass of material in the Department, so that the public did not see
them. But once in a while we get hold of some comment, as when
Superintendent Perry referred to one patrol and said "nothing greater
had been done in the annals of Arctic exploration." Or when Inspector
Sanders referred to the leader of another patrol and said his action
"was in keeping with his brave and manly character." And I like the way
in which Superintendent A. E. C. Macdonnell, with some manifest
diffidence, introduced into a report from Athabasca Landing the
following quotation from the _Toronto Star_:

     "The world takes a lively interest in Polar expeditions, but Canada
     supports a Northern Police patrol of which very little is heard,
     and the journeyings of some of these men is quite as daring as
     anything connected with searches for the North or South Pole. They
     contend with the same conditions, are inexpensively equipped, and,
     as a rule, succeed in all that they undertake. A sheet or two of
     foolscap, giving to the Department at Ottawa an official report of
     their travels and observations, is the only record that survives.
     And very few ever read these records, although they sometimes
     thrill those who do read them."

One other important duty fell to the lot of these Policemen in the home
country, and reference has been made to it in the earlier pages, namely,
the self-imposed duty of becoming builders of the country by making
known the resources of all its various parts. And when they made known
the resources of the country they, without any gain therefrom
themselves, protected those who came in to develop them. Sometimes they
had to protect these people against themselves. In the Yukon gold rush
the Police threw a cordon around the entrances to the mining country and
prevented foolhardy, unfit and unequipped men and women, crazed with the
gold lust, from venturing a journey which would have meant their falling
frozen by the wayside or being lost in the angry rapids, which even the
inexperienced were ready in their ignorance to essay. These gold-seekers
were allowed to go in when they were prepared or when they were under
the care of men of experience. Similarly, at the time of this writing,
the Police in the Athabasca, Peace and Mackenzie areas are guarding the
ways to the reported oil fields of the North, so that the unfit in their
wild desire for reaching oilfields may not perish in the midwinter,
whose rigours they do not understand.

Yes, the Mounted Police, few and scattered in detachments, from the
Great Lakes to the Yukon, and from the boundary line to the Pole, had
enormous responsibilities at home, while many of their fellow-citizens
were abroad in the Boer War. And the man who was Commissioner of the
Police during that period had a burden to carry which only those who
knew the situation can estimate. That man was Superintendent A. Bowen
Perry, who succeeded Colonel Lawrence Herchmer in August, 1900, but who,
from the time of the big gold stampede into the Yukon, had largely the
direction of things there, and had taken over the command personally at
Dawson City when Steele left there in the fall of 1899. Colonel
Herchmer, who had been Commissioner from 1886, was an able and
conscientious officer. He had gone over to the Boer War in command of
the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, but had to come back on sick leave,
when he retired also from the Commissionership. From the date of
Herchmer's appointment to the Canadian Mounted Rifles to Perry's
accession to the Commissionership of the Police, the command of the
latter body had been ably held and administered by Assistant
Commissioner McIlree. Colonel McIlree, who retired from the Force a few
years ago, and whose services won the recognition of the Imperial
Service Order, was one of the original men of the corps, having joined
at the outset in 1873. He had, therefore, a long record of highly
important and creditable service when he retired in 1911, after
thirty-seven years on the frontier.

[Illustration: REV. R.G. MACBETH, M.A.]

[Illustration: GROUP, N.W.M.P., TAGISH POST. YUKON.]

When Perry returned from the Yukon (where he was succeeded by that fine
officer, Superintendent, later Assistant Commissioner, Z. T. Wood) and
assumed the Commissionership he faced an exceedingly difficult
situation. The Force was seriously depleted both in men and horses by
the inroads made upon it by the war. And at the same time the work, as
above outlined, was growing by leaps and bounds. True, recruits were
being obtained and new horses were being purchased, but every one knows
that it takes time and training to get a depleted force up to proper
strength again. But the new Commissioner had a genius for organizing and
handling men, and, as he had been away in the Yukon for a period, one of
the first things he now did was to visit the prairie detachments, study
the whole and map out a policy for the future. Conditions in the country
with rapidly changing development as well as in the Force, owing to
demands upon it, required a sort of re-creating of the famous corps, as
well as a new disposition of it to meet the new times. And Commissioner
Perry, with a great faculty for swift, decisive action, and a gift for
attracting the cooperative efforts of his officers and men, was the type
to undertake the task and succeed. Now, for a score of years he has
directed the movements of the Force, meeting the extraordinary and
unexpected situations which arise in a country that is a sort of
melting-pot of the nations. A polyglot population, a babel not only of
tongues but of ideals, the rise of new social conditions, the presence
of agitators and mischief-makers who are experts in setting men against
each other in opposing classes, the coming of destructive agents whose
theories have made some old world countries into ramshackle wrecks, the
persistence of the elements of lawlessness with outbreaks here and
there--all these and much more have marked the unprecedented history of
these years in this last new country in the world. And Canada, perhaps,
will never fully realize the debt she owes to this quiet, gentlemanly,
resolute man, who is a student as well as a soldier, and whose strong
hand has been in constant evidence in controlling, guiding and guarding
the interests of a country larger than half a dozen European kingdoms.

When Perry took charge, the Force, outside those at the war, numbered
some 750 men. These were distributed so as to give about 500 to the
oversight of the vast Middle West and the balance to the Yukon. The men
in the Middle West prairie section were scattered in over seventy
detachments all the way from Southern Manitoba to Fort Chipewyan in the
far North, a distance of over 2,000 miles, while in the Yukon the
distance between the most southerly outposts and the farthest North was
over 500 miles. Anyone who knows the country can realize the task of men
who had to look after such an enormous area, when their number meant
that one or two men would sometimes have to exercise control over
districts many miles in extent. These men had to be constantly in the
saddle or on the trail with dog-train. Verily Captain Butler's early
suggestion as to organization of the Police, that the men sent out
should be a "mobile force," was being amply vindicated as a good one to
meet the necessities of a new land. And that the new Commissioner was
looking ahead is evidenced by such clauses in his first report as "The
great countries of the Peace, Mackenzie and Athabasca Rivers are
constantly requiring more men. I am sending an officer to Fort
Saskatchewan to take command of that portion of the territory." Later he
says: "The operation of foreign whalers at the mouth of the Mackenzie
will ere long require a detachment to control their improper dealings
with the natives and control the revenue." And in due course they were

In that first report Perry indicates that "the Force should be entirely
re-armed." A lot of the men had obsolete arms, and the Commissioner
insists that "if the corps is to be armed it ought to be well armed." He
suggests a change from the heavy stock saddle and accoutrements thereof,
claiming that with some 46 lbs. on his back before the rider mounted,
the horse had a right to ask: "Why this heavy burden?" And he speaks of
necessary changes in harness, transports and uniforms. He discusses the
question of the kind of horses required, even to the colour, and
indicates ranges of country where horses can be bred that are "strong in
the hindquarters." Quite evidently the new Commissioner had his eye on
everything, and intended to have the corps equipped up to the limit of
efficiency and comfort. He was going to speak out in the interests of
his men and horses, too. For a mounted corps must have regard to both if
the maximum of usefulness is to be attained.

The reports of officers in the Middle West for that year,
Superintendents Deane of MacLeod, Griesbach of Fort Saskatchewan,
Moffatt of Maple Creek, Inspector Wilson of Calgary, Strickland of
Prince Albert, and Demers of Battleford, all indicate a good deal of
cattle-stealing, the most of which, of course, was near the American
boundary line, where outlaws from both sides dodged backwards and
forwards in efforts to escape the authorities on either side, who
co-operated and generally got these robbers in hold, But Deane felt that
the ranchers themselves should exercise a little more intelligent
interest, instead of leaving everything to the Police, who were few in
numbers, and none of whom could be in more than one place at a time.
Referring to the case of a man who had bought some cattle and had left
them unbranded and unwatched in the pasture whence they disappeared in
the night, Deane says, "Daly became very indignant, and has talked
freely about bringing an action against the Mounted Police, but whether
for allowing him to lose his beasts or for failing to find them I know
not." However, Mr. Daly evidently concluded that he had no case against
the Police, for he is not heard from again.

Up in the Yukon that year, as already mentioned, Superintendent Z. T.
Wood was in command of the territory, with Inspector Courtlandt Starnes
in charge at Dawson, and Superintendent P. C. H. Primrose at White
Horse, and Assistant Surgeon Fraser on Dalton Trail. Besides these
officers there were Inspectors J. A. McGibbon, W. H. Routledge, W. H.
Scarth, A. E. C. McDonnell, as well as Assistant Surgeons Pare, Madore
and Hurdman.

It was a time of general and reasonably stable prosperity, as evidenced
by the fact that the men in Starnes' Division collected well up to a
million dollars in royalties in the mining areas, the banner section
being Grand Forks, including Eldorado, Bonanza and tributaries where
Staff-Sergeant (later Inspector) Raven gathered nearly $520,000. The
Government was spending freely for the oversight of the Yukon, but was
getting back big dividends.

It is interesting to note in Starnes' report this significant clause:
"To the early resident of Dawson the present sanitary condition of the
town must be a source of congratulation and a matter of satisfaction."
For thereby hangs a tale redolent with a record of hard work. In the
spring of 1899 a Board of Health had been formed, under the general
oversight of the Mounted Police, for Superintendent Steele (later
succeeded by Superintendent Perry) was chairman, Corporal Wilson (though
not on the Board) Sanitary Inspector, H. Grotchie and Dr. J. W. Good
succeeding Dr. Thompson, who was the first medical officer, but had gone
on leave. The year 1898 had been fever-scourged and haunted by a plague
of scurvy, due largely to the lack of vegetables and fruit it was said.
Dr. Good determined that this condition, resulting from the rush of
thousands of people to camp on a frozen swamp, would not recur, and when
Dr. Good made his mind up and contracted those heavy black brows of his
something had to be done or he would know the reason why.

Dr. Good was a noted specialist in Winnipeg from the early days--a man
of powerful physique, wide general education, and a grim kind of manner,
which was redeemed from dourness by the constant bubbling up of the
irrepressible humour which made him a most entertaining companion. He
went into Dawson over the passes in the big trek principally from sheer
love of the adventure, as most would say (and he had the adventurous
spirit), but largely, I imagine, to be of service in what, to his
practised understanding, might become a death camp. He had no need of
seeking wealth, as his practice had always brought large revenue from
the well-to-do, though a lot of poor people got no bills for his
services. Dr. Good was and is (for he is still happily with us) a
distinct type, and I say this out of personal acquaintance through many
years. His battle for the health of the people of Dawson and districts
was great and successful. He gives a semi-humorous report of it in a
formal report to the Mounted Police Department. From it we make an
extract: The Doctor says, "The duties of the Medical Health Officer were
somewhat varied. I will give you a summary of them. Firstly, to inspect
hospitals from time to time; secondly, to see indigents at his office or
their homes, if necessary, and to examine them and see if they could be
admitted to hospital. Thirdly, to inspect the water supply. Fourthly, to
inspect the food and aid in the prosecution of those selling food unfit
for use. Fifthly, to visit all vessels arriving, and when fish, cattle
or food were on board, inspect everything before it can be landed.
Sixthly, to inspect all cattle, sheep and hogs before they could be
slaughtered to see if they were healthy, from which it must be inferred
that the Medical Health Officer had studied veterinary medicine as well.
I regret to say this was not the case." (This was the Doctor's modesty,
but Steele says the knowledge of veterinary science he displayed was
remarkable.) And then the Doctor adds in his humorous way: "Now, from
the above, it must be plain that the Medical Health Officer led an
exceedingly active and useful life." And we agree with him. And the
Doctor goes on to give us a vivid picture of conditions in Dawson City
when he took hold: "We found practically one vast swamp, which is
usually navigable in the early spring, still in almost a primitive
condition, or even worse, cesspools and filth of all kinds occupying
irregular positions, typhoid fever and scurvy rife in the land. We
immediately went to work to put the house in order, getting out all the
garbage and refuse on the ice in the early spring, so that it might be
carried down the river at the break up. We then specified places at
which garbage, etc., should be dumped. We had the streets cleaned, by
prison and other labour, had offensive material removed and rubbish
burnt, while the Governor, with great vigour, inaugurated a system of
drainage, so that in a short time the change excited the wonder and
admiration of the people." The doctor is evidently fond of Scriptural
phrases, for above he has spoken about "putting the house in order," and
now he adds: "We had, of course, some difficulties to contend with, the
fact that people to a large extent were 'strangers and pilgrims,' and
unaccustomed to any restrictions unless those of a primitive order." But
the Doctor, with the aid of the Mounted Police officers already named,
as well as Corporals Wilson, McPhail and the men generally, triumphed
and made the place healthy. Perhaps there is nothing more remarkable in
the record of the Police than the way in which, wherever they were
stationed, they always fought epidemics and disease amongst Indians or
whites or Esquimaux to the utter disregard of their own safety, though
it was not necessarily part of their ordinary duty.

How close an oversight was kept by the Mounted Police as to the
movements of people in that wild country is evidenced by the fact that
men could not "disappear" between the Police posts or elsewhere without
their case giving rise to swift inquiry. If they left one point for
another and did not arrive in a reasonable time the fact was in the
knowledge of the Police, and they immediately started to trace the
missing parties to see whether they had gone lost through missing the
trail or had vanished off the earth by the hands of murderous
characters. All this comes out in the famous case of one O'Brien who was
tried and executed at Dawson for one of the most cold-blooded crimes
imaginable. As I was writing, at this point a letter came from Mr. H. P.
Hansen, of Winnipeg, who said he had stayed at Fossal's road-house in
the Upper Yukon about two weeks before O'Brien committed his triple
murder. He and O'Brien were the only guests and had started out on the
trail together. Hansen says, "No doubt this man had murder in his heart
at the time," but as he had no knowledge of the fact that Hansen carried
money carefully concealed, O'Brien, probably with some disgust, did
nothing. That O'Brien "had murder in his heart" is more than likely,
because when his trial came off a "Bowery tough" who had been in prison
with him in Dawson for some other offence testified that O'Brien had
proposed that they should, when freed, go along the river and find a
lonely spot. Here they should camp, shoot men who were coming out from
Dawson with money, put their bodies under the ice, and thus cover their
tracks. This was too much of a programme for even the "Bowery tough,"
but it shows O'Brien's disposition. O'Brien, however, seems to have
decided to haunt that trail till he could make a killing, and so he
seems to have doubled back after leaving Hansen and landed at Fossal's
road-house again, whence he started out with three men on Christmas Day
of 1899. The three men were Olsen, a Swede, who was a telegraph line
repairer, and two men from Dawson, F. Clayson, of Seattle, and L.
Relphe, who had been a "caller-off" in a Dawson dance-hall. Clayson was
known to have a large sum of money on him, and he became the particular
object of O'Brien's attention, but because "dead men tell no tales" the
others had to share in the disaster, and O'Brien, at an opportune time
in a camping-place, as afterwards transpired, shot all three men first
through the body and then through the head to make sure. There was no
human witness to the event. But when these men did not turn up at the
next point on the trail, and O'Brien did, the Police began rapid
investigation. If there were no eye-witnesses in the case a web of
circumstantial evidence would have to be woven around the figure of the
fourth man of the party if the facts that would emerge justified it.
This was done with consummate skill but with absolute fairness by the
Mounted Police, Inspector Scarth, officer commanding at Fort Selkirk,
being the directing hand, Corporal Ryan doing some important parts and
Constable Pennycuick being the "Sherlock Holmes" genius whose keen
detective instincts and arduous persistent work won high praise from the
judge at the trial, being those mainly instrumental in bringing this
cold-blooded and cruel murderer to justice. The Police have always had a
free hand as to expense in the enforcement of law, and the O'Brien case
ran up a bill of over $100,000. But the reputation built up throughout
the years by these guardians of public safety, that they would get a
criminal if they had to follow him to the ends of the earth, saved the
Dominions uncounted expenditure in other ways, and established Canada in
the opinion of the world as a country where desirable citizens could
come, build homes, rear their families and pursue their avocations freer
from molestation than in any other similarly situated place on the face
of earth. And that was an enormous gain for a new land which needed
immigrants to populate its vast territory and develop its immense latent

Somewhat briefly, the way the Police got O'Brien was in this fashion.
The Police, as above mentioned, kept close "tab" on travellers by trail
or river for the sake of their safety, and a few days after Olsen,
Relphe, Clayson and O'Brien left Fossal's road-house at Minto, Sergeant
Barker, who was in charge at Five Fingers, and who had been notified of
their departure, wired to White Horse that the party had not been heard
of since. And the wires were kept hot in all directions, while patrols
also were sent out to locate the men who had not turned up at the usual
points. At that time murder was not necessarily a theory connected with
their disappearance. Nearly ten days after Christmas the alert Police at
Tagish post saw a man with horse and sleigh making a detour of the trail
on passing their quarters. This aroused their suspicion, and they
gathered in the man and his outfit, after pulling them out of a hole in
the ice to which the detour had brought them. The man said his name was
O'Brien, but he was sullen and would say no more. They took no chances,
but brought him before the commanding officer, who sentenced him to "six
months" for vagrancy. Several big bank notes were found on his person,
also packed in crevices on the sleigh, and also a strange nugget of
gold, shaped like a human hand holding a smaller nugget. It was found
out that O'Brien had displayed this nugget as a curiosity at a
road-house a few nights before, and later on it was found that Relphe,
one of the men who had vanished, had a penchant for curios, and amongst
them had this nugget and a specially odd coin. Things were beginning to
look interesting and, as Inspector Scarth wanted a man who answered
O'Brien's description for robbing the cache of Mr. Hansen at Wolf's
Island, O'Brien was sent up to Fort Selkirk and held on that charge.
Then Sergeant Holmes (rather a curious coincidence in detective names)
was sent on detachment to Fossal's road-house with Constable Pennecuick
to see if there were any traces of the lost men. Pennecuick proved
himself a veritable sleuth. In a short time he discovered a place on the
river bank where some one had climbed, although snow had fallen
plentifully since. He also found to his surprise a clear view of the
river up and down for miles. This was unusual in such a place, and on
investigation he found that trees had been cut down so that a look-out
could be kept. He examined the tree stumps closely, and found they had
all been cut with an axe which had three flaws in it, one at one end and
two near together. He kept portions of the wood, and later on discovered
that when O'Brien had been released from jail in Dawson, some months
before, he had been given his stuff back, and the police-sergeant
testified at the trial that he had furnished O'Brien with an axe (a very
necessary thing for travellers on the northern trails) in place of one
that had been lost. The sergeant said, "It was a spare axe and I
sharpened it for him, and gave it to him with a sort of apology because
it still had three rather large nicks in it, one at the top and two
close together at the bottom." Of course, Pennecuick did not know about
this axe when he found the trees chopped down, but his examination of
the stumps shows that he omitted nothing in his scrutiny.

When Pennecuick noted that, he hunted for traces of a trail, and found
such traces leading to the river. He got a broom and swept the whole way
down. Klondikers recall Christmas '98 as soft in the morning and
freezing at night. So marks made that morning would stay, and Pennecuick
found that some heavy body or bodies had been dragged down to a place in
the ice where, though now frozen over, these bodies had been put in the
river. Pennecuick reasoned that if O'Brien was going to kill these men
he would not do it on the river where he might be seen. So the sleuth
went back up into the bush and swept away till he came to some evidences
of blood, then he found three .32 revolver bullets, and one in the earth
from a .45 rifle.

Next day, as Pennecuick came back to work he met a dog on the river.
Dogs crop up all over the Northern history, and many times they were
important links in the chains of evidence. Pennecuick recognized the dog
as O'Brien's, which had been kept in barracks at Dawson by the Police
and fed and petted when O'Brien was in jail there before. The dog
recognized the uniform, fawned on the wearer of it, and when Pennecuick
said "Go home, sir, go home," the dog turned and trotted up the bank and
then turned aside where some slight trail showed. Pennecuick, of course,
followed, and came to a tent cabin in which he found the .45-calibre
rifle. Raking in the snow, he discovered that clothing had been burned,
for he found some buttons with the name of a Seattle firm. Then he went
in and searched the stove and found more relics. But he felt that
probably O'Brien had emptied the pockets of his victims' clothes before
he burned them, and likely had thrown the things away from the fire that
might lead to his identification with the murder if he kept them. So
Pennecuick did the same thing with articles out of his own pocket,
watching where they fell. Then he carefully swept again, and found not
only his own things, but a key that fitted Clayson's safe in Seattle and
the strange coin that Relphe had carried. When the spring came the
bodies were found on sand-bars and were easily identified, even by the
fitting of some fragments of teeth that Pennecuick had found where the
men had been shot in the head by the revolver after they had fallen
before the rifle. And at the trial also the large bills that had been
found in possession of O'Brien were identified as having been the
property of Clayson, as the nugget and coin were shown to have been

There were other items of evidence, the exhibits nearly exhausted the
alphabet, and there was a very long list of witnesses brought from many
quarters. The Crown Prosecutor was Mr. Fred O. Wade, K.C. (now
Agent-General for British Columbia in London), and he handled the case
with consummate ability. His address to the jury was a marvel of
logical, irresistible emphasis on every point of evidence. Inspector
Scarth gave Mr. Wade most valuable assistance during the long trial. The
prisoner O'Brien was ably defended, but there is no evidence so strong
as circumstantial evidence when it is compactly pieced together, and the
jury took only half an hour to reach the verdict of "Guilty." O'Brien
received the death sentence, and spent a lot of time before his
execution in cursing the Mounted Police who, as another outlaw once
said, "would give a gunman no chance in this blamed Canada country." It
was a long and costly effort on their part, extending nearly two years
in the case of O'Brien, but it gave notice to the world that Canadians
would not tolerate lax views on the sacredness of human life.

It seems appropriate that in that same year, 1900, an injustice to the
Mounted Police should be at length removed by the granting of medals to
the men of the Force who had served in the North-West Rebellion of 1885.
At the conclusion of that rebellion, medals had been granted to all
others who had been on military duty against Louis Riel's revolt, but
they were only given to the Mounted Police who had been actually under
fire in an engagement. We do not care to know who was responsible for
this extraordinary piece of invidious distinction. The Mounted Police
have practically always been on active service and always liable to be
under fire at any moment. Those who know the history know that all the
members of the Force rendered service of enormous value to Canada and
the Empire during that war time, whether in an engagement or not. They
policed the vast plains and, with endless patience and cool courage,
held at peace the thousands of Indians who might have swept the
defenceless settlements with destruction. These men deserved the medal
and should have had it at the outset, but better late than never.

It is anticipating a little in one respect, but in another it is looking
backwards. During the years since their organization the Mounted Police
had furnished escorts and convoys for the successive Governors-General
in their official tours over the vast North-West. Before the railway era
this involved long journeys and much extra duty, cheerfully undertaken
and chivalrously as well as skilfully carried out for the comfort of
these distinguished travellers, amongst whom were our present good King
and his much-loved son, the Prince of Wales. In recognition of these
services the Commissioner has received for himself and his men warm
thanks, as well as expressions of high admiration for the courtesies and
services rendered by the Police, as well as for their fine bearing as
soldierly men.

And all these find fitting climax in the fact that His Majesty King
Edward, "First Gentleman of Europe," gave his personal recognition of
all the splendid services rendered to the Empire by the Police by
conferring on the Force the title "Royal." This intimation was made in
the Canada Gazette in 1904 in this manner:

     "His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to confer the
     title of 'Royal' upon the North-West Mounted Police Force."

Referring to this honour, Commissioner Perry said in his report of that

     "The force is deeply sensible of the high honour conferred upon it,
     and I trust it will continue by loyalty, integrity and devotion to
     duty to merit the great distinction which His Majesty has been so
     graciously pleased to bestow upon it."

The Commissioner has always trusted and believed in his men, and he has
not been disappointed.



"The population of the Territories has doubled in ten years and the
strength of the Force has been reduced by half. Our detachments have
increased from 49 to 79." This was one of the striking and illuminating
statements made by Commissioner Perry in his Annual Report for 1901. The
Commissioner was looking around and ahead and did not intend that the
Government should be left ignorant of the rapid changes which were
taking place. The reduction of the Force was a tribute to the
extraordinary efficiency of its members in establishing peace and order
throughout a vast domain. But it is not fair or human "to ride a willing
horse to death," and with increased population and widening areas to
oversee, the strain being put upon the men in the corps was too great.
In even the organized portions of the Territories there was only an
average of one constable to every 500 square miles. It was highly
important that with half the population foreign born, alien to our laws,
unacquainted with our institutions and disposed to bring with them a
sort of a hatred of authority born of experience under old-world
despotisms, there should be present the educative and restraining
influence of an adequate number of the riders in scarlet and gold.
Without that influence the newly-found liberty of these European
immigrants would soon degenerate into licence. Those of us who recall
those critical formative days agree with the statement that the
constables took a large view of their duties and that their tact and
discretion led these strange people not only to obey the laws but to
look upon the Police as friends willing to aid and assist them in every

The Commissioner therefore strongly urged not only the maintenance of a
sufficiently large force to meet the situation, but pressed for the
adoption of his particular policy to have a reserve of at least fifty
men always in training at headquarters who would be qualified for
detachment duty whenever occasion arose. He gives adequate reason for
this policy when he says, "The men on detached duty are in responsible
positions; they have to act on their own initiative, often on matters of
considerable public concern; their advice is sought by new settlers. To
carry out their important duties satisfactorily they must be well
trained, have experience, and be of good character. It is therefore
unwise, contrary to the interests of the public and the good reputation
of the force, to send on detached duty men who have not the proper
qualifications, necessary experience, and who have not yet established a
reputation for reliability and sobriety; in other words who have not
been tested and proved."

There was an old song, written perhaps in the days of the Peninsular
War, to attract men to sign up for service in the possible hope that
some one of them might be instrumental in putting the tyrant out of

    "A raw recruit
    Might chance to shoot
    Great General Buonaparte."

But the Mounted Police Force was not built on those lines. Their
business was to keep avoidable shooting off the programme altogether
either by themselves or others, and to effect that desirable end they
must be self-controlled, disciplined and tactful men. In order to be of
that type every man must get thorough groundwork training in the depôt
division before he goes out with the possibility of being on detached
duty at any moment. Successful insistence on these points of policy was
one of Commissioner Perry's early achievements. It was in the best
interests of the country and the Force that such things should be
recognized by the authorities.

How necessary it was that the Police should be wise and at the same time
firm is evidenced that very year when Superintendent Charles Constantine
was in command at Fort Saskatchewan. Amongst the Rutherian or Galician
people there arose a religious controversy, and a religious controversy
is a hard thing for civil authority to tackle. But Constantine was a
very discreet officer. He saw how easily a serious conflict on the
subject might be precipitated amongst an excitable people. "Religion,"
writes Constantine, "is a very real thing to the Galician and on this
matter he feels very strongly." Constantine made special study of the
situation. There were three different branches of the church amongst
these people, the Roman and Greek Catholic and the Orthodox Russian or
Uniate Church, which was in creed and ritual a sort of half-way between
the other two. The Russian church people had put up a church building
near Star, but having no pastor of their own, they divided on which of
the two others, the Roman Catholic or the Greek Catholic priest, should
conduct services. The discussion became quite warm and threats of
violence were common. Constantine would not interfere as between the
controversialists, but he kept his eye on the situation and gave special
direction to certain of his men. Matters came to a climax on Easter
Sunday, when the two rival priests, each accompanied by some 200
followers, came to hold service in the church. Constantine knew of the
situation beforehand, and he had sent a sergeant and two constables,
prudent men, to see that there was no breach of the peace. Both parties
claimed the right to hold services in the church and neither would yield
nor would they hold a joint service. So the Police held the balance
level by locking the door and then asking the parties to go one to each
side of the church outside and hold their own services. This was done
and there was no ill-will. After the services they dispersed to their
homes and the danger passed. Constantine thought well of people who
could be earnest about religion and law-abiding. And he makes this
general remark about them: "On the whole my observation leads me to
believe that the Galician immigration has brought a very desirable class
of settler to the North-West and one which will in a short time be of
material assistance to the productiveness and prosperity of the
Dominion." And the record of these people during the years since this
wise officer wrote these words has amply borne out his opinion. In the
earlier years the excitable character of the Galicians, and the absence
of instruction in their old haunts as to rights of life and property,
led them into the commission of a good many offences against our laws,
but no alien race has been more anxious to become Canadian and
especially, amongst the young people who have grown up in this country,
we have met many who are a large asset to the Dominion. As a rule they
are industrious, and Constantine's vision of their future has become a

[Illustration: FORT SELKIRK, YUKON.]

[Illustration: ESQUIMAUX FAMILY.]

Up in the Yukon that year there were continued echoes of the famous
O'Brien murder case detailed in our preceding chapter, the leading note
being that the capture and execution of this desperate criminal had
attracted world-wide attention to the efficiency of the Police and had
made the Klondike country safer for everybody. For instance,
Superintendent A. E. Snyder, who took over the command at White Horse
from Superintendent Primrose, says, "I am very pleased to be able to
state that there were no very serious cases of crime during the year. I
am satisfied that it was not for want of material that we were indebted
for such a happy state of affairs, as among the class of people
continually on the move coming in and going out there are quite a few
that would be capable of attempting anything if they were certain of
escaping detection. I can only attribute the lack or comparative utter
absence of serious crime to the extreme watchfulness of our men which
renders it well nigh impossible for loose characters to engage in
doubtful enterprises and stay in the country. The (under the
circumstances) speedy and condign punishment meted out to O'Brien
elicited favourable comment from citizens generally irrespective of
nationality, the Americans especially commenting favourably on it and
contrasting it with their experience of similar incidents in mining
regions of the Western States." Referring to the same case Inspector
Starnes, then in charge at Dawson, says, "This case has cost the
Government a great deal of money, but I am sure it had a very salutary
effect on the bad element, as it has shown them that nothing will be
left undone and no expense will be spared to prevent crime and bring the
guilty ones to justice." Starnes has a reference to the verdict of a
coroner's jury in the case of one Dr. Bettinger which indicates that he
thinks the jury "played safe." It appears that the doctor had started
from Dawson for the coast on foot and that he was not clad well enough
for such a trek. When he did not turn up at points he ought to have
reached, Inspector McDonnell was put on the trail and all the detachment
men along the river took up the search. In a few days the body of the
unfortunate man was found seven miles off the Yukon trail up the White
River. Inspector Wroughton, who was out on an inspection trip, held an
inquest in order to have the body properly identified, so that any
matters connected with the estate might not be confused. And this jury
concluded that the body was that of Dr. Joseph Bettinger and that the
said Bettinger "came to his death from some cause or causes unknown to
the jury, but are of the opinion that death was caused by exposure
during extreme cold weather." The opinion of the jury was no doubt
correct, though they expressed it with proverbial caution.

Starnes refers with proper sarcasm to the cases in which people imagine
the Police ought to save them from the results of their own
carelessness. He says, "There have been a number of sluice box robberies
on some of the creeks, and we have been fortunate in securing one or two
convictions, but in many instances it was impossible to find the
thieves. This class of crime is one of the hardest to detect, owing to a
great number of miners leaving their sluice boxes unprotected when there
is a lot of gold in them, and another reason being that it is impossible
to identify gold dust. We may have our suspicions in many cases, and in
some feel sure of our man to a moral certainty, but it is almost
impossible to prove the guilt unless we catch the man in the act. The
distances being so great, it is out of the question for us to place
guards on every claim, and the miners who wish to keep their gold must
take proper precautions. It would be just as well for a farmer in the
East to leave ten dollar bank notes in his stable yard with no one to
watch them, as to leave gold in the sluice boxes the way some of the
miners do." Starnes here hits at the all too common assumption of people
who, with sense enough to be responsible for their acts, think that some
one else is under obligation in matters of health and property to save
them from the consequences of their own practices. And he delicately
suggests to the careless miners that they have missed the fact of
contributory negligence when they have thus led others into temptation.

These policemen were making a constant study of the unveneered humanity
on the frontier and developed a keen perception of right and wrong, and
had a rugged conviction that every one should get a square deal, but
should realize that he must bear his own burden of responsibility. A
fine instance of the Police opinion that men should get fair play is
found in the report of Inspector A. M. Jarvis, who in 1901 was in
command of the Dalton trail post in the Yukon country. He says, "The
Dalton trail, which is the pioneer route to the 'inside,' is much in
need of repairs. A vast area is tributary to this trail. From the Yukon
River to the 141st parallel and as far north as the White River the
Dalton trail is the main artery. Three years before the Klondike was
heard of, Mr. Dalton blazed his route into the interior, acting as guide
to the explorers into the country where he had done important work or
trading in furs. When the rush into the gold-fields took place, he spent
large sums in bridges and corduroy, especially between Dalton House and
Five Fingers, which, now that the Yukon has the monopoly in freight and
passengers, brings him no return. While the construction of this trail
was a business venture, yet it remains a benefit to the country, and is
of great value to the prospector. I should like to see Mr. Dalton
recompensed for his unprofitable outlay." What came of this suggestion
history does not record. The world is under immense obligation to
adventurers who have blazed new trails to hidden natural resources. But
the world is not always as fair as this Police Inspector in recognizing
its obligation.

In his report in 1902 Commissioner Perry, in view perhaps of comments
made by some who were ignorant of conditions, and such are occasionally
found in public bodies, frankly says that the expenditure on the Mounted
Police is large, but that when it is looked upon as a factor in the
peaceful settlement of a vast territory, such expenditure is a splendid
investment which will pay big dividends to the country for generations
in the form of a contented, happy and prosperous population. The
Commissioner's words are that "the benefits will be reaped by posterity
when the Force has disappeared and its work is forgotten." It is hard to
get these policemen to estimate their work highly enough. They have the
usual British reticence intensified by definite practise of it, and that
is why no man who has been a member of the Force will ever give a true
history of its achievements. He is afraid to give the Force its due lest
he should seem to be boastful when he records deeds that are stranger
than fiction. And so when the Commissioner speaks of the Force
disappearing and its work being forgotten we must enter a protest
against this being read except in the light of the well-known habit of
these men to keep religiously far away from the braggart spirit. The
Force has undergone changes and may ultimately disappear in so far as
the present form of organization is concerned, but those of us who have
known the country and the men all through the years affirm without
reservation that it can never be forgotten. The work of the corps has
been so indelibly stamped upon the history of Canada that the record can
never be erased as long as this country endures.

How, for instance, can any country forget a Force concerning one of
whose members this same Commissioner Perry, proud always of his men,
writes in the very next paragraph, "To one who is unacquainted with the
country it is difficult to convey any adequate idea of the labour
involved in policing such a vast region and carrying out the
multifarious duties imposed on us. As an instance of this I may mention
the work done by Corporal Field last winter. He is stationed at Fort
Chippewyan, Athabasca. He was informed that a man had gone violently
insane at Hay River, 350 miles from his post. He proceeded there with
dog train, accompanied by the interpreter only and brought the
unfortunate man, who was a raving maniac, back to Fort Chippewyan, and
thence escorted him to Fort Saskatchewan, travelling a distance of 1,300
miles with dogs and occupying forty-four days on the journey. This is
not an isolated instance. It represents the work of Inspector West and
his men in the Northern Country."

All this is written by the Commissioner with the most admirable and
characteristic police restraint. He gives the facts in outline and
leaves the rest to the imagination of those who know the country. He
says nothing about Corporal (later Inspector) Field having just come in
from a long patrol, tired and entitled to a rest, albeit he was a noted
trail-maker. Nor does he relate any details of the trip after the insane
unfortunate. But those who have travelled the broken plain can see much
between the lines of the simply worded report. We can see the vast white
expanse of snow and ice wind swept at times by the fierce blizzards out
of the north. We can see the return journey when the violent man would
have to be watched day and night and yet given liberty enough at times
to keep him from being chloroformed with the cold. A fine humane act was
this and one that could only be done by a man who embodied in himself
the coolness, courage and gentleness that form so splendid a
combination. This and countless deeds of a like kind ensure the Mounted
Police an enduring place in our Canadian temple of Fame.

It appears that there were always some people who believed that all they
had to do when any mishap occurred in their experience was to sit back
and get the Police to put things right. This was a tribute to the way in
which the Force had exercised paternal oversight in their districts. But
it was carrying things rather too far and forgetting that the best help
comes to those who help themselves. There was a good deal of
horse-stealing and horse-straying in progress in 1902 and when their
horse got out of sight some settlers imagined they were stolen when in
reality they had only strayed. These people thought the Police should
assume the task of securing the return of their herds and droves. This
calls a mild protest from Inspector J. O. Wilson, when at Regina. Wilson
says, "Settlers are still prone to report a horse stolen when it is
missing without making any special effort to find it themselves. There
is a case on record where a settler named Hansen, who for the past seven
years has lost horses, now expects the Police to find them for him. Much
time has been spent in fully investigating his complaints, but this
gentleman is not yet satisfied and has written to say that he considers
it the duty of the Police to hunt up lost horses." And then the
Inspector indicates the lines along which the efforts of the Force are
properly directed. "In connection with this," he says, "I beg to state
that when horses are reported lost, descriptions are forwarded to all
detachments and instructions issued that should they be seen or heard
the owners are to be notified. A large number of horses have been
returned to their owners in this way." But to leave their police duties
and hunt the stray horses of careless settlers was a little too much to

Up in the Yukon that year there were contrasting pictures of events in a
country that could always be counted on for happenings of interest.
There is a fine touch in a report from that tender-hearted officer, the
late Inspector Horrigan. Two gallant Police Constables, Campbell and
Heathcote, were drowned at the mouth of the Stickine River, where they
were crossing in an old boat as no other was at hand. Campbell's body
was not found, but Heathcote's was recovered and brought to the nearest
point, Wrangel, in the United States, for interment. "I am informed that
the funeral was one of the largest and most impressive ever held in
Wrangel. The service was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Reirdon, of the
Presbyterian Church, with a full choir. The edifice was crowded to the
doors, and the majority followed the remains to the last resting place.
I chanced to be in Wrangel on June 30, Memorial Day, and noticing a
procession of children clothed in white, several veterans of the Civil
War and a number of citizens, I followed them to the cemetery and
witnessed a very touching sight. To my surprise I noticed that Constable
Heathcote's was the first grave decorated with bouquets and
sweet-smelling flowers by kind and loving hands. It mattered not to them
what altar he knelt at or what flag he had served under. They knew him
in life as a policeman, proud of his uniform and his country. In death
they honoured his memory." This is well put by Horrigan, and the whole
incident indicated the deep-seated attachment existing between the two
great branches of the English-speaking race. Incidents like this go far
to destroy the "ancient grudge" which some Americans have against
Britain because a century and a half ago a foolish British King and a
still more foolish set of advisers treated British subjects overseas in
an absolutely un-British way.

And then in the same northern area we have in the report of that exact
and capable Inspector, W. H. Routledge, another side of life in the
account of a murder case which, in cold-blooded deliberateness and
treachery, perhaps puts the O'Brien case into the shade. O'Brien was a
very inhuman and brutal murderer, but he, though on the look-out for
prey, seems to have somewhat accidentally fallen in at Fossal's
road-house with the three men he murdered a few miles farther along the
way. But there is no particular evidence that he had made special
efforts to be their ostensibly friendly companion beyond the usual
comradeship of mutual helpfulness on the trail. But in the case
Routledge reports two men, La Belle and Fournier, seem to have gone to
White Horse with the deliberate intention of ingratiating themselves
with some of their fellow-countrymen by the use of their French mother
tongue, joining them on the way down to Dawson, and then murdering them
when they arrived at a convenient place. And so these two creatures
found at White Horse, Leon Bouthilette, Guy Beaudien, and Alphonse
Constantin from Beauce County, Quebec, who had recently come from the
East, going to Dawson. La Belle and Fournier got passage with these men
on a small boat, travelled with them, camped, ate, and slept with them
till one night in camp on an island near Stewart River they murdered
their three hosts, probably in sleep, and after rifling their pockets,
and to hide their crime, they tied the bodies up, weighted with stones,
and threw them in the river. Then they burned up all evidences of their
crime, got in the boat and went to Dawson, from which place they
proceeded farther, found another compatriot named Guilbault and murdered
him on the way to Circle City, Alaska. Once again it was a case where
the murderers left no possible witness to testify and considered they
were safe. But they forgot they were in the Mounted Police country--in
the land of the men in scarlet and gold who never let go till justice is

The Police at White Horse had the number of the boat, 3744, and the
names of all the men in it. Other boats, starting from White Horse about
the same time, arrived in Dawson. But boat 3744 and its occupants,
though seen by several on the way, dropped out of sight at Stewart River
and was not seen again till Constable Egan discovered it empty at
Klondike city.

The body of a man who had been killed by bullets was found in the river,
and there was a small key tag with the name "Bouthilette, Beauce, P.Q."
on it. This gave the Police a clue, and it was followed with
characteristic energy and skill. A web of circumstantial evidence had
again to be woven. Later on another body was found and Surgeons Madore
and Thompson were satisfied that another death by violence had occurred.
The body corresponded with the description given of Guy Beaudien.
Constable Burns, of the Dawson Division, who could speak French like a
native, haunted the mines and creeks in plain clothes, unearthed
Fournier, who was identified by one Mack, who had seen him at White
Horse, as one of the men in boat 3744. Detective Constable Welsh,
Sergeant Smith, Corporal Piper, Constables Burke and Falconer with
others were on the scent. Welsh went to Skagway and found the sailing
list of the boat _Amur_ on which the murdered men had come from Seattle.
To that point and others he went, and then acting on information from
Constable Burns, who had combed the French Colony for evidence, Welsh
went on through six different States and finally caught and arrested La
Belle in Nevada. La Belle said enough to indicate the whereabouts of the
murder event and Welsh wired this information. Corporal Piper and
Constable Woodill and the Dawson photographer went, located the "Murder
Island," gathered some incriminating articles and took photographs from
every angle. Then the work went on and the Police accumulated such an
unbreakable chain-mail web of evidence starting with a man who had come
with the murdered men from Montreal to White Horse, continuing with
others who had seen all the parties on boat 3744 and then with men who
had seen articles and money on La Belle and Fournier which they knew to
have been the property of the murdered parties, that these cold-blooded
monsters practically confessed, each throwing the blame on the other.
They were committed for trial, found guilty by judge and jury, and paid
the extreme penalty for their horrible crime.

Down on the prairie the Police were equally intent on duty and equally
successful in serving notice on all and sundry that tampering with human
life and prosperity would not be tolerated. And every one who came into
the Canadian West was wise if he governed himself accordingly. An
accomplished young forger and potentially worse, by the name of Ernest
Cashel, barely twenty-two, drifted up to Calgary from the State of
Wyoming and proceeded to test the calibre of Canadian authority. He was
arrested, but escaped from the city authorities. Then the Mounted
Police, whose officer commanding at Calgary was Superintendent Sanders,
D.S.O., were called upon and discovered that Cashel had stolen a pony at
Lacombe to help in his escape. Shortly afterwards D. A. Thomas, north of
Red Deer, notified the Police that a relative, J. R. Belt, had
disappeared from the latter's ranch east of Lacombe. Constable McLeod
investigated and discovered that when Belt was last seen a young man,
who gave himself the name of Elseworth, was staying with him. The
description indicated that Elseworth and Cashel were one and the same.
Belt's horse, saddle, shot gun, clothes and money, including a $50.00
gold bill, had vanished. It looked like a murder case, and so
Superintendent Sanders put our old friend Constable Pennycuick, who had
unearthed O'Brien in the Yukon, on the trail of Cashel. Every detachment
of the Police was put on the scent. In a while a man, answering Cashel's
description, stole a diamond ring up in the edge of the mountains and,
despite great cunning, was arrested by Constable Blyth at Anthracite. He
was wearing some clothes like Belt's and had the diamond ring. Then
Constable Pennycuick, hearing that Cashel had been staying at a
half-breed camp near Calgary, went there and got some clothing Cashel
had left there. Part of it was the rest of Belt's corduroy suit.
Pennycuick also got track of the $50.00 gold bill which had been seen by
some of the half-breeds with Cashel. Pennycuick traced Cashel's route
from Belt's to near Calgary with Belt's clothes, horse, saddle and the
aforesaid $50.00 gold certificate. But thus far there was no evidence
that Belt was not alive somewhere, and so Cashel was tried for stealing
and sentenced to the penitentiary. Two months later the river gave up
its dead, and the body was identified by certain marks and by an iron
clamp on the heel of the boot. Bullet holes in the body of the same
calibre as the revolver and rifle carried by Cashel completed the
evidence. He was brought back from the penitentiary, charged with
murder, and after a trial in which he was brilliantly defended by Mr.
Nolan of Calgary, was sentenced to be hanged.

But the end was not yet. John Cashel, a brother from Wyoming, had come
up and was given permission to see Ernest in the cell. As he entered the
chaplain was leaving and the guard being relieved. Taking advantage of
the situation, John Cashel slipped his brother two loaded revolvers with
which that evening Ernest held up the unarmed Constables and made his
escape. It was a dark night, with heavy snow falling, and this clever
and daring criminal well armed got clear away. Then the alarm was sent
out, detachments were notified and Commissioner Perry, accompanied by
Inspector Knight, went up to Calgary to take personal direction of the
search. Evidently, as happens in such cases this outlaw had friends,
who, supplied him with information, telling him what was being done and
to add to the confusion, people all over the country became nervously
excited and began "seeing things," so that several supposed Cashels were
reported from a dozen directions. A drunken half-breed in Calgary caused
excitement by telling that he had Cashel tied up in his camp, but the
cool-headed Sanders saw through his yarn and locked up the half-breed
for being drunk and disorderly. Superintendents Primrose and Begin, on
the Commissioner's orders, sent patrols out through the ranches. Here
they came across ranchers who had been held up for food and money by a
man whose description tallied with that of Cashel. As the Police could
not cover the whole country, some civilian volunteers were called for
and these were placed along with police detachments. Finally Sanders
mapped out the country, got detachments together to the number of five
under Major Barwis, Inspector Knight, Inspector Duffus, Sergeant-Major
Belcher and himself, and the order was to search every building, cellar,
root house and haystack with instructions that if they found Cashel they
were, if human life was to be saved thereby, to set fire to the building
or stack where he was and smoke him out. The detachment under Inspector
Duffus, consisting of Constables Rogers, Peters, Biggs, Stark and
McConnell, while searching Pittman's ranch 6 miles from Calgary, came
across Cashel in the cellar. He was found by Constable Biggs, who was
fired at by Cashel out of the dark hole. Biggs returned the fire and
backed up the steps to tell the rest. Constable Rogers then ordered the
men to surround the house and sent word to Inspector Duffus, who came
and called on Cashel to surrender. But he would not answer and the
building, a mere shack, was set on fire. When the smoke started, Cashel
agreed to come out and was arrested. This was the close of an arduous
hunt, a great many of the Police having been almost continuously in the
saddle day and night in cold weather for weeks. They were determined
that no one should boast of eluding the Police by making a clear "get

This time there was no escape, and the daring murderer was hanged in
Calgary, first confessing his crime to the Rev. Dr. Kirby, his spiritual
adviser. Once more the unbreakable net of the famous riders of the
plains had been thrown out to show that the whole country became a
prison for anyone who offended against its laws.

It was perhaps the recurrence of cases of this kind where the Police
were proving the enormous value of the Force to the country that caused
Superintendent Primrose in 1903 to make a plea for some increased
recognition of his men. In his report he says, "In nearly every walk of
life in the past twenty years wages have gone on increasing, but, I
regret to state, the same scale of wages still obtains in the Police
Force. For instance, I am at present employing a constable on detective
work whose pay is seventy-five cents a day for which we have to pay a
Pinkerton man eight dollars a day." And it is no disparagement to the
Pinkertons to say that the Police could give them some "pointers" when
it came to work on the frontiers.

The question of pay for their men was a constant anxiety for the
officers, who were themselves receiving a mere pittance in comparison
with the salaries paid to men of equal education and experience in other
departments of the civil service. So we find, in 1904, that fine
officer, Superintendent Wood, in the Yukon making reference to the fact
that though an increase of pay had been granted to others the pay of the
Police had remained practically the same since their organization. Wood
feels that it is humiliating for the men. "A constable's life," he
writes, "is not altogether an enviable one. He is liable to be exposed
to the inclemencies of the weather at all seasons of the year, and is at
times called upon to risk his life in the performance of his duty. He is
under much closer and severer restraint than private individuals." This
is putting it all very mildly, as was the manner of the Police when they
were speaking of themselves. Then Wood goes on to say, "It is of
importance that a member of the Force should be made to feel that his
position is an honourable one, and that he is entitled by virtue of his
office or calling to the respect of the community at large. This state
of things could be arrived at if he felt that his position was equal to
those in other walks of life, and that his services were rated equally
as high. But the mere fact of his receiving 50 cents to 75 cents a day
with his food and clothes while carpenters, blacksmiths and labourers on
the outside receive five times as much and in the Yukon ten times as
much, is enough to instill a feeling of inferiority so far as his
calling is concerned." This is an important view. And Wood in the same
report emphasizes his argument, though he does not refer to it in that
connection, that the Police are expected to do work as mail-carriers,
postmasters and such like, outside proper police duty, because the
country could not get civilians to do it at the remuneration offered.
The whole thing troubles Wood, who was of a sensitive temperament and
very anxious to retain high-class men in the Force. And so he refers to
it again in the following year and says that a constable who was a
skilled mechanic and was saving the country great expense by looking
after the manufacture of stove pipes, tinware, etc., had been offered as
much an hour by town merchants as he was getting in a day in the corps
on the scale allowed by the Police Act. And Wood, who feels keenly for
the men, says, "Our poor circumstances are so generally known that it
has become usual to send members of the Force complimentary tickets for
entertainments and reduce the fees in clubs and societies for them."
Probably what was in the minds of those who sent tickets and reduced
fees was that it was an honour to have with them the men in scarlet and
gold who made human life and property safe on the frontier and whose
standards of manners and education made them most desirable company. But
the comparative poverty was there amidst abounding chances to be rich in
the gold country and elsewhere in a new land. Men who served through the
dangerous formative periods of Western history died poor in worldly
goods. It is a fine thing to know that all through the years these men
out of the sheer love of adventure and their high ideals of devotion to
duty did such service, but the facts should not be lost sight of when
the pensions of the "old guard" survivors are being considered from time
to time.

The quality of the non-commissioned officers and men is often brought
out in their detachment reports. These reports reveal not only men of
ability and insight, but throw light on the kind of people these Police
in the north had to guide. Sergeant Frank Thorne, for instance, was in
charge at a place called Tantalus. The man who gave that name to the
elusive mining prospects of the region had a sense of humour and the
fitness of things. Thorne says, "Hundreds of people landed at Tantalus
en route to the new White Horse diggings. Most of these people had been
misinformed as to the best place to start from. I informed some of them,
but found that a person with gold fever is very unreasonable and
stubborn. Those that returned this way wore a very dilapidated and sorry
appearance." But the Police, I suppose, helped them out of their
troubles, for these red-coated giants did not lose their humanitarian
disposition even amidst the follies of the foolish. And the Police knew
well the strain under which these deluded and disappointed people often
found themselves, for Wood tells us of the Police at Dawson and White
Horse having as many as forty lunatics committed to their care in a
single year. This involved heavy and anxious work, and the
Superintendent shows the spirit in which it was done when he laments the
lack of suitable accommodation and fears lest some of these unfortunates
may hurt themselves in the unsuitable quarters provided.

Speaking of the humanitarian disposition of the Police, one finds many
incidents to show how they resented offences against the helpless, and
how relentlessly they brought the perpetrators of such offences to book.
In the same year, 1904, of which we have been writing, Sergeant Field,
of Fort Chippewyan, to whose rescue of a lunatic we have already
referred, got word that an Indian had, at Black Lake, 250 miles away
from the Fort, deserted two little children, two and three years of age
and that these two children according to the testimony of other Indians
had been devoured by wolves. Part of the clothing had been found and all
around the blood-stained ground was trampled by wolves. The Indian was
at Fond-du-Lac, but could not be advantageously arrested unless Field
could get some evidence from others who were not there. So Field bided
his time till all the Indians were at Fond-du-Lac in the summer. Some
eight months had gone by, but Field did not forget. Fond-du-Lac was
several hundred miles from Fort Chippewyan, but Field got there at the
proper moment, arrested the Indian, took the witnesses along and started
for Edmonton, where the Indian was tried and given a term in the
penitentiary. It had cost Sergeant Field a strenuous trip by trail,
river and train of nearly eighteen hundred miles, but he had by his
action told the Indians of the whole region to deal properly with their
children and their old people.

A very remarkable case in 1904 was that in which after an extraordinary
display of mastery over difficulties, the Police under Staff-Sergeant
K. F. Anderson (now Inspector) brought one Charles King to justice for
the murder of his partner Edward Hayward, near Lesser Slave Lake in
Northern Alberta. The case was not only a portrayal of the persistent
methods of the Police, but it threw a fine sidelight on the way in which
the Police had won the friendship of the Indians through guarding the
Indians against exploitation by white men. It moreover gave a good
exposition of the Indians' unique powers of observation.






In October, Moos Toos, the headman of the Indian Reserve at Sucker
Creek, came to Sergeant Anderson and told him that white men were
cutting rails on his Reserve. Anderson immediately went over with the
Chief and found men employed by a very prominent firm of contractors
cutting rails. The Sergeant stopped them at once and made them pay the
Indian for what they had already cut. This, of course, was pleasing to
Moos Toos, who, on returning home with Anderson told the Sergeant that
some days before, two white men with four pack-horses had come from
Edmonton and camped on the Reserve near a slough. They had stayed there
some three days or so and then one of them left, but there was no sign
of the other. An Indian boy had noticed that the dog that had come with
the white men would not follow the one that left. This was observation
number one. Then some Indian women, as their custom is, went over to the
place where the men had camped to see if anything was left that might be
of service. One Indian woman noticed that the camp fire-place was much
larger than required for ordinary use. Another Indian woman stood at the
edge of the fire-place and looking up noticed, on the underside of the
leaves of a poplar tree, globules of fat where the thick smoke had
struck the cool leaves and the evaporating fat had condensed. She said,
"He was burning flesh in this fire." These two things, added to the fact
that a shot had been heard by other Indians in the direction of the
white men's camp, made them suspicious. They told Moos Toos, their
headman, and he, in recognition of the goodness of the Police to him,
told Anderson about it, and added that he thought something was wrong.
Anderson thought so too, and with Constable Lowe went down to the place.
They raked in the ashes and found fragments of bone and other substances
which they carefully sealed up and kept for analysis. Moos Toos, who was
on hand with some of his Indians to help, found a large needle with the
eye broken, then by going barefooted into the slough where the water was
four feet deep, discovered a camp-kettle which some of the Indians had
seen with the white men. Later on Moos Toos and Lowe found in the slough
a pair of boots in one of which was stuffed a rag with various articles,
including the other part of the broken needle. In the meantime, Anderson
had got into touch with the surviving white man at the home of a trader
some distance away and asked for his story. This man, who gave his name
as King, said that his companion was a man he had overtaken on the trail
over the Swan Hills. His name, he said, was Lyman, and he had been on
the way on foot. King said Lyman had left the camp on foot for Sturgeon
Lake and that he supposed he was on the way there. Anderson sent out in
that direction, but there was no trace of such a man at any point, and a
Hudson's Bay employee who had just come from Sturgeon Lake met no one on
foot and there was no trace on the trail of anyone so travelling.
Anderson and Lowe then arrested King on suspicion and held him while
they pursued further investigations. Anderson was convinced that the bed
of that slough, if uncovered, could unfold a tale. And so he hired the
Indians to divert it by digging a ditch that would drain it into Sucker
Creek a half-mile away. It was quite an undertaking, but the Indians,
who have lots of time on their hands in the summer and fall, offered to
do the work for a hundred dollars. The work was well done and Anderson's
expectations were not disappointed. He found amongst some minor articles
a sovereign-case which was fairly conclusive evidence that the man who
had vanished from the earth was probably an Englishman. The
sovereign-case was traced back to the manufacturer in England and to the
man who had sold that number to a certain Mr. Hayward, a man up in
years, then deceased. The clue was followed up and a son of Mr. Hayward
was found who recalled that his father had presented a sovereign-case to
another son when that son left for Canada. The son who had gone to
Canada was known to be in the Edmonton and Northern country, but the
people at home had not heard from him for some time. Regardless of
expense and without delay, the Police brought Hayward all the way from
England to Edmonton for the trial. He identified the sovereign-case as
the one given by his father to the missing man Edward Hayward. A
specialist in analysing had been brought from Eastern Canada who
pronounced the blood, brains and bones found in the ashes of the camp
fire to be human elements. There were some twenty witnesses in the case,
those outside the Police being Messrs. J. K. Cornwall, George Moran and
the rest half-breeds and Indians. Once more the police had the chain of
circumstantial evidence welded solidly link by link. King was declared
guilty, but on a legal technicality a new trial was ordered. By this
time the witnesses were all back home. But they were brought back,
including the brother of the missing man from England. The verdict again
was guilty and King paid on the scaffold the penalty for his mean and
cold-blooded murder of a travelling companion. A very curious thing in
this trial was the sworn statement of Hayward, the witness from England,
that his sister had told him there, the morning after the shot was heard
by the Indians near the Lesser Slave Lake, that she had dreamed that
their brother Edward had died by violence in Canada. This was not
offered or accepted as evidence, but was mentioned incidentally as at
least an extraordinary coincidence.

The Mounted Police were evidently determined not to allow crime to make
any headway because if the impression ever got abroad that men could
play fast and loose with law and go unrebuked, there would be no end to
it. So we find Superintendent Sanders saying again that the Force should
have more men to cope with the demands of the immigration movement. "It
is only natural," he says, "to expect that a percentage of criminals
should accompany a large migration into a new country. A malefactor who
finds it necessary to lose his identity for a while cannot choose a more
convenient location than a country just filling with new settlers and
where one stranger more or less is not likely to be noticed." This is
sound reasoning, and Sanders is looking into the future when he is
asking for men enough to deal with the new order of things so as to
prevent trouble in the future. "Once," says he, "get the new-comers
within our gates imbued with the proper respect for British law and
British justice, and prevent the criminal element getting a foothold,
and a work will be accomplished of inestimable value hereafter."

And up in the Yukon, Assistant-Commissioner Wood, out of wide
experience, says, "It is a well-known saying that prevention is better
than cure, and any innovation in our system tending to the prevention of
crime in Canada, and more particularly in the North-West and the Yukon
Territories, is to be welcomed." And then Wood goes on to advocate the
adoption of certain methods for the detection of criminals which for
that period showed that these men were keeping a little more than
abreast of their times though they were on duty in the wilderness places
of the earth. He advises the establishment of a Criminal Identification
Bureau at Ottawa with branches in all the cities and at the headquarters
of each division of the Mounted Police Force. He goes on to define
methods by photographs of every one arrested, measurements under the
Bertillon system and the use of the finger-print method, which he quite
properly declares, as we now know, to be the most infallible means of
identification. That Wood had made a special study of the subject is
evidenced by the fact that he backs his argument by appeal to history.
He says the finger-print system had been in use in Korea for 1,200 years
as a means of identifying slaves and was adopted in India in 1897 as a
way of preventing impersonation amongst the natives. The Scotland Yard
authorities accepted the system in 1898, which was the year of the Yukon
Gold Rush, and it is very interesting to find the Officer-Commanding on
that frontier being so forehanded as to be amongst the first in Canada
to advocate the use of methods now generally adopted. These men of the
Mounted Police were wide awake and were determined, we repeat, to
prevent the criminal class from getting a foothold in this country.

It is interesting to find in the same period that the Police never
seemed to forget. As related above, Fournier and LaBelle had been
executed in January, 1903, for the murder of Beaudien and Bouthilette. A
third man of the same party had vanished at the same time, but no body
had been found. Two years afterwards a body was found in the river,
taken to Dawson, the clothes removed and washed by Sergeant Smith and
the body identified by these clothes and a paper dried out, as the body
of the third man, Alphonse Constantin. Thus was the fact of his death
established in the interests of relatives and estate--a matter of vital
importance for the satisfaction of all concerned. And thus did the
curtain fall on the final act in a dark tragedy of the North.

But all these incidents were making for the future peace of the country.
It was the establishment of the "Pax Britannica," as Commissioner Perry
said with justifiable pride in the record the Police had made throughout
the years. He quotes the words of a famous Indian Chief to which we have
already called attention in the chapter on Indian treaties when that
Chief, referring to the Police, said, "Before you came the Indian crept
along. Now he is not afraid to walk erect." "For thirty-one years," said
Perry in 1905, "neither white man nor Indian has been afraid to walk
erect, whether in the great plains, the far North or the distant Yukon."

And even at the time he was writing those words Corporal Mapley was on
patrol over an unknown route from Dawson to the Peel River, Inspector
Genereux of Prince Albert was away on a 1,750-mile trip North, of 132
days by canoe and dog-train to investigate a case of alleged murder,
Sergeant Fitzgerald was on patrol to the mouth of the Mackenzie River
and Inspector Moodie was establishing new posts around the Hudson
Bay--all having a reassuring and stabilizing effect on the vast
uncivilized North land.

And again turning to another side of their work there were many cases
that were charged full of a Victoria Cross type of valour which went
unnoticed except as things done in the ordinary course of duty unless
some tragic element intervened to call special attention to it.
Constable Pedley, of Fort Chippewyan, for instance, a noted trailmaker,
had made many a trip (as others did) fraught with tremendous hardship.
But it was not till one day when he broke for a while under the
tremendous strain that his extraordinary efforts got into the light of
public notice. Here is part of his modest report when he was detailed to
escort a lunatic from Fort Chippewyan to Fort Saskatchewan: "I left
Chippewyan in charge of the lunatic on December 17, 1904, with the
interpreter and two dog-trains. After travelling for five days through
slush and water up to our knees, we arrived at Fort McKay on December
22. Owing to the extreme cold, the prisoner's feet were frost-bitten. I
did all I could to relieve him, and purchased some large moccasins to
allow more wrappings for his feet. I travelled without accident until
the 27th, reaching Weechume Lake. Here I had to lay off a day to procure
a guide as there was no trail." This is put with great suppression of
anything like telling what a difficult time he was having, but again we
read between the lines. The trip is "without accident" but there was
"extreme cold." Pedley was nurse and doctor as well as guard over the
unfortunate madman who raved as they travelled along almost impossible
roads. Then Pedley goes on: "I arrived at Lake La Biche on the 31st, and
secured a team of horses to carry me to Fort Saskatchewan. I arrived on
January 7, 1905, and handed over my prisoner." Pedley had spent his
Christmas and New Year not in a happy social circle, but in the company
of the unhappy victim of insanity. And he ends his report by saying,
"During the earlier part of the trip the prisoner was very weak and
refused to eat, but during the latter part of the trip he developed a
good appetite and got stronger." Pedley's care was improving the
madman's condition, but it was taking it out of himself. The unfortunate
was transferred to Calgary guardroom, and that Pedley's nursing had
worked a change is evident because Assistant-Surgeon Rouleau reports
that it was "a remarkable case." He was taken to hospital and discharged
in February. Says Rouleau, "His mind and speech were as good as ever.
His life was saved." But the sequel is told in Commissioner Perry's
report, "Constable Pedley began his return trip to Fort Chippewyan. When
he left Fort Saskatchewan he was apparently in good health, but at Lake
La Biche he went violently insane as a result of the hardships of his
trip and _his anxiety_ for the safety of his charge. He was brought back
to Fort Saskatchewan and then transferred to Brandon Asylum." But we
rejoice that this is not the end. Perry goes on, "I am glad to say that
after spending six months there he recovered his mind and returned to
headquarters. He was granted three months' leave and is now at duty as
well as ever." And that this gallant man who was not conquered by cold
and danger was not going to be conquered by the recollection of the
breaking of a cord that had been subjected to too great a tension is
attested by Perry's closing reference: "In spite of all, he has recently
engaged for a further term of service." Comment on this is unnecessary.
It is like a flash which dispels the night in a prairie thunderstorm.



Reference has been made several times to the studied and determined
reticence of Mounted Policemen concerning their own achievements. That
characteristic is stamped on all their reports and probably accounts for
the fact that no member of the corps would ever attempt writing a full
record of its work as a nation-builder. And any outsider who knows the
country's history, the manner of life on the frontier and who has also
been in contact with these scarlet-coated riders, not only finds it
necessary to read between the lines for the facts but will enjoy the
ingenious efforts of these men to avoid anything savouring of egoism.
Without being so intended some of these reports are positively humorous
on account of this determination to keep "display" in the background.
Here is a gem of that type. It is a report written by Corporal C. Hogg,
who was stationed at North Portal on the Soo Line near the international
boundary. Such localities are often a sort of "No Man's Land" where
would-be desperadoes think they can set law to defiance. Corporal Hogg's
report of an evening's proceeding in that region, with a foot-note by
his superior officer who had received it, makes interesting reading. We
quote them in regular order as follows:

     "On the 17th instant I, Corporal Hogg, was called to the hotel to
     quiet a disturbance." Hogg put the state of disorder mildly. He
     proceeds: "I found the room full of cowboys and one, Monaghan or
     'Cowboy Jack,' was carrying a gun and pointed it at me, against
     sections 105 and 109 of the Criminal Code." It was taking long
     chances, but the Mounted Police generally waited for the other man
     to start things. In this case they were started right there and
     then. For the Corporal goes on to say, "We struggled." This is
     terse, but it involved much more than was said, as will later
     appear. "Finally," proceeds the Corporal, "I got him handcuffed
     behind and put him inside. His head being in bad shape I had to
     engage the services of a doctor who dressed his wound and
     pronounced it as nothing serious. To the doctor Monaghan said that
     if I hadn't grabbed his gun there would have been another death in
     Canadian history. All of which I have the honour to report.

     "(S.) C. HOGG, Corporal."

The Officer who received this report puts on the finishing touch by a
memorandum upon it to this effect: "During the arrest of Monaghan the
following property was damaged: Door broken, screen smashed up, chair
broken, field jacket belonging to Corporal Hogg damaged, wall
bespattered." It looks as if Monaghan's ancestors may have hailed from
Donnybrook, and it must be admitted that he lived up to the traditions
of Fair day in that region. But he had never met a North-West Mounted
Policeman before and would probably be wiser in the future in regard to
raising a "disturbance" when one of them was at hand.

Another evening a "bad man" from Idaho "blew in" to Weyburn. He was a
sort of travelling arsenal and got very bold when he got into an unarmed
Canadian town. He began shooting holes in verandahs, and if any one went
to look out of a window the Idaho desperado threatened to "make him into
a sieve." A prominent citizen was made to hold out his hat as a target
for this pistol artist. This citizen remonstrated and warned the Idaho
man that there was a Mounted Policeman not many miles away who would
probably hear of the situation and come over. This enraged the
"gun-man," who offered to bet that no Mounted Policeman could arrest
him, adding, "if he comes to butt in to my game I will eat his liver
cold." A telephone message was sent to Corporal Lett. It took some time
to ride in, but Lett located the Idaho citizen terrorizing a bar-room.
Lett walked in and the Idaho man had his gun up in a second. No one knew
just how it happened, but Lett sprang at the desperado. There was a
grapple and a fall, but when they got up Lett had the Idaho "gun" in his
hand. The rest was simple. The gun-man had to hold out his hands for the
"bracelets." Whether he paid the bet or not no one has recorded, but
Lett got an extra stripe for his daring.

This recalls another real incident which my friend, Robert Stead, the
well-known writer, has put into verse under the title, "A Squad of One,"
though he gives fictitious names. A certain Sergeant Blue of the Mounted
Police who was alone at a prairie post got a letter from a United States
Marshal asking him to find and arrest two men who had committed murder
and escaped to our side of the line. There was always cordial
reciprocity between the police officials along the boundary, and so the
Marshal warns the Sergeant to send out his strongest squad of men to
make the arrest of these fellows, for he said:

    "They's as full of sin as a barrel of booze and as quick as a cat,
        with a gun,
    So if you happen to hit their trail be sure to start the fun."

The Sergeant was alone, but started out next morning clad as a farm
labourer, called at the farm suspected, found the men with
shooting-irons, but got them talking and then got them separated and
bagged them both at "the nose of a forty-four." And when he got back to
his lonely post he wrote and mailed the following note:

    "To U.S. Marshal of County Blank, Greetings I give to you:
    My squad has just brought in your men and the squad was,
            Sergeant Blue."

Of a different variety but with the same brand of cool courage is an old
friend Donald McRae, still speaking with the Gaelic accent and now
living in Vancouver, who when I saw him first wore the scarlet and gold
in Steele's command. We were in action and McRae was shot rather
severely in the advanced skirmish line. The ambulance men were on hand
in a few minutes, but McRae refused to leave his position. He said he
had half his cartridges left and would not budge till he used them. He
stayed there till he used them, and years afterwards our gallant old
Commander, General Strange, grizzled soldier of the Mutiny, met McRae on
the coast and said jocularly to some in the company, that he had seen
lots of service but that this Mounted Policeman was "the stubbornest man
he had ever met." General Strange had Scottish ancestors and while quite
stern about it at the time of the incident probably rejoiced in secret
at McRae's tenacity.

These stories have been thrown in to indicate that all over the country
the Police in their determination not to allow lawlessness of any kind
to get a hold on the country, were doing remarkable exploits without
advertising. But we exhume them from old documents to show how these
things were done. And so as we resume our story we find Superintendent
Wood in 1905 up in Dawson busy with the finger-print system in which he,
as before mentioned, was a pioneer believer. Thus when a cabin had been
robbed of a gold watch and other valuables, Wood was satisfied, without
any other clue to the thief, when he found a finger-print on a
lamp-chimney which the man had to light in order to see what he could
annex. Then Wood proceeded to hunt for a criminal of the thief class,
for he says, "It is well known that the criminal class at large are
segregated into groups according to the line to which their abilities
are applied." By following this idea he settled on a group of five who
would likely do that sort of thing. Four of them did not answer to the
finger-print test, but the fifth showed a facsimile of the print on the
lamp-chimney. He was the man. So the Police were making it daily more
impossible for criminals to ply their trade even in the remotest points.

In those days in quite another direction and with the purpose of
inquiring into the possibilities of the Hudson Bay and Arctic regions,
Inspector J. D. Moodie was engaging in his explorations, and his
reports, with those of Starnes, Beyts, Pelletier, Howard, French,
Sellers, Rowley and others, are being consulted anew in view of the
project of railways to the great bays of the North. Some of these famous
patrols we shall discuss later.

But speaking of railways it is interesting to find statements from that
observant officer, Superintendent Constantine, who despite the fact that
his health had been undermined by the hardships of the Yukon was still
on duty in the Peace and Athabasca regions. In 1907 he discusses the
development of the Peace River country from an agricultural standpoint.
He covers very carefully the great areas that include the Grande
Prairie, Spirit River, Fort Vermilion and the rest and makes careful
analysis of their agricultural capabilities. He sees great
possibilities, but places forcibly in his report the absolute need of
railway communication with the eastern centres before much can be
expected. His forecast has proven correct in every particular. These
regions now have railway and river transportation and are prospering
accordingly. One wonders now why extracts from the reports of these men
on the ground were not put before the people in general instead of being
allowed to suffer from being buried alive in the departments of
Government. All through these official reports from the Mounted Police
officers and men, we find statements and suggestions that might have
influenced the progress of the country greatly had they been given wider
publicity throughout the years.

The Yukon country was undergoing a good many changes. The mad rush of
miners into the Mining areas had dwindled away and big companies with
new hydraulic processes were crowding out the individual miners and
causing them to seek new fields for exploitation. But the vultures and
vampires of human society were slow in letting go their victims, and the
Mounted Police had to be constantly on the watch to prevent the unwary
and the foolish from being caught in their dens. That reliable officer,
Inspector Wroughton, who was in command at Dawson City in 1907, says,
"Dance-halls and their accompanying evils have been more or less
accountable for a good deal of the existing crime. But for these
institutions the wanton and the sneak-thief and the confidence man and
woman would find their opportunities seriously curtailed. During the
last session of the Yukon Council, I am glad to state, the ordinance
licensing these places was repealed after a hard and bitter struggle.
This does not mean that the evils are entirely eradicated. Our great
difficulty is to get evidence. It is, however, more difficult now to
carry on evil businesses." The law in the Yukon as elsewhere was
fulfilling the function assigned to it in the famous words of Gladstone,
"A good law is intended to make it easier for people to do right and
harder for them to do wrong."

That great mining frontier, with its money-mad and heterogeneous
population (albeit there were many splendid people there), was at the
same time the problem and the glory of the men in scarlet and gold. It
was their problem because the criminal class which always makes a dead
set on a frontier was determined from the outset to make the Klondike
country a sort of hell on earth, and it was their glory because they
prevented the thug and the outlaw from getting a foothold where the old
flag flew. There also the lawless individual sought to get away to some
other clime, for he said there as he said in the mountains, "These
blamed Mounted Police won't give a man a chance." That was one of the
biggest testimonials ever given to guardians of the law in any country.

It is not at all generally known that a real "red" revolution that aimed
at seizing the banks and mines with the hope of dividing the spoil
amongst the "revolutionists" was planned in the Yukon a decade or more
before the Bolshevistic terror was let loose in Europe. "Soapy Smith"
the unsavoury but reckless gunman of Skagway, had developed a school of
imitators. There were probably a couple of thousand or so of these tough
characters scattered all through the north country camps, and the idea
was to rally them to a centre, overpower the few policemen, establish a
sort of "liberty" government, seize the money and anything else that
could be carried, divide it up and then scatter to the outside before
any reinforcements could come to the aid of the Mounted Police from the
East. It was an ambitious programme and the "revolutionists" had gone
some distance in their preparations. They had arms stored in certain
localities, they had a seal for the temporary government (which seal I
have personally seen), they had maps prepared indicating the centres to
be attacked as well as a record of the Mounted Police posts with the
number of men in each.

But these same Mounted Police were not asleep. They never hunted after
publicity for themselves. They never thought of the grandstand. It would
have been often more spectacular to have allowed things to come out into
the open and then fight them in a dramatic way. But the preventive power
was what they preferred to exercise. It brought them less advertisement
and public notice, but it was best for the country and that was the main
thing with the scarlet and gold men.

So Superintendent A. E. Snyder, who was in command at White Horse, where
the principal leaders of the plot had, unfortunately for themselves,
located, discovered the half-hatched conspiracy. A knock-about kind of
fellow who had a wholesome fear of the police gave Snyder a hint about
some meetings in a stable loft. Snyder got his men to search the stables
and they discovered some incriminating literature as well as the White
Horse seal of the "republic," which latter Snyder still has in his
possession. Then he wired to Superintendent Primrose at Dawson and to
Comptroller Fred Whyte in Ottawa, at the same time dispatching Inspector
Horrigan to Skagway to put the matter before the American officials.
This energetic type of action frightened the conspirators. They
scattered to the four winds and most of them rushed out of the country.
It was "good riddance of bad rubbish" and the Canadian authorities
decided to let it drop at that point. But the incident, which hardly
anyone outside the police officers above mentioned knew anything about
till some years had passed, is another proof of the statement that the
Mounted Police have headed off more crime without killing than any other
body of men in the world.

In his report for 1908 Commissioner Perry quotes with justifiable pride
from a judgment given in an extradition case by Mr. Justice Hunt of the
United States Federal Court. Counsel for one Johnson who was fighting
extradition put up the plea that Johnson would not get a fair trial in
Canada and the Judge answers that plea very squarely in his
pronouncement. He felt that a strong case had been made out against
Johnson, and he practically ridiculed the suggestion that Johnson would
not get fair play north of the line. The Judge said in part, "The fact
that the officer (Mounted Police) who made the arrest of this defendant
promptly notified him that whatever he said would be used against him,
is a powerful bit of testimony, tending to show the care with which
officers of the law proceed under British systems of government.
Extraditing a prisoner for trial in Canada is not like returning him to
a country where the institutions and laws are so at variance with our
own that the courts might be apprehensive that he might not be
protected, but in ordering that he be returned to Canada, certainly the
courts in the United States will proceed on the well-founded belief,
justified by the light of experience, that he will be afforded ample
protection and that no injustice will be done him. The testimony of the
defendant regarding a conspiracy against him, and his statement that he
cannot get a fair trial, do not appeal a particle to a Judge sitting in
a proceeding of this kind. He will get a fair trial up there."





Esquimaux, as found by Mounted Police, September, 1915.]

And it is very interesting to find in the same year Superintendent Wood,
who was in command of the Yukon country with headquarters at Dawson,
standing up against reports in Eastern papers which stated that the
enforcement of law is lax in that country and morals at a low ebb. Wood
heaps up testimony to the contrary. He quotes from two Judges, Dugas and
Craig, both widely known and respected, who affirm that law is enforced
there as well as anywhere else, and that there are few cities where men
and women can go about at any hour as freely and safely as in Dawson.
The minister of a prominent church wrote to the London _Times_ and said,
"Regarding Dawson, our city is most orderly and seldom is a drunken man
seen on the streets. The Mounted Police rule with a firm hand, and life
and property are safer in Dawson than in London." A gentleman who spent
eleven years in Dawson, interviewed in 1907 in an Eastern city said, "I
have seen more trouble and immorality here in a week than I saw all the
years I was in Dawson." And Wood winds up by the strong admonition of a
man who will not allow his corps to be slandered for laxity in law
enforcement: "Let those who are so anxious to redeem the people of this
Territory commence their crusade in their own city or town. Judging from
the outside Press there are few if any places in Canada that can presume
to give Dawson a lecture on morals."

But the Yukon service where the Police were at the beck and call of
every case of need or distress or danger, no matter how much hardship
and exposure they involved, was taking its toll. The men of the corps
were paying the price for the proud privilege of preserving the Pax
Britannica in a remote region inhabited by a mixed population and
showing a record for justice and law-enforcement such as no area of a
similar character in any part of the world had ever seen. For in that
year 1908 Inspector D'Arcy Strickland, an officer of kindly generous
nature, who had gone into the Yukon with Constantine at the very
beginning, died at Fort Saskatchewan, the report stating that he had
never recovered from the effects of that pioneer service in the North.
In the same year Inspector Robert Belcher, C.M.G., who had won that
decoration in the Boer War, retired after thirty-four years' strenuous
service. It was Belcher and Strickland who had first flown the flag and
established custom-houses amid the snow and blizzards and tremendous
cold of those deadly summits of the White and the Chilcoot passes in the
days of the gold rush. Wood himself, and Constantine the pathfinder,
never threw off the effects of the Yukon days, though the former moved
back as Assistant Commissioner to the prairie and the latter did much
strenuous work in the Athabasca district where conditions were almost as
severe as in the Klondike country. Many others there were, gallant
officers, and no less gallant men, who bore the mark of their northern
vigils and patrols to the end of their days. And this applies not only
to the men of the Yukon but to those who in the Hudson Bay, Peace,
Mackenzie and Athabasca areas were abroad in polar seas or on land that
for months was hidden deep by snow and ice.

The year 1908 witnessed some notable trips and patrols. In order to wind
up all matters connected with the Peace-Yukon trail Inspector A. E. C.
Macdonnell was instructed by the Commissioner to proceed from Fort
MacLeod via Calgary, Vancouver and the Skeena River to Hazelton in
British Columbia to dispose of stores that were there and bring the
horses back to Fort Saskatchewan. The Peace-Yukon trail was begun in
order to have a road to the Yukon mines over British territory, and
during its construction a great deal of valuable information as to the
country was acquired and given out in reports by the Mounted Police. But
the dwindling down of the rush to the mines rendered the trail
practically unnecessary. The British Columbia Government did not desire
to assist and police detachments could not be spared, hence Macdonnell's
trip. It involved a route by saddle horse and pack train of over 1,200
miles, but it was carried out in perfect order.

Inspector J. D. Moodie, a noted sea and land patrolling officer, was
asserting the jurisdiction of Canada in the regions of the Hudson Bay
where there was much trading by people from the outside. Sergeant
McArthur, who held a lonely post at Cape Fullerton, receiving word that
the natives were being urged by traders to kill musk-ox contrary to law,
undertook on his own initiative, in the Arctic midwinter, a patrol which
lasted fifty days. Sergeant Donaldson, soldier and sailor too, who was
to meet a tragic death the next year, made a dangerous voyage from Fort
Churchill to Fullerton and return. A patrol with mail went from Regina
to Churchill, Assistant Surgeon LeCroix being sent with this patrol.
Staff-Sergeant Fitzgerald, hero of many trails, and who also was to find
a tragic end in the "white death" frosts of the Yukon, made that 1908
winter a patrol in a whaling ship to Baillie for the purpose of
ascertaining the condition of the natives and asserting Canadian
jurisdiction. Superintendent Routledge, going from Regina to Smith's
Landing, some 1,100 miles, looked into the matter of wild buffalo herds,
as did Sergeant Field and Sergeant McLeod, who went from Fort Vermilion
to Hay River on a similar errand.

The most extensive patrol of that year was the one undertaken by
Inspector E. A. Pelletier, who, accompanied by Corporal Joyce, Constable
Walker and Constable Conway and at a later stage by Sergeant McArthur,
Corporal Reeves and Constables Travers, McMillan, Walker, McDiarmid and
Special Constable Ford, left Fort Saskatchewan on the 1st of June for
Athabasca Landing on the way to Hudson Bay via Great Slave Lake, which
latter point they left on the 1st of July. They in due time reached
Chesterfield Inlet on the Hudson Bay. They were met at that point by
Superintendent J. D. Moodie with the Hudson's Bay steamer _MacTavish_
(called after a famous Hudson's Bay Company family). By this boat
Pelletier and his men started for Churchill, but the _MacTavish_ in a
storm was driven on a reef and totally wrecked. The men all escaped and
went to Corporal Joyce's lonely post at Fullerton. Pelletier was anxious
to go on to Churchill, but had difficulty in persuading even the natives
to go, for they said, "No one travels in December and January--the days
are too cold." But the Inspector was thinking of others and writes in
his report: "I knew what a lot of anxiety the delay of this patrol would
cause and we hurried preparations." The trip was fraught with constant
danger from cold and privation, but they made Churchill on January 11.
Pelletier modestly says they did not suffer and shows how well off they
were when he can state that their dogs were never without food for more
than four days at a time! The men ran out of sugar and coffee, but he
makes light of that, though both are a great help on a cold journey.
They met no natives from whom their stocks of deer and other skins could
be replenished, and so when they were stormbound for a day here and
there they darned and patched so as to prolong the life of their shoes.

The Inspector lets in some light on the general situation when he
writes: "The worst feature of a long journey like this in a country
where no fuel is to be procured, is the absolute impossibility of drying
clothing, bedding, etc. The moisture from the body accumulates and there
are no means to dry clothing to get rid of it in any way, and every day
sees it harder to put on in the morning and the beds harder to get into
at night, until both clothing and bedding become as stiff as a board
from the ice. It is a very uninviting task and disagreeable procedure
getting into an icy bed at night and in the morning getting into icy
clothes." When both clothes and food were frozen and even the prospect
of getting an occasional piece of driftwood was dim, one can imagine the
situation and wonder at the endurance as well as the daring of these

And when this state of affairs is realized one can appreciate the action
of Constable Ford as related by Corporal Reeves and forwarded in the
usual way by Superintendent J. D. Moodie, from Fort Churchill. Some
driftwood had been secured, and clothes dried when the party, consisting
of Sergeant Donaldson (in charge), Constables Reeves and Ford with two
natives, were off Marble Island and anchoring their boat, the
_MacTavish_ (which was wrecked later, as mentioned). Ford went over to
another island in a small boat to get some walrus meat, as they sighted
some walrus there. He came back and reported having killed some, and the
three constables went over to cut off their heads and bring these over.
As they were engaged in this task it began to get dark, so Donaldson and
Reeves left for the _MacTavish_ with some heads, leaving Ford on the
island to cut up the rest of the meat and one of the natives would come
back for him later. On the way to the _MacTavish_ a walrus struck the
boat and Donaldson was drowned, but Reeves, who had done his best to
help Donaldson, managed to swim back to the island where Ford had been
left. Reeves was completely numb with cold and weak with his struggles.
There was no means of getting a fire on that island, but gathering all
his strength he shouted in the darkness and Ford, who had not seen the
wreck, came to his help. Reeves writes vividly of an act of sacrifice on
the part of his companion: "By this time I was very numb and helpless
through being in the water so long and getting into the night air, which
was very cold. My clothing being soaked through, I would certainly have
perished had it not been for Constable Ford, who took off my wet clothes
and gave me his dry ones--wringing out as much water from my clothes as
he could he put them on himself." Then, in this icy suit, Ford searched
all night for Donaldson in vain. It was running a most desperate risk of
losing his own life, and if done under the eyes of others would have
been declared as valorous as the deed of any man who ever rode back to
rescue a wounded comrade under fire of the enemy.

Inspector Pelletier's patrol returned to Regina after nearly a year's
absence, during which they travelled by trail and water about 3,500
miles, a most extraordinary feat. The report of the patrol decided some
important points as to the nature of the country, the conditions of the
natives and the places where detachments of Police should be located.

Up in the sub-Arctic regions in the other directions, the Mounted Police
were keeping their lonely vigils and making their hazardous journeys.
Staff-Sergeant (later Inspector) Fitzgerald, who after several years in
charge at Herschell Island was relieved in 1909 by Inspector Jennings,
gives a little pen-picture of the place when he says, "Herschell Island
is one of the most lonely places when there are no whaling ships. There
is no place one can go except to visit a few hungry natives, and there
is no white man to visit nearer than 180 miles." After speaking highly
of his comrades, Constables Carter and Kinny, he refers to one journey
incidentally and says, "The heavy ice between Kay and King points formed
large pools of water and we struggled with the large sleds all day,
sometimes up to our waists in water." One wonders how these men stood
it. The Commissioner was right when he indicated that service in the
north required men of robust health and hopeful temperament. Inspector
A. M. Jarvis says the sailors regard Herschell Island as a "blowhole."
The wind blows one way or the other constantly, and he quotes the
captains as saying that "a nor'-easter never dies in debt to a
sou'-wester." But Jarvis introduces a fine human touch when he says of
the inhabitants, "They are quite religious, holding services on Sunday
and doing no work on that day. They neither beg nor steal, and slander
is unknown amongst them. They are as near 'God's chosen people' as any I
have ever seen. After my experience of this world I could almost wish
that I had been born an Esquimaux. They are very fond of their children
and take the greatest care of them. The children never require to be
chastised and are very obedient. One never sees any quarrelling or
bickering amongst them. They show the true sport in their games of
football and baseball. The other day I noticed a crowd of little tots,
in their skin clothes, playing on the snow for several hours as though
they were in a bed of roses." This is a delightful picture and in rather
painful contrast to our more artificial life, so that one can understand
Jarvis' wish.

These policemen had a fine regard to the human side of the world's work,
and often indicate their keen desire for the things that they deem in
the highest moral interest of their districts. In the year we have been
discussing, Inspector Horrigan went from Dawson to the Upper Pelly River
to look into the matter of a supposed murder and to bring about a
reconciliation between two groups of Indians that had fallen out about
something. He found that the Blind Creek Indians were in the wrong and
effected a better understanding all around. Of the Indians on the Upper
Pelly, he writes in his report, "The Pelly Indians are sober, honest and
provident. Morally their standard is very high. It seems too bad that so
far no provision has been made for a school for the children, as they
are a very bright, clever-looking crowd. I see a great field here for
good, active Christian work." This is finely spoken--a good admonition
both to Church and State--but incidentally also a rebuke to certain
phases of a so-called higher civilization which often gives to the
unspoiled children of nature its worst rather than its best features.
And up in the Mackenzie River district where we left Inspector Jennings
in charge we find that able officer also engaged in prescribing certain
rules regarding the conduct of visiting ships which tend to ward off
from the unsuspecting natives some practices which would not be for the
good of these innocent people.

Down in the Middle West the Mounted Police were having difficulty with
people whose type of religion, being unmixed with intelligence, led them
into fanatical excesses. The Doukhobors, or "Spirit Wrestlers" as their
name means, were a body of people who had come from Southern Russia,
where they had not enjoyed anything like liberty. When they arrived in
Winnipeg, where I recall speaking to the first band through an
interpreter, they sent back a cablegram to their friends, which was
shown me at the time by Mr. McCreary, Commissioner of Immigration at
that point. The cable read, "Arrived Canada safe are free." The change
was a little too much for them, and they did not realize that they were
not free to become nuisances to others. They were ignorant, illiterate,
but had the merit of being conscientious and being willing to suffer for
conscience' sake. This latter characteristic always prevented me from
condemning them wholly. Once their ignorance was removed they would
become industrious and orderly citizens.

But in the early stages they were fanatics and used to go on
pilgrimages, they said in search of Christ. Inspector Junget, Sergeant
(now Inspector) Spalding and others of the Police had a lot of trouble
in rounding them up, giving them food and preventing them from shocking
communities by their parades. The Police used great tact and in the end
succeeded in impressing these strange people with some sense of
responsibility. In the midst of the difficulty a half-crazed man named
Sharpe crossed from the States with some others. He said he was "Christ"
going to "God's people, the Doukhobors," but as he was heavily armed and
threatened to shoot anyone who tried to stop him, his claim was
naturally rejected. Inspector Tucker and a detachment went to see Sharpe
and reported that an arrest could not be made without shooting, so it
was decided to wait and watch. Sharpe sent the following letter to
Tucker: "To save bloodshed use some judgment. I will not give up alive,
so some of us would be shot. If I have to continue amongst sinful men I
had rather die. No one can say that Jesus is the Christ only by the Holy
Ghost. The spirit came to Christ in the form of a dove. It came to me in
the form of a lion. When the Doukhobors receive me, then the Lord will
prove me and your eyes can open wide." But the Doukhobors were getting
their eyes open and the Police, rather than kill anyone, pursued a
waiting policy with close supervision. Finally Peter Veregen, the
czaristic leader of the Doukhobors, warned the Doukhobors not to receive
Sharpe. This nonplussed the fanatic, who had come possibly with an eye
to business. He expressed disgust at the way the Doukhobors were in
subjection to Veregen, "But they must be the people of God," he said,
"or they would not be in such subservience. Veregen has a fine graft and
I would like to run the spiritual side of the business for him."
However, the redoubtable Peter wanted no partner, so Sharpe and his
following crossed back to the States, informing Constable King, who saw
them safely across, that "they would be back next spring." However, they
came not. The Doukhobors, particularly the new generation, have made
much progress and have prospered in establishing some useful industries.
But for several years they were a source of a good deal of anxiety to
the red-coated riders, who wished to guide them to better conditions
without harshness. Events have justified the attitude of the Police.

Of course, these law-enforcers still had the ordinary class of offenders
to deal with, for crimes like horse-stealing and "cattle-rustling" die
hard. For instance, a man named Marker, then south of the line in North
Dakota, who, having been allowed out on bail by the Canadian
authorities, when he was under a charge of horse-stealing, lost no time
in going across beyond the reach of the Mounted Police. Corporal Church,
on detachment work, kept his eye on the border for a sight of Marker,
who might come over to replenish his stock of horses. Church got word of
his intention at a given time, and taking a man named Kelly with him he
rode all night, and finding a companion of Marker's, he got the
information that the horse-stealer would likely cross over some 20 miles
westward. Their horses were pretty tired, but Church and his men kept
on, and concealed themselves near a trail crossing the boundary about
that distance away. In a few hours Marker and another man rode over and
Corporal Church, galloping up to him, ordered him to halt. Marker
wheeled, drew his revolver and made for the line. Kelly headed him off
and Marker shot at him, but missed. Kelly then charged, knocking both
Marker and his horse over. He quickly remounted and rode on, but Church
intercepted him, telling him he would shoot if he did not stop. Marker
attempted to shoot the constable, but his revolver missed fire. Church
then shot Marker's horse and captured the horse-stealer before he got to
the line. Church then hired a team to take the prisoner to the
detachment headquarters. But when the wagon on a winding road seemed to
be on the American side of the line, Marker threw himself from the
conveyance and reaching a house at the spot, rushed in and slammed the
door. Church reports: "I forced the door open and was met by a blow in
the eye from Marker, who had taken his spurs off and used same as a
weapon. I grappled with him and threw him on the floor, and with
assistance tied his hands and feet after a good rough and tumble scrap."
Church had done his duty surely, but whether lawyers and surveyors would
prove that the arrest was made a few feet over the line or not we cannot
say. The lads of the scarlet tunic always got their man, but the courts
sometimes let him go again.

In support of the position taken by Superintendent Wood, already quoted
in regard to the orderliness of the Yukon, it is interesting to quote
from Inspector Wroughton, who was in command of the Dawson Division. He
says, looking back over 1908, "I am pleased to report that there has
been very little crime in this district during the last eleven months
and, I might say, none of a serious nature." In the list of cases for
gambling and such like one can gather from the names that the Mounted
Police did not confine their efforts to suppressing gambling amongst
aliens as some have done elsewhere. The majority of names mentioned are
of our own race. The Mounted Police played no favourites.

In his report for 1910, Commissioner Perry makes the almost incredible
statement that twenty-five new detachments have been established during
the past year without any increase in the strength of the Force. The
corps seems to have had all through the years an extraordinary
elasticity. It seemed to be able to stretch itself over constantly
growing areas of settlement and to meet the situation created by the
increasing tide of immigration that was flowing over the great new West.
That could only be effected because of the superior quality of the
individual men, their ability to act separately and upon individual
initiative. They did not require to have mass formation to keep their
courage up to the necessary pitch. And still better they had the
training that would make them reliable in judgment when sudden and
unexpected conditions arose. Perry's policy to have a goodly number of
men always in training at headquarters so that unready recruits should
not have to go out to face emergencies, was being approved by events as
highly statesman-like. But he was right in constantly keeping before the
Government the need for increasing the numbers of the Force, because,
although the men were wonderfully efficient and could be trusted even in
"detachments of one," the fact was that burdens were laid upon one man
that should have been borne by two or three. To many a man the increase
in the number of detachments meant doubling his hours in the saddle and
lessening his hours for recuperation. One wonders that more men did not
break down under the strain. But for their invariable high calibre this
would have been the result. An indication of the way in which the
arduous labours of the Police were appreciated is found in the 1909
report of the Commissioner of Agriculture in Saskatchewan, who speaks of
the "invaluable assistance given by the officers and men in enforcing
the various ordinances of the department. In particular I refer to the
Horse-breeders Ordinance, the Fire and Game Ordinances and the Public
Health Act, the latter calling for vigilant work in patrolling foreign
settlements quarantined for outbreaks of infectious and contagious
diseases. Had it not been for the excellent service rendered to the
department by this hard-working and highly-trained force of men, the
spread of disease would probably have reached epidemic proportions."

Speaking of the kind of men required to keep up the reputation of the
Force, Commissioner Perry has this illuminating statement: "We require
sober, trustworthy men; those who are not, only remain in the Force
until they are found out."

During the year 1910, there were some notable changes in the Force.
Wood, who had served for thirteen years in the Yukon, ten of which as
the highly efficient Officer Commanding, was promoted to be Assistant
Commissioner; Starnes, who had done difficult work in many places,
latterly in the Hudson's Bay district, was promoted to the rank of
Superintendent; Sergeants Sweetapple, Raven, Fitzgerald and Hertzog
became Inspectors; while two excellent officers, Inspector John Taylor,
son of Sir Thomas Taylor, Chief Justice of Manitoba, and Inspector
Church, the famous riding master, were called by death.

Superintendent Cortlandt Starnes gives a rather chilling picture of the
Mounted Police surroundings at Fort Churchill where the weather
indicator was for months hitting the bottom of the thermometer bulb, and
where there was a general monotony in surroundings. He says, "The place
is a dreary one, and there is nothing in the way of recreation for the
men except reading and no place to go except the Hudson's Bay post and
the English Church mission on a Sunday." This is a good tribute to the
self-sacrifice of the missionary. Starnes goes on to say, "There was a
gramophone, but it is broken and out of order. The mess-room is a cold
and forbidding place." Starnes has a good appreciation of the value of
some cheerful environment for his men, for he says, "I have had some
chairs put up instead of the long benches, and I have requisitioned for
a few pictures to put on the walls. I would also like to have the tin
plates and cups replaced by the ordinary white crockery, or crockery of
a cheap standard pattern." Starnes is not extravagant in his
requisition. Canada is a rich country, and these men holding her lonely
outposts deserve consideration, but some picayune arm-chair censor may
cut things out, and so the Superintendent goes warily, but he will not
desist altogether because he knows the place better than the censor, and
he knows that his men should have some reasonable comforts. "A small
billiard table," he says, "and some additional books and magazines would
be acceptable. The library is well patronized, but in a year's time the
most of its books will have been read." A year is quite a while to wait
for a mail. It was at a post something like this one that one early
Hudson's Bay Company official heard of the Battle of Waterloo a year
after it happened. But he held a celebration even then, for were not
these grim old traders men of British stock who were holding a new
Empire for the British Crown? Of course, things were improving since the
advent of the Mounted Police, for they had instituted what Inspector
Jennings facetiously called a "rural mail delivery" through regions near
the Pole. Jennings himself and his men had patrolled through snow and
ice very extensively that year, and the sense of humour that could speak
of this white wilderness as a "rural route" would be a saving
make-believe in the midst of Arctic blizzards. And the thought of
bearing a loving missive to solitary men from friends thousands of miles
distant, might well thrill the imagination of these knights of the
modern day.



In the recent Great War a somewhat casual visitor was present when a
vagrant shell smashed the refreshment dug-out where a young Red Cross
man was handling some comforts for the khaki-clad boys near the front
line. And when the alarmed visitor explained to the dispenser of
refreshments, "I would not stay here for a hundred dollars a day," the
answer came back swiftly but kindly, "Neither would I." He was not there
for the hope of gain, but out of a sense of duty and adventure so strong
that both danger and remuneration were forgotten.

There was a good deal of this spirit manifest in Mounted Police history
from the beginning. Not the pittance in the way of pay drew men to the
corps, but the love of the adventurous and the desire to do work in the
out-of-the-way places, where new trails had to be blazed beyond the
accustomed sky-line. This was especially true of the men who served and
volunteered to serve again in the vast spaces of the white and frozen
North. Not for a hundred a day would they have so risked their lives, as
others risk them still in that region. It was because the jurisdiction
of their country's flag had to be asserted, and because lonely outposts
and scattered groups of sometimes starving natives challenged the best
that was in them, that these uniformed crusaders went out again and
again on their hazardous patrols.

And so, when in 1911 Inspector Fitzgerald, Constables Kinney, Taylor and
Special Constable Carter, four men of the finest type and the most
thorough experience in those desperate, trackless and frozen areas, men
cast in so fine a mould that some of them were to be selected for the
King's Coronation, perished on a patrol from Herschell Island to Fort
Macpherson and Dawson City, Canada was stabbed broad awake to what the
men of the Force had been doing for their country in those Arctic lands.
It seems as if such catastrophes are periodically required to make a
selfish world aware of what some men are enduring in order that others
may live in comfort and ease. But the world does not always receive such
lessons in the right spirit. The tendency is rather to raise a protest
against the authorities who permit men so to sacrifice themselves. Thus,
when those four gallant men fell in the Northern wilderness, the first
note from the press seemed to indicate that this patrol was an
exceptional occurrence, and that it should not have been allowed to take
place in view of the possible sacrifice it might involve. This gave
Commissioner Perry, than whom no one was more deeply distressed and
grieved at the tragic event, an opportunity to remind the country that
such patrols had been for years a common and every-day event in the work
of his men in the North. From year to year, under the Polar sky, in
scores of different directions, the Police had carried on this work,
performing definite duties, carrying mails, visiting camps of Indians
and Esquimaux who were the wards of the nation, maintaining law and
order beyond the confines of civilization and generally exercising a
wholesome oversight in the loneliest spaces in the world. "This is
dangerous work," wrote the Commissioner; "in our rigorous winter climate
and in spite of every precaution, a tragedy may occur at any time. It
does not deter our men from seeking service there, and it is to the
North many prefer to go." The spirit of adventure was in the blood of
these men, and the tragic possibilities which no one foresaw as well as
they did themselves erected no barrier which could discourage them in
their endeavours. If there was the constant looming up of danger through
the "white death" fog, there was also the glory of adventure under the
flashing splendour of the aurora borealis.



And when Commissioner Perry wrote in his report as above quoted, he was
able to support his statement by actual facts from that very same year.
He said: "All over the North-land members of this Force are carrying out
these difficult journeys. Attached to this report you will find many
reports of equally dangerous patrols. Sergeant Hayter, 700 miles return
journey from Fullerton along the West Coast of Hudson Bay to Rankin
Inlet, to meet Sergeant Borden, who went up from Fort Churchill,
carrying mail and taking a census of the Esquimaux; Sergeant Walker from
Fort Churchill to York Factory and return; Sergeant Nicholls from Norway
House to Fort Churchill and return to Gimli; Sergeant Edgenton from
Split Lake to Fort Churchill, arriving with dogs abandoned by the way,
and three days without food; Sergeant Munday from the Pas to Lac de
Brochet and return, 900 miles in fifty-one days; and Sergeant MacLeod
from Fort Vermilion across the Caribou Mountains to Great Slave Lake."
This is a most formidable list, and to anyone who knows the country and
the climate it affords the imagination a moving panorama, in which
constant danger and almost incredible endurance are portrayed. All this
forcibly reminded Canada of the devotion of her sons in the Northern
hinterland, and that was the purpose of it being definitely stated. And
it gives us a sort of veneration for the memory of the four men of the
Fitzgerald patrol whose magnificent strength, after having been tried
and proven on many similar journeys for years, succumbed before a
combination of intolerable cold, blizzard-swept trails, unfamiliar river
passes, shortage of provisions and starving train-dogs. For it was the
death of these men that brought home to the people the astonishing
achievements and heroisms of Canadian chivalry on the frontiers.

Fitzgerald himself, as we have already seen, had been famous for years
as an intrepid patrol man, and had been promoted to the rank of
Inspector for his services. All the others, Kinney, Taylor and
ex-Constable Carter, had been more than once mentioned in dispatches.
This is a legitimate expression, because in reality the Mounted Police
were always on active service, and their merits were made known in the
reports of their superior officers.

Strangely enough, from the human viewpoint, it was at Fitzgerald's own
request that he was selected by the Commissioner in 1910 to take command
of the Mackenzie River district. It was only the year before that he,
then a staff-sergeant, had handed over that district to Inspector
Jennings, but after receiving his promotion, Fitzgerald heard the
insistent call of the great familiar North so overwhelmingly that he
asked to be sent back into the white wastes again. And further, to
vindicate some divine purpose running through it all, he suggested the
patrol in that direction himself. The patrol had always been from
"Dawson to Fort Macpherson and Herschell," but Fitzgerald asked to have
its order reversed, and offered to go from Herschell Island to
Macpherson and Dawson, from which latter point he could get into touch
by wire with headquarters at Regina and report on his district. To this
the Commissioner agreed, and so notified the Comptroller at Ottawa, as
well as the officer commanding at Dawson, who was told to expect the
patrol from Macpherson about the end of January.

When the patrol started from Fort Macpherson everything seemed
favourable for a mid-winter trip. The men were all in fit condition,
thoroughly acquainted with conditions of winter travel, and so keen to
make a record journey that they did not burden themselves with more food
than necessary for themselves and their dogs, of which they had fifteen
for their three trains. The sequel proved that had they been able to
keep the route they would have made Dawson in good shape. The trouble
came upon them when neither map nor compass or any previous knowledge
availed them in the maze of rivers and mountains that lay in their way.
Taylor and Kinney had never been over the route, Fitzgerald had been
over it once on another trail from the Dawson end. Carter had been over
the new trail once a few years previously, but he, too, had come over it
from Dawson to Macpherson, and a route with its piloting marks of bluffs
and trees or banks by the way-side looks quite different when traversed
the opposite way. Carter was a powerful, experienced and thoroughly
reliable man, who had seen much service in the Force. Though not in the
corps at the time of the patrol, he had been confident of his ability to
guide the party to Dawson, and Fitzgerald had taken him on in that

The weather was intensely cold, and the going heavy, with here and there
the rivers bursting up through the broken ice and creating very
difficult trails. But they were all used to that, and did not mind it.
Over a portage at a certain point they secured the services of an
Indian, named Esau, to break trail and guide them to a certain point
from which Carter was sure he knew the way. There the Indian was
discharged and returned to his camp, Fitzgerald probably feeling that
extra expenditure of Government funds for a guide was not justified when
Carter was along.

The scene changes to Dawson. The patrol did not arrive when expected,
and Superintendent A. E. Snyder, an experienced officer, who was in
command there, began to get anxious, and when some Indians arrived from
the Fort Macpherson direction he got in touch with them at once. From
them he learned that Esau, who had been discharged at a certain point,
expected the patrol to be in Dawson many days before the day of Snyder's
inquiry. Snyder, fearing the worst, became alarmed. He wired the
Commissioner as to the situation, and at the same time called Corporal
Dempster from Forty Mile and instructed him to get ready a party to go
in search of the lost patrol. The Commissioner flashed back instructions
to send out a search party, and it went without delay. It is evident
from his telegram that the Commissioner, who knew the perils of the
trail and had his hand on every part of the country, thought the trouble
was with the failure of the guide, because he asks why the Indian, who
was mentioned by Snyder, was discharged, and in order that no undue
risks be taken he says, "Send a well-outfitted party."

The party sent out was fully up to requirements. Corporal Dempster was a
noted traveller of those Yukon trails, and at the date of this writing
is out on the same difficult route, his strength unbroken by the
intervening years. For his party in search of Fitzgerald he chose
Constable Fyfe, ex-Constable Turner, and an Indian, Charles Stewart.
They had all been over the country again and again, and so knew it well.
They were all eager to go in the hope of reaching their missing
comrades. The broad outline of their duty was given them by
Superintendent Snyder, with the Spartan simplicity and directness
characteristic of the Mounted Police. It ran thus: "Corporal Dempster.
You will leave to-morrow for a patrol over the Fort Macpherson trail to
locate the whereabouts of Inspector Fitzgerald's party. Indians from
Macpherson reported him on New Year's Day at Mountain Creek. Fair
travelling from Mountain Creek is about twenty days to Dawson. I
understand that at Hart, no matter which route he took, he would have to
cross the divide. I think it would be advisable to make for this point
and take up his trail from there. I cannot give you any specific
instructions; you will have to be guided by circumstances and your own
judgment, _bearing in mind that nothing is to stand in your way until
you have got into touch with this party_."

Dempster and his men made a record trip, both going to Macpherson and
coming back. And this they did despite the fact that they had to face
high winds, blinding snowstorms and flooded ice, besides searching the
rivers that branched off the main route. They arrived back in Dawson on
April 17, 1911, gaunt and haggard. "It's the hardest patrol I ever
made," said Dempster, and that not by the perils of the way, which he
was well able to meet, but because, as had already been told to the
world, he had found the dead bodies of his four gallant comrades, where
they had perished of cold and hunger on the way.

The first two bodies, those of Kinney and Taylor, were found some 35
miles from Macpherson, and those of Carter and Fitzgerald within a score
of miles of that place. Only a short day's run from Macpherson. If those
who were there had only known, how speedily they would have gone to the
rescue! It appears clear from what Fitzgerald had written in his diary,
the first date in which was December 21, 1910, and the last February 5,
1911, that not many days after Indian Esau had left, it became apparent
that Carter had over-estimated his ability to remember the route which
he had only passed over once a few years before, and that the reverse
way. Many landmarks may have been removed by fire and otherwise since
that time. Poor Carter! I sometimes feel he suffered more than any of
them when he found that he could not find the way he thought he knew.
How hard he tried day after day, leaving camp with one or other of his
companions and going up one river after the other, only to find that
they ended as "blind alleys," along which they could proceed no farther.
And so Fitzgerald has to write on January 17: "Carter is hopelessly lost
and does not know one river from another. We have only 10 lbs. of flour,
8 lbs. of bacon and some dried fish. My last hope is gone, and the only
thing I can do is to return and kill some of the dogs to feed the others
and ourselves. We have now been a week looking for a river to take us
over the divide, but there are dozens of rivers and I am at a loss."

One asks why they had not turned back days before, and as soon as they
found the route uncertain. The answer is that it was not the Police way
to turn back when they were out on a definite errand. These men were of
the same calibre as the young constable in the foothill country who was
caught in a blizzard while out on duty, and on whose body, as already
quoted, was found a paper with the words: "Lost. Horse dead. Am trying
to push ahead. Have done my best."

But Fitzgerald was not alone, and had to save his men if he could.
Kinney and Taylor, less strong than the others, suffered from cold and
severe pains, the results perhaps of the dog meat and dog liver diet.
The dogs would not eat this food, and so the men gave them the fish they
had for their own use. So, in a last effort to save his men, Fitzgerald
ordered the return, in the hope of making Fort Macpherson, from which
they had travelled over 300 miles. He and Carter could have made it had
they not been hampered by the other two, who were sick. But they would
not leave them, as shown by the fact that Dempster found the camps each
night were only a few miles apart. Finally, it appears that in the hope
of reaching Macpherson and getting help Fitzgerald and Carter gave all
the food, such as it was, and all the warm sleeping-bags to their
comrades, and tried to reach Macpherson, which was only 35 miles away.
They made 10 miles and then gave out and fell. Carter was evidently the
first to go, for his body was laid out, his hands crossed, and a
handkerchief put over his face. Then the gallant Fitzgerald succumbed,
first having written with a charred stick on a paper found in his pocket
his will in the fine words: "All money in dispatch bag and bank,
clothes, etc., I leave to my dearly beloved Mother, Mrs. John
Fitzgerald, of Halifax. God bless all. F. J. Fitzgerald, R.N.W.M.P."
Many times have the initials of the old corps been written in important
and honourable connections, but never with greater honour to the Force
than when they were thus set down with the thought of his mother and a
benediction for all by the numbed fingers of the heroic Inspector who
was faithful unto death.

When Dempster and his men found the emaciated bodies and the mail which
the dead men had carefully guarded they covered the bodies over
reverently with brush, for their dogs were too far spent by the hard,
swift trip to draw them, and went on to Fort Macpherson with the sad
news. Those at Macpherson never dreamed but that the four strong,
splendid men who had left them weeks before had long ere the date of
Dempster's arrival reached Dawson City. The news that now came blanched
all faces and cast a great gloom over that little company in the far
North. Next morning, March 23, Corporal Somers and Constable Blake got
together three fresh dog-teams with which, accompanied by two Indians,
Somers started out at noon and returned on the 25th with the bodies of
the men who had given up their lives in the line of their duty. A grave
was prepared, the only one of its kind in the Northland, where the four
bodies were buried side by side, in coffins made and covered with black
by Somers and Dempster. The funeral was held in the Anglican Church,
that devoted missionary, Rev. C. E. Whittaker, conducting the service in
the presence of Mrs. Whittaker, nine white men and the native residents.
Dempster says finely here: "Even though the funeral was held in the most
northerly part of the Empire, away in the Arctic Circle, hundreds of
miles from civilization, I am glad to be able to assure you that
everything was done in connection with the last sad rites that could
possibly be done under the circumstances, and I am sure that the
relatives and friends of the deceased will be glad to know that it was
possible to have Christian burial services read by an ordained minister
of the Gospel over the bodies of their loved ones." The honours were
duly paid also by their comrades, for there was a firing party of five,
Somers, Blake, Dempster, Fyfe and Turner, to give the farewell salute at
the graveside. In the solitude of the vast Northland the rattle of that
musketry would not carry far in one sense, but it awaked echoes in
hearts that understood in far places of the Empire.

When Commissioner Perry sent his final report on the matter he voiced
the feelings of all when he wrote: "Their loss has been felt most keenly
by every member of the Force, but we cannot but feel a thrill of pride
at the endeavour they made to carry out their duty. I cannot express it
better than in the following extract from a letter addressed to me by
His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan: 'While the
occurrence brings deepest sadness to all, we feel that such an event
gives greater lustre and enduring remembrance to the splendid Force.'"
And Inspector Sanders, then at Athabasca Landing, who knew the men well
and had received a report from Corporal Somers, wrote a statement to the
Commissioner, in which these fine sentences occur: "It would appear that
Inspector Fitzgerald was the last to succumb, and that he and Carter
would probably have made Fort Macpherson had they not heroically stood
by their stricken and weary companions. The pathetic attention evidently
paid by Inspector Fitzgerald to his dead companions was in keeping with
his brave and manly character."

Memorial services were held in Dawson and other places, and at the
service in Dawson Governor Alexander Henderson said: "They did not fall
in the shock of battle, but, none the less, they all died nobly in the
discharge of their duty and in the service of their country."

The members of the Mounted Police Force raised a large amount for the
purpose of a memorial tablet, but perhaps the most eloquent, if humble,
testimonies were in the wide North, where the men and their achievements
were so well known for years. Corporal Somers, at Fort Macpherson, cut a
copper camp kettle into strips and engraved upon them the names of the
brave departed, while more recently the famous old name of Smith's
Landing at the end of the Athabasca River navigation was changed to
Fitzgerald as a tribute to the memory of the gallant Policeman whose
name was a household word in all that country.

The fatal ending of the Fitzgerald patrol remains as the most tragic
happening in the long and remarkable history of the Mounted Police. But,
as already suggested, it startled our people into a fuller realization
of what the men of the Force were and are doing so unobtrusively for the
country at such constant risk to themselves. The passing of Fitzgerald
and his companions on that frozen way will not have been in vain if our
Canadian lads learn new lessons from the men whose silent tents are, at
the end of the trail, pitched on the eternal camping ground of Fame. If
these lessons of heroism and devotion to duty are learned and practised
by the young men of to-day, then that lonely fourfold grave under the
Arctic sky will prove to be one of the bulwarks of the nation.



The White North was taking its toll of the men who were at the outposts
of Empire as exponents of British administration. When Fitzgerald left
Herschell Island on his last patrol, Sergeant Selig and Constable
Wissenden remained in charge of that remote and lonely point, but in
January, despite the efforts of his solitary white companion Wissenden,
Selig, after much suffering, passed over the Great Divide. Wissenden,
with the help of the natives, made a coffin and placed the body in a
storehouse to await Fitzgerald's expected return. Corporal Somers and
Constable Blake at Fort Macpherson heard through Hudson's Bay Company
men that Selig had died in January, and before they could take any steps
to go to Herschell Island, Dempster came from Dawson with the news of
the death of Fitzgerald and his comrades. One can imagine the strain
upon these men Somers and Blake at Macpherson, and Wissenden alone on
Herschell Island, where, besides suffering loss by the death of his
companion, he was so isolated from the civilized world that he did not
see the face of a white man from November, 1910, till March, 1911.

But as soon as Dempster's patrol left Macpherson for Dawson, Somers, who
throughout acted with a thorough sense of what was necessary and
fitting, left Macpherson for Herschell Island, where he arrived in
April. The body of Selig, as above stated, was awaiting the expected
return of Inspector Fitzgerald. Instead of that Wissenden received now
the news of the death of the members of that patrol, and not only he but
the natives of the Island were greatly shocked and grieved. Then the
funeral of Selig was held, Somers bringing Mr. Fry, of the Church of
England Mission, from Escape Reef for the service. The mourners were the
two Policemen and every Esquimaux on the Island, all following behind
the dog sled which carried the coffin to the bleak burial ground.
"Sergeant Selig," said Superintendent Sanders in his report of the
district, "was one of the best N.C.O.'s in the Force." And Fitzgerald,
who knew men in that country at first hand, said in his previous year's
report: "Sergeant Selig, S.E.A., is a most efficient N.C.O., and has
done excellent work in the North. Since he has been in this country he
has been on every patrol, both summer and winter. He is a most capable
man for any kind of work in the Northern country." He, too, fell like a
good soldier, dying at his post, in the swift illness brought on by the
terrific exposure of years in the Arctic. The passing of Selig at
Herschell Island and in Dawson of Sergeant E. Smith, who had done
notable work in the Yukon, as well as the Fitzgerald patrol, showed a
heavy casualty list in 1911 as the price of holding the North and
protecting its inhabitants. In some other ways that 1910-11 period was
quite notable. The years were beginning to tell upon the Force, which
was always popularly considered as a corps of young men. But in reality
it had travelled through time for wellnigh two score of years, and men
who had joined up while scarcely out of their teens had given a long
day's work and were entitled to go on the pension list. Most prominent
of these was Assistant Commissioner John H. McIlree, who was one of the
original group. He joined up when organization was first mooted in the
autumn of 1873, coming West over the difficult mud-and-water Dawson
Route to the historic Lower Fort Garry, where these pioneers who were to
lay the foundation of a famous corps were sworn in by Lieut.-Colonel
Osborne Smith, as already related. McIlree was then Sergeant, but in the
coming years, by reliable and distinguished service, worked his way up
to the Assistant-Commissionership. Before his retirement he received the
decoration of the Imperial Service Order in recognition of the
contribution he had made to the welfare of the country. Surgeon Pare,
Inspector Camies and Inspector A. M. Jarvis, who had won his C.M.G. in
the South African War, also retired to pension, as did a number of
well-known non-commissioned officers and men, Flintoff, McClelland,
Haslett, Nicholson, Butler, Smith, Thompson, Aylesworth and Carter. On
the other hand, several non-commissioned officers moved up to the
Inspectorship rank; Shoebotham, Telford and Newson, who had done good
service on the plains and the Northland; and Beyts, Field and French,
whose remarkable patrols on the Hudson's Bay, Athabasca and Mackenzie
River areas had attracted wide attention. In that period, also, a
detachment consisting of seven officers and seventy-five
non-commissioned officers and men, selected from all the divisions of
the Force, including the Hudson's Bay and Yukon areas, went over to the
King's Coronation. Commissioner Perry accompanied them, and was given a
very prominent place in connection with the Coronation ceremonies. The
whole contingent formed a special guard of honour on different
occasions, and won high appreciation for their splendid bearing and
gentlemanly character. For this highly creditable bearing and reputation
which reflected honour on Canada they were specially thanked in London
by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who took great pride in the corps all through
his public life.

And all the time, at the far-flung outposts of the King's Empire, the
Mounted Police at home in Canada were keeping the British peace and
looking after the administration of British law where the banner of
Britain flew. That versatile officer, Superintendent Deane, then in
command at Calgary, tells us of a peculiar case which arose out of the
disappearance of an eccentric old-time rancher, named Tucker Peach. He
had been known for years as "Old Tucker," and it is said that only the
postmaster at Gladys, where he got his mail, and an implement agent and
rancher, named Jack Fisk, knew the Peach part of it. But Peach had a big
roll of money, which had been seen by one or two when he was making
purchases, and this old recluse kept it about the shack he occupied, as
in his eccentricity he had no use for banks. No kith or kin had he in
the country, and he had mentioned to a neighbour that he was going to
sell his ranch and go back to England. One day he was absent from his
accustomed haunts, but as no one expected that he would say good-bye to
anyone his disappearance was not considered in any way odd, and it was
not reported to the Police. Some young fellow came to live on the ranch,
and he was supposed to be the purchaser or his agent. And as no one on
the frontier in those days cared whether his neighbour was a "duke's son
or a cook's son," as long as he "played fair," nothing unusual was
suspected and things resumed the even tenor of their way. The young man
on the ranch later said he was tenant in charge of the place for
Mitchell Robertson, who owned it, but who was then working on the train
as a brakesman out of Calgary. Robertson had left word with the
postmaster at Gladys that any mail coming for Peach should be forwarded
to Robertson's address in Calgary.

Some months later a body, headless, was found in the river, but it was
so decomposed that the Coroner, Dr. Revell, finding no trace of foul
play, ordered it buried. It might have been a drowning. Later still, a
skull was found near by with a hole in the centre, batting in one ear
and a dent on the forehead to one side of the centre. Then Dr. Revell
had the body exhumed and called an inquest. The Mounted Police took a
hand and Inspector Duffus watched the case. In the meantime, Robertson
vanished suddenly off the train, but was caught at MacLeod by the
Mounted Police there and brought back to the inquest at Okatoks.
Meanwhile, Inspector Duffus got hold of some strong evidence. Ranchers
had expressed the opinion that the skull was "Old Tucker's" by its shape
and by the batting, and one "old-timer" was found who said the dent in
the skull near the side was from a kick by a horse years before, and
that he knew it because he had helped "Old Tucker" bind up the wound at
the time.

Robertson was called to give evidence, and became so mixed in his
testimony that Inspector Duffus called his attention to the
discrepancies. Robertson would say nothing more and Duffus, with the
Coroner's permission, took him into another room, and after warning him
asked him if he had anything to say. The result was a full confession of
the murder. It appears that Fisk, who was disposed to terrorize people,
had told Robertson that he was going to do away with "Old Tucker," and
that Robertson must come with him. After it was over Robertson was to
have the land and Fisk the horses in the place. They went to Tucker's
shack early one morning and, knocking at the door, Robertson told who he
was. The old rancher got up and admitted them, and as he was dressing
Fisk shot him through the forehead, and putting the revolver into
Robertson's hand said, "Now you shoot also," which Robertson did. Then
they got the money, hitched up the team and drove to the river, where
they dumped the body. But the river again gave up its dead.

When the confession got this far word was wired to Calgary, from where
three Mounted Police went out in a motor in the night and arrested Fisk,
who was taken off guard or he might have made a fight. Both Fisk and
Robertson were convicted. Fisk was hanged, but Robertson, who had turned
"King's evidence," was given imprisonment for life. The community
breathed easier when Fisk was out of the way.

A curious and interesting sequel was furnished by a handsome dog, which
had belonged to Fisk, and was with him when he murdered Peach. When Fisk
was arrested the human-hearted men of the scarlet tunic, who had pursued
the inhuman murderer, adopted his innocent dog and called him "Fisk."
The dog attached himself to Constable Davis, and was with him when he
was shot by "Running Wolf," a desperate Indian whom he was arresting.
Then the dog became attached to Corporal Watts, accompanied him for four
years on special duty, and was with him at Exshaw, when Watts narrowly
escaped death at the hands of a desperado there. Finally, when Watts
(now Sergeant, and a man who has seen much service) was moving to
Vancouver with the Division, "Fisk," who had become infirm and old, was
run over by a street car in Calgary. This star-witness of many crimes,
concerning which he could not speak, thus closed an exciting and
adventurous career.

Back further in the years another case of a somewhat similar type
occurred, and all these cases indicate not only the certain and deadly
precision of the Mounted Police methods in relation to the capture of
criminals, but they also suggest to the imagination what the lonely
prairie would have been to settlers without the presence of this
watchful corps. The case to which I now refer was one in which the body
of an evidently murdered man was found near Lacombe, in Alberta. There
was no clue to the murderer, but Superintendent Constantine, himself a
keen detective, put Sergeant Hetherington on the trail. Hetherington
proved to be a persistent sleuth. All he had to start on was a buckle on
the vest of the victim, indicating Kalamazoo as its place of origin. It
was a far cry from Michigan, but by process of investigation one James
Smith from that State came and identified the body as that of his
stepson, whose name was Leon Stainton. The young man, who had some
money, had left Kalamazoo, in company with a more or less chance
acquaintance, generally called "Bud" Bullock, though his right name was
Charles B. Bullock. But Bullock had disappeared, leaving not a trace
behind. He was known to be a miner, and Hetherington got on the track of
mining areas. He first went to Kalamazoo and got a sample of Bullock's
writing from an hotel register. Hetherington did not expect to find
Bullock's name on hotel registers after the date of the murder, but the
Sergeant studied handwriting and the formation of the letters in the
name. Then he came back to Calgary and searched the hotel registers till
he got a name where the same letters looked alike. Bullock had changed
his name, but he could not get away from the alphabet. Then Hetherington
haunted the mining districts all the way from Michigan to the mountains,
and searched hotel registers and pay rolls for three long months. That
took a lot of dogged determination, but though he was getting new names
all along the way the Sergeant detected similarity in letters, and by
mingling with the miners, found out where the man had gone from place to
place. Then the handwriting would be compared in that new locality.
Finally, in Montana, Hetherington found on a pay roll a new name where
similar letters corresponded, and the man was at work there. The
Sergeant went amongst the miners, recognized Bullock, and putting his
hand on his shoulder said, "Hello, Bullock." The man started and said,
"My name is not Bullock." "Oh yes, it is," said the Mounted Policeman,
"it is Charles B. Bullock, _alias_ Bud Bullock, and I am here to arrest
you for the murder of Leon Stainton, near Ponoka, in Alberta." Then the
man caved in and said, "I always felt that the red-coats would get me,
even if it took years." He owned up, and as it was useless to fight
extradition he came back with Hetherington and after trial paid the
penalty for his crime. But think of the endless patience and doggedness
of Hetherington, who, with only a scrap of handwriting on a fragment of
paper, searched for months, day and night, over half a continent for
similar letter formations till he landed his man. It was the Mounted
Police way.

[Illustration: INSPECTOR FITZGERALD. Died on Yukon Patrol. _Photo.
Rossie, Regina._]

[Illustration: SUPT. CHARLES CONSTANTINE. Pioneer Policeman in the
Yukon. _Photo. Steele & Co., Winnipeg._]

[Illustration: INSPECTOR LA NAUZE. With prisoners "Sinnisiak" and
"Uluksak," at Bernhard Harbour. June, 1916.]

In 1912 we find Commissioner Perry still battling to the end that the
services of all ranks in his command should receive recognition in the
form of higher remuneration for the good reasons that the cost of living
was going up; that men in civil life were getting much more for less
important and dangerous work, and that the enormously increasing
population of the West made ever larger calls upon the efforts and the
initiative powers of the officers and men. And the Commissioner, who is
always intent on keeping the Force on a high level, said that if the
increased pay was granted there would possibly be more applications than
vacancies. In such a case he would aim at constantly improving the
personnel of the corps by accepting recruits on probation only, by
discharging those lacking in energy, intelligence and character, and by
making dismissal the most severe punishment that could be handed out to
any member of the Force. The Commissioner's far-sighted policy in this
and other regards has always told favourably on the high prestige of the

That year 1912 witnessed an unusual number of changes in the Force.
Chief amongst these changes was the loss sustained by the death, in
California, of Superintendent Charles Constantine, who had served in the
Force for twenty-six years, after having seen active duty in the
suppression of the two Riel Rebellions. I have already made special
reference to the work of this officer, with whom I served when he was
Adjutant of the Winnipeg Light Infantry. He never advertised or pushed
himself forward, but by sheer force of character his merits became known
increasingly throughout the years. His death was widely mourned, not
only by his comrades, but by the people of the vast country where he had
done so much foundation work. At the time of his passing out,
Commissioner Perry, who knew the Force so well, wrote: "Because of his
strength of character, sound judgment and physical strength, he was
selected for much of the pioneer work of the Force. He was the first to
command in the Yukon Territory, and in the early days of the gold rush
his tact and firmness established the reputation of that gold camp as
the most orderly in the world. Subsequently he was employed in the far
North, and in the strenuous work of the Peace-Yukon road-making,
contracted the disease which eventually caused his death." Constantine
had taken a large share in Western history, and his name will not be
forgotten on the roll of the makers of the country.

In that same year also two prominent officers who, as this record shows,
had done splendid service in very difficult places all over the
frontiers, and who had served with distinction in the Boer War,
Superintendents G. E. Sanders, D.S.O., and A. E. Snyder, retired to
pension. Others in recognition of merit were moved up to fill vacancies,
Inspectors T. A. Wroughton, F. J. A. Demers, F. J. Horrigan, all tried
men, becoming Superintendents, and such well-known non-commissioned
officers as F. A. Gordon, A. E. Acland, J. W. Spalding, T. Dann, and
G. W. Currie being promoted to the rank of Inspectors. Dr. S. M. Fraser
was raised to the full rank of Surgeon, and Drs. W. H. Mewburn and E. A.
Braithwaite, all of whom had been prominent on the frontiers, were made
honorary Surgeons. Thus were men coming and going. That year, over 200
recruits were added to the Force, which even then was less than 700 to
patrol a territory larger than half-a-dozen European kingdoms.

To illustrate how the Mounted Police always sprang in to help in
emergencies we recall at that time that a disastrous cyclone hit the
City of Regina, where the Mounted Police Headquarters were at that time.
Cyclones are rare occurrences in Canada, but after one sultry day this
black tempest arose on the prairie and tore through the city, leaving
death and destruction in its wake. The whole resources of the Mounted
Police were placed at the disposal of the city. Officers and men worked
with a will, unresting in their efforts to rescue the injured and make
the city safe for the living. Every night till the trouble was over they
kept guard over life and property, always in danger at such times, and
the following, in a letter from the Mayor of Regina to Commissioner
Perry, is a fine testimony. Referring to the work of the various
organizations that had been at work during that time of trial, Mayor
McAra says: "We have had so much reason to be satisfied with the working
of the various organizations that had in charge the different features
of the work in connection with this storm that it is difficult to
express oneself adequately as to the services rendered by these several
organizations. We believe, however, that the services of the various
organizations have only been made possible by the service rendered by
your Force. I believe that perhaps more was done to establish a sane
understanding of the situation by the officers and men of your patrol
than in any other way and, appreciating this, it is difficult for me on
behalf of the Committee in charge, to properly express the feeling of
gratitude we have." Herein did Mayor McAra, who knew the Force well,
express a truth that had application not only to the situation after the
Regina cyclone, but to the history of the West, namely, that the
presence of the Mounted Police made the country safe for those who
desired to develop its resources in the ways of industrious peace.

As another piece of evidence for the truth of this general statement,
let me instance several letters of thanks and appreciation from
officials, engineers and contractors on the Hudson's Bay Railway in 1913
to Inspector French, who was in command of the Mounted Police in the
district. Vice-President Boyd wrote: "The services of the R.N.W.M.P.
have been most satisfactory, the conduct of the Force stationed here and
along our works being a credit to the honoured institution of which they
are members." Assistant Chief Engineer Garrow: "In my opinion the
general good conduct of the men in our employ and the prevention of
trouble usually caused by illicit whisky-peddling has been obtained by
the systematic campaign that you waged on the opening of this
construction. In my personal dealings with yourself, Sergeant Munday and
staff I found all courteous, always willing to co-operate and to take
prompt action in case of emergency." Mr. M. McMillan, the Chief
Sub-contractor, wrote: "I wish to compliment you and the members of the
Force under your command on the very efficient manner in which you and
they have policed the line of construction of the Hudson's Bay railway.
I have never had a gang of men on any contract where there was less
friction and less whisky on the work than on this job, and I realize
that it is to you and your Force that we owe this state of affairs. I
trust we shall all be together on the Nelson end of the steel." This, we
repeat, is another instance of the way in which the men in scarlet and
gold provided an environment and an atmosphere in which the industrial
development of the country could be carried on under conditions that
made for success. While never taking part with either employer or
employed, the firm, impartial and tactful Mounted Police Force often
became a living windbreak against social tempests, which without it
might, at times, have thrown both sides into confusion and have wrecked
projects that were vital to the progress of the Dominion.

While going through old annual reports of the work of the Police one is
struck by the frequency with which one comes across deeds of heroism,
which were only noted formally in a few lines at the time, and which
have lain buried out of sight ever since. But if they had been done on
other fields they would have won wide publicity and many decorations.

There is not much of a thrill playing on the surface of a report given
by Constable Wight, who was the whole detachment at a village in
Alberta. But one cannot read it in a short paragraph without finding
between the lines a lot of danger in small compass. A man named Winning,
who perhaps presumed on his name, decided at 1 a.m. that he did not like
the room the night clerk had given him at the hotel, and wanted it
changed. Rooms were not plentiful in these small places, and there was
no other to be had, on finding out which, Mr. Winning, after raising a
general disturbance to the discomfort of the other guests, went away and
came back shortly with several sticks of dynamite. He said he was going
to blow up the hotel, and this declaration did not add to the peace of
mind of the hotel clerk and the guests. The town constable was on hand,
but the gentleman with the sticks of dynamite flourished them, and said
he would blow the constable to fragments if he interfered. Mounted
Police-Constable Wight, who was some distance away, was awakened and
told of the situation. Meantime, Mr. Winning, who had not committed any
overt act, had retired to a camp near by with his high explosives. But
Constable Wight got an information sworn out against him for having an
explosive in his possession with intent to endanger life, which was
putting it mildly enough when he was in fact dealing with a man running
amuck with dynamite playthings. However, this served the purpose of
Constable Wight, who rode out to the camp and arrested the man,
explosives and all. It was not a very pleasant undertaking, but that did
not count for anything with a wearer of the scarlet tunic out on duty.

Several times in this book has come the necessity for expressing regret
that there is no decoration for valour in time of peace corresponding to
the Victoria Cross in times of war. Of the two we have good ground for
thinking that a gallant deed done in peace time in cold blood and with a
full sense of the danger, is at least as great as the same kind of deed
done when the blood is hot with battle and the risk is unknown or
unconsidered. Take, for instance, the case of Constable Moorehead, as
related not by himself (the Mounted Policeman's eleventh commandment is
not to talk), but in a letter to Superintendent Primrose from Dr.
Nyblett, the coroner near Nanton, Alberta, where was a reducing plant of
the Natural Gas Company. The letter says, "It was reported to Constable
Moorehead that some men were suffocating in the high-pressure station
and he immediately rode over." He had no orders to go except from his
own conscience, but there was no hesitation, though he knew the supreme
danger. The letter goes on. "There was a disconnected four-inch pipe,
with a pressure of 125 pounds to the inch, in the building, and
Constable Moorehead could see one of the bodies moving and he thought
there was life." It was probably being moved by the terrific gas
pressure. "Moorehead placed his hat over his mouth and went in; on
getting near the bodies the jet of gas struck him and blew him to the
other side of the building; there he groped for the door, but was too
nearly unconscious to find it. Another man who had come up saw him and
was able to reach in and pull Moorehead out. When Moorehead recovered
consciousness he found a bar and prised off some of the corrugated iron
near the bodies. He then crawled in through the hole with the other man
holding his feet, and pulled out one of the bodies; he then went in
again and got another. He was so weak and exhausted by this time that he
had not strength to pull the third out, but crawled in and tied a rope
to it, and after it was pulled out did the same with the fourth."
"Unless one was actually there," says the coroner, "it would be very
difficult to realize just how plucky this act was. The pressure of the
escaping gas was so great that the caps of the men were held up against
the roof of the building, and the poisoning by this gas in large
quantities is instantaneous."

We have not read anywhere in the annals of war a finer tale of
gallantry. Constable Moorehead got another stripe for "conspicuous
bravery" and became Corporal, received a small grant from the fine fund,
and at a full-dress parade of the Division was presented by Judge
McNeill with the bronze medal of the Royal Canadian Humane Association.
All this was very suitable, but I still think there is room for a
peace-time decoration up to the level of the Victoria Cross.

During the year 1912 there was constant oversight exercised in the
Hudson's Bay and Mackenzie River districts, as well as in the Yukon. All
this involved much dangerous patrol work, but it was carried out without
any untoward happening. Superintendent Demers, Inspectors Beyts and
French were in the former districts with a small but excellent body of
men; Superintendent Moodie and Inspector Acland were in the Yukon and
White Horse districts. In the Yukon there was a serious case of
dynamiting dredges which Sergeant Mapley handled with great ability.
Patrols and general oversight by these non-commissioned officers and
constables may, to the superficial onlooker or reader, seem of no great
value, but these men, by tact and firm, friendly dealing with the
natives and traders, really introduced a new code of ethics in the
Northland. The questions at stake may not have been very large ones from
our standpoint, but the ownership of a sled-dog or the fairness of
values in exchange of furs, were as important to the children of the
wild as the possession of a province might be to people in Europe. And
in these local matters these patrolmen became recognized as fair and
impartial adjudicators whose word was law. Thus were new ideals as to
the rights of property and the sacredness of life being inculcated in
the vast spaces of the Arctic.

And these sturdy, courageous Policemen became so greatly interested in
their strenuous work that they were always ready for a larger venture.
It is interesting to find Corporal C. D. LaNauze, after returning from a
patrol of some fifty-two days and over 1,000 miles, writing: "I cannot
speak too highly of my dogs. I would like to see how far I could go with
this train." Well, he was to get his opportunity to find out shortly.
Whether with that train of dogs or not we cannot say, but when the
opportunity came he used it to the limit.

There were some lonely places. Sergeant Edgenton, a noted patrolman in
the Arctic, writes as to Cape Fullerton on Hudson Bay: "Fullerton during
the winter has been very lonely. Constable Conway and myself and two
natives were the only persons there." And it is rather a striking
instance of Police methods to find Edgenton putting in the usual
detachment report and, under the head of discipline, speaking highly of
Conway: "I have had to leave him alone during my patrols, and always
found everything in good order on returning. He is a good man for duty
in the North, and has made several patrols in very cold weather." Other
men well known in that district were non-commissioned officers like
Sergeants Handcock, Belcher, Currie, Mellor, LaNauze, Jones and several
Constables. And, like the army of Sparta, which was the wall around that
country, "every man was a brick."



The year 1914 gave us in history the spectacle of world-wide sword play,
the rattle of machine-guns, and the roar of heavy artillery, along with
an unprecedented loss of human life. It saw the British Empire, taken
unprepared save for the Grand Fleet, hurling itself against the most
colossal war machinery the world had ever seen assembled by one nation.
And it saw this because Britain, pledged by a "scrap of paper,"
ordinarily called a treaty, to preserve the undamaged neutrality of
Belgium against Germany or any one else, counted no cost too great for
the maintenance of her sacred honour. But that fateful year saw our men
not only on the field of struggle, but witnessed our people, whom the
necessities of the case forced to remain behind, steadily keeping the
wheels of industry turning at the base of supply, preventing internal
discord and maintaining the integrity of the country unbroken, despite
hostile influences that were at work. It is a common expression that
when the Empire is at war Canada is at war. That saying has been proven
again and again till it has become an undisputed axiom. It had been
demonstrated before 1914, and then demonstrated again, till it needs no
further proof. It is part of the Empire's history that the far-flung
colonies of Britain are at her side when danger threatens their mother.
Hence, at the sound of the war trumpet, Canadians rushed to the Colours.

Amongst the first who desired to be sent to the Front after the general
call had gone out were the Royal North-West Mounted Police, who hoped to
go as a unit. The request was made at the outset, renewed in 1917 and
1918. But the Canadian Government, fully aware of certain conditions in
the country, not only refused this request, but ordered that the Mounted
Police should be reinforced by the enlistment of 500 more men for
important duty in Canada.

What those duties were could easily be gathered from the general
situation. At the beginning, the United States did not go into the war,
and the authorities there, who have always worked in friendly
co-operation with our Police, intimated that there was a good deal of
pro-enemy activity amongst alien elements south of the line. The
American authorities would not knowingly allow their country to become
the base of hostile operations against us, but, as in the case of the
Fenian raids into Canada, it was possible for enemies along a 3,000-mile
border to elude them and cross over to make serious trouble for us.
Hence it was necessary that an experienced body of men should patrol the
boundary region, and the riders of the plains were the only men who
could carry out that task.

Later on, when the United States entered the war, this work became
unnecessary, but there was still special need for the vigilance of this
famous corps, whose great record and prestige gave such unique authority
to their presence in any locality that nothing more was necessary. There
were 175,000 German and Austrian settlers in the prairie sections of
Canada, a quite formidable army if mobilized. It was specially necessary
that the Government of the country, backed by visible authority, should
see that this large number of people was prevented from making any
hostile demonstrations against the flag under whose shelter they had
sought new homes. And it was equally desirable and British to see that
these immigrants, as long as they observed and respected the laws and
institutions of the country whose citizens they had become, should not
be irritated or persecuted by perfervid and unthinking loyalists. An
immigrant cannot help his racial origin, and if the country has thrown
open its doors to his coming to help in its development, and if he
becomes a law-abiding Canadian, he is entitled to protection. To the
credit of all concerned, it is good to be able to say that there was no
trouble worth noting. There were some tried and convicted for seditious
utterances, but, generally speaking, they were not of alien race.
Doubtless the German in the middle west of Canada was glad to be away
from the cast-iron military system of his Fatherland, and the Austrian
was pleased to be out of the "ramshackle Empire"; while at the same
time, the Canadians around, like true British men, were willing to let
these immigrants make good in this land of the second chance. But both
were helped in their good intentions by the tact and firmness of the
riders in scarlet and gold.

Besides all that, the Government knew perfectly well that a time of war
is fruitful in opportunity for the man who wishes to upset human society
by revolutionary methods. Hosts of the cool-headed thinking men are away
at such a time, and in the general confusion the faddist and the
anarchist get a chance to put their theories into practice. But, as
Thomas Carlyle said, "It costs too much to have a revolution strike on
the horologe of time to tell the world what o'clock it is"; and so it
was important that destructive movements should be held in check. And,
accordingly, the Dominion authorities felt that the Mounted Police
should be on the ground. Further, in order that the Mounted Police could
have an oversight of conditions and situations which, though more
pronounced at some points, were in reality nation-wide, the Dominion
Government decided that absorbing the Dominion Police, the famous Royal
North-West Mounted Police should have their jurisdiction extended over
the whole of Canada, from the Yukon and the Arctic clear across to the
Atlantic coast. This involved the moving of headquarters from Regina to
the seat of Government at Ottawa, the placing of detachments all over
Canada, and the substitution of the word "Canadian" for the words
"North-West" in the title of the corps. This change in the title gave to
the "old-timers" who had served in the Force, and to us who had known it
under the old name, a sort of sentimental shock, and was the subject of
several protests, but it soon became apparent that the change of name
was the necessary accompaniment of the extension of jurisdiction. It
would be manifestly improper to retain the limited territorial
designation of "North-West" when the territory to be covered by the
Force was from sea to sea. In fact, the changes as to title and
jurisdiction now commend themselves to all who study the whole
situation, and credit in this connection is due to the Hon. N. W.
Rowell, who, as the governmental head of the Force and a great admirer
of its work, brought these changes to pass.

There was some discussion in the House of Commons when the changes above
mentioned were proposed. But in answer to questions as to the necessity
for the change being made in extending the jurisdiction of the Mounted
Police and placing detachments all over the country East as well as
West, Mr. Rowell gave clear and cogent reasons. It was pointed out by
him that there had been for years a Dominion Police Force, under Sir
Percy Sherwood, and that, as this Dominion Force was now absorbed by the
Mounted Police, there was no duplication of law administration agencies.
Broadly speaking, the Mounted Police have to discharge most important
duties all over Canada for all branches of the Federal Government in
seeing the laws observed in which the Federal Government is particularly
interested, because these laws relate to the public revenue or to
special Departments of Dominion administration. Thus, for instance, the
Mounted Police have to investigate all matters in which Federal property
is lost or misappropriated; they have to assist the Customs Department
in preventing the all-too-common crime of smuggling, and the Department
of Inland Revenue in regard to illicit liquor traffic. They have to
co-operate with the Department of Indian affairs, and the Department of
Colonization and Immigration in regard to the admission of citizens who
may or may not be desirable, and also look into all matters connected
with the nationalization of aliens. And more than once of late the
Dominion Department of Agriculture has asked the assistance of the
Mounted Police in stamping out epidemics amongst stock.

And that the placing of the Mounted Police all over Canada was opportune
is evidenced by the fact that, under the guise of legitimate strikes,
movements were begun which led to a sort of reign of terror in some
communities, and in connection with which the real motive of some who
manipulated them was shown, by evidence convincing to Judges and Juries,
to be nothing short of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the
constitutional government of this country. Incriminating papers were
found in many Canadian cities in the possession of many who were
suspected of sedition. And a curious thing arose when these suspected
men raised their voices in appeal to the very law of the land which they
had been denouncing to protect them from prosecution. Or, as
Commissioner Perry, who gave very special and serious study to the whole
situation, says: "Appeal is made by these men to British fair play to
protect them in their efforts to destroy British fair play."

Winnipeg was chosen by the agitators as the storm centre of their
movement, and it began in the shape of a strike by the metal-workers,
led by radicals of a pronounced type, who used the strike idea to
further their revolutionary aims, and who devoted themselves to bringing
about a general sympathetic strike in order to paralyse the business of
the city and thus help their enterprise. The radicals succeeded in
securing a general strike even to the post office staff and mail clerks,
and this led to similar sympathetic movements in Brandon, Saskatoon,
Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. No doubt a great many in the various
organizations going on strike acted honestly with the idea in their
minds that the Winnipeg movement was of a genuine type and for usual and
legitimate purposes. But the leaders at that point showed their real aim
plainly when they started to take the control of the city out of the
hands of the Mayor and Council, and indicated by printed cards that the
only industries that would be allowed to continue were those that would
run "by permission of the Strike Committee." Winnipeg was about the last
city that would stand dictation from any other than their own elected
representatives, and so citizens organized themselves to withstand the
methods of the radicals and to uphold properly constituted authority. It
was a critical hour in the history of that city and the whole of Canada.

The Mounted Police that were in Winnipeg in pursuance of the policy of
distribution over the whole Dominion were under the competent command of
Superintendent Starnes, who, as we have seen, had done important work in
the Yukon, Hudson's Bay and prairie districts, and was known as a man of
experience and sound judgment in emergencies. The Mounted Police did not
interfere in the "strike," except by taking steps to protect life and
property, and to see that public services, such as the carrying and
distribution of His Majesty's mails, were not hindered. But on the 21st
of June, 1919, the Mayor, being unable to cope with the situation,
called for the assistance of the Mounted Police to prevent a parade of
thousands who were defying the city authorities. Thereupon fifty-four
mounted men, under Inspectors Proby and Mead, with thirty-six men in
trucks, under Sergt.-Major Griffin, were sent out from barracks,
Commissioner Perry, as well as Superintendent Starnes, being present
with the Attorney-General of Manitoba. A reserve was held in barracks,
under Sergt.-Major Greenway, but it was not required.

It did not take the mounted men of the old corps long to get control of
the situation, though they were only a handful. When they arrived on the
scene near the City Hall, they were received with showers of stones,
shots and other missiles. But they maintained their reputation for
restraint, and it was not till two of the men were in danger, through
their horses falling and through a charge from the mob, that the officer
commanding the Mounted Force gave the order to draw their revolvers and
use them. This had the desired effect of clearing the street and of
dispersing the rioters. Some sixteen of the Mounted Police were wounded
with missiles, while on the other side one foreigner was killed, one
fatally wounded, and several others hurt. This shows that the Mounted
Police preserved their reputation for refraining from taking the
aggressive until there was no other course open. But from that day the
"strike" lost its strength. Hundreds of the strikers began to see
through the real aims of their radical leaders and returned to work. A
few days later the "strike" was officially called "off," and the
sympathetic movements in the other cities died at the same time, to the
general relief of all concerned. Events of a somewhat similar kind were
happening sporadically here and there during the war period, and they
still appear occasionally. We may get to a stage where government is not
required in an angelic state of human society. But so long as there
remains a proportion of human beings who glory in disorder and revolt
against lawful authority in a democratic country like ours, where people
through their elected representatives really make their own laws, there
will be need for the men in scarlet and gold to preserve the peace, to
prevent wanton damage to necessary industries, to protect human life,
and generally to prevent society from sliding into the abyss of chaos.

We have emphasized at several points in this story the efforts made by
the Mounted Police to get into the war from the outset. And we have
indicated the grounds on which the Government declined to allow them to
go abroad, when the situation at home demanded their presence. Of
course, many of the Police, probably not less than a thousand, in
various ways, by resigning individually or buying discharge, or by
virtue of their term of enlistment lapsing, had managed to get away to
the war during the years before a unit from the Force was permitted to
go overseas. These men served with great distinction on many fields of
the colossal conflict. In the House of Commons, the Hon. N. W. Rowell,
in speaking on the subject, said: "I wish I had time to tell the House
of some of the deeds of those gallant men. I will only mention two. The
famous Michael O'Leary, V.C., was one of the North-West Mounted Police,
and he set a standard for courage and bravery during the early days of
the war which many other gallant soldiers have since emulated. The
other, a constable in the ranks for two years--Constable Parkes, a young
man now twenty-seven years of age. In 1915 he purchased his discharge to
go to the front; he rose to the command of the 116th Battalion, C.E.F.,
and won the V.C., the D.S.O., and La Croix de Guerre. He proved himself
an officer of the highest efficiency, and has been selected by the
Canadian Corps to attend the staff college. I might mention other
members of the Force and the gallant service they have rendered, but
time does not permit. I should also mention that ex-members of the
Force--that is, men who had served on the Force--provided our Canadian
Army overseas with two major-generals, four brigade-generals, and
colonels, majors and captains by the score. It shows the type of men who
are serving in our Royal North-West Mounted Police." And one thinks at
once in this connection of such men as that old campaigner and
ex-Policeman, the late Sir Samuel B. Steele, who went over in command of
the Second Division, but whose health, undermined by an injury on the
way, did not permit him to lead his men in the field; of that dashing
and distinguished Cavalry Officer, Sir Archibald Macdonnell, now
Commandant at Kingston, and of Brigadier-General Ketchen, who came up
from the ranks, and of many others. And then Mr. Rowell went on to say:
"All the sons, of military age, of the present and past officers have
served overseas, and no less than ten officers' sons died on the
battlefield. The son of the first man who joined the Force in 1873 is an
honourable and gallant member of this House--Brigadier-General Griesbach
(of Edmonton), who has rendered such distinguished service in this war.
He is one of the many gallant officers, sons of members of the Force who
have served overseas."

One would like to place special stress on the way in which the sons and
even the daughters of the first generation of the Mounted Police kept up
the great tradition of their fathers, who had instilled into them that
devotion to duty and that desire to maintain the right which made the
old Force so well known in every part of the world. The names of these
gallant young men and women are found in practically every unit of
service in the Great War as combatants, nurses and so on, all showing
that blood tells, and that the theory of heredity can find in such cases
a real and indisputable demonstration.

And, while touching upon this phase, let me also mention that another
unique tribute to the way in which the Force got hold of the imagination
and enlisted the devotion of those who served in its ranks, is the fact
that ex-members all over Canada organized in evidence of their desire to
support the parent body in any crisis that may arise. Several hundred of
these men, experienced in every detail of the work and trained to the
minute, left their occupations and put themselves at the disposal of the
Commissioner during the war, when the Force was depleted by enlistments
for the front. Any organization that can thus count on the assistance of
its former members in the hour of need, must have had elements in it
that appealed to the best qualities of real men. Hence we find that the
war and the social unrest called into being Police Veterans'
Associations, whose aim is to continue the traditions of the corps, and
whose members hold themselves at the service of the Government of Canada
whenever required. In other words, anyone who tries to play "rough
house" where these veterans' associations exist will have to reckon with
the "old boys," who once wore the unforgettable scarlet and gold. And
what is here said of the men is equally true of the wives and mothers
and sisters of the riders of the Western plains.

But one of the most conclusive pieces of evidence as to the real quality
of the men of the Mounted Police was given when, in those dark and
deadly-looking days near the close of the war, the British Government
let it be known that another cavalry unit from Canada would be
acceptable. A call was placed before the Mounted Police to provide
reinforcements for the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, which had suffered
serious losses, and also to furnish a squadron to add as a distinct
Police unit to the Cavalry Corps. In one sense it was not a good time to
appeal for recruits. The allied army was fighting with its back to the
wall. Our cavalry brigade had been decimated and all along the line our
men were falling--

    "Grimly dying, still unconquered
    With their faces to the foe."

But every man in the Mounted Police wanted to go and help hold that
line. Five hundred men were desired, but there was a rush, and before
word could be got out by wire to stop recruiting, over 700, including
some ex-members, had enlisted and had to be accepted.

This contingent was divided into four squadrons, the whole coming, of
course, under orders of the Militia Department as part of the C.E.F.,
and on May 19, 1918, the following order was issued from Militia
Headquarters at Ottawa: "The following provisional appointments of
Officers in the C.E.F. are authorized: To be Major, Inspector G. L.
Jennings; to be Captain, Inspector H. M. Newson; to be Lieutenants,
Inspectors A. B. Allard, A. E. Acland, Thomas Dann, S. T. Wood, J. McD.
Tupper, W. C. Proby, C. H. King, Denis Ryan, C. D. La Nauze, H.
Townsend, Sergts.-Major T. H. Irvine, F. J. Mead, R. H. L. MacDowell."
These were all Officers and Sergts.-Major in the R.N.W.M. Police, and
were recommended by the Commissioner for the positions named.

Inspectors Jennings, Allard and Newson have since been promoted
Superintendents, and Sergts.-Major Irvine and Mead have been granted
commissions in the Force. Putting the draft into regular military form
as a provisional Regiment, it was composed of four Squadrons and
Headquarters Staff as follows:--To command the overseas Cavalry Draft
and special Squadron, Major G. L. Jennings; to be second in command,
Captain H. M. Newson; to be Acting Adjutant, Lieutenant R. H. L.
MacDowell; to be Acting Regimental Sergt.-Major, Sergt.-Major G. F.
Griffin; to be Acting Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant, Staff-Sergeant
A. H. L. Mellor (since promoted Inspector).

Squadron Officers: "A" Squadron--Lieutenants A. B. Allard (in command),
H. Townsend and F. J. Mead. "B" Squadron--Lieutenants T. Dann (in
command), S. T. Wood and D. Ryan. "C" Squadron--Lieutenants W. C.
Proby (in command), C. D. La Nauze, and J. McD. Tupper. "D"
Squadron--Lieutenants C. H. King (in command), A. E. Acland and T. H.
Irvine. Also to be Acting Sergts.-Major of the above Squadrons in order
named, the following Mounted Police N.C.O.'s, viz.:--Sergts.-Major W. A.
Edgenton, C. R. Peters, C. F. Fletcher and F. E. Spriggs. The whole
draft was taken on the strength of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and
all members who were actively connected with the Mounted Police were on
leave of absence from their corps until they would be demobilized on
return to Canada.

On reaching England the men of the contingent were pretty well scattered
by being assigned for duty with various units, but, finally, the Mounted
Police Squadron to be attached to the Canadian Light Horse was sent over
to France, arriving, to their disappointment, too late to take part in
the Battle of Cambrai, where cavalry played a conspicuous part. But
Major Jennings was requested to detail some of his men for "Dispatch
Riding" in the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions. Lieutenant Dann with 2nd
Troop was sent to the 2nd Canadian Division, and Lieutenant Wood with
3rd Troop was sent to the 3rd Canadian Division, and remained there till
the Armistice was signed. This was dangerous and difficult front-line
work, and was done to the entire satisfaction of the Division
Commanders, as was to be expected when the riders of the plains were on
duty. The Squadron also furnished every day N.C.O.'s and men to go to
different points immediately back of the front line to collect prisoners
of war, and escort them to the different camps. And one who knows the
record of the Mounted Police needs not to be told that not one prisoner
escaped from their custody in France, Belgium and Germany. On October
28, probably in recognition of the thoroughness with which these trained
and disciplined men from the Canadian plains had carried out every duty
that had been assigned them, orders were issued that the Mounted Police
were to be detached from the Canadian Light Horse and become an
independent unit, to be known as the Royal North-West Mounted Police
Squadron. This was the situation up to the Armistice, when the
dispatch-riding troops, under Lieutenants Dann and Wood, rejoined the
Squadron. Instructions came to have a troop sent to Mons, to be there at
the triumphal entry, but this was found impossible. The horses of the
dispatch-riding troops were completely fagged out with their strenuous
work, another troop was on prisoners-of-war service, while the horses of
the fourth were unshod and could not make the 32 kilos. over the paved
road to Mons. Later, Acland's troop went on duty to a point near Bonn,
in Germany, and Lieutenants King and Allard were sent on special service
into Belgium. Things were in much confusion, and the presence of the
scarlet riders seemed to give the people satisfaction.

The whole Squadron was kept busy at various points till December, when
the Canadian Government, realizing that conditions at home demanded the
presence of these recognized champions of law and order, sent a cable
recalling the Mounted Police to duty in Canada. There was much to be
done in the way of detail arrangements, gathering up the scattered
members out of other units, re-enlisting for service in Canada, but in
due course, after having added another highly creditable page to the
history of the corps, the Squadron reached Winnipeg.

It was rather a striking coincidence that at the very time when Winnipeg
was boiling over with red radicalism, this Canadian Mounted Police unit,
that had been on service at the Front, arrived in that city. Things
being as they were at that point, the Commissioner had Jenning's command
detrain there. For some days they were held in reserve in the barracks,
and no doubt the presence of these seasoned and disciplined men had a
reassuring influence on good citizens, and a very deterrent effect upon
the lawless advocates of violence and sedition. Their active
participation was not necessary, and so they continued out into the
various detachments all over the West and North. It is interesting to
know that at the time of this writing Major (Superintendent) Jennings,
who knows the vast North-land and its perils well, is in command of the
Mounted Police at Edmonton, the front gateway to the new oil-fields.
These men will see that human life and property are as safe there as in
any part of Canada. The "gunman" and the disorderly and the lewd
exploiter of camps and frontiers will not get into the country at all,
and the unfit and unprepared and unequipped, however respectable, will
be saved from the reckless folly that would send them on a wild rush
into a country whose perils they do not know.

In summing up his report of the Overseas Squadron, Major Jennings
indicates that the fine reputation for good behaviour made by the
Mounted Police when in the Old Land, at Coronation or Jubilee
celebrations, was fully maintained amid the temptations incident to war.
He says, "The moral conduct of the men was most satisfactory." In regard
to matters of discipline he states: "To my knowledge there was not one
member of the Overseas Cavalry Draft brought before a Court Martial. The
offences were few and of a minor character, mostly due to ignorance in
new surroundings, but the principal reason for the small number of
offences was without doubt due to the discipline enforced by the old
N.C.O.'s of the Force." "Sergeant What's-his-name" has always been one
of the mainstays of the Army. And the Major adds: "No charge was ever
brought against an officer." A good record in war.

In noting men's services, Major Jennings says: "Where all ranks showed
such a spirit of loyalty to the unit and to the Force and such
determination to do their duty, it is difficult to single out individual
cases." This is fine, but there are some always who have special
opportunities for service come their way, and so the Major specially
mentions Captain H. M. Newson, Lieutenants Acland, Allard, Dann, Wood
and MacDowell; and amongst the N.C.O.'s, Mellor, Darling, Edgenton,
Peters, Fletcher, Spriggs and Hogan. The Major recommends for decoration
Sergeant C. A. James, a highly efficient man who, while on
dispatch-riding duty, captured single-handed five of the enemy and
brought them into camp. Also Constable A. Brooker, a dispatch rider, who
took a pack horse with telephone wire through heavy shell and
machine-gun fire to advance Headquarters, thus enabling them to send
back valuable information. Finally, Major Jennings expresses his own
obligation for having been given the command, but his heart is with the
corps, and he says: "No officer would ask to command a finer body of
men. The high standard of discipline inculcated through years in the
Force was adhered to throughout."

It will be recalled that shortly before the Armistice date it was
thought that Canada ought to be represented, as well as the Americans
and the Japanese, up in that perplexing land of Russia. Accordingly, a
squadron of cavalry, to be known as "B" Squadron R.N.W.P., Siberia, was
authorized. The officers were all of well-known names in Mounted Police
annals, being:

Major in Command: George Stanley Worsley.

Captain, Second in Command: Arthur William Duffus.

Lieutenants: Richard Young Douglas, Thomas Mulock Belcher (now
Superintendent), Frank Henry French, Thomas Caulkin.

Of these French, of the famous Bathurst Inlet patrol, related in the
next chapter, was prevented by illness from going, and was replaced by
Sergt.-Major Wilcox. Caulkin, whom we met before in this story in the
vast spaces of the Arctic, was awarded about this time the King's Police
Medal for service in that white North-land.

This Siberian Squadron passed through some trying experience by reason
of epidemics, and by reason also of the unsettled conditions in
Vladivostok and other points where they were quartered. They passed
through train wrecks at the hands of Bolshevists, and various other
exciting experiences. And Constable Pilkington, who penetrated into the
interior of the country, gives some vivid stories of Bolshevik exploits.
The Squadron did its whole duty, and did it well, but in a few months
the Canadian Government decided to withdraw from the Russian situation,
and so recalled the Force to duty in the Dominion, after an absence of
several months in the enigmatic land.

Thus, whether amid the puzzling problems of the war period in the
homeland, or in the face of new situations abroad, did the riders of the
plains, to the full extent of their opportunity, make their usual
thorough-going contribution to Canada's part in the making of human
history. East, West, North or South, they have always answered the call
to duty. In a word, they have always been on active service.



In the foregoing chapter I have, in order to preserve the continuity of
the Police story through the war period, gone a little ahead of the
chronological order of general events in the history of the corps. But
history was being made all the time by these remarkable men, whether
they were serving at home or abroad. They were always and everywhere on
active duty, and "peace hath her victories no less renowned than war."
Riding with dispatches in France was not more active and dangerous
service than patrolling over the immense areas of trackless snow and ice
in the Arctic Circle or facing overwhelmingly superior numbers where
mobs were surging restlessly and riotously in our own country. Here and
there on the plains or in the mountains little detachments were without
display or advertisement carrying out tasks that were onerous and
disagreeable in the extreme.

For instance, we have the story of a great mine disaster at Hill Crest,
Alberta, where by a terrific explosion 188 men out of the 237 who had
entered the mine on a June morning in 1914 lost their lives. The Mounted
Police as usual rushed to the scene to see what they could do to relieve
the situation, Inspector Junget taking charge. Experienced miners were
at work bringing out the bodies, it being evident from the first that
none but the few men who had come up in an exhausted condition were
alive. The detachment of Mounted Police only numbered six, but they took
effective oversight at once, first closing the bar of the local hotel in
order to head off the danger of drunkenness breaking out in the camp.
Corporal Searle and Constable Kistruck, from Pincher Creek, and
Constable Wilson, from MacLeod, were posted at the entrance to the two
mines to keep the crowd back and preserve order generally, while
Corporals Mead and Grant and Constable Hancock looked after the
mutilated bodies as they were brought out of the mine. Mead and Grant
kept the check numbers of the bodies where they could be found, kept an
inventory of the money or other property found on each, then washed the
bodies, and wrapped them in cotton sheets. Then these bodies were taken
to the Mine-Union Hall, where Constable Hancock looked after them,
placing them in rows upon the floor. Handling 188 mutilated and grimy
bodies in the warmth of June weather was a gruesome, depressing and
difficult task, but these men, assisted by relays of miners, did this
work for four days and nights until funeral services were held over the
mangled remains of these unfortunate victims of the disaster. Mead,
Grant and Hancock especially had a terrible undertaking, and they won
the praise not only of the citizens of Hill Crest, but that of the
miners also, many of the latter, though extreme radical Socialists who
resented the very existence of the Force, saying, "We have no use for
the Police, but we cannot help respecting its members when we see them
working under such trying conditions." Thus were these gallant men
winning the applause of revolutionists who hated them because they stood
for law and order in the country. And I think it well to say here, after
knowing the Mounted Police throughout the years of their history, that
the only enemies they have had have been the elements that resented the
fearless and impartial enforcement of law. Sometimes these elements were
found amongst the reckless promoters and denizens of the underworld.
Sometimes amongst those who would fan the embers of social discontent
into a blaze that would destroy society and not infrequently in the
ranks of those who would not scruple to plunder the public treasury. It
has always been annoying and disconcerting to such elements to find that
they could neither cajole nor frighten nor bribe these inflexible men in
the uniform of scarlet and gold who stood for the administration of
British law in a British country. _Noblesse oblige._ If the recruits of
to-day measure up as they have been doing to the established reputation
of the Force, that reputation will become increasingly one of the saving
assets of Canada and the Empire.

Up in the Arctic areas during those days of war when some were on duty
in France and across our own plains and mountains, the Police were
battling against hostile climatic conditions that the sacredness of
human life might be impressed on the inhabitants of the most remote
regions under the flag. And sometimes their equipment was not very
ample. One laughs when he sees attacks made upon Mounted Police
expenditure. A country vaster than several European Kingdoms cannot be
kept in peace and quietness for a trifle. If the Mounted Police were
withdrawn and lawlessness was allowed to run riot in the country, people
would soon realize that it is not the proper administration of law, but
the absence of it which bankrupts a country. As a matter of fact, as
this story has shown again and again, these men of the Police were
constantly practising economies in regard to the very necessaries of
life in case they should be considered as asking for too much. Here, for
instance, in that war year when millions were being poured out
elsewhere, we find Superintendent Demers, who with his men had to patrol
the dangerous northern coasts in the Hudson's Bay region where wrecks
and drownings are frequent, asking apologetically for six life-belts, as
"patrols by water have to be made without any precaution against
possible accident." We hope he got them. These men were not playing on a
mill-pond, but were fighting storms in the fields of ice and reefs with
bull walrus thrown in as an extra peril to guard against.

War echoes are heard during that period, but for the most part alien
enemies soon recognized the wisdom of pursuing their work quietly, and
in such cases they were not molested. And amidst it all we find the
record of quiet heroisms as these Mounted Policemen who were not allowed
to go to the Front pursued the steady round of their duty at home. Here,
for instance, in 1915 we find Superintendent West, who was in charge at
Battleford on the Saskatchewan, telling us of a piece of work whose fine
courageous quality those who know the country can especially appreciate.
West says, "Typhoid fever broke out amongst the Indians on the Island
Lake Reserve and Constable Rose was sent from here to see that
quarantine was enforced." Typhoid is a serious business in the dry
season, and the constable would have done his regular duty if he had
just put the place under quarantine and kept anyone from going or
coming. But that was not the police way, and so Rose went beyond his
duty. West goes on, "One man, Patrice Dumont, a half-breed, living close
to the reserve, fell ill, as did the members of his family. Dumont, who
was the sole support of the family, died. The rest of the family became
hysterical and Rose had to be there continually. He dressed the body of
Dumont for burial and made a coffin fastened with wooden pegs in the
absence of nails, and as the flies were bad he buried the body next day
with the help of some Indians. The circumstances under which Constable
Rose worked were most trying, as he had to sleep in the same room with
the dead man, while Dumont's children kept crying and clinging round his
neck all night." The children, half-crazed with grief and delirium,
recognized that the big policeman was a friend and very human in his
practical sympathy.

It is evident that the Dominion Government feared that at one time the
whole Mounted Police Force, if allowed, would have enlisted for service
overseas unless their attention was very specially called to the vital
necessity for their presence at home. Accordingly, in 1916, when many of
the Force were renewing the efforts to go overseas, the Premier of
Canada, Hon. Sir Robert L. Borden, than whom there was no one who
understood the world situation better, sent the following special
communication to the Mounted Police Force, "The Prime Minister desires
to express to officers, non-commissioned officers and constables his
very deep appreciation of the patriotic and devoted service which they
have rendered, and of the faithful and efficient manner in which they
are performing their important duties.

"He fully realizes the great desire of the members of the Force to
enlist for overseas service, and he is aware that practically the whole
Force would offer their services at the Front if permission could be
given. This patriotic spirit is entirely commendable; but all members of
the Force must remember that the service they are now rendering to the
Dominion and to the Empire is not less important than that which they
would perform if serving at the Front. Further, it is a service which
can only be efficiently performed by a force which has been trained in
the discharge of the duties it is called upon to undertake. For these
reasons the Prime Minister has found himself unable to consent to the
retirement from the Force of many officers and men who have asked that
permission for the purpose of enlistment." Sir Robert is especially wise
when he mentions how only the trained men of the Mounted Police could do
certain duties. Men with less tact, firmness, fairness and discipline
would have had the whole country in a turmoil a dozen times over during
these recent decades. For during this period the West has been seething
with an inrushing tide of polyglot people who have been naturally
disposed to consider that the liberty of a new land gave them
unrestrained licence to do what they pleased. Under proper oversight
they have found their feet without losing their heads.

That year, 1916, Commissioner Perry reported that the Mounted Police had
subscribed $30,000 to the Canadian Patriotic Fund. This later reached
$50,000.00. These men were serving on a small wage, but if they could
not get away to the Front they were going to help the cause to the limit
and when the opportunity would be given they would show their readiness
to go themselves wherever needed.

That year also the Commissioner reported the death of Assistant
Commissioner A. E. R. Cuthbert, to be followed a few years later by the
sudden demise of one of his successors, Assistant Commissioner W. H.
Routledge. Both had given splendid service. Cuthbert had been thirty-one
years with the Force and had served with distinction in South Africa.
Routledge had served in all parts of the West, including the Yukon. He
was a master of detail and system, and did work of unique value in
arranging the reports and working out orderly methods in the use of
documents. In the same report the Commissioner expressed the regret of
himself and the Force at the retirement of Mr. Lawrence Fortescue, who
had joined the corps at the very beginning, had made the trek to the
West and then was recalled to Ottawa to assist with the work of the
Department there. At the time of his retirement he was Comptroller of
the Force. The corps has been fortunate in its Comptrollers, the men who
are official administrative heads and have the general oversight of
expenditures. Lieut.-Colonel Frederick White, who for long and faithful
service was given the C.M.G., was the first Comptroller--a man of great
ability and indefatigable disposition. The present popular and able
Comptroller is Mr. A. A. McLean, a sturdy Highland type from Prince
Edward Island, who was a prominent lawyer and legislator for years. Much
of the steady frictionless movement of the whole department depends on
the administrative talent of the Comptroller.

When we have heard arm-chair critics attack police expenditure, we have
thought not only of the practice of economy as already indicated in the
case of reports from officers at many points, but of the amount saved to
Canada by the devoted and self-sacrificing efforts of these men to head
off lawless movements and to create in the remotest points of the
country a wholesome respect for constituted authority.

There were many wonderful patrols in the Arctic circle, but those which
had to do with the detection of crime or the unravelling of mysteries
connected with the disappearance of explorers and traders or others
naturally attracted most attention. There were not many of these
particular patrols, for the Esquimaux were not by any means murderously
inclined. The cases investigated showed that they had been moved by

One of these cases resulted in the famous Bathurst Inlet patrol. In 1911
two men, Mr. H. V. Radford, an American, and Mr. T. G. Street, a
Canadian, went on an exploring and specimen collecting journey into the
North. They reached Bathurst Inlet in 1912, having wintered at Schultz
Lake. In May, 1913, that well-known northern patrol man, Sergeant W. G.
Edgenton, of the Mounted Police, who was in command of the post at
Fullerton, reported that a rumour had come to him through Eskimo that
Radford and Street had been killed by the Eskimos in June, 1912. A few
days later one of the Eskimos, by name Akulack, who had travelled part
of the way with the explorers, came to Chesterfield Inlet and gave Mr.
H. H. Hall, the Hudson's Bay Company officer there, an account of what
he had heard. It appeared that the wife of one of the Eskimos who was
travelling with the explorers had fallen on the ice and was seriously
hurt. So the Eskimo refused quite properly to leave her in that
condition, upon which Radford tried to enforce obedience by repeatedly
striking the Eskimo till a general row started and the two explorers, or
whatever they were, suffered death. It took three years or so to get at
the facts, with the final decision that, the murder having been traced
to the perpetrators, the whole evidence showed that it was a case where
the Eskimo had acted in self-defence and that, while in imminent fear of
being killed by the white men, they had taken the lives of the latter.
But the Mounted Police had to travel many a long and dangerous mile
through many a weary month before these facts were discovered. We give
an outline of the process in the following pages.

Superintendents Starnes and Demers recommended that an expedition be
equipped for two or three years and sent out to investigate, but the
wrecks of schooners and other untoward incidents interfered. But in
July, 1914, over two years from the date of the alleged crime, Inspector
W. J. Beyts, an officer of much experience in the North, left on a
Government schooner from Halifax with a sergeant and two constables. The
weather was so bad that they did not reach the Hudson's Bay Coast till
it was too late to establish a post at Baker Lake. The next year, after
enormous difficulties, he succeeded in planting the post, but the winter
of 1915-16 was such that two brave attempts to get to Bathurst Inlet
failed. Game on which they had to rely for dog-feed was so scarce that
supply could not be secured. Dogs died by the score also amongst the
Eskimo that year, and Beyts reports one case where there were only six
dogs amongst ten families, and another case where the sleigh was being
pulled by one man, two women and a dog. In the summer of 1916 Beyts, by
previous arrangement, returned to headquarters, and his place was taken
by Inspector F. H. French, who arrived at Baker Lake in September. This
was more than four years after the murder, but the Police never let go
their hold once they started on a case.

Commissioner Perry's instructions to Inspector French were these: "It
will be your duty to get in touch at the earliest possible moment with
the tribes said to be responsible for the deaths. You will make
inquiries and take such statutory declarations as may seem necessary in
order to obtain a full and accurate account of the occurrence. From
information received, it is assumed that there was provocation. If this
is found to be the case, it is not the intention of the Government to
proceed with prosecution. If, however, there was found to be no
provocation, the Government will consider what further action is to be

French was "to the manner born" in the Police service. He was a son of
that gallant officer, Inspector "Jack" French, leader of "French's
Scouts" in the second Rebellion, who was killed by a half-breed sniper
after having driven Riel's men from their coverts in one section of the
fight at Batoche. And he was also the nephew of Colonel Sir George
French, the first Commissioner of Mounted Police after their
organization, although Colonel Osborne Smith, as already stated, was
Commissioner for the purpose of swearing in the men.

And this younger French was evidently a "chip of the old block," because
he does not contemplate failure. In January, 1917, he wrote: "I hope to
make a successful trip, commencing in March next," but he knows it will
be a fight against the elements and against want, for he adds: "my only
difficulty will be the inevitable dog-feed question, which rises at
every point where a man moves in this country." He will have to depend
on game and game is always uncertain.

French was fortunate in his party having with him Sergt.-Major T. B.
Caulkin (later Inspector), a most reliable and persevering man who knew
the Eskimo country, and he had also police natives, Joe and "Bye and
Bye," with two other natives to assist. They were absent from their base
at Baker Lake about ten months of almost incessant travel amongst the
Eskimo, to whom on all occasions of meeting French explained the law of
the country in relation to human life and property. In that regard it
was a kind of missionary tour and did lasting good.

Getting into contact with the Eskimo tribe at Bathurst Inlet, French
secured many statutory declarations which established beyond all doubt
that two Eskimos who were known to be quiet and inoffensive men, had
been goaded by ill-treatment into turning on their tormentors and
putting an end to them. French had fulfilled his mission and did not
consider it necessary to arrest these men. But the patrol had impressed
upon these "ends of the earth" the lessons desired.

French's return was attended by great hardship. Game was scarce and
wild. So food for both men and dogs ran out again and again. Dogs were
shot as they became exhausted and fed to the other dogs. Deerskins were
chopped up and made into soup. Fuel oil became exhausted and sleds had
to be burned. As one of the party, French himself said, "It looked like
their last patrol," but they struck some deer and got food, which toned
them and their dogs up so that "they made the grade." But it was a close
call and every member of the party deserved the eulogy expressed by
French in which all who know the history include as chief the Inspector
himself. He had done good service throughout the years, but the Bathurst
Inlet patrol will always remain as an outstanding mark to his credit.

Similarly will the Bear Lake patrol go to the credit of Inspector C. D.
La Nauze, who also was fortunate in having splendid support from his
men. The occasion of the Patrol was the disappearance of two priests,
Fathers Rouvier and Le Roux, who in 1913 had left Fort Norman on the
Mackenzie River for a two years' absence in establishing missions
amongst the Eskimo of the far North. When the two years were well on and
no news had been received from them, their friends began to get anxious,
and of course appeal was made to the Mounted Police, who were expected
to unravel all mysteries and solve all perplexing problems. And it is to
their credit that they never turned a deaf ear to such appeals. It took
nearly two years and a half to get the solution of the mystery. There
were others in the patrol when it started, but Inspector La Nauze,
Constable Wight, Special Native Constable Ilavinik and Corporal W. V.
Bruce were those who were in at the end when two Eskimo men, Sinninsiak
and Uluksak, were arrested by them at Coronation Gulf as the
self-confessed murderers of the two priests. Leaving Great Bear Lake in
April, 1916, La Nauze, Wight and Ilavinik reached Coronation Gulf a
month later and here they met Corporal Bruce, who had been sent out by
Inspector Phillips from Herschell Island to gather information that
would help to locate the priests, if alive, and if they were not found
to discover the cause of their disappearance. Bruce knew the whole
region and knew many of the Eskimos personally. Without exciting their
suspicion he had found amongst them and purchased several articles of
priests' wear which strongly indicated that the priests had perished.
Ilavinik proved a treasure. The party found two of the explorer
Steffanson's men and they had heard of Ilavinik, so that the way became
easier. Finally La Nauze and Ilavinik began to talk to the people in
their igloos, and inquire if any white men had been that way at any
time. They said Yes, and then La Nauze sat back and let Ilavinik do the
talking. In a little while he turned, trembling with the excitement of
it, to the Inspector and said, "I have got on the track. These men know
who murdered the priests and they are very, very sorry that any of the
Eskimos should have done it." This led very soon to the arrest of
Sinnisiak, who was said to be the chief instigator of the crime, his
companion being of a milder type. After examination of the prisoner and
witnesses, the Inspector formally committed Sinnisiak for trial by a
competent court. Then La Nauze left the prisoner in charge of Constable
Bruce, while he, accompanied by Constable Wight and a bright young
Eskimo "Patsy" who was attached to the Canadian Arctic Expedition, went
to South Victoria Land and arrested Uluksak. He was of a gentler type.
Sinnisiak had rather demurred to being arrested and had indicated his
power to make medicine that would sink the white man's ship if they
tried to take him away. But Uluksak came forward at once and gave
himself up. La Nauze asked him if he knew what they had come for and the
Eskimo said, "Yes, to kill me by striking me on the head as the other
white men did." He was formally arrested by Wight and committed for
trial by the Inspector. From the evidence it seemed clear that the
priests in their eagerness to get ahead had attempted to force the two
men to go along with them. Uluksak said one of them put his hand on the
Eskimo's mouth and would not let him say anything. Generally speaking
the priests showed their lack of understanding of the Eskimo nature and
fell victims to their own impetuosity in dealing with them.

The prisoners were brought all the way to Edmonton and then to Calgary,
where they were finally tried. They seemed to be as guileless and simple
as children, and gave absolutely no trouble from the day they were
arrested. They became much attached to their captors and cried when they
had to leave them. But they had told their story with clearness, and the
jury brought in a verdict of "Guilty with the strongest recommendation
to mercy a jury can make." They were sentenced to be hanged, but this
was commuted to imprisonment for life, and they were finally sent back
amongst their own people in the far North. It was felt that justice had
been vindicated and that their story to their own people would be of
great value to prevent any such event occurring again. These two patrols
of French and La Nauze, along with a recent arrest of an Eskimo in
another part of the Arctic Circle by Sergeant Douglas, revealed again to
the world that the long arm of the Mounted Police was unavoidable once
anyone had transgressed laws in regard to human welfare. And thus are
the men of this famous corps patrolling the vast white North in all
directions at the time of this writing.

That such patrolling is excessively difficult and dangerous may be
gathered from such a report as that sent in by Inspector J. W. Phillips,
who was in command of the Herschell Island detachment in 1918. He, with
Constables Cornelius and Doak, was wrecked 8 miles off Herschell Island,
when their whale boat was crushed to pieces in the ice. They had to jump
on the floating ice. The cakes were small and were churning round and
up-ending. At times the piece on which one would be standing would
up-end and then it was a case of jumping or being crushed to death.
Finally they reached the shore ice. Then they started for Herschell
Island, but found great cracks or leads in the ice too wide to cross.
They changed their course and made for the nearest land. They found the
leads narrower. By joining their belts and suspenders together a line
was made. One of them would swim the lead and then assist the others
over by this life-line. They crossed over more than a score of leads in
this way before reaching the nearest land. We read this over and then
think of men in comfortable armchairs finding fault with police

But the remaining part of the report in this connection is still more
amazing. Let me quote it. "The time spent by us from the wrecking of the
boat on the ice to our reaching the land was ten hours. A gale from the
north-east had been blowing all the time and in our soaking wet
condition we suffered severely from the cold." One would imagine they
would when he reads on. Phillips says, "The only clothing we wore at
this time was our under garments, trousers and muckluks. Our Artiggies
we threw away, as we found they hampered us too much when getting across
the leads. Herschell Island post was still 12 miles away. We started to
walk it. After travelling about a mile I noticed that Constable Doak was
delirious. Constable Cornelius and I helped him to walk, but owing to
cramps in the legs we could not manage. Constable Cornelius at this
stage offered to go to Herschell Island for assistance, food and
matches, and I permitted him to go. After he left I built a windbreak of
driftwood. Constable Doak and I crawled into it. Here we remained till
11 p.m. the following day. Then we were rescued by a whale boat and
taken to Herschell Island. We kept a sharp look out for Constable
Cornelius, but saw nothing of him, and on arrival found he had not
reached the post. I at once started out Constable Brockie and two
natives with a whale boat, and found him on a sand-spit 10 miles away.
He was brought in safely. I am sorry to say that at the present time
(the day after the event) the two constables and myself are laid up with
swollen feet and legs due to exposure." They must have had tremendous
endurance to get through at all. And one gathers that the Inspector is
not thinking of his own and the Constable's personal losses and
exposure, but is rather concerned that some government property had to
be noted as missing in the wreck. For he adds: "I must say that I am
exceedingly sorry to have to give you a report of this nature, but I
think you will agree that this occurred under circumstances over which I
had no control. I am happy to be able to report no loss of life. As soon
as I am able to send a patrol to the vicinity of the wreck I will do so,
with the idea that there may be some government stores blown up on the
coast." But most of us are willing to declare our readiness to let
government stores go so long as men of this stamp are saved to continue
their contribution to the great traditions of a corps that has done so
much for Canada and the Empire.

Commissioner Perry's report for 1920 has just come to hand and is
specially notable because it is the first presented under the new name
of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and therefore the first since the
jurisdiction of the Force was extended to all parts of Canada. It
relates the change of name, the absorption of the Dominion Police by the
Mounted Police Force, and removal of headquarters from Regina to Ottawa,
all of which changes were made in pursuance of the policy adopted by the
Government to have one Federal Force controlled by a single head and
exercising authority in every part of Canada. A section of the amendment
of the Mounted Police Act may be quoted here. It says, "Every member of
the Force shall be a constable in every part of Canada for the purpose
of carrying out the criminal and other laws of Canada and in the
North-West Territories, and the Yukon Territory for carrying out any
laws and ordinances in force therein." This legislation, as already
intimated, involved the absorption of the Dominion Police, which in
various forms had existed in older Canada from as far back as 1839. Its
duties were mainly concerned with the protection of public buildings,
though also with the general preservation of law and order. This
Dominion Police Force came into more special prominence under the
Commissionership of Colonel Sir Percy Sherwood, who was knighted for his
services and under whom the Force grew to the number of some 150 men,
who were scattered over Canada singly or in small groups guarding
buildings, Navy yards and enforcing specific laws, as well as engaging
in effective secret service work in relation to enemy aliens in
war-time. After a long and highly creditable career in this service, Sir
Percy Sherwood retired on account of ill-health in 1919.

The absorption of the Dominion Police into the Mounted Police was not
free from difficulty, as the organizations differed fundamentally, the
former being on the lines of a civil municipal force, while the latter
was on military lines and engagement was for a fixed term. However,
conditions of engagement were offered to the members of the Dominion
Police and practically all of them enlisted in the Mounted Police, their
service already given in their own Force to count towards pension under
Mounted Police regulations.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is now the sole federal Force, and is
under Commissioner Perry, subject of course to the Minister of the
Dominion Government in whose department it comes, that minister at
present being the Hon. James A. Calder, President of the Council. The
duties of the Force may be summarized as follows:

     (A) The enforcement, or assistance in enforcement, of all laws
     where the Government of Canada is directly interested or

     (B) The protection of public buildings of the Dominion.

     (C) The protection of Navy yards.

     (D) The Intelligence Service.

     (E) The maintenance of law and order in all territories and
     Dominion parks.

     (F) Maintenance of finger-print bureaus.

     (G) Paroled prisoners' record.

The Commissioner says, "The Force is distributed in the way best suited
to perform its many duties. It is found along the international
boundary, where it aids in protecting the revenue and preventing the
entrance into Canada of undesirables. It is located on or in the
vicinity of Indian Reserves to maintain good order, and to aid in
enforcement of the laws pertaining to our Indian population. It occupies
many lonely posts in the North-West Territories and Yukon Territory, and
along the Arctic and Hudson's Bay Coasts. It is found in centres of
population, and at points where industrial activities are vital to the
welfare of the nation." New outposts were established in the far North:
one at Port Burwell on the Hudson Straits, to act for the Department of
Customs and collect duties on foreign vessels entering the waters of
Hudson Bay, and the other at Tree River, on Coronation Gulf, for
ordinary duty. The latter is the most remote outpost and the fact of its
existence there indicates the far-flung character of the operations of
this ubiquitous corps.

When the Commissioner says the force is Found at centres of population
he visualizes for us the fact that our modern social life has created
vast cities which have eaten up the green fields and turned them into
asphalt pavements. These cities become the hardest problem for the
administrator of law. Into them drift the derelicts of human society,
and even these are drawn down to deeper degradation by the undertow of
vice and crime. More mean in their lawlessness and much less open than
the dwellers in frontiers and camps, the vicious elements in cities
require from the State the oversight of an adequate force of fearless
men. The illegal traffic in narcotic drugs, for instance, is carried on
by the most degraded and the lowest criminals of the underworld, aided
and abetted too frequently by dishonourable members of honourable
professions. The gambler and the "bootlegger" and the white slave dealer
find their habitat in large centres of population. And no force can keep
these lawless elements in check like a force free from local influences,
especially when that force is the Mounted Corps which for nearly half a
century has built up a reputation for a fair and fearless administration
of law. The prestige of the corps that has been proof against all
attempts at intimidation or bribery on the part of the lawless classes
makes it a unique power for good in the cities as on the plains.

And when the Commissioner says that detachments of the Mounted Police
are found at points "where industrial activities are vital to the
welfare of the nation" he strikes a chord that will find grateful
response from every industrious citizen, whether employer or employed,
who understands that "trade is the calm health of nations." There is
nothing in this world of material things more to be feared than the
wanton destruction of industries that have been built up by laborious
endeavour and the unstinted expenditure of energy in brain and hand.
Such destruction leads to endless suffering amongst the innocent and to
the business stagnation which brings calamity in its wake. To guard
against these dread contingencies the Mounted Police are on hand. They
have never interfered in a partisan way when strikes and lock outs are
abroad, but they stand by to preserve law and order and to prevent any
destruction of human life and property which might take place at the
instigation of irresponsible extremists. In this difficult and ofttimes
dangerous duty the men who stand for constitutional order in society
will always have the support of decent intelligent citizens.

Not only in the centres of population but away up in the Arctic regions
beyond the sky-line of civilization have the Mounted Police in 1920 as
always been doing their duty in their usual unobtrusive but extremely
effective way. Amongst the Eskimos there were several cases of murder of
adults and of infanticide, every one of which was followed up by the
closest investigation even though it took months of work and patrolling
amidst the rigours of Polar weather to do it. In these cases of murder
there seemed to be a complete absence of that malice aforethought which
constitutes the essence of the crime in the eyes of the law. The cases
were very few, but occasionally an infant was put out of the misery of
starvation when there was no food in sight and a man who became a moral
nuisance to the tribe and was therefore considered insane (a fairly good
inference) was quietly removed by the unanimous vote of the community.
But the Police taught a different code of ethics, followed and
investigated every case until the Eskimos have begun to see things in a
more humane light. It is of great interest to find that in these recent
endeavours to get the Eskimos to see these matters aright the Mounted
Police had the aid of the two Eskimos Sinnisiak and Uluksak who had been
convicted of the murder of Fathers Le Roux and Rouvier, as already
related, but who had been finally pardoned and sent back to tell their
people of the sacredness of human life. In fact, Sinnisiak entered the
service as a special constable and did useful work as a guide and
hunter, thus showing, as Staff-Sergeant S. G. Clay said, that "his now
rather long acquaintance with the Police has had its advantages." Two
other Eskimos who had been tried and acquitted were also taken back by
the Police to their own tribes to preach the gospel of the value of
human life.

In connection with these recent Northern patrols Sergeant W. O. Douglas
with Constable Eyre and two natives left Fullerton for Chesterfield to
look into rumours of a murder near Baker Lake. After a difficult patrol
and serious risk Douglas arrested the alleged murderer, On-aug-wak, and
brought him back to the Pas in Northern Manitoba after several thousands
of miles of patrol for trial. The Eskimo made a statement as to taking
the lives of two men, but there were many elements to be considered, and
as the prisoner is deemed entitled to all the protection that British
law affords, the Police with the accused are leaving for Baker Lake by
the Hudson's Bay Company steamship _Nascopie_. A court will be
constituted at Chesterfield Inlet with a jury from the crew of the
steamship and the dozen or more Eskimo witnesses will be on hand to tell
their story. This shows how carefully the Police work is done with due
regard to every one's rights, no matter what his race or colour. But
whatever the outcome of the trial the moral effect on the natives will
be highly beneficial.

Similarly Inspector J. W. Phillips and Sergeant A. H. Joy made a patrol
from Haileybury in Northern Ontario to the Belcher Islands in the
sub-Arctic, taking seventy-five days and covering nearly two thousand
miles, arrested an Eskimo named Tukatauk for killing a man named
Ketanshauk, but the coroner's jury were unanimous in saying that
Ketanshauk was "killed for the common good and safety of the tribe."
Phillips saw the force of this verdict as reasonable from the point of
view of the Eskimos and was satisfied with the opportunity to give them
some appropriate instruction in law and morals. One other case was
followed up by Phillips at the same time with somewhat the same result.

In 1920 Staff-Sergeant S. G. Clay, Constable E. H. Cornelius and
Constable J. Brockie left Herschell Island and established the most
northerly outpost of the Force 65 miles east of the mouth of the
Coppermine River. The isolation of this post may be judged by the fact
that the nearest post office is at Fort Macpherson over 600 miles away
as the crow flies and the nearest telegraph office is at Dawson, over
1,000 miles distant. Here the Union Jack flies in the Arctic breeze and
here revenue is collected for the Dominion from traders and trappers who
venture north in schooners to ply their occupation. Sergeant Clay and
his men made constant patrols to the Coppermine, to Bernard Harbour and
Victoria Land, to Bathurst Inlet and Kent Peninsula with their dogs. The
question of supplies of food for themselves and dogs was always pressing
and at Fort Norman on the return journey there was such a shortage that
the whole party had to go to Willow Lake for a month's fishing and
hunting to lay in a safe supply. About 20 miles east of Cape Barrow this
patrol found a tribe whom the police had not yet met. This gave the
opportunity for more instruction, and Clay opines "that with the advent
of the missionary and other aids to civilization" the wrongs done in
ignorance by these people will cease.

I have already spoken of the oilfields in the Fort Norman district, to
which at the time of this writing there is a rush of people who see in
their own imaginations such roads to wealth that they miss seeing the
dangers of the way through these remote regions. But the Mounted Police,
under the general charge of Superintendent G. L. Jennings, an
experienced northerner himself, have made stringent regulations as to
entry into the district which will protect the foolhardy from their own

And then, swinging away in our story to the old cities of the East, we
find the Mounted Police at the ports of Montreal and Halifax, engaging
the services of such experienced social-service workers as the Rev. John
Chisholm and Mrs. Bessie Egan to meet unaccompanied women and girls who
land in Canada, to see to their requirements and to attend them on board
their trains, so that they may not be misled or enticed in wrong
directions by the unscrupulous individuals who fatten on the wreckage of
human lives. Social-service workers have always found difficulty in this
work because of the brazenness and the threatening attitude of some of
the evildoers, but when the stalwart men in scarlet and gold are at the
call of these life-saving crews at the ports of entry to this country
the harpies who prey on the innocent have to keep out of the way. A
right royal task is this, also, for the old corps that has headed off
more crime than any similar body in the world. And for all the work in
Canada we have sketched, the total strength of the Force is about 1,700
of all ranks. There are some few people who so lack the power to sense
nation-wide conditions that they gird at the expense of maintaining the
corps. But men of vision know that the Mounted Police save Canada
annually from moral and material losses that make expenditure upon this
famous old law-and-order corps pale into insignificance by comparison.

In the past year there were many changes in the way of promotions.
Amongst the names our readers who have followed the story of the Force
will meet many of the men who gave such ample proof of their fitness
that their moving up a step came as it has generally come in the Force,
as a spontaneous recognition of merit. The promotions were as follows:
Promoted Assistant Commissioners: Superintendents C. Starnes, T. A.
Wroughton. Promoted Superintendents: Inspectors R. E. Tucker, J.
Ritchie, A. B. Allard, T. S. Belcher, G. L. Jennings and H. M. Newson.
Promoted Inspectors: Sergt.-Major Fletcher, A./Sergt.-Major Trundle,
Staff-Sergeant Mellor, Staff-Sergeant Forde, Staff-Sergeant Reames,
Sergeants Bruce, Thomas, Moorhead, Kemp, Frere, Eames and Fraser. And
these men, who had won their spurs, are with their comrades carrying on
in a way worthy of the great traditions to which they are heirs.

Thus has the story of the famous Mounted Police of Canada been brought
down to date. An encyclopedia might be compiled on the subject by
writing minute records and dry details, but an encyclopedia was not
desired. It would be prohibitive in cost to the people in general and
would be lacking in the personal element and the personal human touch so
characteristic of the history of the corps. The aim was to bring the
records of nearly fifty years into a single volume without squeezing the
life out of them. Incidents and names could not all be included, but
nothing has been omitted intentionally that bore upon the general trend
of Western Canadian history with which the work of the Mounted Police is
inseparably connected.

Two years ago the Dominion Government, as already intimated, extended
the jurisdiction of the Force to the whole of Canada, so that in towns
and cities as well as on the frontiers of the far North and West the
influence of the Force will henceforth be felt, backed by its great
prestige. Referring to this the Duke of Devonshire, who as
Governor-General of Canada was so close a student of its history and
affairs, said recently, "The Force is now taking over a wider
jurisdiction and increased duties. It will carry with it a great
tradition and a great name, and we who appreciate and value its work can
be assured that its record will be as successful in the future as in the

And our gallant Prince of Wales, who captivated all Canada during his
recent tour across the Dominion, graciously expressed his approval and
appreciation of the Force by speaking at Regina Headquarters after
inspection in the following words:

     "It is not only a real pleasure, but a great privilege to me to
     inspect you on parade this morning, and to visit the depôt of the
     Royal North-West Mounted Police, though this is by no means my
     first introduction to the Force, which I have seen a great deal of
     throughout my travels in the West, and I have been very impressed
     by it, particularly by the mounted escorts and guards that it has
     furnished for me in all the big cities.

     "I am interested in the history of the Force, how it was organized
     forty-six years ago, at a time when treaties were being made with
     the Indians, whereby the lands of the North-West were made
     available for settlement by the white people. So well has it
     administered justice between all parties that it has won for itself
     respect and the confidence of both white people and Indians, and no
     new country has ever been opened up with less crime and violence
     than this North-West Territory.

     "Up in the Klondike, when wild and lawless men thronged the Yukon
     gold diggings, life and property were as safe in the care of the
     Royal North-West Mounted Police as in any other part of the
     Dominion, and the splendid police work which they have done and
     continue to do in the frozen wastes of the North, under the most
     trying conditions of hardship and privation, is recognized and
     appreciated everywhere to-day.

     "I know that at the declaration of war, the whole Force wanted to
     join up, though that was naturally impossible. The first to be
     allowed to go were many Imperial reservists, who have always
     constituted a large percentage of its members. Then, by degrees,
     men could he spared, and served in the Canadian cavalry, infantry
     and other units, and I know many of the last joined men are war

     "I was with Sir Arthur Currie, Canadian Corps Commander, when he
     inspected the Royal North-West Mounted Police squadron when they
     arrived in France a year ago, so that the war records of the Force
     have been of the same high standard as its records in the past.

     "The Royal North-West Mounted Police is a splendid Force with
     magnificent traditions, whose fame is as wide as that of the
     Dominion itself.

     "I know the men of the Force of to-day are proving themselves
     worthy of those traditions and will ever uphold them."

It was appropriate that the heir apparent to the British throne should
thus address the Mounted Police of Canada, for their record is part of
that British tradition and British sentiment which, delicate and
intangible as gossamer, but strong as steel, bind our far-flung Empire
into one triumphant unity.

And now, as a fitting climax to the history of the corps at the time
when it was undergoing changes that meant larger opportunities and
increased usefulness in the years ahead, there comes this note in
Commissioner Perry's report for 1920 just off the press:

     "On March 8 last, Sir George Perley, High Commissioner for Canada,
     cabled as follows:

     'With His Majesty's approval Prince of Wales has graciously
     consented accept position Honorary Commandant Royal Canadian
     Mounted Police and His Royal Highness asks me tell you how pleased
     he is to be associated with Force in this way.'

     "On May 3, an Order in Council was passed making the appointment.

     "The Force has been signally honoured by His Royal Highness, and it
     keenly appreciates the distinction conferred upon it."

This needs no comment beyond saying that the Prince of Wales knows
Canada and knows the Mounted Police record in peace and in war. The
Prince, who came to the overseas Dominions to represent our beloved
King, has always shown his splendid capacity for thus appreciating the
service of men who have stood and will continue to stand unconquered for
the Flag

    "That may float or sink o'er a shot-torn wreck,
    But will never float over a slave."

_Printed in Great Britain by_ Butler & Tanner, _Frome and London_.

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