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Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
Vol 1 - Chapter XI
The North West Mounted Police in Alberta

The reader will have observed that little has been said up to this point relating to Southern Alberta. The reason has been that the bulk of the fur trade was located along the Saskatchewan and the rivers of the north. In the early years of the fur trade, buffalo and wolf skins were not highly prized, and these were the principal commodities of the south, no great attention being paid to the Indian trade in this region of the North West. We have seen that the Hudson's Bay Company were unable to maintain forts in the south and that Old Bow Fort and Chesterfield House were abandoned very soon after amalgamation. Any trade with the Blackfoot nation was done at Edmonton or at Rocky Mountain House and sometimes at Fort Pitt.

After 1860 the settlement of the Western States changed the situation. American traders began to invade the hunting grounds of the Blackfeet which included the whole of Southern Alberta south of the South Saskatchewan and Red Deer Rivers. Large numbers of reckless traders entered the country, did as they pleased, ruined the Indians with whiskey, built strong forts and established a reign of brigandage and murder. Whiskey was traded (to the great advantage of the trader) for buffalo, wolf and other skins. Goods to be exchanged for the fur were brought in without duty and the whole trade was carried on in defiance of the laws of Canada and of the United States.

One of the principal posts was Fort Hamilton, commonly called "Whoop-up", at the forks of the Belly and St. Mary's Rivers, under two notorious characters—Healey and Culvertson. Colonel Steele gives us an authentic description of this place and the use it was put to by the whiskey traders:

"There were two walls about a dozen feet apart, built of heavy squared logs braced across by heavy log partitions about the same distance from one another, dividing it into rooms which were used as dwellings, blacksmith shops and stores, the doors and windows opening into a square. There were bastions at the corners and the walls were loopholed for musketry. Iron bars were placed across the chimneys to prevent the Indians from getting in that way. There were heavy log roofs across the partitions and a strong gate of oak with a small opening to trade through. The trader stood at the wicket, a tub full of whiskey beside him and when an Indian pushed a buffalo robe to him through the hole, he handed out a tin cup full of the poisonous decoction. A quart of the stuff bought a fine pony. When the spring came, wagon loads of the proceeds of the traffic were escorted to Fort Benton in Montana, some 200 miles south of the border line."

These brigands made it almost impossible for a legitimate trader to stay in the country and for this purpose they maintained the notorious "Spitzee Cavalry", to chase their opponents away. American traders penetrated as far north as Edmonton in 1872 and openly sold whiskey to the Blackfeet. They infested the Cypress Hills, the favorite hunting ground of all the Indians of the Plains. The demoralization of the Indians, the danger to the white inhabitants and the injury resulting to the country from such a condition of affairs, led the Canadian Government to organize the N. W. M. P. in 1873. No institution ever established by the Government of Canada has more fully realised the hopes of the country than the Mounted Police. For nearly half a century the Mounted Police have been the pride of Canada. Whether tracking the smuggler, the horse thief or murderer over the Plains and through the foothills of Alberta, or digging some half frozen miner out of the snows of the Yukon,—the "Mounties", as they are affectionately called, have always been equal to the task and duty imposed upon them. Their splendid contribution to the traditions of Canada is that the transition from primitive pioneer conditions to the complete establishment of civil institutions was conducted through their agency with perfect law and order and with the same safety for life and property as obtains in the settled communities of the other parts of the Dominion. The contrast to the state of affairs that prevailed in Montana in the days of the Vigilantes and in Southern Alberta before the Mounted Police came, from that which prevailed after 1874, is the emphatic proof that lawlessness is not necessarily inseparable from pioneering.

The Act establishing the force was passed in May, 1873. Certain changes were made in the following year. By virtue of these Acts the force consisted of a Commissioner, an Assistant Commissioner, six inspectors, 12 sub-inspectors, two surgeons, a paymaster, a quartermaster, a veterinary surgeon, and 300 N. C. O.'s and men divided into six divisions. In 1877, owing to the scattered nature of the force, the offices of paymaster, quartermaster and veterinary surgeon were abolished and their duties transferred to local officers. In 1878 inspectors became superintendents, sub-inspectors were raised to inspectors, officers which prevail at the present day.

Recruiting began in Eastern Canada in September, 1873, under Inspector Walsh. None but those able to pass the severe physical test required by the Act were accepted—"A sound constitution, able to ride, active, able- bodied, of good character and between the ages of 18 and 40 years; able to read and write either the English or French language." A. H. Griesbach, father of Brig. Gen. Hon. W. A. Griesbach, D. S. O., C. M. G., M. P. of Edmonton was the first man to enroll and the first Regimental Sergeant Major of the force. In October the force, consisting of "A", "B" and "C" divisions of 50 men each were dispatched to Fort Garry by the Dawson route and by the end of November were in quarters at the Lower Stone Fort. Superintendent Jarvis had command of the Fort until the arrival of the Commissioner, Lieutenant Colonel French. Commissioner French soon found his force was insufficient for the big task ahead of him and he was successful in influencing the Government to send out three more divisions, viz.: "D", "E" and "F" in the spring of 1874. This latter body was recruited in the east in the winter and were sent to the west through the United States, via Chicago, St. Paul and Fargo. They reached Fargo June 12th. This wing of the force consisted of 16 officers, 201 men and 244 horses. On June 19th they were joined at Dufferin by "A" and "B" and "C" divisions which left Lower Fort Garry June 7th, under Major Macleod, who had been appointed Assistant Commissioner a few days before. Dufferin was the point of departure for the long trek over the prairies to the foothills of Alberta. Preparations for the march westward were delayed by a terrible thunderstorm on the night of June 12th causing a stampede of the horses and cattle. It took several days to round up the horses, many of which had escaped 40 or 50 miles into Dakota. Besides military equipment, including two cannon, the force carried a large number of cattle for slaughter on the march and cows, calves, plows, harrows, mowing machines and other agricultural implements. The force was a colonizing agent as well as a territorial police and was to be self-sustaining wherever it located.

The march began June 8th and the train continued in a body until La Roche Percee was reached. Here the division under Inspector Jarvis and Sergeant Major Steele was detached with orders to proceed to Edmonton. This detachment followed the usual trail via Fort Ellice, Canton, Pitt, Victoria and reached Edmonton in October where they wintered before establishing the headquarters of the force in this district at Fort Saskatchewan.

The objective of the main force was the junction of the Bow and Belly Rivers in Southern Alberta where they expected to come to close quarters with the whiskey traders. Leaving La Roche Percee July 29th the Cypress Hills were reached August 25th after heavy travelling, which affected the horses severely. Resting here until the 31st when Commissioner Macleod returned from Wood Mountains with supplies of oats for the horses, the train proceeded on its march and reached the Saskatchewan River on September 6th. The country was eaten bare by the vast herds of buffalo, making it exceedingly difficult to obtain feed for the horses. Colonel French considered his position a serious one and consequently led his force southward to the Sweet Grass Hills, camping on the West Butte, just north of the International Boundary line where abundant grass was found. French and Macleod then proceeded to Fort Benton to procure supplies and communicate with Ottawa. Orders from Ottawa directed Commissioner French to return east to Swan River which the government had chosen as the future headquarters of the R. N. W. M. P., and to leave Assistant Commissioner Macleod to establish a Post on the Belly River.

On September 21st French set out with "D" and "E" division leaving "B", "C" and "F" for duty in Alberta. Colonel Macleod engaged the famous Blackfoot scout, Jerry Potts, and set out for the Old Man River where he decided to build a post. The force moved westward until it reached the Benton trail where it turned north to Fort Whoop-up. By the time the police arrived at the famous rendezvous, everything was put in order and no seizures or arrests were made. On the trail, traders were met going south. Their wagons were searched, but no whiskey was found. Crossing the St. Mary's River the police crossed what is now known as the Blood Indian Reserve and crossed the Belly River at Slide Out. A few miles farther west they reached Macleod on the Old Man River and proceeded at once to build a Fort since known as Macleod. Police were not long in getting in touch with the whiskey traders. Three Bulls, a prominent Blackfoot Indian, informed Colonel Macleod that a colored trader named Bond had traded him a couple of gallons of whiskey for a horse. The next day Inspector Crozier and Jerry Potts located the gang at Pine Coulee and brought them into camp. They were fined $250.00 apiece. Next day a prominent Benton trader called and Paid the fine of all but the colored man. The robes and whiskey of the gang were confiscated, a practice the police followed in all their seizures. Before the end of the year Macleod had interviewed all the tribes of the Blackfeet nation and obtained assurances of their future good conduct, which the Indians as a whole, have ever since honourably observed. They were not slow to interpret the intention of the Government and the value of the police. "Before you came," said one of the old chiefs, at one of these interviews, "the Indian crept along, now he is not afraid to walk erect."

During the winter of 1874-75 a small detachment was stationed at Fort Kipp about 20 miles down the Old Man River from Fort Macleod under Inspector Griesbach. In the spring of 1.875 Inspector Jarvis commenced the erection of the Police Barracks at Fort Saskatchewan, and the steamer "Northcote" made her first trip up the Saskatchewan with the materials for the Fort. An important post established that year was Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills to check the whiskey traders who by this time were driven out of the Macleod district and had taken themselves to the refuge of the Cypress hills. Large bands of Crees, Salteaux, Assiniboine and Sioux frequented this part of the community and required protection and supervision. In August Colonel Macleod travelled from Macleod to Red Deer River to meet Major General Selby Smith, G. 0. C. of the Canadian Militia, who was on a tour of inspection of the N. W. M. P. On Macleod's return he left Inspector Brisbois to build a fort where the Elbow River joins the Bow. By December this post was completed and named Fort Brisbois, but later the name was changed to Calgary. The Hudson's Bay Company had a post up the Bow which was moved up to the new site. The I. G. Baker Company built a store and so began the City of Calgary in the fall of 1875. Other forts built that year were Shoal Lake, Battleford and Qu'Appelle.

In July, 1876, Colonel Macleod was promoted to the position of Commissioner on the retirement of Colonel French. A. G. Irvine became Assistant Commissioner. One of the first duties of the new commissioner was to accompany the Treaty Commissioners of Treaty No. 6 with the Indians to Forts Canton and Pitt. This Treaty was signed in August and September of that year. The Indian disturbances in Montana in 1876 and the flight of hundreds of Sioux to Canadian Territory after the Custer Massacre, threw a heavy burden on the new commissioner and his men. The establishments at Fort Macleod and Fort Walsh were reinforced to meet the danger. The tense situation was handled with conspicuous skill and success. The Blackfeet remained loyal and refused to negotiate with the American Indians. Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfeet, kept Colonel Macleod fully informed of these overtures and negotiations, asked the advice of the Commissioner and rigidly followed it. Southern Alberta was therefore the most important district in the whole North-West and for this reason and also on account of the unsuitability of the Swan River, the headquarters of the police were transferred to Fort Macleod. The strength and distribution of the force at the end of 1876 was as follows: Fort Macleod five sub-inspectors, 103 men, 105 horses; Fort Walsh, four sub-inspectors, 95 men and 90 horses; Fort Calgary, 35 men and 37 horses; Fort Saskatchewan, 20 men, 18 horses; Battleford and Carlton, 11 men, 16 horses; Swan River, 29 men; Shoal Lake, Qu'Appelle, and Beautiful Plains with a corresponding number of horses for each post.

A heavy duty in these early days of the force was the conveyance of prisoners from Macleod and Fort Walsh to Winnipeg to be tried for major crimes. This condition was improved by the North West Territories Act in 1875 which became operative in 1877 and establishes a complete system of the administration of justice within the North West Territories.

In 1877 more Sioux crossed over into the N. W. T. and it was found necessary to establish look-out posts at Wood Mountain at the eastern end of the Cypress Hills. Sitting Bull crossed into Canada in May with 135 lodges thus making in all nearly 700 lodges of American Indians who decided to seek a haven in the land of the "White Mother" as they called the Queen, Victoria. This was a big year for police. In June Inspector Irvine and Inspector Walsh visited Sitting Bull at a place called "The Hole", 140 miles east of Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills to ascertain his intentions and to superintend an interview of three American Scouts who had followed Sitting Bull into Canada. Sitting Bull refused to talk to the American Scouts or to return to American territory. In September Treaty No. 7 was concluded at Blackfoot Crossing by Governor Laird. He was assisted by Commissioner Macleod, who on the conclusion of the Treaty went direct to the Cypress Hills to meet the United States Commissioners of the Sitting Bull commission. The Commissioners, Generals Terry and Lawrence, reached Fort Walsh October 16th, being escorted from the border by the Police under Commissioner Macleod. Sitting Bull had been induced to come to this post to meet the Commissioners, but refused to return to the United States. The presence of so many Sioux in the vicinity of the Cypress Hills, who were jealously regarded by Canadian Indians, induced the government to move the headquarters of the force to Fort Walsh in 1878. The mild winter of 1877-78 kept the buffalo far out on the Plains and forced the Blackfeet Indians eastward over the Plains for their supplies which brought them into contact with the Sioux. Sinister rumors of Indian wars continually reached the Police, but the summer continued without disturbance. Both Crowfoot and Sitting Bull were anxious for peace and successfully managed to keel) the hostile tribes under control.

It became apparent to the Police and others acquainted with the country, that the buffalo were doomed to rapid extinction. The feeding of the Indian tribes was looming up as a serious problem. The Government was, however, anxious to have the Sioux return to their own country. Commissioner Macleod estimated in 1878 that the buffalo would last three years longer. They practically became extinct in the North-West in 1879. Once during that summer a large herd crossed the boundary line of the Cypress Hills and small bands reached the Saskatchewan River. The main herd, however, was held south of the Milk River about the "Little Rockies". Cut off from their usual food supply the Indians of Southern Alberta were in a deplorable condition. The Bloods, Peigans and the Assiniboines around Cypress Hills, supplied with temporary rations by the Police, set out to hunt in U. S. territory, but were ordered out of the country by the U. S. Government. The only alternative before the Canadian Government was to place the Indians on their reserves, which threw much extra work on the Police. They conducted the Treaty payments, supervised the distribution of supplies, and did all the work afterwards undertaken by the Department of the Interior. They were the never-failing handy men of the Government. During 1879, 50 criminal charges were tried by the Police, 35 of which were against white men. Judging from the preponderance of the Indian population over the whites, the Indian was fast becoming civilized, at least enough to observe the law.

We have seen that since 1876 and 1877 the presence of so many American Sioux was a disturbing element to the Canadian Indians. The Police never relaxed in their efforts to persuade Sitting Bull and the other Chiefs of his nation that they could never hope to obtain a reserve and be placed upon the same footing as the Canadian Treaty Indians. After exhausting every artifice of Indian diplomacy, Sitting Bull decided to surrender to the American Government, and in 1881 he left Wood Mountain for Fort Buford where he surrendered July 21st. The services of Inspectors Walsh and Crozier for conducting the negotiations with such success, were specially mentioned by the Commissioner. To have kept a warlike nation like the Sioux at peace with thousands of their hereditary enemies on this side of the border, in the face of diminishing supplies is an achievement that will always redound to the good name and efficiency of the Mounted Police.

In 1882 the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne, visited the North West Territories. He was escorted by the N. W. M. P. from the End of Steel on the C. P. R., a short distance west of Winnipeg, to various points in the Territories, crossing the prairie from Battleford to Blackfoot Crossing, to Calgary and to Macleod and returning to Canada by Fort Shaw, Montana. On this trip the Police escort travelled 2,072 miles at an average of 35 miles per day. This was the first of such trips. The various Governors General of Canada have invariably been escorted from place to place while on their journey through the North-West by the Mounted Police, who have always elicited the heartiest praise for the manner and safety with which these distinguished personages have been conducted. Among the most treasured memories of the Force is the praise bestowed upon it by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, than whom there was no one in the Empire better able to judge the smartness and efficiency of a military force.

As an example of the firmness and effectiveness of the police methods, the arrest of Bull Elk, a minor Blackfoot Chief in January, 1882, will serve to show the character of the men and the arduous tasks imposed upon them. Bull Elk fired at a white man on the Reserve at Blackfoot Crossing. Notwithstanding that 700 Indian braves armed with carbines and Winchesters determined to prevent his arrest, four policemen took him safely into custody and held him until a detachment of fifteen men under Superintendent Crozier came up from Macleod. This small force carried the prisoner safely and without a shot to Macleod and lodged him in the guard room. During 1882 the police spent a great deal of time in persuading and conducting the Crees and Assiniboines of the Cypress Hills to their Reserve. Chief Piapot was especially hard to advise. In July he reached his Reserve near Qu'Appelle but returned again in September to Fort Walsh. His action strengthened the obstinacy of Big Bear, who up to this time refused to take treaty. Commissioner Irving succeeded in securing the adhesion of Big Bear to Treaty No. 6 in October of that year. During the summer this recalcitrant Indian organized an attack upon the police headquarters at Fort Walsh, but seeing the effective preparations made for his reception, he chose discretion as the better part of valor, and withdrew.

The construction of the C. P. R. and the employment of 4,000 men along the right of way, increased the task of the police as it induced numerous whiskey traders to frequent a ready market. Horse stealing and cattle stealing by Canadian and American Indians imposed additional duties on the officers and men and made this one of the busiest years the force had up to to this time experienced. The total strength was now 474 officers and men stationed at Fort Walsh, Wood Mountain, Macleod, Battleford, Prince Albert, Qu'Appelle, Fort Saskatchewan, Calgary, Regina, with small units on command at Shoal Lake, Broadview, Moosomin, Troy, Moose Jaw, Fort Pelly, End of Steel, Maple Creek, Tell Crossing, Crow's Nest Pass, Whoop-up, Stand-off and points along the boundary line. The selection of Regina as the capital of the North West Territories in 1882 induced the Government to move the headquarters of the Police to Regina. The next year a new post was built at Fort Macleod, two and one-half miles west of the old post. Old Man River changed its course and isolated the old barracks on an island.

The reports of 1883 and 1884 indicate the prevalence of a great deal of horse stealing by the Indians and whites. The American Indians were very troublesome. They stole many horses from the Canadian Indians and settlers. It was generally impossible to recover them as the American authorities were indifferent in cooperating with the Mounted Police, who invariably gave the utmost assistance to American settlers in recovering horses stolen in American territory by Canadian Indians. The extension of the boundaries of the police district from Manitoba to the Rocky Mountains and along the railway built in British Columbia greatly increased the work of the police. The suppression of the liquor traffic was most arduous, the difficulties of suppressing this trade had increased enormously since the days when a few whiskey traders debauched the Indians. Then, as now, the Police got very little support from the settlers. Few people would risk the odium of being informers and local magistrates were averse to trying such cases because very often the culprits were either acquaintances, friends or customers.

In 1884 the Force was increased to ten divisions, each having an establishment of fifteen officers, N. C. O.'s and one hundred men. This action was necessary to secure a sufficient force to cope with the brooding troubles of the Rebellion, which broke out in the following year. In the troublous year of 1885 Superintendent Cotton was in charge at Macleod, Superintendent Herchmer at Calgary and Inspector Griesbach at Fort Saskatchewan. There was great danger of an uprising of the Indians of Alberta in sympathy with the half breeds and Indians of Forts Pitt, Canton and Battleford. After the fight at Duck Lake on March 26th, the Indians of Alberta showed signs of hostility and unrest. Rumors spread with startling rapidity and the settlers were exceedingly anxious. There were no telegraphs and only one railroad in the country. Southern Alberta was served by one mail a week from Calgary. Superintendent Cotton established a courier service between Calgary and Macleod. By this means correct news was obtained of the events from outside and greatly aided in calming the fears of the settlers. Superintendent Herchmer was ordered to accompany Commissioner Irvine on his expedition to Prince Albert. Calgary was, therefore, left without defence and the district thrown into a dreadful state of alarm. The people had acquired such implicit faith in the Mounted Police to give them protection at all times, that even the cowboys and ranchers had ceased to provide themselves with arms. The consequence was that when the Rebellion broke out and the Police were ordered east, the cowboys and ranchers and settlers, who formerly went about their daily duties armed for all emergencies, were defenceless. Major General Strange, who operated a ranch at Blackfoot Crossing, organized a troop of scout cavalry and an infantry home guard. Major Hatton organized a cavalry corps known as the Alberta Mounted Rifles. At Macleod Capt. Jack Stewart raised a troop of cowboys known as the Rocky Mountain Rangers, who patrolled the country between Macleod and Medicine Hat, giving protection to the working parties on the railway and telegraph lines then being built to Lethbridge. On April 12th two battalions of the militia, the 12th and 65th, reached Calgary. These various units were called the Alberta Field Force and were placed by General Middleton under the command of Major General Strange.

The conduct of the Indians at various points in Northern Alberta and along the Saskatchewan, rendered it necessary to send a punitive expedition with all haste. At Red Deer, Beaver Lake and Saddle Lake, the Indians were pillaging and threatening the settlers. Samson's and Bob Tail's bands on the Battle River plundered the Hudson's Bay store at that place and drove out the white settlers and officials of the Indian farm. At Frog Lake on April 2nd Big Bear's band murdered a number of settlers and carried off the rest of the men, women and children as prisoners. General Strange, acting under orders of General Middleton, organized an expedition to proceed to Fort Pitt to suppress the Indian rising and capture Big Bear. This proved to be a very difficult undertaking and its success was largely clue to the assistance of the Mounted Police under Majors Steele and Perry.

On April 20th Major General Strange left Calgary with the right wing of the column, consisting of Steele's Scouts, and four companies of the 65th Battalion. The left wing left on the 23rd under Major Perry, and consisted of 242 men and a nine pounder. This piece of artillery was very difficult to transport, as the roads had to be cut for long distances through the woods. The Rev. John Macdougall was sent ahead of General Strange with four Stoney scouts to interview the Indians between Red Deer and Edmonton, and bring the news of relief to the old trading post. The Indians around Edmonton were very excited for a time, but the news of the approach of the troops sobered them, as well as the Indians of the Battle River. When the troops passed through the Battle River Reserves, the quondam Indian rebels were busy at the plow.

Before General Strange arrived at Edmonton, Captain Stiff had organized the Edmonton Home Guard. The Hudson's Bay fort was put in as good a state of defence as possible. All the arms, including two brass cannon and all the ammunition in the district, were collected. News that Riel had sent a courier to Battleford, Fort Pitt, Saddle Lake, Victoria and Lac Ia Biche, calling the Indians to rebel, coupled with the news of the uprising of Poundmaker's men, prompted speedy measures of defence. Similar preparations were made at Fort Saskatchewan by Inspector Griesbach, who, at the request of the Justices of the Peace of Edmonton, took command of the defense forces of the Edmonton district. As the wires were cut between Edmonton and Battleford, the courier service was established between Edmonton and Calgary, each courier covering a beat of 25 to 30 miles.

General Strange reached Edmonton on May 1st, and Major Perry on May 6th. Major Perry left small detachments at Red Deer and Peace Hills to keep the line open. The Edmonton volunteers were disbanded by General Strange, and many of them joined the transport service of the Alberta Field Force. On May 6th, Major Steele's scouts and two companies of the 65th Battalion left Edmonton for Fort Pitt by the trail along the north bank of the Saskatchewan River. They were followed on the 8th by the remainder of the 65th Battalion under Lt. Col. Hughes. General Strange sent a company of the 65th back to the Battle River, and half a company to the Peace Hills (Lucas' Farm) to assist in keeping the line open. Rude forts were built at each place, the one at Battle River known as Fort Ostell, and the one at Peace Hill as Fort Ethier, after the officers in command. On the 10th, Colonel Osborne, with the Winnipeg Light Infantry and the Alberta Rifles, arrived in Edmonton from Calgary. The Indians at Selvais' settlement and Laboucan's settlement, on the Battle River, were reported to have received word from Poundmaker, and were restless. Inspector Griesbach visited the place, but made no arrests.

On the 14th, General Strange with a detachment of the Winnipeg Light Infantry, Major Perry's Police Detachment and the nine pounder, took transport down the river in flat-bottomed boats, built by Chief Factor Macdougall, assisted by the Edmonton Home Guards. At Victoria a part of the force disembarked, and from this point progress was made by trail and river until a junction was made with the advance column under Major Steele, near Frog Lake. Before proceeding, Victoria was put in a state of defence and a Home Guard organized under Rev. Mr. McLachlan. Here Strange interviewed Chief Pakan to get some of his men to accompany the column as scouts. Pakan said he was afraid of Big Bear and refused.

At Frog Lake the bodies of the murdered white settlers were found and buried. The Indians were located near Fort Pitt. General Strange and Major Steele pushed on to bring them to an engagement. They reached Fort Pitt on the 25th of May, to find it burning and in ruins. Scouts were sent out to locate Big Bear. Major Perry, accompanied by Rev. John Macdougall and Canon McKay, scouted the country southward to Battle River; Major Steele scouted northward towards Onion Lake, and back to Fort Pitt. Within a few miles of the Fort he encountered 187 lodges of Big Bear's band. Steele's force was joined by General Strange, who brought up the nine pounder. The Indians were driven from their position on the 27th. Next day they made a stand at Frenchman's Butte, close by. The Indians' position was one of great strength. Skillfully con- structed rifle pits in the scrub on the hillside afforded them excellent cover and protection. General Strange, after a preliminary battle, considered the enemy too strong to be dislodged, and suspended the battle until reinforcements could arrive from Battleford. Meanwhile Big Bear and his men abandoned their position on Frenchman's Butte and fled towards Loon Lake. In doing so, some of the prisoners taken at Frog Lake escaped.

A company of the 90th Battalion, the Little Black Devils of Winnipeg, who distinguished themselves so gloriously in the Second Battle of Ypres, was sent up from Battleford. Major Perry returned with his detachment, having gone as far east as Battleford. General Middleton reached Fort Pitt, June 3rd. The clay before Major Steele began the pursuit of Big Bear. He picked up his trail about 50 miles from Fort Pitt, where he had a brisk running fight with the fleeing Indians near Loon Lake. General Middleton, moving by the Onion Lake trail with his force, which included Superintendent Herchmer's Mounted Police, came up with Steele's Scouts on June 7th, and began a fresh pursuit of Big Bear across the lake. Major Steele and a force of Mounted men with three days' rations, were ready on the 10th to make a dash for Big Bear's camp, but for some unknown reason they were recalled by Middleton and Big Bear, whose band was now breaking up, escaped to the east. General Middleton and the police returned to Fort Pitt. Big Bear was captured by a Mounted Police patrol at Fort Carlton on July 2cl by Sergt. Smart of the Mounted Police, and the rebellion was over.

The services of the Police in the Rebellion may be estimated by General Strange's opinion of Major Steele's work: "Major Steele and his cavalry were the eyes, ears and feelers of the force, and their spirited Pursuit of Big Bear crowned with success the long and weary march they had protected, and, to a certain extent, guided." Criticism was made of the Mounted Police for the part played by that excellent force during the Rebellion. Such criticism was misdirected. The Police were placed under the command of General Middleton by the Minister of Militia. If the Militia had been under the Police and Colonel Irvine and his resourceful superintendents, the Rebellion would have been quelled with more dispatch and satisfaction to the people of Western Canada.

After 1885 a change came over the country. The Indians began to settle down on their Reserves and submit to the inevitable dominance of the white man. The settlement and development of the resources of the country began. The problems of the police dealt with the administration of justice and the repression of crime that grew with the increase of population. The ranching industry began to flourish and with it the cattle rustlers and the horse thieves became a thorn in the flesh of the police. The vast extent of the country, the great coulees and foothills, the great herds of horses and cattle that roamed the open range, constituted conditions exceedingly favorable to this form of crime, and the temptation to run stolen horses or cattle over the International border was alluring as well as profitable to the desperadoes of the bad lands of Montana and the Indians and white rustlers on both sides of the line. The vigilance of the police boundary riders was never relaxed. Outposts were established along the boundary from Manitoba to the Rocky Mountains to watch these brigands of the range. In 1894 the police broke up a gang of forty half breeds in the Sweet Grass Hills, who had been implicated in the Rebellion of 1885 and who apparently intended to live on the ranchers' cattle as their fathers had lived by hunting the buffalo. They terrorized the ranchers on both sides of the line and openly boasted they would kill any cattle they wanted to use and would heap dire vengeance on anyone who opposed them. They were the would-be lords of the hills and plains. They would ride to a rancher's door, tell him they intended to kill one of his cattle that day and that it would be good for his health to stay at home. One day they crossed into Canada, killing some settlers' cattle on the way, and ran into Corporal Dickson of the Writing-on-Stone Detachment. They camped in a coulee and picketed their horses some distance away. Corporal Dickson and his men quietly secured the horses during the night. In the early morning the half-breeds came for their horses. They were promptly arrested. At the trial it was found that the actual killing on this occasion took place a few rods to the south of the International Boundary Line and consequently the Mounted Police had no jurisdiction. The incident, however, had a wholesome effect as the half breeds never again attempted to carry out their depredations on Canadian territory.

While the Indians gave no trouble as tribes, yet it was difficult to discipline them to stay on the Reserves and the Police were often blamed for not showing their old dash and firmness in dealing with the red men. But conditions had changed. In the early days the Indians could retaliate only on the police, but when the country was settled with hundreds of defenceless settlers, rashness on the part of the Police might have incurred unpleasant and murderous reprisals upon innocent settlers and their families.

In April, 1886, Commissioner Irvine resigned and was succeeded by Commissioner Herchmer. His resignation was regretted by the entire force. Superintendent Crozier became Assistant Commissioner but was succeeded shortly afterwards by Superintendent Herchmer, a brother of the newly-appointed Commissioner. Commissioner Herchrner had no previous experience with the Mounted Police and his appointment was against the traditions of the force. There were a number of superintendents well qualified for the position. This, however, seems to he one of the very few instances in the history of the Police where political and personal considerations struck at the discipline and efficiency of this splendid force.

New outposts were established at Chin Coulee, Forty Mile Coulee, Bull's Head Coulee and patrols maintained between them on a schedule that required travelling an average of thirty miles per day. Other posts in Southern Alberta were Lethbridge, Stand-off, Kootenai, Pincher Creek, The Leavings (Granum), Kipp, Crowsnest and Peigan. In September of this year Superintendent Steele marched "D" Division from Battleford via Sounding Lake and Blackfoot Crossing to Macleod. At Calgary Superintendent Antrobus was in command and Inspector Griesbach at Fort Saskatchewan.

Chin Coulee, Forty Mile Coulee and Bull's Head Coulee outposts were abandoned in 1887 and others established at Kipp's Coulee, 24 miles south of Lethbridge; Milk River, Writing-on-Stone Coulee, 35 miles east of Milk River Ridge, and Pend d'Oreille. There was also a new post established on the St. Mary's River, 58 miles southwest of Macleod. Lethbridge was made the headquarters of a division that year and commodious barracks and stables erected. "D" Division moved to Lethbridge under Superintendent Steele January 21, 1887, but was superseded June 7th by "K" Division under Supt. A. R. Macdonell, who was soon succeeded by Superintendent Deane, who held the post for eighteen years. From Calgary, the headquarters of "E" Division, the police patrolled the country south to Mosquito Creek and Little Bow, north to Little Red Deer and Rosebud Creek, west to the Rocky Mountains and east to Crowfoot Creek, Sandhills and Blackfoot Reserve. Detachments in this district were stationed at Banff, High River, Gleichen and Scarlett's (the first night stopping place north of Calgary on the Edmonton trail). In the Edmonton district detachments were kept at Red Deer, Peace Hills, Black- mud Creek, St. Albert, Stony Plain, Lac Ste. Anne, Riviere Qui Barre, Victoria and Edmonton, with regular patrols between these points.

These patrols were a very important factor in the peace and good government of the Province. The patrolman called on the settlers, taking particulars of any complaints, suspicious characters, stray and diseased animals. They rode through the herds of cattle and horses on the range and knew the brands of the various cattle owners. They were therefore in a position to properly supervise and give information on this important industry. The movements of the Indians of the entire community were under constant survey and were regularly reported to headquarters. Prairie fires occupied much time and gave the men of the force a dangerous and most useful work for the community. Assistance was given to various departments of the Government. The Departments of Customs and of Agriculture were assisted in watching smugglers and preventing invasions of mangy cattle and glandered horses from American territory. Enormous numbers of American cattle turned loose near the border required constant turning back and gave the patrols great trouble. The Department of the Interior called upon the police to assist in the distribution of seed grain and the payment of Indian treaty money. In fact there were few duties in connection with the administration of Federal and Tern- tonal Law that the police were not called upon at one time or another to perform. They continued to be the handy men of the Government—jacks of many trades and masters of them all.

The police reports from 1888 and for the next ten years indicate how difficult it was to control the liquor trade. The permit system was in force and some of the judges held that a permit could be transferred. The result was that a person could acquire a considerable stock of liquor with- out criminal liability. He could have all his friends transfer their permits to him. The stock of liquor he acquired in this way was often used to conceal a larger stock kept in hiding, which permitted him the best facilities for carrying on an illicit trade. Everything was done to thwart the Mounted Police in carrying out the law. The permit system, which was originally designated to prevent the sale of liquor to the Indians, answered that purpose very well. The whites regarded it as an Indian law and balked when it applied to themselves, hence the illicit trade had, as a rule, the sympathy of the public.

In 1894 the force was reduced from 1000 to 750. Though the territory which it was called upon to supervise had vastly extended in the last ten years, the force had done its work so well that such a step was now quite justified. Indians, half breeds and whites were all settled down to the routine life of a well ordered community. One Phase of the great work of the N. W. M. P. was (lone. The Indians had now large herds of cattle and were supplied with a creditable equipment of mowers, rakes and wagons for hay making. They were now supplying some of the Police posts with hay and coal. Skin lodges began to disappear and to be replaced by neat log houses; and wash stands, sewing machines, etc., were common articles of furniture in the Indian home.

Colonel Macleod died at Calgary in 1894 and Jerry Potts, the famous interpreter, in 1896. These were probably two of the most prominent and picturesque characters of the whole police force. Colonel Macleod led the force into Southern Alberta in 1874 and founded the traditions of honor and efficiency that have always distinguished the officers and men of the Mounted Police. As a soldier, judge and gentleman Macleod had few equals. At the time of his death the Edmonton Bulletin said that no man in his time had (lone as much for Western Canada as Colonel Macleod. From the time he arrived his hand was seen in everything pertaining to the well being of the people of the North West Territories. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, and Queen's University. After he graduated he studied law and was called to the bar. He served in the Fenian Raids and in 1870 accompanied the Red River Expedition as Brigade Major. In 1885 he was the principal factor in maintaining peace among the Blackfeet, who, as Colonel Steele says, looked upon him almost with adoration, justly regarding him as the personification of truth and honour. In 1887 he was appointed to the newly organized Supreme Court of the North West Territories and was one of its judges until the day of his death. As one of the Stipendiary Magistrates of the North-West, he was ex-officio a member of the old North West Council where his legal training and knowledge of the country gave him an advantage in planning and carrying through useful legislation.

A word should be said about Jerry Potts, who was possibly one of the greatest guides and interpreters the North-West ever produced. He trained the best scouts in the police force and in the early days when the prairie was a trackless waste, there were very few trips of importance that were not guided by him or men to whom he had taught the craft of the plains. His influence with the Blackfeet tribes prevented bloodshed on many occasions. He possessed most of the virtues and few of the faults of both races to which he belonged. He was a Scotch Peigan. As an interpreter he was the most reliable in the police service. He had a clear-cut, terse way of his own in explaining to the Indians the remarks of the police officials so accurately as to leave no shadow of doubt in their minds.

The second phase of the great work of the N. W. M. P. is concerned with the opening up of the new North-West, as Northern Alberta. the Peace River and Mackenzie districts are called and the far north from Hudson's Bay to the Yukon. Some of the bravest deeds in the history of northern explorations and adventure may be credited to the men of the northern police Patrols. The discovery of gold in the Yukon in 19( riveted attention on the North West Territories. Notwithstanding the reduction of the force in 1894 it was called upon to supervise the territory from Edmonton to the Yukon and the Arctic Ocean. Patrols were sent into the north and 250 men were dispatched for the preservation of order and the enforcement of law in the Yukon. In the winter of 1897 Inspector Jarvis conducted the first northern patrol into the Athabaska and Great Slave districts. He left Fort Saskatchewan January 4th and travelled by Lac La Biche, Fort McMurray, Chipewyan, Resolution, Vermilion, Dunvegan, Lesser Slave Lake and Athabaska Landing, making the trip in three months. The object of the expedition was to report upon the resources of the country for the Government, warn Indians and trappers against indiscriminate killing of beaver, the illegal use of poisons, setting out fires and generally to inspire wholesome respect for law in those remote regions. Twenty convictions were made on the trip. This was the beginning of a regular system of northern patrols, which have been continued to the present day. Other patrols of that year were undertaken by Inspectors Snyder, Rutledge and Moody. Inspector Snyder went to Jasper House, Smoky River, Sturgeon Lake, returning via Lesser Slave Lake and Fort Assiniboine to Fort Saskatchewan. Ex-Inspector Chalmers, on behalf of the Government of the North West Territories, was commanded to locate a wagon road from Edmonton to the Peace River, while Inspector Moody was given the difficult task of finding a wagon road and cattle trail from Fort St. John on the Peace River to the Pelly River for parties going into the Yukon from Edmonton. He left Edmonton September 4, 1897, and reached Fort Grahame on the Finlay River in December. He had to kill his horses to feed his dogs and after a long delay which kept him at Fort Grahame until July 1st set out again and reached the Pelly River, which he descended to Fort Selkirk, arriving at this point October 24, 1898. In December Inspector Rutledge led the first patrol to Fort Simpson, making the journey from Fort Saskatchewan and back in three months and ten days.

Colonel Herchmer retired in 1900 and was succeeded by Col. Bowen Perry. When Colonel Perry took over the command the force was greatly under strength and somewhat disorganized oil of the numbers of officers and men who had been permitted to enlist for service in the Boer war. The police supplied 245 officers, N. C. O.'s and men for the campaign in South Africa. Such a reduction in strength coming on the eve of a period of unprecedented growth in population, rapid settlement, the rise of numerous new communities and the extension of railways taxed the force to the limits of its resources. As an example of the arduous duties required to be discharged, let us mention the work of Corporal Field at Fort Chipewyan in the winter of 1902. The intrepid Corporal tramped 1,300 miles with dogs in the depth of winter to find an insane man at Hay River and bring him in safety to headquarters at Fort Saskatchewan.
During the ten years ending 1900 the number of detachments of the force increased from 49 to 79 and ten years later the number of detachments had increased to 170. In 1903 Superintendent Constantine went as far north as Fort McPherson from which place he dispatched Sergeant Fitzgerald, who was afterwards to give his life ill service of the police. Sergeant Fitzgerald carried the patrol to Herschel Island and supervised the trade of the American whalers with the Esquimaux along the Arctic Coast. In pursuance of this policy posts were established on the Hudson's Bay by Inspector Moody in 1904 and 1905. In the latter year a new district was established and manned. The new division was designated "N" Division with headquarters at Lesser Slave Lake, Superintendent Constantine in command. To this division was assigned the task of opening up the trail from Peace River in Alberta to the Yukon. The trail was completed to Fort Grahame in 1906 and the next year to Hazelton, British Columbia, but was never carried any farther. From this time forward regular patrols were established in the far north along the Arctic Coast and the interior, one of the most important being the annual patrol from Dawson City to Fort McPherson, a distance of 500 miles across the mountains. It was on this patrol that Inspector Fitzgerald and party lost their lives in 1911, the only ill-fated expedition in the history of the Mounted Police.

The new field of operations now covered the North West Territories from the International Boundary Line to the Arctic Ocean. The force dealt with all classes of men—the lawless element of the border, the cowboys and Indians of the plains, coal miners of the mountains, navvies, trappers of the Athabaska and the Mackenzie, the American whalers and the Esquimaux at the top of the world. Possibly the most persistent class of criminals that the police had to deal with was the cattle and horse thieves of southern Alberta. Different methods were used by the thieves. Brands were defaced and altered, young calves and unbranded cattle were driven off from the parent herd and either killed or branded with the thief's brand. A Practice grew up that any unbranded animal could be claimed by the party who found it. Even the Stock Associations attempted to establish the rule that mavericks caught in the Round Up became the property of the Association. This practice was declared illegal by Chief Justice Sifton in 1903. Another practice was to carry a running iron. In stormy weather or during the weaning time the rustler picked up the young calves. It was the matter of a few minutes to brand the youngsters and appropriate them to the herd of the thief. The herds of certain ranchers grew at an enormous ratio. One rancher, whose name appears on the police records, began in the spring with 32 cows. They proved prolific beyond the bounds of nature. The 32 cows had 68 calves that summer. The police investigated the case and a conviction followed with a ten year sentence by Chief Justice Sifton in the Stony Mountain Penitentiary. In the early days, cattle and horse thieves ran their quarry over the border into the United States, but as northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba developed, the stolen stock was passed eastward and northward. A regular system flourished for eight or ten years. In 1915 a determined effort was made to break up this gang. Superintendent Hoi'rigan of the Calgary Division was especially deputed to accomplish this task. So vigorously did he pursue his task and spread the net that he secured the arrest and committal of 44 horse and 24 cattle thieves. He followed up the good work in 1916 by securing 51 committals. It was found that over 40 men were engaged as ringleaders in this nefarious traffic. Those who were not arrested and imprisoned quit the country. Today this crime has practically become extinct.

In 1914 the force was increased by 500 men who were taken on for one year's service. Over 2,000 men applied for enlistment. The majority enlisted on the assumption that a police battalion would be sent overseas and at the end of their term most of them joined the C. E. F.

For many years after the Province of Alberta became organized there was no Provincial Police Force. Cities and incorporated towns main- tamed police officials, but unincorporated towns and in country districts the maintenance of law and order was carried on by the R. N. W. M. P., by an arrangement between the Federal and Provincial Governments. Until the organization of the North West Territories into the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the guardrooms of the Mounted Police were the only gaols in the country and so continued until the establishment of these penal institutions by the Province. In Alberta gaols were established at Lethbridge and Fort Saskatchewan in 1911 and 1913 respectively.

It was also the duty of the Police to escort prisoners and supply orderlies to the Judges of the Court and to supervise prisoners on parole. On March 1, 1917, the Mounted Police severed connection with the administration of justice in Alberta. The Province in that year organized the first Alberta Provincial Police force and took over the work formerly carried on by the Gentlemen of the Scarlet and Gold.

The long looked for opportunity for the Mounted Police to serve in the overseas forces came in April, 1918. This was received with enthusiasm by all ranks and practically every man in the force under the age limit and physically fit volunteered. The draft consisted of 112 officers and 726 N. C. O.'s and men and left Regina May 30th under Major Jennings. The men were given leave and transferred to the C. E. F. Upon arrival in France they were immediately sent to the front and served in the battle area until the Armistice. The force also supplied a squadron for service in Siberia.

At the conclusion of the war the Government decided to authorize the increase of the force to 2,500 as necessity required. On September 30, 1919, the strength was 60 officers, 1,540 N. C. O.'s and constables and 833 horses. The jurisdiction of the force extended now to all Western Canada. Among its duties defined by Order-in-Council are the following:

(a) The enforcement of the Federal laws.
(b) Patrolling and protecting the International Boundary Line.
(c) Generally to aid and assist the civil powers in the preservation of law and order wherever the Government of Canada may direct.

The extension of jurisdiction and duties has required a reorganization of the force and a redistribution of its strength. The boundaries of the old district have been cancelled. Regina is still the headquarters of the force. Western Canada is divided into seven police districts as the following table will show:

In 1919 the old name was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The title of Royal had been conferred by Edward VII in June, 1904. A detachment of the police attended the King's coronation and so impressed his Majesty that he remembered the force in the distribution of coronation honours.


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