Showing the Flag: The Mounted Police and Canadian Sovereignty in the North, 1894-1925

By William R. Morrison | Go to book overview

13. The End of the Frontier

AFTER THE MID 1920s the Canadian Arctic underwent rapid change, both social and technological. Technological change manifested itself in the arrival in the north of the aeroplane and the radio, two innovations which did much to alter the pattern of police response to the challenges of the frontier. In 1921 Commissioner Perry, in his last report before retirement, noted the first aeroplane journey by a member of the R.C.M.P. on duty. Surprisingly, perhaps, this did not occur in southern Canada but between Fort Simpson and Edmonton, when a police sergeant investigating a murder case travelled in a plane belonging to the Imperial Oil Company. 1 In July 1929 Aklavik saw its first plane, flown by "Punch" Dickens, who took the Inuit for rides at ten dollars a head, and by the end of that year plans were made to carry mail by plane from Fort Resolution to Aklavik. 2 On Dominion Day 1930 the first commercial plane landed at Herschel Island with a load of sightseers. Technology had given the western Arctic a new link with the rest of Canada.

Another link was provided by radio, which spread all over the Arctic in the 1920s. Wireless stations were built at Aklavik ( 1924), at Port Burwell, and at more southerly places, manned by the Canadian Corps of Signals. 3 By 1928 every police detachment in the north had a receiving set (though not a transmitter; these were too expensive), so that messages could be sent over the ordinary broadcast band as far north as Bache Peninsula. The R.C.M.P. had an arrangement with station KDKA in Pittsburgh to send messages to the Arctic detachments on a regular schedule. 4 The radios must have been a godsend to the men at the isolated posts; for several years in the late 1920s most reports from the

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Showing the Flag: The Mounted Police and Canadian Sovereignty in the North, 1894-1925
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Maps x
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1. the Mounted Police 1
  • 2. the Yukon: the Early Period 10
  • 3. the Police and the Gold Rush 28
  • 4. the Police as Civil Servants 50
  • 5. the Police and Yukon Politics 61
  • 6. North of the Arctic Circle 72
  • 7. to Hudson Bay and the Eastern Arctic 87
  • 8. Expanding Activities in the Mackenzie Delta 102
  • 9. Hudson Bay 120
  • 10. Patrols and Patrolling 132
  • 11. the Police and the Native Peoples of the Northern Frontier 142
  • 12. Ultima Thule 162
  • 13. the End of the Frontier 174
  • Notes 187
  • Bibliography 209
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