The RCMP Heritage Centre’s main gallery takes visitors on a journey through the history of the Mounted Police and its evolution from a frontier police to a modern police force known the world over. Anchored by the evocative “March of the Mounties”, the story is told through six core exhibitions.
Creating a Mounted Police
On 1 December 1869, the vast territory of Rupert’s Land was formally transferred from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the young Dominion of Canada. The North West Mounted Police (NWMP), created by an Act of Parliament in 1873, was formed to establish friendly relations with the First Nations, enforce Canadian authority, pave the way for settlers and maintain law and order on the western frontier. Meet some of the founders of the Force, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Morris and George Arthur French, first commissioner of the Mounted Police, and explore the challenges of “Creating a Mounted Police”.
Maintaining Law and Order
By 1885, law and order had been firmly established in the Northwest Territory by the NWMP. Led by the likes of James Macleod, James Walsh and Sam Steele, the Force had suppressed the whisky trade, established fair and amicable relations with Native tribes and was ensuring the safety of settlers and railway workers. In these earlier years, however, a Mounted Policeman’s job was more than dealing with crime. They also helped homesteaders locate their acreage and checked in with them regularly, they disturbed seed grain, delivered mail and reported on crop and soil conditions, they acted as magistrates and judges on their frontier and they put out prairie fires when required.
The “Maintaining Law and Order” exhibition also explores the Northwest Campaign of 1885. This violent and tragic confrontation between the Canadian government and Métis and First Nations groups in the west remain controversial to this day. Visitors can explore the Campaign through three different points of view: the Métis, the Cree and the NWMP.
Protecting the North
By the 1890s, it was becoming apparent that sovereignty and resources in Canada’s frontier northern territory needed protection. Once again the Mounted Police would be called to duty as advance guard to settlement and as civil authority on the frontier. When Superintendant Charles Constantine arrived in 1894 with his detachment of nineteen men he may not have known what lay in store for him. The discovery of gold in 1896, with its ensuing Gold Rush, would bring the Mounted Police in contact with some of the most eccentric and colourful characters of Canadian history.
Voyage with the intrepid crew of RCMP “St. Roch” as it makes its historic journey through the Northwest Passage. Join the manhunt for Albert Johnson, the fugitive “Mad Trapper of Rat River”. Contemplate the challenges and tragedy faced by the Mounted Police and their dogsled teams of the Lost Patrol.
Serving All of Canada
During the tumultuous 20th century, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) developed from a frontier force patrolling the frontier territories of the country into a modern national police force. Along the route, the Mounted Police faced many significant challenges: the Winnipeg General Strike and the “On-to-Ottawa” riots at Regina, Cold War espionage and the FLQ Crisis in Quebec to name a few. Yet even as the Force modernized, Hollywood enthusiastically grabbed hold of the Mounted Policeman creating a romantic image of the “Mountie” that has remained to this day.
The Mounted Police have not only served their country at home. They also served overseas in the major conflicts of the century including the South African War, 1899-1902, the First World War, 1914-1918 and the Second World War, 1939-1945. Altogether, the Force’s experiences during the 20th century have served to make the RCMP more active and diverse than ever before in its history.
Preserving the Tradition
From its very beginnings, horses have played a vital role in the Mounted Police. Today the Force’s equestrian tradition is kept alive by the world-famous black horses and scarlet riders of the RCMP Musical Ride. In 2012, the RCMP Heritage Centre is proud to introduce the first phase of a new main gallery exhibition featuring the Musical Ride and the return of “Nero”, the popular Musical Ride horse.
Future phases of this exhibition will introduce the riders, explore the history of the Musical Ride and demonstrate the formations performed by the riders and horses. Come again and explore further our internationally recognized symbol of Canada – the RCMP Musical Ride!
Cracking the Case
A man is dead and the RCMP Forensic Identification Services team has been called to the scene. The team uses science and cutting edge technology to examine the scene and solve the crime. Visitors young and old are invited to help solve the mystery. Using a series of hands-on interactive exhibits, visitors can explore each forensic technique used by the RCMP Forensic team. Gradually they gather together the clues, crack the case and catch the killer!