Canada's Mounties: Upholding the law for 140 years and counting

www.google.ca has a doodle today to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, originally called the North-West Mounted Police.

The Mounties were founded by the Canadian government in 1873, to assert Canadian sovereignty over the west, chase out Yankee whiskey traders, and to provide law and order in advance of settlement, preventing the Indian wars that had happened in the US. The need and urgency for the police force was spurred by news reaching Ottawa of a massacre of Assiniboine by American whiskey traders in the Cypress Hills Massacre in the spring of 1873.

Organized in 1873, the first 300 Mounties started out in the spring of 1874, on the March West. One group of 150 went over the Dawson Trail in Ontario and Manitoba, and the other 150 went via Chicago.

From that beginning, the Mounties have provided policing services throughout Canada for 140 years.

Their motto: “Maintiens le Droit.” (“Uphold the Law.”)

I remember several years ago when Martina Hingis won a tennis tournament in Toronto she was more excited to receive a pair of Mounties-style high boots than she was to get a trophy.

Sam Steele is rightfully famous as the archetype of the NWMP. But there’s also the sad story of Charles Dickens’s son Frank.

From Wikipedia: “However, some of his superiors in the Mounted Police held unfavorable opinions about his overall competence, echoing his father Charles Dickens, who wrote in a letter to his friend on being asked by his son for three hundred pounds, a horse and a gun to set himself up as a gentleman farmer in the colonies, that the consequence of the first is that he would be robbed of it, the second, that it would throw him, and the third, that he would shoot his own head off.”

The hard part for me is that I remember the hundredth anniversary so well. That makes me old.

And the Mountie quarters are still circulating!

The only ‘collectible’ quarters worth collecting.

Thanks for bringing this up, as I have just googled myself into the knowledge that these were only pressed in 1973, the 100th anniversary of the RCMP.

Canadiana!

No need for a GQ. These should be easy enough.

Do they still wear the red uniform in their day to day jobs?

Or is that just a dress uniform for special details?

Were Mounties on horseback? Is that the origin of the term?

Red serge is just for special occasions.

Yes, they were Mounted Police. The only remnant of that now is the Musical Ride and the occasional use of horses in crowd control.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_Ride

Thanks Northern Piper.

Mounted officers are usually present on Parliament Hill during the summertime tourist season as well, but mostly for photo ops with tourists rather than any need for extra protection on the Hill.

I’ll add that, for everyday policing purposes, they look pretty much like an everyday police officer. Pale green uniform shirts, with appropriate shoulder patches, black trousers with a yellow stripe down the sides; and often nowadays, a bulletproof vest. Of course, they have the expected police equipment: cars with radios and computers and so on, guns, handcuffs, and pepper spray; and the list goes on.

They look great in their red uniforms on ceremonial occasions, but you don’t want to mess with them during the course of their everyday duties!

We have mounties ride down our street quite often. Never dressed in red, though.

The one time I was interviewed by a Mountie, I was utterly impressed by…his stupidity. Nothing I have heard about them since has caused me to revise my opinion.

The only one I know of used to host that game show. IIRC his name was Mountie Hall.

[Nelson Eddy]When I’m calling yoooooouuuuuuuu-oohoohoooooh-oohoohoooooh[/Nelson Eddy]

That tv show years ago = most of the knowledge people here have about them.

Exactly! It was very important to Mountie that the contestants know the retail price of just about everything. :stuck_out_tongue:

Two of my uncles are ex-Mounties. One quit after a couple of years to go back to farming, but the other one stuck it out (in Surrey) until retirement. I think he said they spent a lot of time on drug busts.

Let’s not forget their barn burning, their attempted bombing and the infamous taser incidents, among others. Not to mention their racism. It’s no wonder that in Quebec, their reputation is barely higher than that of a criminal gang.

In the early fifties we visited Banff on vacation and my poor mother was faced with a Mountie on a motorcycle who looked for all the world like a California Highway Patrol officer: no red tunic, no campaign hat, no boots. She was devastated, to my Dad’s secret amusement.