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

By William R. Morrison | Go to book overview

12. Ultima Thule

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-

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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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