RCMP: historical photos

RCMP

Historical photos of the RCMP.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4949180)

RCMP officer on his horse in 1944.

The RCMP are the federal and national police service of Canada, providing law enforcement at the federal level.  The RCMP also provide provincial policing in eight of Canada's provinces (all except Ontario and Quebec) and local policing on a contract basis in the three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon) and more than 150 municipalities, 600  Indigenous  communities, and three international airports.  All members of the RCMP have jurisdiction as a peace officer in all provinces and territories of Canada.  

As Canada's national police service, the RCMP are primarily responsible for enforcing federal laws throughout Canada, whereas general law and order including the enforcement of the Criminal Code and applicable provincial legislation is constitutionally the responsibility of the provinces and territories.  Larger cities may form their own municipal police departments.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3242621)

RCMP motorcycle stop, 1933.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3353845)

RCMP, 1938.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4922005)

9-pounder 8-cwt Muzzleloading Rifle, weight 8-1-0 (924 lbs), 1870, 0-2-5-2, Queen Victoria cypher, mounted on a field carriage, with RCMP officer on the Parade Ground, 1 June 1989.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4949181)

RCMP officers, weapons inspection, 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4949185)

RCMP recruit and his kit, 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4949285)

RCMP officers on horseback, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4951443)

1954 Ford Black & White RCMP patrol car.  1952 Pontiac Laurentian Pontiac 2DR and two 1954 Harley Davison Motor cycles. Because of the Ford model year the photo may be from 1954 and certainly no later than 1955.  (Terry Hawkins)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5139474)

de Havilland DHC-3 Otter, CF-MPY, RCMP Air Division, preparing to take off from Frobisher Bay heading to Cape Dorset, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3560890)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal J. Munroe greets Inspector Dent-Dog team and de Havilland Otter, CF-MPW, on river ice.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4311845)

Constable B.A. Wright (left) and police dog "Rough" climb aboard an RCMP-owned Beechcraft Expeditor with Sgt R. Ruhl (right) pilot of the aircraft, to fly to the scene of a crime, Calgary, Alberta, Aug 1948.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3560886)

Mounted Royal Canadian Mounted Police Transport Air Sergeant Cave of "N" Division talking to pilot in front of a Beechcraft Expeditor, Sep 1963.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4313960)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip being greeted by the RCMP during her visit to Canada in 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4940541)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with an RCMP during their visit to Canada in 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3714418)

de Havilland DH.106 Comet flown during the 1959 Royal Visit Canada.  RCMP Inspector E. Portier Officer Commanding the Calgary Sub-Division, is introduced to Queen Elizabeth II on her arrival at Calgary Airport, Alberta, on 9 July 1959.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4316680)

RCMP officers, Ottawa, Ontario, ca 1960s.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4948832)

RCMP musical ride, 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4953576)

RCMP musical ride, April 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2203823)

RCMP 10 cent stamp, 1935.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5384649)

Rosalie Kirkness and Verna Kirkness talking to an RCMP officer on the steps of the Parliament of Canada in April 1967.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4949124)

RCMP and American State police patrol their respective sides of the border, 1957.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 138577)

RCMP officers in the arctic, 1926-1927.

Second World War, 1939-1945

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3599872)

Lance-Corporal D.G. Stackhouse, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), directing traffic, Campobasso, Italy, 21 October 1943.

When Canada declared war on Nazi Germany on 10 September 1939, the Commissioner of the RCMP, Stuart Taylor Wood, had already offered men to form a Provost Company. In August, when war appeared inevitable, he contacted the Department of National Defence with his plan for a Mounted Police contribution to the war effort. His offer was accepted.

Commissioner Wood felt strongly that the RCMP should be represented in Canada's armed forces. He was familiar with Mounted Police history and the contributions made to previous conflicts. He was also cognizant of the fact that a large number of serving members would be anxious to serve their country in military uniform; this was his dilemma.

Commissioner Wood was well aware that the government was reluctant to release the Mounted Police from their regular and wartime duties, much like the situation during the First World War. In his mind, it was important that the RCMP, as Canada's national police service, maintain its critical role on the home front as well as contributing to the country's fighting forces.

Action was swift. By mid-September, No. 1 Provost Company was at full strength (about 115 men all ranks) and in training at "N" Division, Rockcliffe. It was a logical decision to offer a Provost Company, policemen doing police work. However, the RCMP contributed to the war effort in other ways. In September 1939, the Marine Services Section of the RCMP consisted of some 200 experienced seamen and 30 vessels. These were placed at the disposal of the Department of National Defence. In a similar fashion, the RCMP Aviation Section, with 10 members and three de Haviland aircraft, were transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was a signal contribution to the war effort. The members who transferred to the RCN and RCAF served as members of those forces and not as Mounted Policemen. It was the men of the Provost Company who carried the traditions and insignia of the RCMP to the war in Europe.

In December 1939, No. 1 Provost Company departed from Ottawa for Halifax, Nova Scotia and from there to Greenock, Scotland and finally, to Aldershot, England. Just like other units of the First Canadian Division, members of the Provost Company remained in Britain for the next three and a half years, tediously waiting to face the enemy, although some members took part in the ill-fated Dieppe raid in August 1942.

The Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and mainland Italy six weeks later marked the beginning of a vicious struggle against German forces. No. 1 Provost Company, as part of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, took part in this historic Allied effort to knock Italy out of the war and to drive the Germans from the country. A number of policing duties were assumed by Provost Company members, including accepting and detaining prisoners of war, serving as military police and investigators when called upon to do so, but their most important task during operations was traffic control. The fighting effectiveness of the Army depended on the ability to move and re-locate men and materiel as required. Provost Company personnel were responsible for ensuring that men, vehicles and equipment moved efficiently along well-marked routes, and that convoys were directed to their proper destination, especially critical in large movements. Roads in Italy – narrow, poorly maintained and often destroyed – were particularly challenging, but No. 1 Provost Company proved equal to the task and in doing their work, made a major contribution to Allied success.

No. 1 Provost Company was not spared. The RCMP Honour Roll of members who have been killed in the line of duty since the inception of the Mounted Police in 1873 includes the names of fifteen who gave their lives in the Second World War. The Provost Corps lost eleven members, including three who died on 28 December 1943 as German forces pulled out of Ortona.

About mid-morning an enemy air attack took the life of Lance Corporal Gordon Bondurant. Later that same day, at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, Lieutenant Cecil Ray, a member of the RCMP, with Sgt. Terence Watts, and 9 other ranks, were sent into Ortona to establish anti-looting and traffic patrols. Enemy shell fire killed Watts and Lance Corporal Edison Cameron and severely wounded Lance Corporals David Moon and Reginald Rance; Moon succumbed to his wounds, Rance recovered and survived the war to resume service with the RCMP in 1945. It was sad day for No. 1 Provost Company and the RCMP. Members Bondurant, Watts, Cameron and Moon are buried at the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery near Ortona.

In May 1944, the war claimed three more RCMP members of the Provost Corps in Italy. On the 15th, Lance Corporal Kenneth d'Albenas was killed when his jeep was destroyed by a mine. One week later, Corporal John Nelson was killed by shellfire and on the 31st, Corporal Donald Stackhouse was killed by a mine while on motorcycle duty. These three members are buried at Cassino War Cemetery.

With the end of hostilities in the spring of 1945, members of the RCMP could look back at a significant contribution to the war effort. Two hundred and thirteen members volunteered to serve in the Provost Corps, sixty attained commissioned rank and served as officers in other Provost Companies. Of the 209 members of the Marine Services in September 1939, 155 volunteered to serve with the RCN, 1 with the Army and 26 with the RCAF. The remainder, 27, were not accepted on account of age. Likewise, nine of ten members of the Aviation Section joined the RCAF.

On the Home Front, the work of the RCMP increased significantly. In addition to the enforcement of existing federal statutes, new wartime duties were extensive and included the following: civil security and intelligence; prevention of sabotage; and protection of public utilities and safeguarding transportation, lines of communication and industries of vital importance to the war effort. RCMP members were also responsible for the safety of public persons and government buildings, the organization of air raid precautions and the enforcement of wartime legislation such as the Defence of Canada Regulations. Enemy aliens were investigated and registered, prisoners of war documented, and war industry workers fingerprinted for security reasons. It was an enormous undertaking and to meet these new war demands, approximately 1600 ex-members were re-engaged to serve as Special Constables.

Yet, it was the men of Provost Corps who carried RCMP traditions and insignia into battle and following the war, their contribution was recognized with permission to add "Europe, 1939-1945" to the Force Guidon. This is, however, a reflection on all those who volunteered to serve their country from the ranks of the RCMP and to those who gave their lives, their names will forever be inscribed on the