The year 2013 marks the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Act allowing for the provision of a police force for the Canadian North-West was given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on May 23, 1873 (to view, select page 110 on the drop down menu from the link). The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) was formally established by a Dominion Order in Council on August 30th of the same year (RG 2, Privy Council Office, Series A-1-a, volume 314, Order in Council 1873–1134). The Canadian Parliament voted to merge the NWMP and the Dominion Police, a federal police force with jurisdiction in eastern Canada in 1919. On February 1, 1920, when the legislation came into effect, this combined police force became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds many records that document the numerous challenges the RCMP faced in maintaining law and order in the vast regions of Canada.
Available online at LAC:
- NWMP Personnel Records, 1873–1904 (archived)
The files of Samuel (Sam) Benfield Steele (RG18, Volume 10037, File: O.40) and Arthur Murray Jarvis (RG18, Volume 10037, File O.104) make for particularly interesting reading.
- “Without Fear, Favour or Affection”: The Men of the North West Mounted Police (archived virtual exhibition)
For consultation on site:
- Annual reports submitted by the Force to Parliament, 1874–1904, often contain detailed first-person accounts of daily divisional activities, in addition to information on policy and administration.
- RCMP records, held by LAC, are described online at Royal Canadian Mounted Police fonds RG18/R196. The fonds includes the following series of records which pertain to the early years of the Force:
RG18-B-1, Official correspondence 1876–1920
RG18-B-3, Letterbooks 1873–1919
RG18-B-5, Crime reports. 1883–1938
RG18-B-7, Records relating to horses. 1877–1950
RG18-C-5, Reports and papers. 1884–1915Please note that some RCMP historical files remain restricted by Access to Information and Privacy legislation. For more information about restrictions, please consult our blog post on this topic.
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