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

By William R. Morrison | Go to book overview

11. The Police and the Native Peoples of the Northern Frontier

" CANADA . . . was integrating that region [the Arctic] with the rest of the country, and would enforce there her laws. But what plans she entertained, if any, for the welfare of its Eskimos she wrapped in silence."1 Diamond Jenness's trenchant comment on Canadian government policy in the Arctic is a good place to begin an examination of the relationship between the instruments of that policy -- the police -- and the Native peoples. 2

Jenness says that the basic premise of government policy was erroneous because it accepted the responsibility for maintaining law and order in the Arctic while refusing to accept any of the responsibilities which go with sovereignty: "The administration of the Arctic, handled in the end entirely by the police, was as static and unprogressive as police-run states generally are."3 The fact that the comptroller of the R.N.W.M.P. was also for a time the commissioner of the Northwest Territories did not mean that the police had any great influence of government policy towards the Arctic. The government had so little positive interest in the north before 1920, apart from its rather static conception of sovereignty, that it found it convenient to have the police and the token government administration handled by the same man. Frederick White, the comptroller, was commissioner of the Northwest Territories from 1905 until his death in 1918, but the position was a sinecure; his main duty was to distribute small sums to various church mission schools. The astonishing fact is that government expenditure on the entire Northwest Territories in this era, exclusive of the cost of the police, was only about $5,000 a year. Though they administered the Territories, the police did not set policy for them;

-142-

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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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