North-West Mounted Police (NWMP)√

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North-West Mounted Police (NWMP)√

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The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) was a Canadian para-military 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 rifleman, 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 under 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.[4] 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.


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