The Royal North-West Mounted Police
Chapter III


THE FIRST WINTER IN THE FAR WEST

Hardships of the Pioneers of  ort MacLeod - The Illicit whiskey trade suppressed and Law and Order established - A Marvellous Change - The First Detachment of the Saskatchewan - Trouble with the St Laurent Half Breeds - General Sir Selby Smyth's Inspection and Favourable Report.

WHEN one considers the position of Colonel .Macleod and his little force of 150 men, left to face all the dangers of that first winter in the far west, he cannot fail being struck with its manifold perils.

There was, first, the complete isolation of the force, nearly eight hundred miles from the nearest reinforcement, although fortunately within much nearer means of communication via Benton. Then there was the inexperience of officers and men and their lack of knowledge of the country in which they were located. The region in the immediate vicinity of the locality chosen as the site if post, had only been imperfectly reconnoitred, owing to the necessity of husbanding the strength of the already-fatigued horses, and the importance of the Commissioner beginning his return march without a day's delay. All of the whisky trading posts reported to exist in the country had not been located, and it was announced in Benton that, many of the illicit traders and other desperadoes who infested the country before the advent of the police, and had withdrawn before French's advance, had expressed their intention to return as soon as Colonel French and the headquarters of the force had started for the east. So the whisky traders might be still considered as one element of trouble and danger. Then there were tin? Indians, whose numbers and disposition were largely an unknown quantity.


James Farquharson MacLeod C.M.G. Commissioner of the
N. W. M. P. from July 20, 1876 to Oct. 30th, 1880.

And for a tune Colonel Macleod's hands must be necessarily tied owing to the necessity of providing shelter for his men and live stock, and to the fact that his horses were in very poor condition, the best having been selected for the Commissioner's column, and only the weakest, including a large proportion of absolutely run-down animals, left with the Assistant Commissioner.

The difficulty of obtaining forage, and the ignorance of the little force as to the peculiar climatic conditions prevailing in this part of the Dominion proved to be among the worst dangers which had to be faced and overcome.

But all the dangers were faced manfully and without any signs of quailing.

Immediately upon his return from Fort Benton, the Assistant Commissioner chose as the best site for his headquarters a level strip of land within one of the curves or loops of the Old Man's River, this situation assuring him a supply of water and wood, and seemingly a good prospect of a natural hay crop. The high banks of the river afforded shelter from the north wind, and the position was an admirable one from a strategical point of view, commanding the route frequented by the United States traders.

It having been decided to call the position Fort Macleod, in honour of the Assistant Commissioner, work was at once begun at preparing timber for the erection of barracks, including besides living quarters for the officers and men, stables, hospital, storehouses, magazine, etc. The post was built of cottonwood pickets, the spaces between the pickets being filled with mud, and the roofs covered with sods and sand. The preparation of the lumber was found to be of so laborious a character that a portable saw mill was purchased and forwarded to Fort Macleod during the season of 1875, but it was not in working order until the autumn of 1876. It was then employed in cutting lumber for flooring and roofing purposes, the original roofs of turf and sand proving very unsatisfactory. No time was lost in attempting to secure a supply of forage for the horses and fresh meat for the men. The police had to do most of these things themselves, but some men were attracted to the spot from across the lines, and a little hired assistance was secured.

But it was a strenuous autumn and a hard and trying winter for all ranks.

The Assistant Commissioner, naturally had to bear in mind the special duty the Force under his immediate command had been assigned to perform, and as soon as the work on the new post had been fairly started, he proceeded to locate the various trading posts in the region, ascertain the nature of the business conducted by the various traders, and take steps to put a stop to illegal trading of all kinds. Fort Hamilton, the principal trading post remaining in operation was entered by a force under the personal command of the Assistant Commissioner, October 9, 1874. This fort was situated on the west side of and 300 feet from the Belly River, near the mouth of the St. Mary's River, near the site of the present thriving town of Lethbridge, the centre of the Alberta mining industry. The post was of the stockade type, almost square, and with two bastions, or "flankers" as they were generally called on the frontier. The walls were loop-holed, and there were two three-pounder guns in the position. Within the stockade, and opening on to the central square, were a blacksmith's shop, stables, fur store, trading store, store room, post kitchen, dwellings, etc. Outside the stockade were two detached corrals and a hay shed, and less than 300 yards away were the charred remains of the old "Fort Whoop-Up," which had been partly destroyed by fire. In close proximity to this fort in the autumn of 1870 occurred the last great fight between the Crees and Assiniboines and their hereditary enemies of the Blackfoot Confederacy, including Blackfeet, Bloods and Piegans. The smallpox had been ravaging the camps of the Blackfeet nations on the Belly and St. Mary Rivers around Forts Kipp and Whoop-Up, and the Crees and Assiniboines deemed it an opportune time to exact revenge for past reverses, and put a Force of 700 braves upon the warpath. The attackers foiled in their attempt to take their enemies by surprise, retired down the bed of the Belly River, where a fierce and bloody running fight took place, the Cree tribes losing some 300 killed and wounded, the Blackfeet a little less than 100.

There is no better way to give an adequate idea of the work the force on duty in the far west had to perform that first year, or the hardships they had to endure, than to quote, in extenso, some of Colonel Macleod's concise reports to the Commissioner.

The Assistant Commissioner had hoped to be able to procure forage for all his horses in the immediate vicinity of Fort Macleod for the winter, but on October 20th he wrote the Commissioner, via Benton, as follows:—

"I am now forced to the conclusion, that it would be perfectly impossible to keep the whole of the horses here for the winter. There is hardly any hay to be cut at this late season of the year, and what there is lies in small patches at distances of eight and ten miles from here. I have engaged men to cut as much as can be got, and have to pay them $15 for doing so. From this source 1 will consider myself lucky if I get even 25 tons. 1 have been able to buy about 15 tons of rather good hay from different parties, and there is I believe about 20 tons cut out on the prairies, the owner of which I have at last found out, and expect in camp every day, as he is coming out with supplies. 1 have had two racks made for our own waggons, and am now having two large ones made for Baker's waggons, which will hold 5 tons at a load, so altogether I shall be well oft if I can secure 50 or 60 tons.

"With regard to the supply of meat for the detachment, I was able to procure a plentiful supply of buffalo meat, shot by our people, which lasted for several days after we got here. Rut although we saw splendid herds, in much larger numbers than you saw near Benton, just before crossing the St. Marys, not one was to be seen on this side. I thought it impracticable to send men off long distances in search of them, so I bought as much as carried us along at different times, the price at first being five cents a pound and at last, two cents. The buffalo having now come nearer, three of our men with Mr. Lavallee killed enough for our detachment in one day to last for a week. As soon as the present press of work is over, I hope to commence killing enough for our winter supply as well as to secure enough robes for the whole force. When the storm came on I issued out of the lot seized by Mr. Crozier, 50 robes to the men, and bought 105 more at $4.25 U.S. currency, which were also issued."

In the continuation of this letter dated October 30th, Colonel Macleod wrote:—

"I am happy to be enabled to inform you that although we have all been very busy in the construction of our winter quarters, we have been able to carry on some police work as well, and have struck a first blow at the liquor traffic in this country.

"1 found out from an Indian named 'Three Hulls' that a colored man of the name of William Bond, who has a trading post at a place called 'Pine Coule' about 50 miles from here, (I was told it was 40), had trailed a couple of gallons of whisky for two horses of his. I saw that I had to be very careful in not raising the suspicion of a lot of men, who were continually nding into camp, so I told Jerry Potts, the interpreter, to get all the information he could and arrange to meet ' Three Hulls' on the road next night about dark. Mr. Crozier was next morning to select ten of the best men and horses, out of the whole detachment, and hold himself in readiness to move at a moment's notice. Next afternoon, just before dark, without letting any of them know where they were to go to, they left this camp, guided by Potts. I gave Mr. Crozier written instructions to guide him; amongst others, to seize all robes and furs of any kind which he suspected had been traded for liquor, and in addition a sufficient amount of goods and chattels, to satisfy the fine which in each case might be imposed. 1 was very glad to find by your instructions that you had directed me to seize the robes, «kc., traded; and I see no other way in this country to secure the fine except by seizing property enough at the time the seizure is made, and not to wait for a distress warrant after the fine is imposed.  Mr. Crozier executed his mission in a most satisfactory manner. Two days afterwards he appeared in camp with the colored man in custody and four others, all of whom he had captured about 45 miles from here. He found the five in possession of two waggons, each of them containing cases of alcohol, and brought the whole party with their waggons, 16 horses, 5 Henry rifles. 5 revolvers and 116 buffalo robes, into camp. I confiscated the robes, and tried each of the prisoners, for having intoxicating liquors in their possession.

"All the inspectors sat with me to try the cases. I fined the two principals and Bond, who was their interpreter and guide, $200 each, and the other two $50 each. They were acting as hired men for the other two. Next day Mr. Weatherway, a gentleman I daresay you have heard spoken of in Benton as 'Wavey', came to me and paid all the fines, except Bond's, and his I fancy he would not pay, as I detained him on the other charge of trading liquor to 'Three Bulls.' Bond said he thought he would raise the amount, so he will undergo his imprisonment as per state enclosed. I wanted 'Three Bulls' to get some more evidence about this matter, but the Indians have no idea of evidence, and think that if they tell you a witness to a transaction is in a camp near by it is all that is required. He brought me a horse as a present,, and said that he had several men at the camp who saw the transaction I of course refused to take the horse, telling him that it was not considered right for a judge to take any presents from a party who had a case before him. He was in great distress at my refusal, but promised to bring the witness I wanted. They have moved off 12 miles from here for a buffalo hunt, but I expect them back again before long. I think it best, although I have a subpiena all ready for both 'Three Bulls' and his witness, to avoid using any compulsory process until they understand things better. "

December 4, Colonel Macleod wrote to the Commissioner:

"Since I last wrote you by Inspector Walsh, I have had no opportunity of sending this letter to Benton. Indeed if 1 had it would have been almost impossible to write on account of the extreme cold weather we have had. Nearly the whole of last month, the thermometer stood very low, one night going down to minus 30 and one week averaging only 2. The cold, too, was accompanied by very heavy winds, and such a fall of snow as had not been known in the country by any of the settlers. Fortunately in the valley of this river it has not fallen to such a depth, as in other places, even between this and the Pelly River the difference is very great, and I hear that between this and Benton it has fallen to a depth of 5 or 6 feet. Last Saturday evening closed in with the thermometer at 20 below, and Sunday morning dawned with a most delicious warm sunshine with the atmosphere as calm and pleasant as on a day in spring, the thermometer standing at 44 above. I am happy to say that the same kind of weather has continued ever since, with now and then a very strong wind from the west. The snow about here has quite disappeared, and is only to be seen on the hill-tops. " The bad weather had a very serious effect in retarding operations on our quarters. I was able, however, to place the men all under shelter of a roof, with chimneys half built, but sufficiently high to admit of a fire being put on, before the severest weather overtook us. The officers, with the exception of Winder, Jackson and the Doctor, took possession of the kitchen, and have made themselves tolerably comfortable. I have taken advantage of Mr. Conrad's invitation, and am now staying with him in a house he has built close to the fort. Winder's tent, doubled, is pitched in the woods, and with a stove inside they are very comfortable. Our quarters are now being pushed, and I hope to be in, in a week at the most from now.

"The very cold weather had a very decided effect on the health of the men, the sick list one day having reached 45, mostly colds. I had eight of the men removed to a couple of forts near here; they have all but two now quite recovered, and the doctor reports that they are progressing very favourably, and will return in a day or two. The hospital is nearly ready, for any who may require to be sent there. I have left nothing undone that I could think of to make the barracks as comfortable as circumstances permit. The constables' mess is on one side, and the kitchen and wash-house at the other, with a latrine, connected with a covered passage, with the wash-house. The quarter-master's stores are now complete, and are now readily filled with the supplies, which have nearly all arrived. The trains bringing them here lost 33 oxen during the severe weather.

"I find that I cannot get any of the hay I spoke of in a former letter as being out on the prairies. Between the snow and the buffalo, it has all disappeared. I had consequently almost made up my mind to send some more of the oxen by Baker's men into Benton for the winter, intending to send them to Fort Hamilton for some days and feed them there on hay and oats before they started on their longer journey, but the state of the roads precluded the possibility of doing so, and I was dreadfully perplexed as to what to do. I have now been able to procure 18 tons of hay here, at the enormous expense of $50 per ton, and about the same quantity at Fort Kipp, at $27 per ton. There are also 10 tons more at Fort Kipp which no one here has a right to sell which I have taken possession of, and will pay the owner, when he turns up, a reasonable sum for. Instead of incurring the expense of getting this hay from Fort Kipp brought up here, I have sent Inspector Brisbois with a detachment of 14 men and 14 horses to remain at that place. Besides having the horses fed there I thought it advisable to have a small body of police at that point, as there is a large camp of Indians close by, and I am informed that there is good reason to believe that a large quantity of whisky is 'cached' in the neighbourhood. When Inspector Walsh returns I shall send 8 or 9 horses more down there. Some of our horses have never recovered from their weak state consequent upon their long journey and bad feed. A few have succumbed, notwithstanding their being treated with the greatest care. I had a sling made, with a block and tackle, to raise them up and rest their legs. In some cases they have come round, but in one case, particularly, nothing appeared to give the poor animal strength, he became a mere suspended skeleton. So I had a Board upon him, and another. The Board recommended that the first be shot, which I had done, the latter they thought might be got round, but he died the same evening. The severe cold appeared to affect the thin ones very much.


A Glimpse of Old Fort Macleod.

"I am happy to be able to report the complete stoppage of the whisky trade throughout the whole of this section of the country, and that the drunken riots, which in former years were almost of a daily occurrence, are now entirely at an end; in fact, a more peaceable community than this, with a very large number of Indians camped along the river, could not be found anywhere. Every one unites in saying how wonderful the change is. People never lock their doors at night, and have no fear of anything being stolen which is left lying about outside; whereas, just before our arrival gates and doors were all fastened at night, and nothing could be left out of sight. So strong was the Indian's passion for whisky, they could not be kept out of the traders' houses by locks and bars. They have been known to climb up on the roofs, and endeavor to make their way through the earth with which the houses are covered, and in some instances they slid down through the chimneys.

"The Rev. Mr. McDougall, (Methodist Missionary at Morley) has been paying us a visit. He is delighted at the change that has been effected. He tells me that he believes there are some traders still on Bow River. If Walsh brings back the horses I asked the Government to allow me, I shall pay them a visit before many weeks pass."

December 15, Colonel Macleod wrote as follows:—

"I received a letter from the Department, by Walsh, informing me that I had been appointed a Preventive Officer :n H. M. Customs. I have already taken inventories of the stocks at several posts about here, and intend to-morrow to proceed to Forts Kipp and Hamilton to do the same there, and to enter a lot of goods which are arriving. I am happy to say that a large number of horses are now being imported. Immediately before our arrival, large bands of them were being continually sent the other way—proceeds of the whisky trade. Now a horse can't be got from an Indian, and they wish to buy more than the traders have to sell.

"A number of traders are sedulously spreading reports amongst the Indians that we are to be here for the winter, and that we will be off in the spring. All that have come to see me invariably ask how long we are going to stay. Their delight is unbounded when I tell that I expect to remain with them always."

We will now leave the pioneer force of the Mounted Police in what is now Southern Alberta and find out how it fares with the first detachment on the North Saskatchewan.

It will be recalled that on his march westward Lieutenant Colonel French detached from his force at La Roche I'ercee most of ' A' division under the command of Inspector W. D. Tarvis with instructions to proceed first to Fort Ellice, leave a detachment there and thence proceed via Hatoche, Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt to Edmonton.

From Inspector Jarvis' report dated Edmonton, November 2, 1874, it appears that he and his force arrived at Edmonton on October 27th, being on the way SS days altogether, GO of which were travelling days, averaging fifteen miles per diem.

After leaving Fort Ellice, Jarvis found the pasture and water so bad that he had great difficulty n procuring enough to keep life m the horses and oxen.

After crossing the South Saskatchewan, near the present village of Batoche, the pasture improved, and Jarvis intended resting the animals for some days, but, as the little column was overtaken by a severe storm, he hurried on to Carlton in the hope of saving the horses. At the Fort he obtained from the H. B. officials a large store-house in which he stabled them until the storm abated, or he would have lost the greater part, if not all of them.

The Inspector also purchased 80 bushels of barley which was all he could obtain, and with great care and economy made it last to Victoria, where he got a few-bushels more, also ten bags of barley bran. In spite of every precaution the detachment lost several horses through exhaustion and sickness, though all possible care was taken of them. The greatest loss occurred within the last 25 miles, the cold having stiffened the horses so much that they could not travel over the frozen ground. Several were carried for miles, as the men had to lift them every few yards. On the first of November there were some which for nearly a month had been lifted several times during the day, and had they been the Inspector's own property, he reported, he would have killed them, as they were mere skeletons.

From reports Jarvis received from persons he met on the road between Carlton and Edmonton he understood that a very small quantity of hay had been cut on account of the severe rains through the summer covering the marshes with water, and as it was late for the police to cut any, Jarvis deemed it advisable not to take the cows, calves or weak oxen beyond Victoria, but made a temporary agreement to have them wintered there; oxen and cows at $15 per head and calves at $10 for six months, to be fed hay and stabled when required.

Inspector Jarvis wound up his report as follows:—

"In conclusion, I may state that on looking back over our journey I wonder how we ever accomplished it with weak horses, little or no pasture, and for the last 500 miles with no grain, and the latter part over roads impassible until we made them. That is to say, 1 kept a party of men in advance with axes, and when practicable felled trees and made corduroy over mud holes, sometimes 100 yards long, and also made a number of bridges, and repaired all the old ones. We must have laid down several miles of corduroy between Fort Pitt and here. Streams which last year, when 1 crossed them, were mere rivulets, are now rivers difficult to ford. And had it not been for the perfect conduct of the men, and real hard work, much of the property must have been destroyed.

"I wish particularly to bring to your notice the names of Troop. Sergt. Major Steele and Constable Labelle. S. M Steele has been undeviating in his efforts to assist me, and he has also done the manual labour of at least two men. The attention paid by Constable Labelle to the horses has saved many of them.

"On arriving here I received stabling and quarters for my party, and can make them comfortable for the winter.

"I should have stated that, on account of the weak state of the horses, I left about one waggon load at Carlton, also two waggons and a quantity of stores at Victoria, and even after thus lightening the loads I w as obliged to hire 10 oxen and carts to go to Sturgeon River (25 miles) to assist some of our carts, as the oxen were quite worked out.

"I also left 4 men in charge of 5 horses (unable at the time to walk) about 12 miles back. And after resting for two days, being put into a tent at night, they were able to bring in four which we. are now recovering."

The Saskatchewan detachment had this advantage over the force which advanced into and remained in Southern Alberta. Their route, although rough and long, was fairly well known, being used by the Hudson Bay Company. The southern force had to find and make a trail for itself through a perfectly unknown country. Then Inspector Jarvis found the Hudson Bay posts at Forts Ellice, Carlton and Victoria valuable rest and supply stations, and at Edmonton barrack accommodation for the winter was obtained, ready for occupation.

It was the Commissioner's intention on reaching the forks of the Belly and Bow River to forward a reinforcement northward to Jarvis under Inspector Walsh. As a matter of fact, Walsh and his detachment actually started, but was recalled by Col. French, as the route was declared to be impracticable.

It will be observed that the disposition of the Force during the winter of 1874-75 was as follows:—

Headquarters and "D" division, Dufferin, Man.

"B," "C" and "F" divisions under Colonel Macleod at Fort Macleod.

"A" division under Inspector Jarvis at Ellice and Edmonton.

"E" division under Inspector Carvell, at Fort Pelly and Swan River.

In the spring, headquarters and "D" division moved to Swan River and several outposts were established by detachments from all the winter depots.

During the summer of 1875, Major-General E. Selby Smyth, then commanding the' Canadian Militia, was commissioned by the Dominion Government to make a tour of military inspection across the continent to the Pacific, to inspect and report upon the North-West Mounted Police and the posts occupied by them, and to visit the several outposts occupied by the United States Army in Montana, Washington and Oregon

Territories, with the object of conferring with the general officers commanding, respecting the repression of crime, the capture of criminals on both sides of the International Boundary, and the obtaining of international co-operation in this important matter. The General's official tour between the 24th of May and the 15th of November embraced a distance by the route travelled, ingoing and returning, of about 11,000 miles, of which over 2,000 miles were performed on horseback, and 600 with pack animals.

The General's report, particularly in its references to the North-West Mounted Police, as he found the force in its first year of service in the far west, is particularly interesting.


Superintendent W. D. Jarvis.

Specially referring to the Mounted Police, in his report, which was addressed to the Secretary of State, Major General Selby Smyth wrote:

"I proceeded from Fort Macleod at the base of the Rocky Mountains to Fort Shaw in Montana, a distance of 250 miles, accompanied by Assistant Commissioner Macleod commanding the detachments of the Mounted Police m the western division of the North-West Territory, and from him I learnt the nature of the measures likely to conduce to a more settled state of affairs along the frontiers.

"In compliance with the instructions contained l) your confidential letter to me, dated June 24th last, wherein I am directed in the progress of my tour through the North-West Territories to visit as main as possible of the Mounted Police Posts and to make special inquiry into certain points therein detailed, bearing upon the organization, equipment, distribution, and general efficiency of the force, I have now the honour to report to you that after my return in June from reorganizing the Militia in Prince Edward Island, and having proceeded westward, to inspect the various brigades of militia encamped in Ontario, I embarked at Sarnia on the 2nd July, and passing up Lakes Huron and Superior, 1 reached Fort Garry by way of Duluth, Moorhead and the Red River on the 10th, and after making the necessary inspection there, I finally departed for the Prairies on the 19th of that month, travelling the first 200 miles in vehicles which had been provided for myself and staff as far as Shoal Lake, where I met with the first outpost of the Mounted Police.

"From this point I travelled throughout the North-West Territories and across the Rocky Mountains, fully 1,500 miles, escorted by a party of the Mounted Police, until they were relieved at Joseph's Prairie in the Kootenav district under arrangements made by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia for my further progress to Vancouver's Island.

"The general opinions I have been able to form of the North-West Mounted Police, have been greatly influenced by the experience 1 acquired of them on mv line of march through the country, 1 shall now therefore shortly allude to it.

"From Shoal Lake post I proceeded direct to Swan River, about 140 miles, and on the morning of my arrival there 1 was overtaken by Lieut. Cotton, an officer of the Manitoba Artillery bearing despatches to me from the Lieutenant Governor of that province.

"The nature of these despatches was such that after a conference with the commandant, Lieut. Col. French, I determined to take a force of 50 Mounted Police from Swan to Carlton, as a party of observation. My reason for coming to this decision arose from the important nature of the information conveyed <n the despatches, and though ray impression was that the report was somewhat overdrawn, I had no possible means, so far removed from telegraphic or postal communication, to test the facts of the case except by going to see myself.

"1 accordingly marched the following afternoon accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel French and 50 of his men. We crossed the south branch of the Saskatchewan and reached Carlton House on the eighth day. a distance of 270 miles from Swan River.

"Leaving the troop of Mounted Police at Carlton, I crossed the north branch of the Saskatchewan the following day, and proceeded by way of Forts Pitt and Victoria towards Edmonton, 400 miles; but being delayed a day at Sturgeon Creek, a deep and rapid stream, in order to construct rafts for its passage, I recrossed the Saskatchewan the same afternoon at the new post established by Inspector Jarvis. From thence Edmonton lies about 20 miles south.

"Proceeding south, 120 miles, I crossed the Rattle and Red Deer Rivers, and at the latter found another troop which had been with judgment moved to that point on learning the rumours afloat about the Carlton Dumont affair.

"My staff on the expedition was composed of Captain the Honourable M. Stapleton, Coldstream Guards, A.D.C., Captain Ward. A.D.C., to his Excellency the Governor General, and Lieut, the Honourable T. Fitzwilliam. A.D.C., Royal Horse Guards, and afterwards joined by the Honourable Evelyn Ellis, late Royal Navy.

"Now as to the sufficiency of the force in respect of numbers, discipline, and equipment, including horses, arms, saddlery, means of transport, etc.

"The force consists of 29 officers and 300 men and horses; the Commandant is termed Commissioner, and his second in command, Assistant Commissioner, the remaining officers are respectively inspectors and sub-inspectors, and the men designated constables and sub-constables, the former answering to the status of non-commissioned officers.

"The force is divided into 6 Divisions of 50 men each; it may be considered fairly sufficient for the duties it is at present called upon to perform. The normal effect of its presence has already produced a wholesome improvement in the condition of the wandering tribes of the prairies, and the nomadic inhabitants of the North-West generally, and caused a feeling of security throughout the settlements of the Territory.

"For a newly raised force, hastily enrolled and equipped, it is in very fair order — its organization is based upon sound principles, but there is room for improvement in several respects on which I present herewith a confidential report. It will be readily understood that in the detached state of the force, so much time having been occupied in providing shelter for men and horses, it has hitherto been next to impossible to bestow proper attention on discipline, interior economy, equitation, the care of horses, saddlery, equipment, and the duties of constables—all of which are quite indispensable.

"I consider that men should be recruited from the rural districts, a few only, for clerks, etc., to be taken from towns. The decayed gentleman is a failure. They should be active young men, sons of farmers, accustomed to face all kind of weather and rough work as well as to the use of horses; this element is badly wanted in the force. The horses are a very fair average lot and they have been generally purchased in Ontario. I should prefer selecting them from rural districts than from horse dealers and sale stables. A better, sounder and cheaper description of horse could thus be obtained.

"At Carlton, a small party was left there on my passing through, I do not know whether they still remain, and I doubt the necessity for them, there being no inhabitants at Carlton House except the officials and clerks of the Hudson Bay Company. The nearest settlement is that of French half-breeds at St. Laurent, distant 18 miles, on the right bank of the South Saskatchewan, and the Prince Albert Mission Station, distant 40 miles, at the forks of its two branches. From the latter settlement, supplies of every kind are sent to Carlton, which produces nothing.

" From Carlton to Edmonton, 400 miles, police are not required. Forts Pitt and Victoria are little frequented Hudson's Bay posts, occupied by clerks and some retired officials. Along that entire distance of 400 miles I met no living soul except one travelling half-breed and the monthly postman: but nature denotes it to be the future abode of a large population. It must be inhabited, its balmy climate is inviting, warm and genial in the summer, and though the winter's cold lasts long, the snow does not lie deep, and stock can pasture out all through the year. The land is rich and fertile, and would produce all cereal crops. It is covered with the most luxuriant herbage, and wild vetches, plenty of wood, abundance of water, grow, I believe, all the way north, till the verge of the great sub-Arctic forest is touched. The isothermal lines indicate that the climate is mild, and it is well known that the soil is suitable to maintain a dense population.

"The Bow River post (now Calgary) was established on my march south by detaching the troop awaiting my orders at Red Deer River. Lieutenant-Colonel Macleod had, with good judgment, fixed on the spot, and made all arrangements.

"The Hudson Bay Company, had, years ago, tried to maintain a post there, but their agents were intimidated by the Blackfeet Indians and soon driven away.

"Of the constables and sub-constables I can speak generally, that they are an able body of men, of excellent material, and conspicuous for willingness, endurance, and, as far as I can learn, integrity of character.

"They are fairly disciplined, but there has hardly been an opportunity yet for maturing discipline to the extent desirable in bodies of armed men, and, dispersed as they are, through the immensity of space without much communication with headquarters, a great deal must depend upon the individual intelligence, acquirements and steadiness of the Inspectors in perfecting discipline, drill, interior economy, equitation, and care of horses, saddlery and equipment, together with police duties on which they might be occasionally required.

"A searching inquiry is necessary into the nature of the hoof disease among horses at Edmonton. It has fallen with fearful effects on the police and other horses in that neighborhood. It is supposed to be an insect which eats into the hoof in a short time; it is very painful and when not attended properly the horse dies.

"This summer a steamer ascended the North Saskatchewan for the first time as far as Edmonton from Grand Rapids near Lake Winnipeg. Certainly the navigation of both branches of this mighty river, abounding with coal and other mineral wealth for many hundred miles, will open up the country for settlement, reduce the price of transport and provisions, and become one of the many causes tending to produce a new order of things and abolish monopoly.

"While it may be considered that 300 men are enough to maintain order in the North-West, it is evident that this force would be insufficient to put down a serious outbreak, should such a very unlikely misfortune occur. It would be difficult to collect more than 100 effective men of the force at a given point in a reasonable time.

"Militia are not available in the North-West Territory, nor do I consider a mixture of the military and civil element at all desirable. There s sufficient of the military character about the police, and they have the advantage that every man is a limb of the law, whereas military cannot act without a magistrate or constable.

"Therefore it is suggested that volunteer police or bodies of special constables should be formed at such settlements as Prince Albert, St. Albert, St. Ann's and St. Laurent, these men to be subject while on duty to the same rules as the regular police.


Hunting Buffalo during the Long March of 1874. (From a sketch by A. Julien in the "Canadian Illustrated News.')

"Too much value cannot be attached to the North-West Police, too much attention cannot be paid to their efficiency. We read that not long ago these wild Indian tribes of the far west were accustomed to regard murder as honourable war, robbery and pillage as traits most ennobling to mankind; the Blackfeet, Crees, Salteaux, Assiniboines, the Peigans, among the most savage of the wild races of Western America, free from all restraint and any sort of control, waged indiscriminate war with each other and with mankind. Law, order, and security for life and property were little observed; civil and legal institutions almost entirely unknown."


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