RCMP Day celebrated

Portage la Prairie RCMP Inspector Jarrid St. Pierre cuts a cake celebrating RCMP Day on Feb. 1. Cst. Pamela Ellis, school liaison officer, is wearing the Red Serge tunic that identified the NWMP and later the RNWMP and RCMP. Mickey Dumont/Citizen photo

Arguably one of the most storied and celebrated police force in the world, the Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) invited the public to visit with them on RCMP Day Feb. 1.

Manitoba RCMP officers gathered throughout Manitoba to celebrate the annual RCMP Day. In Portage la Prairie there was cake, a chance to meet the local unit’s canine member and to tour the detachment.

RCMP Day dog

RCMP Cpl. Phil Peters and his drug dog Jagar entertained those who came to celebrate RCMP Day On Feb. 1. Mickey Dumont/Citizen photo

Born out of a need for a national police force to implement the law in Canada’s newly acquired western territories, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has evolved into a world-renowned organization of more than 28,000 people.

It all started in 1873 when the Parliament of Canada established a police force named the North-West Mounted Police to enforce the law in Canada’s newly acquired territory in western Canada which was first based in Manitoba;

In 1919 the Parliament of Canada voted to form a national police force by merging the North-West Mounted Police and the Dominion Police of Eastern Canada, and on Feb. 1, 1920, the newly formed police force was named the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The roots of an institution

In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force and sent 150 recruits west to Manitoba. The new police force gradually acquired the name “North-West Mounted Police” (NWMP).

In July 1874, the Mounted Police, now numbering 275 members, marched west, headed for southern Alberta, where American whisky traders were operating among the Aboriginal people.

The officers established a permanent post at Fort Macleod, Alberta, where approximately half of the force was posted. The remaining members were either sent to Fort Edmonton or to Fort Pelly, Sask.

The following summer, the mounted police established Fort Calgary, on the Bow River in Alberta, and Fort Walsh, in Saskatchewan’s Cypress Hills.

By 1885, the Force had grown to 1,000 men, but in 1896 its future was threatened by the newly elected Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who wanted to reduce and eventually disband the NWMP. However, support for the force in the west prevailed, and it gained new prominence policing the Klondike Gold Rush.

In 1904, King Edward VII conferred the title of “Royal” upon the North-West Mounted Police.

From 1905 to 1916, the Force entered into contracts to police the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. These contracts ended due to the provinces’ desire to create their own police forces.

Today the RCMP, Canada’s national police force, is an iconic national symbol, respected worldwide and a growing modern Canadian police entity helping communities be safer places.

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