This Week in History
The Establishment of a National Police Force
For the week of Monday January 31, 2000
On February 1, 1920, Canada's national police force was created. That day, the Royal North-West Mounted Police (RNWMP) absorbed the Dominion Police to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada's first federal law enforcement agency.
Although the NWMP was to be disbanded once the land was peacefully settled, by the turn of the century, the agency had become legendary. Mounties were known to "always get their man" and were ingrained in western Canadian and Yukon culture.
In 1920, the RNWMP (the"Royal" was added in 1904) merged with the Dominion Police, which was responsible for security in Ottawa. The resulting RCMP became a national force responsible for federal law enforcement in every province, save Ontario and Quebec, and regulated Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Indian reserves and national parks. It eventually became responsible for everything from "counting migratory birds to uncovering foreign espionage."
The RCMP is a highly respected force, and is a worldwide symbol of Canada and Canadian sovereignty. Its role in Canada's development has been recognized in a number of national commemorations, including St. Roch National Historic Site. This RCMP supply vessel was the first ship to complete a round-trip voyage through the Northwest Passage (1940-42 and 1944) and to circumnavigate North America through the Panama Canal (1950). Fort Walsh National Historic Site, a NWMP post reconstructed by the RCMP in the 1940s, preserves the heritage of the NWMP and, until 1968, doubled as the RCMP horse-breeding ranch.
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