Knight's Canadian Info Collection
Knight's Canadian Info Collection


The Royal Canadian
Mounted Police

Canada's National Flag


RCMP Crest
The crest of the RCMP

Origins - NWMP - 1873

NWMP Badge

Conception - Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister and Minister of Justice.

Inspiration - loosley based on the Royal Irish Constabulary and the mounted rifle units of the United States Army.

Objective - to bring law, order, and Canadian authority to the North-West Territories (present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan).

Legal authority - Act of Parliament (36 Vic, ch 35), May 23, 1873; Order in Council 1134, August 30, 1873.

Organization - appointment of officers and recruitment for the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) commenced September 25, 1873 and concluded in the spring of 1874.

Deployment - the great "March West", approximately 275 officers and men, with horses and equipment, departed Dufferin, Manitoba, on July 8, 1874 (see below for more information).

Formation - NWMP - 1873

The North-West Mounted Police force came into being on 30 August, 1873. For several years prior, the then Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, Alexander Morris, had warned Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald of the dire need for a police force in the new Canadian west. The growing unease between the new settlers and the Métis, and the Cypress Hills massacre of May 1873, where a dispute between American wolf hunters and Assiniboine natives, resulted in the massacre of these natives, including women and children, hastened the formation of the new mounted police force.

In the planning stages the new force was called the North-West Mounted Rifles, but political protests from the bordering American States that this was a 'military' force being sent to patrol and defend the border of this new Canadian land led to the change to North-West Mounted Police. The government of Sir John A. MacDonald had been formulating a plan to police 'Rupert's Land', territory that had been owned by the Hudson's Bay Company and sold to the Dominion Government. It was a huge territory, comprised of the vast drainage basin of Hudson Bay and large areas of present-day Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The Famous 'March West' - 1874

Map of the Famous 1874 March West

Under the direction of the newly appointed first Commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police, George Arthur French, a force of 275 officers and men began their famous 'March West' on July 8, 1874 and arrived in present-day southern Alberta, in October 1874. These first representatives of Canadian Law and order in the West, assembled at Fort Dufferin, Manitoba. They faced a particularly difficult situation given the climate of antagonism between the Métis, and the new settlers. Hoping to avoid the legacy of violence and bloodshed of the Indian Wars that had occurred south of the border, this new police force set out to establish a reputation for fair and responsible treatment.

They soon established friendly relations with the First Nations, contained the whisky trade and enforced prohibition. They also supervised treaties between First Nations and the federal government.

Early role - 1874

Primary role was General law enforcement. Detachments were established throughout the prairies, and a patrol system instituted in order to effectively police the entire region.

They assisted the settlement process in the West by ensuring the welfare of immigrants, fighting prairie fires, disease and destitution.

Expansion and Reorganization - RNWMP - 1895


Mounted Police jurisdiction extended to the Yukon in 1895 and to the Arctic coast in 1903.

Prefix "Royal" conferred on the NWMP by King Edward VII in June 1904

Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP) contracted to police the new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905.

Mounted Police responsibilities extended to northern Manitoba in 1912.

First World War - border patrols, surveillance of enemy aliens, enforcement of national security regulations.

Provincial policing contracts terminated in 1917. RNWMP was now responsible for federal law enforcement only in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the territories; in 1918, however, this was extended to all four western provinces.

The "Modern" RCMP - 1920

RCMP Badge

In 1920, federal policing is reorganized, the RNWMP absorb the Dominion Police and become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP); responsibility for federal law enforcement extended to all provinces and territories.

Timeline on the development of the RCMP - 1920 - present

The RCMP return to provincial policing in 1928 under contract to Saskatchewan.

Detachments established in the eastern and high Arctic in the 1920s to protect Canadian sovereignty in the region.

Provincial policing responsibilities assumed in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, 1932.

Men and vessels of the Preventive Service, National Revenue, are absorbed in 1932, thus creating the RCMP Marine Section.

Development of "national police services" in the 1930s, including fingerprints, crime index, firearms registration, photo section and forensic laboratory.

Transportation and communication improvements: use of cars, trucks, motorcycles, ships, aircraft, telephones, radio.

The RCMP supply vessel, ST. ROCH, makes her historic voyage through the North-West Passage, 1940-1942.

Protection of national security during the Second World War, 1939-1945

Provincial policing contracts extended to include British Columbia and Newfoundland in 1950.

Expansion and evolution of RCMP security operations - Special Branch, 1950, Directorate of Security and Intelligence, 1962, Security Service, 1970; creation of a separate agency, named the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), 1984. RCMP Uniform

The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) established in 1972. This computer network shares information with police forces all across Canada

Expansion of duties and responsibilities in the 1970s: airport policing, VIP security, drug enforcement, investigation of economic crime.

First women recruited as uniformed regular members, September 1974.

Re-inactment of the voyage of the ST. ROCH, through the North-West Passage, 2000. The Vancouver Maritime Museum and the RCMP completed the St. Roch II Voyage of Rediscovery - a recreation of the original ST. ROCH's record-setting circumnavigation of North America.

Military Record

Northwest Rebellion, 1885 - Duck lake, Fort Pitt, Cut Knife Hill, pursuit of Big Bear.

South African War, 1899-1902 - members represented in the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles and Lord Strathcona's Horse; in all, over 250 members served in the Canadian contingents and in the South African Constabulary.

First World War, 1914-1918 - cavalry squadrons provided for overseas service, "A" Squadron (England, France and Belgium), "B" Squadron (Siberia)

Second World War, 1939-1945 - RCMP Marine and Air Section personnel transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force, 1939; creation of No. 1 Provost Company for military police duties overseas.

R.C.M.P Flag
The RCMP Flag

The Operational Structure

The Force headed by a Commissioner, is organized under the authority of the RCMP Act. Under the Solicitor-General of Canada's direction, the Commissioner controls and manages the Force's operations from its Headquarters in Ottawa.
The Force consists of thirteen operation divisions, alphabetically designated, with a headquarters for each generally located in provincial or territorial capitals. The operational divisions are further divided into 52 sub-divisions and 723 detachments. Air and Marine Services within the Force support the operation divisions.
The RCMP Training Academy is situated in Regina, Saskatchewan. The Canadian Police College and the RCMP Musical Ride are located at the RCMP's Rockliffe facilities in Ottawa.

Modern RCMP Role

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with a present day establishment of more than 20,000 men and women, is the Canadian national force that provides policing in all provinces and territories, except Ontario and Québec.

The RCMP Musical Ride

In their distinctive scarlet dress-uniforms, the RCMP Musical Ride (pictured below) is a popular and well known display team which has been performing for many years in all parts of the world.

RCMP Musical Ride

The RCMP Musical Ride was featured on the reverse of Canada's $50 bill from 1969-1979
(Shown here 1/2 size)

RCMP Musical Ride on $50 bill

The RCMP Commerative Coins and Stamps

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police appear on Canadian coins and stamps issued in 1973, 1998 and 2003.

1973 Quarter
1973 Quarter
1973 Dollar
1973 Dollar
1973 G.A. French
1973 Postage Stamp
1973 Musical Ride
1973 Postage Stamp

1998 Dollar
1998 Dollar
1998 125th Anniversary Stamp
19983 Postage Stamps

2003 RCMP Training Facility - Regina, SK
2003 Postage Stamp

RCMP Peacekeeping Role

The RCMP partners with nineteen other Canadian Police Forces, both provincial and municipal, who contribute their personnel to various peacekeeping missions. The RCMP manages Canada’s involvement in international civilian police peacekeeping and other peace support operations. RCMP officers have been assigned to Peacekeeping teams in several countries including: Namibia, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia/Herzegovina, East Timor, Croatia, Western Sahara, Haiti and Guatemala. Future foreign operations are likely.

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