RCMP at 150: Key events in the evolution of the national police

OTTAWA – A timeline of some key events in the evolution of the RCMP’s structure and responsibilities:

May 3, 1873: Act establishing the North West Mounted Police introduced by then Prime Minister John A. Macdonald.

May 23, 1873 – The bill passes Parliament unopposed and receives Royal Assent. However, it does not immediately establish NWMP, as it is merely an emergency measure.

August 30, 1873: Order in Council creates NWMP.

October 18, 1873 – George Arthur French becomes the first permanent commissioner.

November 3, 1873: The first 150 NWMP recruits assemble at Lower Fort Garry, Man., north of Winnipeg.

July 8, 1874: The March West to what is now Alberta begins at Fort Dufferin in Manitoba.

1876: First public display of horsemanship at Fort Macleod in Alberta.

1887: Musical Ride first performed in Regina.

June 5, 1895 – A NWMP contingent leaves for the Yukon, extending their presence to the northern frontier.

June 24, 1904 – King Edward VII confers the title of “Royal” on the North West Mounted Police.

July 21, 1908: Order in Council approves the fingerprint system.

January 1, 1917 – RNWMP is relieved of their provincial police duties in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with the creation of their own provincial police forces.

1919: Force’s pan-Arctic presence includes 25 detachments and over 70 men.

July 14, 1919: Order in Council increases the size of the RNWMP to 2,500 members.

February 1, 1920: The Royal North West Mounted Police becomes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with the absorption of the Dominion Police. Headquarters moved to Ottawa from Regina.

June 1, 1928: RCMP assumes duties as Saskatchewan Provincial Police.

April 1, 1932: RCMP absorbs the provincial police organizations of Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

April 1, 1932: Patrol boats and personnel are transferred from the Department of National Revenue, creating the RCMP Marine Section.

April 1, 1937: RCMP Air Services is created with the purchase of four aircraft.

April 1, 1960: Civilian membership category created in RCMP to work in crime detection laboratories and various technical fields.

1966: Last year of compulsory equestrian training for all recruits.

June 30, 1967 – David Lawrence, the first black member of the RCMP, begins training in Regina.

March 3, 1975: The first women’s troop graduates.

July 16, 1984: The RCMP Security Service ceases to exist with functions taken over by a newly formed civilian agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

1989: The last all-female troop trains.

October 19, 1989: An RCMP contingent is sent to Namibia to supervise the elections, marking the first time the force has participated in a United Nations mission.

1990: Baltej Singh Dhillon becomes the first RCMP member to wear a turban during recruit training.

1992: Women receive the iconic Stetson, boots and breeches for the first time.

December 16, 2006: Beverley Busson becomes Acting Commissioner, the first woman to serve in the position.

October 5, 2011: The new RCMP headquarters in Ottawa opens.

April 16, 2018: Brenda Lucki becomes the first female permanent commissioner.

(Sources: RCMP, The Canadian Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 22, 2023.


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