Of course, these law-enforcers still had the ordinary class of offenders to deal with, for crimes like horse-stealing and "cattle-rustling" die hard. For instance, a man named Marker, then south of the line in North Dakota, who, having been allowed out on bail by the Canadian authorities, when he was under a charge of horse-stealing, lost no time in going across beyond the reach of the Mounted Police. Corporal Church, on detachment work, kept his eye on the border for a sight of Marker, who might come over to replenish his stock of horses. Church got word of his intention at a given time, and taking a man named Kelly with him he rode all night, and finding a companion of Marker's, he got the information that the horse-stealer would likely cross over some 20 miles westward. Their horses were pretty tired, but Church and his men kept on, and concealed themselves near a trail crossing the boundary about that distance away. In a few hours Marker and another man rode over and Corporal Church, galloping up to him, ordered him to halt. Marker wheeled, drew his revolver and made for the line. Kelly headed him off and Marker shot at him, but missed. Kelly then charged, knocking both Marker and his horse over. He quickly remounted and rode on, but Church intercepted him, telling him he would shoot if he did not stop. Marker attempted to shoot the constable, but his revolver missed fire. Church then shot Marker's horse and captured the horse-stealer before he got to the line. Church then hired a team to take the prisoner to the detachment headquarters. But when the wagon on a winding road seemed to be on the American side of the line, Marker threw himself from the conveyance and reaching a house at the spot, rushed in and slammed the door. Church reports: "I forced the door open and was met by a blow in the eye from Marker, who had taken his spurs off and used same as a weapon. I grappled with him and threw him on the floor, and with assistance tied his hands and feet after a good rough and tumble scrap." Church had done his duty surely, but whether lawyers and surveyors would prove that the arrest was made a few feet over the line or not we cannot say. The lads of the scarlet tunic always got their man, but the courts sometimes let him go again.
In support of the position taken by Superintendent Wood, already quoted in regard to the orderliness of the Yukon, it is interesting to quote from Inspector Wroughton, who was in command of the Dawson Division. He says, looking back over 1908, "I am pleased to report that there has been very little crime in this district during the last eleven months and, I might say, none of a serious nature." In the list of cases for gambling and such like one can gather from the names that the Mounted Police did not confine their efforts to suppressing gambling amongst aliens as some have done elsewhere. The majority of names mentioned are of our own race. The Mounted Police played no favourites.
In his report for 1910, Commissioner Perry makes the almost incredible statement that twenty-five new detachments have been established during the past year without any increase in the strength of the Force. The corps seems to have had all through the years an extraordinary elasticity. It seemed to be able to stretch itself over constantly growing areas of settlement and to meet the situation created by the increasing tide of immigration that was flowing over the great new West. That could only be effected because of the superior quality of the individual men, their ability to act separately and upon individual initiative. They did not require to have mass formation to keep their courage up to the necessary pitch. And still better they had the training that would make them reliable in judgment when sudden and unexpected conditions arose. Perry's policy to have a goodly number of men always in training at headquarters so that unready recruits should not have to go out to face emergencies, was being approved by events as highly statesman-like. But he was right in constantly keeping before the Government the need for increasing the numbers of the Force, because, although the men were wonderfully efficient and could be trusted even in "detachments of one," the fact was that burdens were laid upon one man that should have been borne by two or three. To many a man the increase in the number of detachments meant doubling his hours in the saddle and lessening his hours for recuperation. One wonders that more men did not break down under the strain. But for their invariable high calibre this would have been the result. An indication of the way in which the arduous labours of the Police were appreciated is found in the 1909 report of the Commissioner of Agriculture in Saskatchewan, who speaks of the "invaluable assistance given by the officers and men in enforcing the various ordinances of the department. In particular I refer to the Horse-breeders Ordinance, the Fire and Game Ordinances and the Public Health Act, the latter calling for vigilant work in patrolling foreign settlements quarantined for outbreaks of infectious and contagious diseases. Had it not been for the excellent service rendered to the department by this hard-working and highly-trained force of men, the spread of disease would probably have reached epidemic proportions."
Speaking of the kind of men required to keep up the reputation of the Force, Commissioner Perry has this illuminating statement: "We require sober, trustworthy men; those who are not, only remain in the Force until they are found out."
During the year 1910, there were some notable changes in the Force. Wood, who had served for thirteen years in the Yukon, ten of which as the highly efficient Officer Commanding, was promoted to be Assistant Commissioner; Starnes, who had done difficult work in many places, latterly in the Hudson's Bay district, was promoted to the rank of Superintendent; Sergeants Sweetapple, Raven, Fitzgerald and Hertzog became Inspectors; while two excellent officers, Inspector John Taylor, son of Sir Thomas Taylor, Chief Justice of Manitoba, and Inspector Church, the famous riding master, were called by death.
Superintendent Cortlandt Starnes gives a rather chilling picture of the Mounted Police surroundings at Fort Churchill where the weather indicator was for months hitting the bottom of the thermometer bulb, and where there was a general monotony in surroundings. He says, "The place is a dreary one, and there is nothing in the way of recreation for the men except reading and no place to go except the Hudson's Bay post and the English Church mission on a Sunday." This is a good tribute to the self-sacrifice of the missionary. Starnes goes on to say, "There was a gramophone, but it is broken and out of order. The mess-room is a cold and forbidding place." Starnes has a good appreciation of the value of some cheerful environment for his men, for he says, "I have had some chairs put up instead of the long benches, and I have requisitioned for a few pictures to put on the walls. I would also like to have the tin plates and cups replaced by the ordinary white crockery, or crockery of a cheap standard pattern." Starnes is not extravagant in his requisition. Canada is a rich country, and these men holding her lonely outposts deserve consideration, but some picayune arm-chair censor may cut things out, and so the Superintendent goes warily, but he will not desist altogether because he knows the place better than the censor, and he knows that his men should have some reasonable comforts. "A small billiard table," he says, "and some additional books and magazines would be acceptable. The library is well patronized, but in a year's time the most of its books will have been read." A year is quite a while to wait for a mail. It was at a post something like this one that one early Hudson's Bay Company official heard of the Battle of Waterloo a year after it happened. But he held a celebration even then, for were not these grim old traders men of British stock who were holding a new Empire for the British Crown? Of course, things were improving since the advent of the Mounted Police, for they had instituted what Inspector Jennings facetiously called a "rural mail delivery" through regions near the Pole. Jennings himself and his men had patrolled through snow and ice very extensively that year, and the sense of humour that could speak of this white wilderness as a "rural route" would be a saving make-believe in the midst of Arctic blizzards. And the thought of bearing a loving missive to solitary men from friends thousands of miles distant, might well thrill the imagination of these knights of the modern day.
GLORY AND TRAGEDY IN THE NORTH
In the recent Great War a somewhat casual visitor was present when a vagrant shell smashed the refreshment dug-out where a young Red Cross man was handling some comforts for the khaki-clad boys near the front line. And when the alarmed visitor explained to the dispenser of refreshments, "I would not stay here for a hundred dollars a day," the answer came back swiftly but kindly, "Neither would I." He was not there for the hope of gain, but out of a sense of duty and adventure so strong that both danger and remuneration were forgotten.
There was a good deal of this spirit manifest in Mounted Police history from the beginning. Not the pittance in the way of pay drew men to the corps, but the love of the adventurous and the desire to do work in the out-of-the-way places, where new trails had to be blazed beyond the accustomed sky-line. This was especially true of the men who served and volunteered to serve again in the vast spaces of the white and frozen North. Not for a hundred a day would they have so risked their lives, as others risk them still in that region. It was because the jurisdiction of their country's flag had to be asserted, and because lonely outposts and scattered groups of sometimes starving natives challenged the best that was in them, that these uniformed crusaders went out again and again on their hazardous patrols.
And so, when in 1911 Inspector Fitzgerald, Constables Kinney, Taylor and Special Constable Carter, four men of the finest type and the most thorough experience in those desperate, trackless and frozen areas, men cast in so fine a mould that some of them were to be selected for the King's Coronation, perished on a patrol from Herschell Island to Fort Macpherson and Dawson City, Canada was stabbed broad awake to what the men of the Force had been doing for their country in those Arctic lands. It seems as if such catastrophes are periodically required to make a selfish world aware of what some men are enduring in order that others may live in comfort and ease. But the world does not always receive such lessons in the right spirit. The tendency is rather to raise a protest against the authorities who permit men so to sacrifice themselves. Thus, when those four gallant men fell in the Northern wilderness, the first note from the press seemed to indicate that this patrol was an exceptional occurrence, and that it should not have been allowed to take place in view of the possible sacrifice it might involve. This gave Commissioner Perry, than whom no one was more deeply distressed and grieved at the tragic event, an opportunity to remind the country that such patrols had been for years a common and every-day event in the work of his men in the North. From year to year, under the Polar sky, in scores of different directions, the Police had carried on this work, performing definite duties, carrying mails, visiting camps of Indians and Esquimaux who were the wards of the nation, maintaining law and order beyond the confines of civilization and generally exercising a wholesome oversight in the loneliest spaces in the world. "This is dangerous work," wrote the Commissioner; "in our rigorous winter climate and in spite of every precaution, a tragedy may occur at any time. It does not deter our men from seeking service there, and it is to the North many prefer to go." The spirit of adventure was in the blood of these men, and the tragic possibilities which no one foresaw as well as they did themselves erected no barrier which could discourage them in their endeavours. If there was the constant looming up of danger through the "white death" fog, there was also the glory of adventure under the flashing splendour of the aurora borealis.
And when Commissioner Perry wrote in his report as above quoted, he was able to support his statement by actual facts from that very same year. He said: "All over the North-land members of this Force are carrying out these difficult journeys. Attached to this report you will find many reports of equally dangerous patrols. Sergeant Hayter, 700 miles return journey from Fullerton along the West Coast of Hudson Bay to Rankin Inlet, to meet Sergeant Borden, who went up from Fort Churchill, carrying mail and taking a census of the Esquimaux; Sergeant Walker from Fort Churchill to York Factory and return; Sergeant Nicholls from Norway House to Fort Churchill and return to Gimli; Sergeant Edgenton from Split Lake to Fort Churchill, arriving with dogs abandoned by the way, and three days without food; Sergeant Munday from the Pas to Lac de Brochet and return, 900 miles in fifty-one days; and Sergeant MacLeod from Fort Vermilion across the Caribou Mountains to Great Slave Lake." This is a most formidable list, and to anyone who knows the country and the climate it affords the imagination a moving panorama, in which constant danger and almost incredible endurance are portrayed. All this forcibly reminded Canada of the devotion of her sons in the Northern hinterland, and that was the purpose of it being definitely stated. And it gives us a sort of veneration for the memory of the four men of the Fitzgerald patrol whose magnificent strength, after having been tried and proven on many similar journeys for years, succumbed before a combination of intolerable cold, blizzard-swept trails, unfamiliar river passes, shortage of provisions and starving train-dogs. For it was the death of these men that brought home to the people the astonishing achievements and heroisms of Canadian chivalry on the frontiers.
Fitzgerald himself, as we have already seen, had been famous for years as an intrepid patrol man, and had been promoted to the rank of Inspector for his services. All the others, Kinney, Taylor and ex-Constable Carter, had been more than once mentioned in dispatches. This is a legitimate expression, because in reality the Mounted Police were always on active service, and their merits were made known in the reports of their superior officers.
Strangely enough, from the human viewpoint, it was at Fitzgerald's own request that he was selected by the Commissioner in 1910 to take command of the Mackenzie River district. It was only the year before that he, then a staff-sergeant, had handed over that district to Inspector Jennings, but after receiving his promotion, Fitzgerald heard the insistent call of the great familiar North so overwhelmingly that he asked to be sent back into the white wastes again. And further, to vindicate some divine purpose running through it all, he suggested the patrol in that direction himself. The patrol had always been from "Dawson to Fort Macpherson and Herschell," but Fitzgerald asked to have its order reversed, and offered to go from Herschell Island to Macpherson and Dawson, from which latter point he could get into touch by wire with headquarters at Regina and report on his district. To this the Commissioner agreed, and so notified the Comptroller at Ottawa, as well as the officer commanding at Dawson, who was told to expect the patrol from Macpherson about the end of January.
When the patrol started from Fort Macpherson everything seemed favourable for a mid-winter trip. The men were all in fit condition, thoroughly acquainted with conditions of winter travel, and so keen to make a record journey that they did not burden themselves with more food than necessary for themselves and their dogs, of which they had fifteen for their three trains. The sequel proved that had they been able to keep the route they would have made Dawson in good shape. The trouble came upon them when neither map nor compass or any previous knowledge availed them in the maze of rivers and mountains that lay in their way. Taylor and Kinney had never been over the route, Fitzgerald had been over it once on another trail from the Dawson end. Carter had been over the new trail once a few years previously, but he, too, had come over it from Dawson to Macpherson, and a route with its piloting marks of bluffs and trees or banks by the way-side looks quite different when traversed the opposite way. Carter was a powerful, experienced and thoroughly reliable man, who had seen much service in the Force. Though not in the corps at the time of the patrol, he had been confident of his ability to guide the party to Dawson, and Fitzgerald had taken him on in that capacity.
The weather was intensely cold, and the going heavy, with here and there the rivers bursting up through the broken ice and creating very difficult trails. But they were all used to that, and did not mind it. Over a portage at a certain point they secured the services of an Indian, named Esau, to break trail and guide them to a certain point from which Carter was sure he knew the way. There the Indian was discharged and returned to his camp, Fitzgerald probably feeling that extra expenditure of Government funds for a guide was not justified when Carter was along.
The scene changes to Dawson. The patrol did not arrive when expected, and Superintendent A. E. Snyder, an experienced officer, who was in command there, began to get anxious, and when some Indians arrived from the Fort Macpherson direction he got in touch with them at once. From them he learned that Esau, who had been discharged at a certain point, expected the patrol to be in Dawson many days before the day of Snyder's inquiry. Snyder, fearing the worst, became alarmed. He wired the Commissioner as to the situation, and at the same time called Corporal Dempster from Forty Mile and instructed him to get ready a party to go in search of the lost patrol. The Commissioner flashed back instructions to send out a search party, and it went without delay. It is evident from his telegram that the Commissioner, who knew the perils of the trail and had his hand on every part of the country, thought the trouble was with the failure of the guide, because he asks why the Indian, who was mentioned by Snyder, was discharged, and in order that no undue risks be taken he says, "Send a well-outfitted party."
The party sent out was fully up to requirements. Corporal Dempster was a noted traveller of those Yukon trails, and at the date of this writing is out on the same difficult route, his strength unbroken by the intervening years. For his party in search of Fitzgerald he chose Constable Fyfe, ex-Constable Turner, and an Indian, Charles Stewart. They had all been over the country again and again, and so knew it well. They were all eager to go in the hope of reaching their missing comrades. The broad outline of their duty was given them by Superintendent Snyder, with the Spartan simplicity and directness characteristic of the Mounted Police. It ran thus: "Corporal Dempster. You will leave to-morrow for a patrol over the Fort Macpherson trail to locate the whereabouts of Inspector Fitzgerald's party. Indians from Macpherson reported him on New Year's Day at Mountain Creek. Fair travelling from Mountain Creek is about twenty days to Dawson. I understand that at Hart, no matter which route he took, he would have to cross the divide. I think it would be advisable to make for this point and take up his trail from there. I cannot give you any specific instructions; you will have to be guided by circumstances and your own judgment, bearing in mind that nothing is to stand in your way until you have got into touch with this party."
Dempster and his men made a record trip, both going to Macpherson and coming back. And this they did despite the fact that they had to face high winds, blinding snowstorms and flooded ice, besides searching the rivers that branched off the main route. They arrived back in Dawson on April 17, 1911, gaunt and haggard. "It's the hardest patrol I ever made," said Dempster, and that not by the perils of the way, which he was well able to meet, but because, as had already been told to the world, he had found the dead bodies of his four gallant comrades, where they had perished of cold and hunger on the way.
The first two bodies, those of Kinney and Taylor, were found some 35 miles from Macpherson, and those of Carter and Fitzgerald within a score of miles of that place. Only a short day's run from Macpherson. If those who were there had only known, how speedily they would have gone to the rescue! It appears clear from what Fitzgerald had written in his diary, the first date in which was December 21, 1910, and the last February 5, 1911, that not many days after Indian Esau had left, it became apparent that Carter had over-estimated his ability to remember the route which he had only passed over once a few years before, and that the reverse way. Many landmarks may have been removed by fire and otherwise since that time. Poor Carter! I sometimes feel he suffered more than any of them when he found that he could not find the way he thought he knew. How hard he tried day after day, leaving camp with one or other of his companions and going up one river after the other, only to find that they ended as "blind alleys," along which they could proceed no farther. And so Fitzgerald has to write on January 17: "Carter is hopelessly lost and does not know one river from another. We have only 10 lbs. of flour, 8 lbs. of bacon and some dried fish. My last hope is gone, and the only thing I can do is to return and kill some of the dogs to feed the others and ourselves. We have now been a week looking for a river to take us over the divide, but there are dozens of rivers and I am at a loss."
One asks why they had not turned back days before, and as soon as they found the route uncertain. The answer is that it was not the Police way to turn back when they were out on a definite errand. These men were of the same calibre as the young constable in the foothill country who was caught in a blizzard while out on duty, and on whose body, as already quoted, was found a paper with the words: "Lost. Horse dead. Am trying to push ahead. Have done my best."
But Fitzgerald was not alone, and had to save his men if he could. Kinney and Taylor, less strong than the others, suffered from cold and severe pains, the results perhaps of the dog meat and dog liver diet. The dogs would not eat this food, and so the men gave them the fish they had for their own use. So, in a last effort to save his men, Fitzgerald ordered the return, in the hope of making Fort Macpherson, from which they had travelled over 300 miles. He and Carter could have made it had they not been hampered by the other two, who were sick. But they would not leave them, as shown by the fact that Dempster found the camps each night were only a few miles apart. Finally, it appears that in the hope of reaching Macpherson and getting help Fitzgerald and Carter gave all the food, such as it was, and all the warm sleeping-bags to their comrades, and tried to reach Macpherson, which was only 35 miles away. They made 10 miles and then gave out and fell. Carter was evidently the first to go, for his body was laid out, his hands crossed, and a handkerchief put over his face. Then the gallant Fitzgerald succumbed, first having written with a charred stick on a paper found in his pocket his will in the fine words: "All money in dispatch bag and bank, clothes, etc., I leave to my dearly beloved Mother, Mrs. John Fitzgerald, of Halifax. God bless all. F. J. Fitzgerald, R.N.W.M.P." Many times have the initials of the old corps been written in important and honourable connections, but never with greater honour to the Force than when they were thus set down with the thought of his mother and a benediction for all by the numbed fingers of the heroic Inspector who was faithful unto death.
When Dempster and his men found the emaciated bodies and the mail which the dead men had carefully guarded they covered the bodies over reverently with brush, for their dogs were too far spent by the hard, swift trip to draw them, and went on to Fort Macpherson with the sad news. Those at Macpherson never dreamed but that the four strong, splendid men who had left them weeks before had long ere the date of Dempster's arrival reached Dawson City. The news that now came blanched all faces and cast a great gloom over that little company in the far North. Next morning, March 23, Corporal Somers and Constable Blake got together three fresh dog-teams with which, accompanied by two Indians, Somers started out at noon and returned on the 25th with the bodies of the men who had given up their lives in the line of their duty. A grave was prepared, the only one of its kind in the Northland, where the four bodies were buried side by side, in coffins made and covered with black by Somers and Dempster. The funeral was held in the Anglican Church, that devoted missionary, Rev. C. E. Whittaker, conducting the service in the presence of Mrs. Whittaker, nine white men and the native residents. Dempster says finely here: "Even though the funeral was held in the most northerly part of the Empire, away in the Arctic Circle, hundreds of miles from civilization, I am glad to be able to assure you that everything was done in connection with the last sad rites that could possibly be done under the circumstances, and I am sure that the relatives and friends of the deceased will be glad to know that it was possible to have Christian burial services read by an ordained minister of the Gospel over the bodies of their loved ones." The honours were duly paid also by their comrades, for there was a firing party of five, Somers, Blake, Dempster, Fyfe and Turner, to give the farewell salute at the graveside. In the solitude of the vast Northland the rattle of that musketry would not carry far in one sense, but it awaked echoes in hearts that understood in far places of the Empire.
When Commissioner Perry sent his final report on the matter he voiced the feelings of all when he wrote: "Their loss has been felt most keenly by every member of the Force, but we cannot but feel a thrill of pride at the endeavour they made to carry out their duty. I cannot express it better than in the following extract from a letter addressed to me by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan: 'While the occurrence brings deepest sadness to all, we feel that such an event gives greater lustre and enduring remembrance to the splendid Force.'" And Inspector Sanders, then at Athabasca Landing, who knew the men well and had received a report from Corporal Somers, wrote a statement to the Commissioner, in which these fine sentences occur: "It would appear that Inspector Fitzgerald was the last to succumb, and that he and Carter would probably have made Fort Macpherson had they not heroically stood by their stricken and weary companions. The pathetic attention evidently paid by Inspector Fitzgerald to his dead companions was in keeping with his brave and manly character."
Memorial services were held in Dawson and other places, and at the service in Dawson Governor Alexander Henderson said: "They did not fall in the shock of battle, but, none the less, they all died nobly in the discharge of their duty and in the service of their country."
The members of the Mounted Police Force raised a large amount for the purpose of a memorial tablet, but perhaps the most eloquent, if humble, testimonies were in the wide North, where the men and their achievements were so well known for years. Corporal Somers, at Fort Macpherson, cut a copper camp kettle into strips and engraved upon them the names of the brave departed, while more recently the famous old name of Smith's Landing at the end of the Athabasca River navigation was changed to Fitzgerald as a tribute to the memory of the gallant Policeman whose name was a household word in all that country.
The fatal ending of the Fitzgerald patrol remains as the most tragic happening in the long and remarkable history of the Mounted Police. But, as already suggested, it startled our people into a fuller realization of what the men of the Force were and are doing so unobtrusively for the country at such constant risk to themselves. The passing of Fitzgerald and his companions on that frozen way will not have been in vain if our Canadian lads learn new lessons from the men whose silent tents are, at the end of the trail, pitched on the eternal camping ground of Fame. If these lessons of heroism and devotion to duty are learned and practised by the young men of to-day, then that lonely fourfold grave under the Arctic sky will prove to be one of the bulwarks of the nation.
The White North was taking its toll of the men who were at the outposts of Empire as exponents of British administration. When Fitzgerald left Herschell Island on his last patrol, Sergeant Selig and Constable Wissenden remained in charge of that remote and lonely point, but in January, despite the efforts of his solitary white companion Wissenden, Selig, after much suffering, passed over the Great Divide. Wissenden, with the help of the natives, made a coffin and placed the body in a storehouse to await Fitzgerald's expected return. Corporal Somers and Constable Blake at Fort Macpherson heard through Hudson's Bay Company men that Selig had died in January, and before they could take any steps to go to Herschell Island, Dempster came from Dawson with the news of the death of Fitzgerald and his comrades. One can imagine the strain upon these men Somers and Blake at Macpherson, and Wissenden alone on Herschell Island, where, besides suffering loss by the death of his companion, he was so isolated from the civilized world that he did not see the face of a white man from November, 1910, till March, 1911.
But as soon as Dempster's patrol left Macpherson for Dawson, Somers, who throughout acted with a thorough sense of what was necessary and fitting, left Macpherson for Herschell Island, where he arrived in April. The body of Selig, as above stated, was awaiting the expected return of Inspector Fitzgerald. Instead of that Wissenden received now the news of the death of the members of that patrol, and not only he but the natives of the Island were greatly shocked and grieved. Then the funeral of Selig was held, Somers bringing Mr. Fry, of the Church of England Mission, from Escape Reef for the service. The mourners were the two Policemen and every Esquimaux on the Island, all following behind the dog sled which carried the coffin to the bleak burial ground. "Sergeant Selig," said Superintendent Sanders in his report of the district, "was one of the best N.C.O.'s in the Force." And Fitzgerald, who knew men in that country at first hand, said in his previous year's report: "Sergeant Selig, S.E.A., is a most efficient N.C.O., and has done excellent work in the North. Since he has been in this country he has been on every patrol, both summer and winter. He is a most capable man for any kind of work in the Northern country." He, too, fell like a good soldier, dying at his post, in the swift illness brought on by the terrific exposure of years in the Arctic. The passing of Selig at Herschell Island and in Dawson of Sergeant E. Smith, who had done notable work in the Yukon, as well as the Fitzgerald patrol, showed a heavy casualty list in 1911 as the price of holding the North and protecting its inhabitants. In some other ways that 1910-11 period was quite notable. The years were beginning to tell upon the Force, which was always popularly considered as a corps of young men. But in reality it had travelled through time for wellnigh two score of years, and men who had joined up while scarcely out of their teens had given a long day's work and were entitled to go on the pension list. Most prominent of these was Assistant Commissioner John H. McIlree, who was one of the original group. He joined up when organization was first mooted in the autumn of 1873, coming West over the difficult mud-and-water Dawson Route to the historic Lower Fort Garry, where these pioneers who were to lay the foundation of a famous corps were sworn in by Lieut.-Colonel Osborne Smith, as already related. McIlree was then Sergeant, but in the coming years, by reliable and distinguished service, worked his way up to the Assistant-Commissionership. Before his retirement he received the decoration of the Imperial Service Order in recognition of the contribution he had made to the welfare of the country. Surgeon Pare, Inspector Camies and Inspector A. M. Jarvis, who had won his C.M.G. in the South African War, also retired to pension, as did a number of well-known non-commissioned officers and men, Flintoff, McClelland, Haslett, Nicholson, Butler, Smith, Thompson, Aylesworth and Carter. On the other hand, several non-commissioned officers moved up to the Inspectorship rank; Shoebotham, Telford and Newson, who had done good service on the plains and the Northland; and Beyts, Field and French, whose remarkable patrols on the Hudson's Bay, Athabasca and Mackenzie River areas had attracted wide attention. In that period, also, a detachment consisting of seven officers and seventy-five non-commissioned officers and men, selected from all the divisions of the Force, including the Hudson's Bay and Yukon areas, went over to the King's Coronation. Commissioner Perry accompanied them, and was given a very prominent place in connection with the Coronation ceremonies. The whole contingent formed a special guard of honour on different occasions, and won high appreciation for their splendid bearing and gentlemanly character. For this highly creditable bearing and reputation which reflected honour on Canada they were specially thanked in London by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who took great pride in the corps all through his public life.
And all the time, at the far-flung outposts of the King's Empire, the Mounted Police at home in Canada were keeping the British peace and looking after the administration of British law where the banner of Britain flew. That versatile officer, Superintendent Deane, then in command at Calgary, tells us of a peculiar case which arose out of the disappearance of an eccentric old-time rancher, named Tucker Peach. He had been known for years as "Old Tucker," and it is said that only the postmaster at Gladys, where he got his mail, and an implement agent and rancher, named Jack Fisk, knew the Peach part of it. But Peach had a big roll of money, which had been seen by one or two when he was making purchases, and this old recluse kept it about the shack he occupied, as in his eccentricity he had no use for banks. No kith or kin had he in the country, and he had mentioned to a neighbour that he was going to sell his ranch and go back to England. One day he was absent from his accustomed haunts, but as no one expected that he would say good-bye to anyone his disappearance was not considered in any way odd, and it was not reported to the Police. Some young fellow came to live on the ranch, and he was supposed to be the purchaser or his agent. And as no one on the frontier in those days cared whether his neighbour was a "duke's son or a cook's son," as long as he "played fair," nothing unusual was suspected and things resumed the even tenor of their way. The young man on the ranch later said he was tenant in charge of the place for Mitchell Robertson, who owned it, but who was then working on the train as a brakesman out of Calgary. Robertson had left word with the postmaster at Gladys that any mail coming for Peach should be forwarded to Robertson's address in Calgary.
Some months later a body, headless, was found in the river, but it was so decomposed that the Coroner, Dr. Revell, finding no trace of foul play, ordered it buried. It might have been a drowning. Later still, a skull was found near by with a hole in the centre, batting in one ear and a dent on the forehead to one side of the centre. Then Dr. Revell had the body exhumed and called an inquest. The Mounted Police took a hand and Inspector Duffus watched the case. In the meantime, Robertson vanished suddenly off the train, but was caught at MacLeod by the Mounted Police there and brought back to the inquest at Okatoks. Meanwhile, Inspector Duffus got hold of some strong evidence. Ranchers had expressed the opinion that the skull was "Old Tucker's" by its shape and by the batting, and one "old-timer" was found who said the dent in the skull near the side was from a kick by a horse years before, and that he knew it because he had helped "Old Tucker" bind up the wound at the time.
Robertson was called to give evidence, and became so mixed in his testimony that Inspector Duffus called his attention to the discrepancies. Robertson would say nothing more and Duffus, with the Coroner's permission, took him into another room, and after warning him asked him if he had anything to say. The result was a full confession of the murder. It appears that Fisk, who was disposed to terrorize people, had told Robertson that he was going to do away with "Old Tucker," and that Robertson must come with him. After it was over Robertson was to have the land and Fisk the horses in the place. They went to Tucker's shack early one morning and, knocking at the door, Robertson told who he was. The old rancher got up and admitted them, and as he was dressing Fisk shot him through the forehead, and putting the revolver into Robertson's hand said, "Now you shoot also," which Robertson did. Then they got the money, hitched up the team and drove to the river, where they dumped the body. But the river again gave up its dead.
When the confession got this far word was wired to Calgary, from where three Mounted Police went out in a motor in the night and arrested Fisk, who was taken off guard or he might have made a fight. Both Fisk and Robertson were convicted. Fisk was hanged, but Robertson, who had turned "King's evidence," was given imprisonment for life. The community breathed easier when Fisk was out of the way.
A curious and interesting sequel was furnished by a handsome dog, which had belonged to Fisk, and was with him when he murdered Peach. When Fisk was arrested the human-hearted men of the scarlet tunic, who had pursued the inhuman murderer, adopted his innocent dog and called him "Fisk." The dog attached himself to Constable Davis, and was with him when he was shot by "Running Wolf," a desperate Indian whom he was arresting. Then the dog became attached to Corporal Watts, accompanied him for four years on special duty, and was with him at Exshaw, when Watts narrowly escaped death at the hands of a desperado there. Finally, when Watts (now Sergeant, and a man who has seen much service) was moving to Vancouver with the Division, "Fisk," who had become infirm and old, was run over by a street car in Calgary. This star-witness of many crimes, concerning which he could not speak, thus closed an exciting and adventurous career.
Back further in the years another case of a somewhat similar type occurred, and all these cases indicate not only the certain and deadly precision of the Mounted Police methods in relation to the capture of criminals, but they also suggest to the imagination what the lonely prairie would have been to settlers without the presence of this watchful corps. The case to which I now refer was one in which the body of an evidently murdered man was found near Lacombe, in Alberta. There was no clue to the murderer, but Superintendent Constantine, himself a keen detective, put Sergeant Hetherington on the trail. Hetherington proved to be a persistent sleuth. All he had to start on was a buckle on the vest of the victim, indicating Kalamazoo as its place of origin. It was a far cry from Michigan, but by process of investigation one James Smith from that State came and identified the body as that of his stepson, whose name was Leon Stainton. The young man, who had some money, had left Kalamazoo, in company with a more or less chance acquaintance, generally called "Bud" Bullock, though his right name was Charles B. Bullock. But Bullock had disappeared, leaving not a trace behind. He was known to be a miner, and Hetherington got on the track of mining areas. He first went to Kalamazoo and got a sample of Bullock's writing from an hotel register. Hetherington did not expect to find Bullock's name on hotel registers after the date of the murder, but the Sergeant studied handwriting and the formation of the letters in the name. Then he came back to Calgary and searched the hotel registers till he got a name where the same letters looked alike. Bullock had changed his name, but he could not get away from the alphabet. Then Hetherington haunted the mining districts all the way from Michigan to the mountains, and searched hotel registers and pay rolls for three long months. That took a lot of dogged determination, but though he was getting new names all along the way the Sergeant detected similarity in letters, and by mingling with the miners, found out where the man had gone from place to place. Then the handwriting would be compared in that new locality. Finally, in Montana, Hetherington found on a pay roll a new name where similar letters corresponded, and the man was at work there. The Sergeant went amongst the miners, recognized Bullock, and putting his hand on his shoulder said, "Hello, Bullock." The man started and said, "My name is not Bullock." "Oh yes, it is," said the Mounted Policeman, "it is Charles B. Bullock, alias Bud Bullock, and I am here to arrest you for the murder of Leon Stainton, near Ponoka, in Alberta." Then the man caved in and said, "I always felt that the red-coats would get me, even if it took years." He owned up, and as it was useless to fight extradition he came back with Hetherington and after trial paid the penalty for his crime. But think of the endless patience and doggedness of Hetherington, who, with only a scrap of handwriting on a fragment of paper, searched for months, day and night, over half a continent for similar letter formations till he landed his man. It was the Mounted Police way.
In 1912 we find Commissioner Perry still battling to the end that the services of all ranks in his command should receive recognition in the form of higher remuneration for the good reasons that the cost of living was going up; that men in civil life were getting much more for less important and dangerous work, and that the enormously increasing population of the West made ever larger calls upon the efforts and the initiative powers of the officers and men. And the Commissioner, who is always intent on keeping the Force on a high level, said that if the increased pay was granted there would possibly be more applications than vacancies. In such a case he would aim at constantly improving the personnel of the corps by accepting recruits on probation only, by discharging those lacking in energy, intelligence and character, and by making dismissal the most severe punishment that could be handed out to any member of the Force. The Commissioner's far-sighted policy in this and other regards has always told favourably on the high prestige of the Corps.
That year 1912 witnessed an unusual number of changes in the Force. Chief amongst these changes was the loss sustained by the death, in California, of Superintendent Charles Constantine, who had served in the Force for twenty-six years, after having seen active duty in the suppression of the two Riel Rebellions. I have already made special reference to the work of this officer, with whom I served when he was Adjutant of the Winnipeg Light Infantry. He never advertised or pushed himself forward, but by sheer force of character his merits became known increasingly throughout the years. His death was widely mourned, not only by his comrades, but by the people of the vast country where he had done so much foundation work. At the time of his passing out, Commissioner Perry, who knew the Force so well, wrote: "Because of his strength of character, sound judgment and physical strength, he was selected for much of the pioneer work of the Force. He was the first to command in the Yukon Territory, and in the early days of the gold rush his tact and firmness established the reputation of that gold camp as the most orderly in the world. Subsequently he was employed in the far North, and in the strenuous work of the Peace-Yukon road-making, contracted the disease which eventually caused his death." Constantine had taken a large share in Western history, and his name will not be forgotten on the roll of the makers of the country.
In that same year also two prominent officers who, as this record shows, had done splendid service in very difficult places all over the frontiers, and who had served with distinction in the Boer War, Superintendents G. E. Sanders, D.S.O., and A. E. Snyder, retired to pension. Others in recognition of merit were moved up to fill vacancies, Inspectors T. A. Wroughton, F. J. A. Demers, F. J. Horrigan, all tried men, becoming Superintendents, and such well-known non-commissioned officers as F. A. Gordon, A. E. Acland, J. W. Spalding, T. Dann, and G. W. Currie being promoted to the rank of Inspectors. Dr. S. M. Fraser was raised to the full rank of Surgeon, and Drs. W. H. Mewburn and E. A. Braithwaite, all of whom had been prominent on the frontiers, were made honorary Surgeons. Thus were men coming and going. That year, over 200 recruits were added to the Force, which even then was less than 700 to patrol a territory larger than half-a-dozen European kingdoms.
To illustrate how the Mounted Police always sprang in to help in emergencies we recall at that time that a disastrous cyclone hit the City of Regina, where the Mounted Police Headquarters were at that time. Cyclones are rare occurrences in Canada, but after one sultry day this black tempest arose on the prairie and tore through the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The whole resources of the Mounted Police were placed at the disposal of the city. Officers and men worked with a will, unresting in their efforts to rescue the injured and make the city safe for the living. Every night till the trouble was over they kept guard over life and property, always in danger at such times, and the following, in a letter from the Mayor of Regina to Commissioner Perry, is a fine testimony. Referring to the work of the various organizations that had been at work during that time of trial, Mayor McAra says: "We have had so much reason to be satisfied with the working of the various organizations that had in charge the different features of the work in connection with this storm that it is difficult to express oneself adequately as to the services rendered by these several organizations. We believe, however, that the services of the various organizations have only been made possible by the service rendered by your Force. I believe that perhaps more was done to establish a sane understanding of the situation by the officers and men of your patrol than in any other way and, appreciating this, it is difficult for me on behalf of the Committee in charge, to properly express the feeling of gratitude we have." Herein did Mayor McAra, who knew the Force well, express a truth that had application not only to the situation after the Regina cyclone, but to the history of the West, namely, that the presence of the Mounted Police made the country safe for those who desired to develop its resources in the ways of industrious peace.
As another piece of evidence for the truth of this general statement, let me instance several letters of thanks and appreciation from officials, engineers and contractors on the Hudson's Bay Railway in 1913 to Inspector French, who was in command of the Mounted Police in the district. Vice-President Boyd wrote: "The services of the R.N.W.M.P. have been most satisfactory, the conduct of the Force stationed here and along our works being a credit to the honoured institution of which they are members." Assistant Chief Engineer Garrow: "In my opinion the general good conduct of the men in our employ and the prevention of trouble usually caused by illicit whisky-peddling has been obtained by the systematic campaign that you waged on the opening of this construction. In my personal dealings with yourself, Sergeant Munday and staff I found all courteous, always willing to co-operate and to take prompt action in case of emergency." Mr. M. McMillan, the Chief Sub-contractor, wrote: "I wish to compliment you and the members of the Force under your command on the very efficient manner in which you and they have policed the line of construction of the Hudson's Bay railway. I have never had a gang of men on any contract where there was less friction and less whisky on the work than on this job, and I realize that it is to you and your Force that we owe this state of affairs. I trust we shall all be together on the Nelson end of the steel." This, we repeat, is another instance of the way in which the men in scarlet and gold provided an environment and an atmosphere in which the industrial development of the country could be carried on under conditions that made for success. While never taking part with either employer or employed, the firm, impartial and tactful Mounted Police Force often became a living windbreak against social tempests, which without it might, at times, have thrown both sides into confusion and have wrecked projects that were vital to the progress of the Dominion.
While going through old annual reports of the work of the Police one is struck by the frequency with which one comes across deeds of heroism, which were only noted formally in a few lines at the time, and which have lain buried out of sight ever since. But if they had been done on other fields they would have won wide publicity and many decorations.
There is not much of a thrill playing on the surface of a report given by Constable Wight, who was the whole detachment at a village in Alberta. But one cannot read it in a short paragraph without finding between the lines a lot of danger in small compass. A man named Winning, who perhaps presumed on his name, decided at 1 a.m. that he did not like the room the night clerk had given him at the hotel, and wanted it changed. Rooms were not plentiful in these small places, and there was no other to be had, on finding out which, Mr. Winning, after raising a general disturbance to the discomfort of the other guests, went away and came back shortly with several sticks of dynamite. He said he was going to blow up the hotel, and this declaration did not add to the peace of mind of the hotel clerk and the guests. The town constable was on hand, but the gentleman with the sticks of dynamite flourished them, and said he would blow the constable to fragments if he interfered. Mounted Police-Constable Wight, who was some distance away, was awakened and told of the situation. Meantime, Mr. Winning, who had not committed any overt act, had retired to a camp near by with his high explosives. But Constable Wight got an information sworn out against him for having an explosive in his possession with intent to endanger life, which was putting it mildly enough when he was in fact dealing with a man running amuck with dynamite playthings. However, this served the purpose of Constable Wight, who rode out to the camp and arrested the man, explosives and all. It was not a very pleasant undertaking, but that did not count for anything with a wearer of the scarlet tunic out on duty.
Several times in this book has come the necessity for expressing regret that there is no decoration for valour in time of peace corresponding to the Victoria Cross in times of war. Of the two we have good ground for thinking that a gallant deed done in peace time in cold blood and with a full sense of the danger, is at least as great as the same kind of deed done when the blood is hot with battle and the risk is unknown or unconsidered. Take, for instance, the case of Constable Moorehead, as related not by himself (the Mounted Policeman's eleventh commandment is not to talk), but in a letter to Superintendent Primrose from Dr. Nyblett, the coroner near Nanton, Alberta, where was a reducing plant of the Natural Gas Company. The letter says, "It was reported to Constable Moorehead that some men were suffocating in the high-pressure station and he immediately rode over." He had no orders to go except from his own conscience, but there was no hesitation, though he knew the supreme danger. The letter goes on. "There was a disconnected four-inch pipe, with a pressure of 125 pounds to the inch, in the building, and Constable Moorehead could see one of the bodies moving and he thought there was life." It was probably being moved by the terrific gas pressure. "Moorehead placed his hat over his mouth and went in; on getting near the bodies the jet of gas struck him and blew him to the other side of the building; there he groped for the door, but was too nearly unconscious to find it. Another man who had come up saw him and was able to reach in and pull Moorehead out. When Moorehead recovered consciousness he found a bar and prised off some of the corrugated iron near the bodies. He then crawled in through the hole with the other man holding his feet, and pulled out one of the bodies; he then went in again and got another. He was so weak and exhausted by this time that he had not strength to pull the third out, but crawled in and tied a rope to it, and after it was pulled out did the same with the fourth." "Unless one was actually there," says the coroner, "it would be very difficult to realize just how plucky this act was. The pressure of the escaping gas was so great that the caps of the men were held up against the roof of the building, and the poisoning by this gas in large quantities is instantaneous."
We have not read anywhere in the annals of war a finer tale of gallantry. Constable Moorehead got another stripe for "conspicuous bravery" and became Corporal, received a small grant from the fine fund, and at a full-dress parade of the Division was presented by Judge McNeill with the bronze medal of the Royal Canadian Humane Association. All this was very suitable, but I still think there is room for a peace-time decoration up to the level of the Victoria Cross.
During the year 1912 there was constant oversight exercised in the Hudson's Bay and Mackenzie River districts, as well as in the Yukon. All this involved much dangerous patrol work, but it was carried out without any untoward happening. Superintendent Demers, Inspectors Beyts and French were in the former districts with a small but excellent body of men; Superintendent Moodie and Inspector Acland were in the Yukon and White Horse districts. In the Yukon there was a serious case of dynamiting dredges which Sergeant Mapley handled with great ability. Patrols and general oversight by these non-commissioned officers and constables may, to the superficial onlooker or reader, seem of no great value, but these men, by tact and firm, friendly dealing with the natives and traders, really introduced a new code of ethics in the Northland. The questions at stake may not have been very large ones from our standpoint, but the ownership of a sled-dog or the fairness of values in exchange of furs, were as important to the children of the wild as the possession of a province might be to people in Europe. And in these local matters these patrolmen became recognized as fair and impartial adjudicators whose word was law. Thus were new ideals as to the rights of property and the sacredness of life being inculcated in the vast spaces of the Arctic.
And these sturdy, courageous Policemen became so greatly interested in their strenuous work that they were always ready for a larger venture. It is interesting to find Corporal C. D. LaNauze, after returning from a patrol of some fifty-two days and over 1,000 miles, writing: "I cannot speak too highly of my dogs. I would like to see how far I could go with this train." Well, he was to get his opportunity to find out shortly. Whether with that train of dogs or not we cannot say, but when the opportunity came he used it to the limit.
There were some lonely places. Sergeant Edgenton, a noted patrolman in the Arctic, writes as to Cape Fullerton on Hudson Bay: "Fullerton during the winter has been very lonely. Constable Conway and myself and two natives were the only persons there." And it is rather a striking instance of Police methods to find Edgenton putting in the usual detachment report and, under the head of discipline, speaking highly of Conway: "I have had to leave him alone during my patrols, and always found everything in good order on returning. He is a good man for duty in the North, and has made several patrols in very cold weather." Other men well known in that district were non-commissioned officers like Sergeants Handcock, Belcher, Currie, Mellor, LaNauze, Jones and several Constables. And, like the army of Sparta, which was the wall around that country, "every man was a brick."
THE GREAT WAR PERIOD
The year 1914 gave us in history the spectacle of world-wide sword play, the rattle of machine-guns, and the roar of heavy artillery, along with an unprecedented loss of human life. It saw the British Empire, taken unprepared save for the Grand Fleet, hurling itself against the most colossal war machinery the world had ever seen assembled by one nation. And it saw this because Britain, pledged by a "scrap of paper," ordinarily called a treaty, to preserve the undamaged neutrality of Belgium against Germany or any one else, counted no cost too great for the maintenance of her sacred honour. But that fateful year saw our men not only on the field of struggle, but witnessed our people, whom the necessities of the case forced to remain behind, steadily keeping the wheels of industry turning at the base of supply, preventing internal discord and maintaining the integrity of the country unbroken, despite hostile influences that were at work. It is a common expression that when the Empire is at war Canada is at war. That saying has been proven again and again till it has become an undisputed axiom. It had been demonstrated before 1914, and then demonstrated again, till it needs no further proof. It is part of the Empire's history that the far-flung colonies of Britain are at her side when danger threatens their mother. Hence, at the sound of the war trumpet, Canadians rushed to the Colours.
Amongst the first who desired to be sent to the Front after the general call had gone out were the Royal North-West Mounted Police, who hoped to go as a unit. The request was made at the outset, renewed in 1917 and 1918. But the Canadian Government, fully aware of certain conditions in the country, not only refused this request, but ordered that the Mounted Police should be reinforced by the enlistment of 500 more men for important duty in Canada.
What those duties were could easily be gathered from the general situation. At the beginning, the United States did not go into the war, and the authorities there, who have always worked in friendly co-operation with our Police, intimated that there was a good deal of pro-enemy activity amongst alien elements south of the line. The American authorities would not knowingly allow their country to become the base of hostile operations against us, but, as in the case of the Fenian raids into Canada, it was possible for enemies along a 3,000-mile border to elude them and cross over to make serious trouble for us. Hence it was necessary that an experienced body of men should patrol the boundary region, and the riders of the plains were the only men who could carry out that task.
Later on, when the United States entered the war, this work became unnecessary, but there was still special need for the vigilance of this famous corps, whose great record and prestige gave such unique authority to their presence in any locality that nothing more was necessary. There were 175,000 German and Austrian settlers in the prairie sections of Canada, a quite formidable army if mobilized. It was specially necessary that the Government of the country, backed by visible authority, should see that this large number of people was prevented from making any hostile demonstrations against the flag under whose shelter they had sought new homes. And it was equally desirable and British to see that these immigrants, as long as they observed and respected the laws and institutions of the country whose citizens they had become, should not be irritated or persecuted by perfervid and unthinking loyalists. An immigrant cannot help his racial origin, and if the country has thrown open its doors to his coming to help in its development, and if he becomes a law-abiding Canadian, he is entitled to protection. To the credit of all concerned, it is good to be able to say that there was no trouble worth noting. There were some tried and convicted for seditious utterances, but, generally speaking, they were not of alien race. Doubtless the German in the middle west of Canada was glad to be away from the cast-iron military system of his Fatherland, and the Austrian was pleased to be out of the "ramshackle Empire"; while at the same time, the Canadians around, like true British men, were willing to let these immigrants make good in this land of the second chance. But both were helped in their good intentions by the tact and firmness of the riders in scarlet and gold.
Besides all that, the Government knew perfectly well that a time of war is fruitful in opportunity for the man who wishes to upset human society by revolutionary methods. Hosts of the cool-headed thinking men are away at such a time, and in the general confusion the faddist and the anarchist get a chance to put their theories into practice. But, as Thomas Carlyle said, "It costs too much to have a revolution strike on the horologe of time to tell the world what o'clock it is"; and so it was important that destructive movements should be held in check. And, accordingly, the Dominion authorities felt that the Mounted Police should be on the ground. Further, in order that the Mounted Police could have an oversight of conditions and situations which, though more pronounced at some points, were in reality nation-wide, the Dominion Government decided that absorbing the Dominion Police, the famous Royal North-West Mounted Police should have their jurisdiction extended over the whole of Canada, from the Yukon and the Arctic clear across to the Atlantic coast. This involved the moving of headquarters from Regina to the seat of Government at Ottawa, the placing of detachments all over Canada, and the substitution of the word "Canadian" for the words "North-West" in the title of the corps. This change in the title gave to the "old-timers" who had served in the Force, and to us who had known it under the old name, a sort of sentimental shock, and was the subject of several protests, but it soon became apparent that the change of name was the necessary accompaniment of the extension of jurisdiction. It would be manifestly improper to retain the limited territorial designation of "North-West" when the territory to be covered by the Force was from sea to sea. In fact, the changes as to title and jurisdiction now commend themselves to all who study the whole situation, and credit in this connection is due to the Hon. N. W. Rowell, who, as the governmental head of the Force and a great admirer of its work, brought these changes to pass.
There was some discussion in the House of Commons when the changes above mentioned were proposed. But in answer to questions as to the necessity for the change being made in extending the jurisdiction of the Mounted Police and placing detachments all over the country East as well as West, Mr. Rowell gave clear and cogent reasons. It was pointed out by him that there had been for years a Dominion Police Force, under Sir Percy Sherwood, and that, as this Dominion Force was now absorbed by the Mounted Police, there was no duplication of law administration agencies. Broadly speaking, the Mounted Police have to discharge most important duties all over Canada for all branches of the Federal Government in seeing the laws observed in which the Federal Government is particularly interested, because these laws relate to the public revenue or to special Departments of Dominion administration. Thus, for instance, the Mounted Police have to investigate all matters in which Federal property is lost or misappropriated; they have to assist the Customs Department in preventing the all-too-common crime of smuggling, and the Department of Inland Revenue in regard to illicit liquor traffic. They have to co-operate with the Department of Indian affairs, and the Department of Colonization and Immigration in regard to the admission of citizens who may or may not be desirable, and also look into all matters connected with the nationalization of aliens. And more than once of late the Dominion Department of Agriculture has asked the assistance of the Mounted Police in stamping out epidemics amongst stock.
And that the placing of the Mounted Police all over Canada was opportune is evidenced by the fact that, under the guise of legitimate strikes, movements were begun which led to a sort of reign of terror in some communities, and in connection with which the real motive of some who manipulated them was shown, by evidence convincing to Judges and Juries, to be nothing short of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional government of this country. Incriminating papers were found in many Canadian cities in the possession of many who were suspected of sedition. And a curious thing arose when these suspected men raised their voices in appeal to the very law of the land which they had been denouncing to protect them from prosecution. Or, as Commissioner Perry, who gave very special and serious study to the whole situation, says: "Appeal is made by these men to British fair play to protect them in their efforts to destroy British fair play."
Winnipeg was chosen by the agitators as the storm centre of their movement, and it began in the shape of a strike by the metal-workers, led by radicals of a pronounced type, who used the strike idea to further their revolutionary aims, and who devoted themselves to bringing about a general sympathetic strike in order to paralyse the business of the city and thus help their enterprise. The radicals succeeded in securing a general strike even to the post office staff and mail clerks, and this led to similar sympathetic movements in Brandon, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. No doubt a great many in the various organizations going on strike acted honestly with the idea in their minds that the Winnipeg movement was of a genuine type and for usual and legitimate purposes. But the leaders at that point showed their real aim plainly when they started to take the control of the city out of the hands of the Mayor and Council, and indicated by printed cards that the only industries that would be allowed to continue were those that would run "by permission of the Strike Committee." Winnipeg was about the last city that would stand dictation from any other than their own elected representatives, and so citizens organized themselves to withstand the methods of the radicals and to uphold properly constituted authority. It was a critical hour in the history of that city and the whole of Canada.
The Mounted Police that were in Winnipeg in pursuance of the policy of distribution over the whole Dominion were under the competent command of Superintendent Starnes, who, as we have seen, had done important work in the Yukon, Hudson's Bay and prairie districts, and was known as a man of experience and sound judgment in emergencies. The Mounted Police did not interfere in the "strike," except by taking steps to protect life and property, and to see that public services, such as the carrying and distribution of His Majesty's mails, were not hindered. But on the 21st of June, 1919, the Mayor, being unable to cope with the situation, called for the assistance of the Mounted Police to prevent a parade of thousands who were defying the city authorities. Thereupon fifty-four mounted men, under Inspectors Proby and Mead, with thirty-six men in trucks, under Sergt.-Major Griffin, were sent out from barracks, Commissioner Perry, as well as Superintendent Starnes, being present with the Attorney-General of Manitoba. A reserve was held in barracks, under Sergt.-Major Greenway, but it was not required.
It did not take the mounted men of the old corps long to get control of the situation, though they were only a handful. When they arrived on the scene near the City Hall, they were received with showers of stones, shots and other missiles. But they maintained their reputation for restraint, and it was not till two of the men were in danger, through their horses falling and through a charge from the mob, that the officer commanding the Mounted Force gave the order to draw their revolvers and use them. This had the desired effect of clearing the street and of dispersing the rioters. Some sixteen of the Mounted Police were wounded with missiles, while on the other side one foreigner was killed, one fatally wounded, and several others hurt. This shows that the Mounted Police preserved their reputation for refraining from taking the aggressive until there was no other course open. But from that day the "strike" lost its strength. Hundreds of the strikers began to see through the real aims of their radical leaders and returned to work. A few days later the "strike" was officially called "off," and the sympathetic movements in the other cities died at the same time, to the general relief of all concerned. Events of a somewhat similar kind were happening sporadically here and there during the war period, and they still appear occasionally. We may get to a stage where government is not required in an angelic state of human society. But so long as there remains a proportion of human beings who glory in disorder and revolt against lawful authority in a democratic country like ours, where people through their elected representatives really make their own laws, there will be need for the men in scarlet and gold to preserve the peace, to prevent wanton damage to necessary industries, to protect human life, and generally to prevent society from sliding into the abyss of chaos.
We have emphasized at several points in this story the efforts made by the Mounted Police to get into the war from the outset. And we have indicated the grounds on which the Government declined to allow them to go abroad, when the situation at home demanded their presence. Of course, many of the Police, probably not less than a thousand, in various ways, by resigning individually or buying discharge, or by virtue of their term of enlistment lapsing, had managed to get away to the war during the years before a unit from the Force was permitted to go overseas. These men served with great distinction on many fields of the colossal conflict. In the House of Commons, the Hon. N. W. Rowell, in speaking on the subject, said: "I wish I had time to tell the House of some of the deeds of those gallant men. I will only mention two. The famous Michael O'Leary, V.C., was one of the North-West Mounted Police, and he set a standard for courage and bravery during the early days of the war which many other gallant soldiers have since emulated. The other, a constable in the ranks for two years—Constable Parkes, a young man now twenty-seven years of age. In 1915 he purchased his discharge to go to the front; he rose to the command of the 116th Battalion, C.E.F., and won the V.C., the D.S.O., and La Croix de Guerre. He proved himself an officer of the highest efficiency, and has been selected by the Canadian Corps to attend the staff college. I might mention other members of the Force and the gallant service they have rendered, but time does not permit. I should also mention that ex-members of the Force—that is, men who had served on the Force—provided our Canadian Army overseas with two major-generals, four brigade-generals, and colonels, majors and captains by the score. It shows the type of men who are serving in our Royal North-West Mounted Police." And one thinks at once in this connection of such men as that old campaigner and ex-Policeman, the late Sir Samuel B. Steele, who went over in command of the Second Division, but whose health, undermined by an injury on the way, did not permit him to lead his men in the field; of that dashing and distinguished Cavalry Officer, Sir Archibald Macdonnell, now Commandant at Kingston, and of Brigadier-General Ketchen, who came up from the ranks, and of many others. And then Mr. Rowell went on to say: "All the sons, of military age, of the present and past officers have served overseas, and no less than ten officers' sons died on the battlefield. The son of the first man who joined the Force in 1873 is an honourable and gallant member of this House—Brigadier-General Griesbach (of Edmonton), who has rendered such distinguished service in this war. He is one of the many gallant officers, sons of members of the Force who have served overseas."
One would like to place special stress on the way in which the sons and even the daughters of the first generation of the Mounted Police kept up the great tradition of their fathers, who had instilled into them that devotion to duty and that desire to maintain the right which made the old Force so well known in every part of the world. The names of these gallant young men and women are found in practically every unit of service in the Great War as combatants, nurses and so on, all showing that blood tells, and that the theory of heredity can find in such cases a real and indisputable demonstration.
And, while touching upon this phase, let me also mention that another unique tribute to the way in which the Force got hold of the imagination and enlisted the devotion of those who served in its ranks, is the fact that ex-members all over Canada organized in evidence of their desire to support the parent body in any crisis that may arise. Several hundred of these men, experienced in every detail of the work and trained to the minute, left their occupations and put themselves at the disposal of the Commissioner during the war, when the Force was depleted by enlistments for the front. Any organization that can thus count on the assistance of its former members in the hour of need, must have had elements in it that appealed to the best qualities of real men. Hence we find that the war and the social unrest called into being Police Veterans' Associations, whose aim is to continue the traditions of the corps, and whose members hold themselves at the service of the Government of Canada whenever required. In other words, anyone who tries to play "rough house" where these veterans' associations exist will have to reckon with the "old boys," who once wore the unforgettable scarlet and gold. And what is here said of the men is equally true of the wives and mothers and sisters of the riders of the Western plains.
But one of the most conclusive pieces of evidence as to the real quality of the men of the Mounted Police was given when, in those dark and deadly-looking days near the close of the war, the British Government let it be known that another cavalry unit from Canada would be acceptable. A call was placed before the Mounted Police to provide reinforcements for the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, which had suffered serious losses, and also to furnish a squadron to add as a distinct Police unit to the Cavalry Corps. In one sense it was not a good time to appeal for recruits. The allied army was fighting with its back to the wall. Our cavalry brigade had been decimated and all along the line our men were falling—
"Grimly dying, still unconquered With their faces to the foe."
But every man in the Mounted Police wanted to go and help hold that line. Five hundred men were desired, but there was a rush, and before word could be got out by wire to stop recruiting, over 700, including some ex-members, had enlisted and had to be accepted.
This contingent was divided into four squadrons, the whole coming, of course, under orders of the Militia Department as part of the C.E.F., and on May 19, 1918, the following order was issued from Militia Headquarters at Ottawa: "The following provisional appointments of Officers in the C.E.F. are authorized: To be Major, Inspector G. L. Jennings; to be Captain, Inspector H. M. Newson; to be Lieutenants, Inspectors A. B. Allard, A. E. Acland, Thomas Dann, S. T. Wood, J. McD. Tupper, W. C. Proby, C. H. King, Denis Ryan, C. D. La Nauze, H. Townsend, Sergts.-Major T. H. Irvine, F. J. Mead, R. H. L. MacDowell." These were all Officers and Sergts.-Major in the R.N.W.M. Police, and were recommended by the Commissioner for the positions named.
Inspectors Jennings, Allard and Newson have since been promoted Superintendents, and Sergts.-Major Irvine and Mead have been granted commissions in the Force. Putting the draft into regular military form as a provisional Regiment, it was composed of four Squadrons and Headquarters Staff as follows:—To command the overseas Cavalry Draft and special Squadron, Major G. L. Jennings; to be second in command, Captain H. M. Newson; to be Acting Adjutant, Lieutenant R. H. L. MacDowell; to be Acting Regimental Sergt.-Major, Sergt.-Major G. F. Griffin; to be Acting Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant, Staff-Sergeant A. H. L. Mellor (since promoted Inspector).
Squadron Officers: "A" Squadron—Lieutenants A. B. Allard (in command), H. Townsend and F. J. Mead. "B" Squadron—Lieutenants T. Dann (in command), S. T. Wood and D. Ryan. "C" Squadron—Lieutenants W. C. Proby (in command), C. D. La Nauze, and J. McD. Tupper. "D" Squadron—Lieutenants C. H. King (in command), A. E. Acland and T. H. Irvine. Also to be Acting Sergts.-Major of the above Squadrons in order named, the following Mounted Police N.C.O.'s, viz.:—Sergts.-Major W. A. Edgenton, C. R. Peters, C. F. Fletcher and F. E. Spriggs. The whole draft was taken on the strength of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and all members who were actively connected with the Mounted Police were on leave of absence from their corps until they would be demobilized on return to Canada.
On reaching England the men of the contingent were pretty well scattered by being assigned for duty with various units, but, finally, the Mounted Police Squadron to be attached to the Canadian Light Horse was sent over to France, arriving, to their disappointment, too late to take part in the Battle of Cambrai, where cavalry played a conspicuous part. But Major Jennings was requested to detail some of his men for "Dispatch Riding" in the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions. Lieutenant Dann with 2nd Troop was sent to the 2nd Canadian Division, and Lieutenant Wood with 3rd Troop was sent to the 3rd Canadian Division, and remained there till the Armistice was signed. This was dangerous and difficult front-line work, and was done to the entire satisfaction of the Division Commanders, as was to be expected when the riders of the plains were on duty. The Squadron also furnished every day N.C.O.'s and men to go to different points immediately back of the front line to collect prisoners of war, and escort them to the different camps. And one who knows the record of the Mounted Police needs not to be told that not one prisoner escaped from their custody in France, Belgium and Germany. On October 28, probably in recognition of the thoroughness with which these trained and disciplined men from the Canadian plains had carried out every duty that had been assigned them, orders were issued that the Mounted Police were to be detached from the Canadian Light Horse and become an independent unit, to be known as the Royal North-West Mounted Police Squadron. This was the situation up to the Armistice, when the dispatch-riding troops, under Lieutenants Dann and Wood, rejoined the Squadron. Instructions came to have a troop sent to Mons, to be there at the triumphal entry, but this was found impossible. The horses of the dispatch-riding troops were completely fagged out with their strenuous work, another troop was on prisoners-of-war service, while the horses of the fourth were unshod and could not make the 32 kilos. over the paved road to Mons. Later, Acland's troop went on duty to a point near Bonn, in Germany, and Lieutenants King and Allard were sent on special service into Belgium. Things were in much confusion, and the presence of the scarlet riders seemed to give the people satisfaction.
The whole Squadron was kept busy at various points till December, when the Canadian Government, realizing that conditions at home demanded the presence of these recognized champions of law and order, sent a cable recalling the Mounted Police to duty in Canada. There was much to be done in the way of detail arrangements, gathering up the scattered members out of other units, re-enlisting for service in Canada, but in due course, after having added another highly creditable page to the history of the corps, the Squadron reached Winnipeg.
It was rather a striking coincidence that at the very time when Winnipeg was boiling over with red radicalism, this Canadian Mounted Police unit, that had been on service at the Front, arrived in that city. Things being as they were at that point, the Commissioner had Jenning's command detrain there. For some days they were held in reserve in the barracks, and no doubt the presence of these seasoned and disciplined men had a reassuring influence on good citizens, and a very deterrent effect upon the lawless advocates of violence and sedition. Their active participation was not necessary, and so they continued out into the various detachments all over the West and North. It is interesting to know that at the time of this writing Major (Superintendent) Jennings, who knows the vast North-land and its perils well, is in command of the Mounted Police at Edmonton, the front gateway to the new oil-fields. These men will see that human life and property are as safe there as in any part of Canada. The "gunman" and the disorderly and the lewd exploiter of camps and frontiers will not get into the country at all, and the unfit and unprepared and unequipped, however respectable, will be saved from the reckless folly that would send them on a wild rush into a country whose perils they do not know.
In summing up his report of the Overseas Squadron, Major Jennings indicates that the fine reputation for good behaviour made by the Mounted Police when in the Old Land, at Coronation or Jubilee celebrations, was fully maintained amid the temptations incident to war. He says, "The moral conduct of the men was most satisfactory." In regard to matters of discipline he states: "To my knowledge there was not one member of the Overseas Cavalry Draft brought before a Court Martial. The offences were few and of a minor character, mostly due to ignorance in new surroundings, but the principal reason for the small number of offences was without doubt due to the discipline enforced by the old N.C.O.'s of the Force." "Sergeant What's-his-name" has always been one of the mainstays of the Army. And the Major adds: "No charge was ever brought against an officer." A good record in war.
In noting men's services, Major Jennings says: "Where all ranks showed such a spirit of loyalty to the unit and to the Force and such determination to do their duty, it is difficult to single out individual cases." This is fine, but there are some always who have special opportunities for service come their way, and so the Major specially mentions Captain H. M. Newson, Lieutenants Acland, Allard, Dann, Wood and MacDowell; and amongst the N.C.O.'s, Mellor, Darling, Edgenton, Peters, Fletcher, Spriggs and Hogan. The Major recommends for decoration Sergeant C. A. James, a highly efficient man who, while on dispatch-riding duty, captured single-handed five of the enemy and brought them into camp. Also Constable A. Brooker, a dispatch rider, who took a pack horse with telephone wire through heavy shell and machine-gun fire to advance Headquarters, thus enabling them to send back valuable information. Finally, Major Jennings expresses his own obligation for having been given the command, but his heart is with the corps, and he says: "No officer would ask to command a finer body of men. The high standard of discipline inculcated through years in the Force was adhered to throughout."
It will be recalled that shortly before the Armistice date it was thought that Canada ought to be represented, as well as the Americans and the Japanese, up in that perplexing land of Russia. Accordingly, a squadron of cavalry, to be known as "B" Squadron R.N.W.P., Siberia, was authorized. The officers were all of well-known names in Mounted Police annals, being:
Major in Command: George Stanley Worsley.
Captain, Second in Command: Arthur William Duffus.
Lieutenants: Richard Young Douglas, Thomas Mulock Belcher (now Superintendent), Frank Henry French, Thomas Caulkin.
Of these French, of the famous Bathurst Inlet patrol, related in the next chapter, was prevented by illness from going, and was replaced by Sergt.-Major Wilcox. Caulkin, whom we met before in this story in the vast spaces of the Arctic, was awarded about this time the King's Police Medal for service in that white North-land.
This Siberian Squadron passed through some trying experience by reason of epidemics, and by reason also of the unsettled conditions in Vladivostok and other points where they were quartered. They passed through train wrecks at the hands of Bolshevists, and various other exciting experiences. And Constable Pilkington, who penetrated into the interior of the country, gives some vivid stories of Bolshevik exploits. The Squadron did its whole duty, and did it well, but in a few months the Canadian Government decided to withdraw from the Russian situation, and so recalled the Force to duty in the Dominion, after an absence of several months in the enigmatic land.
Thus, whether amid the puzzling problems of the war period in the homeland, or in the face of new situations abroad, did the riders of the plains, to the full extent of their opportunity, make their usual thorough-going contribution to Canada's part in the making of human history. East, West, North or South, they have always answered the call to duty. In a word, they have always been on active service.
GREAT TRADITIONS UPHELD
In the foregoing chapter I have, in order to preserve the continuity of the Police story through the war period, gone a little ahead of the chronological order of general events in the history of the corps. But history was being made all the time by these remarkable men, whether they were serving at home or abroad. They were always and everywhere on active duty, and "peace hath her victories no less renowned than war." Riding with dispatches in France was not more active and dangerous service than patrolling over the immense areas of trackless snow and ice in the Arctic Circle or facing overwhelmingly superior numbers where mobs were surging restlessly and riotously in our own country. Here and there on the plains or in the mountains little detachments were without display or advertisement carrying out tasks that were onerous and disagreeable in the extreme.
For instance, we have the story of a great mine disaster at Hill Crest, Alberta, where by a terrific explosion 188 men out of the 237 who had entered the mine on a June morning in 1914 lost their lives. The Mounted Police as usual rushed to the scene to see what they could do to relieve the situation, Inspector Junget taking charge. Experienced miners were at work bringing out the bodies, it being evident from the first that none but the few men who had come up in an exhausted condition were alive. The detachment of Mounted Police only numbered six, but they took effective oversight at once, first closing the bar of the local hotel in order to head off the danger of drunkenness breaking out in the camp. Corporal Searle and Constable Kistruck, from Pincher Creek, and Constable Wilson, from MacLeod, were posted at the entrance to the two mines to keep the crowd back and preserve order generally, while Corporals Mead and Grant and Constable Hancock looked after the mutilated bodies as they were brought out of the mine. Mead and Grant kept the check numbers of the bodies where they could be found, kept an inventory of the money or other property found on each, then washed the bodies, and wrapped them in cotton sheets. Then these bodies were taken to the Mine-Union Hall, where Constable Hancock looked after them, placing them in rows upon the floor. Handling 188 mutilated and grimy bodies in the warmth of June weather was a gruesome, depressing and difficult task, but these men, assisted by relays of miners, did this work for four days and nights until funeral services were held over the mangled remains of these unfortunate victims of the disaster. Mead, Grant and Hancock especially had a terrible undertaking, and they won the praise not only of the citizens of Hill Crest, but that of the miners also, many of the latter, though extreme radical Socialists who resented the very existence of the Force, saying, "We have no use for the Police, but we cannot help respecting its members when we see them working under such trying conditions." Thus were these gallant men winning the applause of revolutionists who hated them because they stood for law and order in the country. And I think it well to say here, after knowing the Mounted Police throughout the years of their history, that the only enemies they have had have been the elements that resented the fearless and impartial enforcement of law. Sometimes these elements were found amongst the reckless promoters and denizens of the underworld. Sometimes amongst those who would fan the embers of social discontent into a blaze that would destroy society and not infrequently in the ranks of those who would not scruple to plunder the public treasury. It has always been annoying and disconcerting to such elements to find that they could neither cajole nor frighten nor bribe these inflexible men in the uniform of scarlet and gold who stood for the administration of British law in a British country. Noblesse oblige. If the recruits of to-day measure up as they have been doing to the established reputation of the Force, that reputation will become increasingly one of the saving assets of Canada and the Empire.
Up in the Arctic areas during those days of war when some were on duty in France and across our own plains and mountains, the Police were battling against hostile climatic conditions that the sacredness of human life might be impressed on the inhabitants of the most remote regions under the flag. And sometimes their equipment was not very ample. One laughs when he sees attacks made upon Mounted Police expenditure. A country vaster than several European Kingdoms cannot be kept in peace and quietness for a trifle. If the Mounted Police were withdrawn and lawlessness was allowed to run riot in the country, people would soon realize that it is not the proper administration of law, but the absence of it which bankrupts a country. As a matter of fact, as this story has shown again and again, these men of the Police were constantly practising economies in regard to the very necessaries of life in case they should be considered as asking for too much. Here, for instance, in that war year when millions were being poured out elsewhere, we find Superintendent Demers, who with his men had to patrol the dangerous northern coasts in the Hudson's Bay region where wrecks and drownings are frequent, asking apologetically for six life-belts, as "patrols by water have to be made without any precaution against possible accident." We hope he got them. These men were not playing on a mill-pond, but were fighting storms in the fields of ice and reefs with bull walrus thrown in as an extra peril to guard against.
War echoes are heard during that period, but for the most part alien enemies soon recognized the wisdom of pursuing their work quietly, and in such cases they were not molested. And amidst it all we find the record of quiet heroisms as these Mounted Policemen who were not allowed to go to the Front pursued the steady round of their duty at home. Here, for instance, in 1915 we find Superintendent West, who was in charge at Battleford on the Saskatchewan, telling us of a piece of work whose fine courageous quality those who know the country can especially appreciate. West says, "Typhoid fever broke out amongst the Indians on the Island Lake Reserve and Constable Rose was sent from here to see that quarantine was enforced." Typhoid is a serious business in the dry season, and the constable would have done his regular duty if he had just put the place under quarantine and kept anyone from going or coming. But that was not the police way, and so Rose went beyond his duty. West goes on, "One man, Patrice Dumont, a half-breed, living close to the reserve, fell ill, as did the members of his family. Dumont, who was the sole support of the family, died. The rest of the family became hysterical and Rose had to be there continually. He dressed the body of Dumont for burial and made a coffin fastened with wooden pegs in the absence of nails, and as the flies were bad he buried the body next day with the help of some Indians. The circumstances under which Constable Rose worked were most trying, as he had to sleep in the same room with the dead man, while Dumont's children kept crying and clinging round his neck all night." The children, half-crazed with grief and delirium, recognized that the big policeman was a friend and very human in his practical sympathy.
It is evident that the Dominion Government feared that at one time the whole Mounted Police Force, if allowed, would have enlisted for service overseas unless their attention was very specially called to the vital necessity for their presence at home. Accordingly, in 1916, when many of the Force were renewing the efforts to go overseas, the Premier of Canada, Hon. Sir Robert L. Borden, than whom there was no one who understood the world situation better, sent the following special communication to the Mounted Police Force, "The Prime Minister desires to express to officers, non-commissioned officers and constables his very deep appreciation of the patriotic and devoted service which they have rendered, and of the faithful and efficient manner in which they are performing their important duties.