Creating Canadians: A Socio-Cultural Study of the North-West Mounted Police, 1883--1887

Title: Creating Canadians: A Socio-Cultural Study of the North-West Mounted Police, 1883--1887
Authors: Chevalier-Forget, Sophie
Date: 2010
Abstract: There is no other organization quite like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and its precursor, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP). Created in 1873 to establish a lawful government presence in the newly acquired territories of the North-West, the organization grew from 300 to 1000 men between the years of 1883 and 1887. Facing such important challenges as the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the 1885 Northwest Campaign, the historiography has found that the organization had succeeded in enforcing the law, lending credence to the romantic myth of the mounted police. This research seeks to understand who joined the mounted police, and how their time in the force influenced the organization. This quantitative study looks at the birthplace, provincial provenance, religion, age, and time spent in the force to understand the enlisted men and commissioned officers who became "Mounties". Recruiters sought out English-speaking farmers from Ontario, but men from all walks of life, including medical professionals, labourers, and even a circus clown, joined the organization. The constables and non-commissioned officers were primarily unskilled workers. In the end, the majority of these men served less than a single service term, making their time in the force more like temporary employment than a career. While political patronage influenced the appointment of commissioned officers, efforts were made to ensure a representation of men from all Canadian provinces and territories. Most officers had previous military experience and enjoyed many more benefits than the enlisted men, including a pension system, which helped explain why almost 80 percent made a career of the mounted police. This study, based on an exhaustive review of over 1200 personnel files, will reshape our understanding of who these Mounties were and contribute to the history of law enforcement in western Canada.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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