Trooper and Redskin In the Far North-West.

By John G Donkin

Printed: 1889

Publisher: Sampson Low Marston Searle & Rivington. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 14 × 20 × 3 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 14 x 20 x 3


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Green cloth binding with gilt title. Two horsemen riding into the sun on the front board. Map inside.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

A very rare historic book, formerly the private copy of the Minister of the Interior. This book has a significant historic perspective.

The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) was a Canadian paramilitary police force, established in 1873, to maintain order in the new Canadian North-West Territories (NWT) following the 1870 transfer of Rupert’s Land and North-Western Territory to Canada from the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Red River Rebellion and in response to lawlessness, demonstrated by the subsequent Cypress Hills Massacre and fears of United States military intervention. The NWMP combined military, police and judicial functions along similar lines to the Royal Irish Constabulary. A small, mobile police force was chosen to reduce potential for tensions with the United States and First Nations. The NWMP uniforms included red coats deliberately reminiscent of British and Canadian military uniforms.

The NWMP was established by the Canadian government during the ministry of Prime Minister Sir John Macdonald who defined its purpose as “the preservation of peace and the prevention of crime” in the vast NWT. Macdonald envisioned the police force as a para-military force, writing that the “best force would be mounted riflemen, trained to act as cavalry… and styled police”. Macdonald’s principal fear was that the activities of American traders such as the Cypress Hills Massacre would lead to the First Nations peoples killing the American traders, which would lead to the United States military being deployed into the NWT to protect the lives of American citizens on the grounds that Canada was unable to maintain law and order in the region. Macdonald’s greatest fear was that if the Americans occupied the NWT that they would not leave and the region would be annexed to the United States.

In 1874, the NWMP were deployed to the area of the present Alberta border. Their ill-planned and arduous journey of nearly 900 miles (1,400 km) became known as the March West and was portrayed as an epic journey of endurance. Over the next few years, the NWMP established a wide network of forts, posts and patrols and extended Canadian law across the region. The living conditions of the NWMP on the prairies were spartan and often uncomfortable, and only slowly improved over the course of the century.

By 1896, the government planned to pass policing responsibilities to the provinces and ultimately disband the NWMP. However, with the discovery of gold in the Klondike, the NWMP was redeployed to protect Canada’s sovereignty over the region and to manage the influx of prospectors. NWMP volunteers were sent to fight in the Second Boer War and, in recognition for that and 30 years of service policing the North-West and Yukon Territories, King Edward VII, awarded the title Royal to the North-West Mounted Police (RNWMP) in 1904. Plans for disbanding the Royal North-West Mounted Police were abandoned in the face of popular oppositions and regional politicians. Large numbers of the RNWMP volunteered for military service during the First World War and the future of the badly depleted force was once again in doubt. Towards the end of the war, however, fears grew about a potential Bolshevik conspiracy and the authorities tasked the RNWMP to investigate the threat. In the aftermath of the violence of the Winnipeg General Strike, the government amalgamated the RNWMP and Dominion Police, to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 1920.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP; French: Gendarmerie royale du Canada; GRC), commonly known in English as the Mounties (and colloquially in French as la police montée), is the federal and national police service of Canada. As police services are the constitutional responsibility of provinces and territories of Canada, the RCMP’s primary responsibility is the enforcement of federal criminal law, and sworn members of the RCMP have jurisdiction as a peace officer in all provinces and territories of Canada. However, the service also provides police services under contract to eight of Canada’s provinces (all except Ontario and Quebec), all three of Canada’s territories, more than 150 municipalities, and 600 Indigenous communities. In addition to enforcing federal legislation and delivering local police services under contract, the RCMP is responsible for border integrity; overseeing Canadian peacekeeping missions involving police; managing the Canadian Firearms Program, which licenses and registers firearms and their owners; and the Canadian Police College, which provides police training to Canadian and international police services. Despite its name, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are no longer an actual mounted police service, and horses are only used at ceremonial events.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police was established in 1920 with the amalgamation of the Royal North-West Mounted Police and the Dominion Police. The RCMP has long enjoyed an international cultural influence, appearing in films, television shows, and books since its formation in the early 20th century. The Government of Canada considers the RCMP to be an unofficial national symbol, and in 2013, 87 per cent of Canadians interviewed by Statistics Canada said that the RCMP was important to their national identity. However, the service has faced criticism for its broad mandate, and its public perception in Canada has gradually soured since the 1990s, worn down by workplace culture lawsuits, several high-profile scandals, staffing shortages, and the service’s handling of incidents like the 2020 Nova Scotia attacks.

The two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, operate independent provincial police services, which, like the RCMP, are responsible for some provincial law enforcement and providing local police services under contract. The other eight provinces and all three territories contract at least some policing responsibilities to the RCMP, which provides front-line policing in those provinces under the direction of the provincial governments. Municipalities, which are responsible for police services in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, can contract for RCMP services through their provincial government, or by direct contracts. Thus, the RCMP provides police services at the federal, provincial, and municipal level. In some areas of Canada, it is the only police service.

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