THE YEAR 1919 was in several ways a turning point in the history of the Mounted Police. It was the year in which Parliament by statute changed the name of the force to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 1 In February of the next year their headquarters moved from Regina to Ottawa. In general, the role of the police was changing, as the new R.C.M.P. became less a force of the prairie and the frontier and more concerned with the sophisticated problems of an increasingly urbanized nation. 2 The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, in which the police were pitted not against outlaws or Indians but against putative Bolsheviks indicates this change.
There was, however, one new frontier left to challenge the police in the period following the end of the First World War -- the far north, the most remote parts of the Canadian mainland and the Arctic archipelago. During the 1920s the R.C.M.P. extended its operations over the last remaining areas of the inhabited Canadian north and over some of the areas too far north to support even an Inuit population. In these regions the political aspect of the police was paramount, for their main task was to establish a "presence" in the interests of Canadian sovereignty rather than to carry out regular police duties. This period of the history of the police and northern frontier illustrates the final stage in their pioneering work there; it also provides an excellent example of the way in which the Canadian government determined its northern policy and put it into practice.
In 1895, by order-in-council, Canada had claimed the Arctic archi-