History of Calgary Division
Calgary Division, the birthplace of the RCMP Veterans’ Association, is indebted to its deceased member, Regimental #13407 ex-S/Sgt. R.C.A. Leech, for the foresight he had in the early 1970’s on the importance of documenting our history. Ex-S/Sgt. Leech and his helpers did an incredible job researching the history of the Force, Calgary and the RCMP Veterans’ Association, and then committing that research to paper. Much of our history would have been lost today if it had not been for his work documenting the first 100 years.
Ex-S/Sgt. Leech not only documents the history of the Veterans’ Association, but also documents the early days of Calgary and the Force in Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan and B.C. Many ex-members played an important role in developing the west and held many important government positions.
The first recorded meeting of NWMP ex-members took place in Calgary on April 16th, 1886, at the town hall with twenty-four ex-members attending. The first recorded dinner of ex-members took place at the Royal Hotel, Calgary, on November 4th, 1886. After some setbacks, the NWMP Veterans’ Association, as it was known then, began to grow and spread to other cities. Calgary was the headquarters for many years with the headquarters being moved to Edmonton and Vancouver for short periods of time, but always returning to Calgary. At an Annual General Meeting in Calgary in 1965, a motion was passed to move the Dominion Headquarters from Calgary to Ottawa, the headquarters of the Force, where it remains today. The association, from day one, was to be a fraternity organization with emphasis on comradeship, socials and the general welfare of its members. That remains today.
The Leech document is dated 1975 and was produced by typewriter, the technology of that time, on long legal paper. Many copies of copies have been made since that time. When Regimental #21449 (O.1391) Insp. Clarence J. Lacey, retired, became Secretary of Calgary Division in 1998, he saw the importance of preserving the Leech document by computerizing same. Also, the document was updated to include the next twenty-five years, bringing our 125 years of history up-to-date.
Hopefully this document will become a living document, and that our successors will keep it up-dated and republished again within twenty-five years, our 150th anniversary of the Force arriving in Calgary.
RCMP VETERANS’ ASSOCIATION – CALGARY DIVISION
Part one – The Leech Document (the first 100 years)
The early history of the Force is well-known and recorded. Not so well-known is the early history of the R.C.M.P. Veterans' Association, Calgary Division, originally known as "E" Division, N.W.M.P. Veterans’ Association.
In 1972, Calgary Division began to gather and document information on the part that the Veterans of the Force played in the early development of Southern Alberta. The conditions under which members and ex-members lived and worked should be of interest to those of us who served in the Force in less arduous years. Unfortunately, not much of this history had been recorded and so our objective was to locate and preserve what we could of those earlier days.
The present city of Calgary resulted from an Order-in-Council passed in Ottawa on April 10th, 1875, authorizing the N.W.M.P. to establish a Fort in the vicinity of the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers in the North West Territories. Colonel James Macleod received the instructions and made arrangements with the I.G. Baker Company of Fort Benton, Montana, to construct the Fort.
It is conjecture, that the site of the proposed Fort may have been suggested by Reverend John McDougall, who, during the winter of 1873-74 had been requested by the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, Alexander Morris, to proceed on a mission to the Blackfoot and other tribes of Indians. The object of the mission was to explain to the natives the reasons which induced the Queen to send a body of policemen to the North-West Territories and to also send a portion of her troops with a party of American soldiers to mark out the border between the Territories and the United States. Governor Morris also authorized the Hudson’s Bay Company to supply McDougall with gifts to the value of $2500.00 to distribute among the Indians.
McDougall would be best-acquainted with the locale in the vicinity of the forks of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, having established a Mission in 1871 about 35 miles west of the forks, which he named Morleyville. McDougall and his brother David moved to the area from Fort Edmonton. David, a fur trader, built a small trading post near the Mission. The men brought with them twelve head of cattle, the first in what is now Southern Alberta. A police Fort near the Mission and the trading post would have had some appeal for the McDougalls.
Cecil Denny, one of the 1873 “Originals” who participated in the “March West”, gives us an interesting account of those next eventful months in his book “Law Marches West”. He states that on instructions from Colonel Macleod, “F” Troop left Fort Macleod on August 18th, 1875. The troop of fifty men with wagons, horses and supplies was under the command of Inspector Ephram Brisbois, with Denny second in command. Instructions were to select a suitable site for the proposed new Fort near the Bow and Elbow forks.
About two days after the departure of the troop, Col. Macleod received instructions to proceed north to meet and supply an escort for Major-General Selby Smyth, Commander of Canada’s Militia. Smyth was making a tour of the west, inspecting the Militia and N.W.M.P. Posts. Because of rumours of trouble, mainly with the Metis in Saskatchewan, the N.W.M.P. were to provide an escort for Smyth and his staff. Macleod was to meet the General at the junction of Tail Creek and the Red Deer River, near the present day city of Red Deer.
Macleod overtook “F” Troop, issued new instructions and proceeded with the troop to the rendezvous. Denny records that the trip was slow, with swamps and creeks to cross. It took them two days to cross the Bow River with all their wagons and supplies. The distance they had to travel from Macleod to the meeting place would be approximately 200 miles. The approximate date of arrival at Tail Creek was about August 27th, 1875.
The men camped for a day or two at Tail Creek, but then new orders from General Smyth at Edmonton sent them 40 to 50 miles further west for the meeting. When the expected meeting finally took place they were inspected by General Smyth and then instructed to carry out their original assignment without delay.
Col. Macleod and escort went with Gen. Smyth, taking the best horses of “F” troop and heading south. Smyth had left Fort Garry on the 19th of July, travelling via Shoal Lake, Swan River and Fort Carleton, a distance of 610 miles. He reached Carleton on August 5th. On August 7th, he set out for Fort Edmonton, about 520 miles away. At his former speed of 35 miles per day, his earliest arrival at Edmonton must have been about August 23rd. He then had to send a rider to notify Col. Macleod of the change of plans and would no doubt spend a day or two in Edmonton on inspection duties and to rest the men and horses.
After their inspection, “F” troop, with their wagons and equipment pulled by tired horses, had to return south, crossing untravelled prairies, with no roads or bridges, with creeks to ford and hills to climb. It seems unlikely, therefore, that they could reach the present site of Calgary until about September 3rd, 1875 at the earliest.
Denny states in his book, that they arrived at the forks in early September. He described the beautiful site of the valley, the two rivers and in the distance the foothills and the mountains.
He does not mention other inhabitants in the vicinity, other than the McDougall Mission at Morleyville. However, in the Calgary Herald, in 1925, other sources record that when “F” troop arrived, a Roman Catholic Missionary, Father Doucette and an Indian youth were living in a tent near the river forks. Another Missionary, Father Scollen, was located upstream on the Elbow about twenty-five miles away, having established there in 1873.
Grant MacEwan, in his book, “Fifty Mighty Men”, records that Sam Livingstone and his family, were also on the scene and were preparing to build a home. Livingstone came to the U.S.A. from Ireland, took part in the California gold rush, then trapped and traded for furs in the North West Territories. He later grew the first crops in the Calgary area. The Livingstone Range of the Rockies was named after him.
It seems very likely that another family were located on the banks of Fish Creek, several miles south of the proposed Fort. The man was John Glenn, already well known to the men of the Force. The earliest mention of him, found during research for this history, was in the book, “Ocean to Ocean”, which covered the Sanford Fleming Expedition through Canada in 1872. This book records that on the 21st of September, 1872, near the North Thompson River and Grand Cache, they met a prospector named John Glenn. He was looking for gold, and was described as a “self-reliant Anglo-Saxon, travelling with two horses and had departed from Kamloops to seek fresh fields”. Glenn had brought a letter for the Expedition from the Hudson’s Bay factor at Kamloops. This letter was dated August 24th, 1872 and informed the members of the expedition that their luggage had arrived from Toronto, via San Francisco.
John Glenn is mentioned again in the book, “A Winter at Fort Macleod”, by R.B. Nevitt, Surgeon of the Force. He stated that John Glenn and his pretty Metis wife were at the Fort selling vegetables and butter. Mrs. Glenn was described as the most civilized woman in these parts, the former Adelaide Belcourt of St. Albert.
Nevitt indicates that Glenn was born in Ireland in 1833, emigrated to the United States and there served in both the Confederate and Union forces. In 1866, he went to British Columbia to prospect for gold and in 1873 he married and moved with his wife to Fish Creek.
In 1874, during the month of October, shortly after Col. Macleod reached Fort Benton, Montana, looking for supplies for his men, John Glenn, now a freighter and trader, left Fort Benton with a load of supplies and headed north toward Fish Creek. He carried a wagon load of canned fruits, sugar, flour and other luxuries. He soon located the N.W.M.P. camp on the Whoop-Up Trail, where the men awaited the return of Col. Macleod. Glenn traded his supplies to the men, to the mutual satisfaction of both parties and with no doubt a handsome profit for Glenn.
In 1875, shortly after the arrival of the I.G. Baker Company at the proposed site of Fort Calgary to begin the construction, John Glenn again appeared and was hired as a stonemason. In this capacity he built all the stone fireplaces in the officers’ and men’s quarters in the Fort.
During his years at Fish Creek, Glenn planted crops on his land which he irrigated with water taken from Fish Creek. This new venture was begun about 1878, and is believed to be the first time that crops had been irrigated in Southern Alberta. His land was located near present day Midnapore, now a suburb of Calgary.
Inspector Brisbois, who commanded “F” Troop and who selected the site of the Fort, joined the Force in September, 1873 as a Sub-Inspector. He was employed first as a recruiting officer in the Maritimes.
Inspector Brisbois was born in Quebec and was very well-educated. In 1867 he volunteered to fight in Italy for the Papal Zouave. He returned to Canada in 1870, and then in 1874 he took part in the March West. Indications were that Inspector Brisbois was not popular with his men or his superiors. He was removed from command of “B” troop and posted to “F” troop and thus came to be in charge of the men who located and started the preparations for the building of Fort Calgary in 1875.
In early March of 1875, Col. Macleod decided to ride on horseback to Fort Benton, a distance of some 300 miles. He was accompanied by Jerry Potts, the guide made famous by his exploits with the Force. The rest of the party consisted of Cecil Denny and Constables Cochrane and Ryan. The morale of the men at Fort Macleod was very low, they had not received any pay or uniforms and their clothing was worn out. Some 18 men had deserted the Force and entered the United States. Col. Macleod had expressed his concern to Ottawa about the problems that he and the men were having and had received word that money would be made available to him in Fort Benton. Instructions were also issued for him to commence extradition proceedings to bring the Americans and Canadians back for trial for their part in the Cypress Hills massacre of Indians.
The patrol set out for Fort Benton but was caught in a sever blizzard. For two days and nights they were forced to shelter in a dugout on the river bank. The men suffered from frost bite, and Denny became snow blind. However, in spite of the storm, Potts led the patrol safely to an American military camp where they received shelter and assistance in reaching Fort Benton. After several weeks, they returned to Fort Macleod with the payroll and with mail and provisions.
Inspector Cecil Denny, later in that same year, as mentioned previously was second in command of “F” troop when they arrived to choose the site of the proposed Fort which became Fort Calgary.
Cecil Denny was born in England in 1850 and educated there and in France and Germany. When he was 19 he emigrated to the United States where he farmed on land purchased for him by his father. This land is now part of a Chicago suburb. Then in 1874, he came to Toronto, joined the Force and came west. While at Fort Macleod he led many patrols which were aimed at curtailing the liquor traffic. He was one of the Signatories of Treaty No. 7 in 1877 with the Blackfoot Confederacy at Blackfoot Crossing near present day Cluny, Alberta.
In 1882, Denny resigned his commission in the N.W.M.P. to assume the duties as Indian Agent for the Cree and Assiniboine Indians of the North West Territories. During this period, the Indians were in a state of constant turmoil because of the changing conditions in the region. The Metis, in what is now Saskatchewan, were worried about the land surveys being made by the white men and were demanding increased food rations.
The plains tribes, faced with the disappearance of the buffalo, were suffering particularly severe hardships and hunger. Denny was constantly making requests for permission to increase the rations issued to the Indians, but with no success.
In 1884, Denny was instructed to cut back on the rations to the Indian tribes and to reduce his staff. These instructions were issued by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He was also told to stop issuing permits for Indians to leave their reserves. Denny was so indignant at these orders that he wrote a very critical letter to the Department. He stated that the rations were insufficient at their present levels and that to cancel the leave permits was a breach of the intent of the Treaties. As he could not carry out the new orders, he resigned as Indian Agent.
Denny next took up ranching in the Fort Macleod area, but not for long. With the outbreak of the Riel Rebellion, Denny’s efforts on behalf of the Indians were acknowledged to be fully justified. The Government finally recognized their short-sighted behaviour in their treatment of the Indians and Metis. On April 6, 1885, Denny received the following telegram from E. Dewdney, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Territories:
“You are authorized to act for the Government in Indian matters in Treaty No. 7 in any way which you may deem advisable.”
This rather remarkable testimony of Dewdney’s confidence in the good judgement of Cecil Denny.
Denny immediately took over his new duties. He made his headquarters at Blackfoot Crossing which was on the reserve of the Blackfoot under Chief Crowfoot, who was well-known to Denny. Denny’s first undertaking was to increase the rations for the Indians and to make arrangements to receive seed potatoes for their use.
A great deal of credit has been given to the early missionaries for controlling the Blackfoot Confederacy during the Riel Rebellion. However, credit should also be given to men such as Inspector Denny for the part they played in helping keep peace. It would appear that Chief Crowfoot realized that with the disappearance of the buffalo, that starvation faced his people and that co-operation with the white men was their only salvation. That Cecil Denny had a great deal of influence with the Blackfoot is shown in the following letter received by him on July 6, 1885 from Father Lacombe, Calgary:
“Dear Captain Denny: The people of Calgary are very uneasy at the presence of a large number of Blackfeet in the town. Would you be good enough to come up and take them away. They say you gave them permission and they will not leave without you tell them so, so please come as soon as you can.”
Denny complied with the request and the Indians returned to their reserve.
Denny has stated that Father Lacombe had not visited the Blackfoot during the summer of 1885, but other reports say a visit was made.
The Blackfoot Nation’s decision not to go to war can doubtless be credited to the good judgement, loyalty and influence of Chief Crowfoot. But it is also apparent that Cecil Denny played an essential role as Indian Agent in influencing Crowfoot’s decision and that both history and government did him an injustice in not really appreciating his contributions to the peaceful settlement of the west.
In the spring of 1886, Denny left the Indian Agency for the second time, as the promised position of special agent in charge of Treaty payments was withheld by the government officials.
Denny went back to ranching in Southern Alberta, where he raised horses . A few years before, in 1881, he and Dr. John Lauder had registered their D L Brand, the second brand to be registered in the Territories. After only a few years on his ranch, he left to become a magistrate at Fort Steele, B.C. for a period of two years.
Denny’s next venture was to take charge of a N.W.M.P. pack train from 1904 to 1906. With another officer and thirty-four men they began the task of cutting a seven-foot wide trail from Peace River Crossing to Fort St. John in the northern region of the Territories, then across the Rockies to Fort Graham on the Finlay River, connecting with the telegraph line to Dawson City. The Government wanted an all-Canadian route to the Yukon. It took two years of arduous work through heavy bush and timber areas to complete the trail, but by then the gold rush was over and the trail was never used.
For several years, Denny next worked for the Provincial Government of Alberta and in 1922 at the age of 72, he was appointed Provincial Archivist and held this position until 1927. During this period, he inherited the title of Baronet, and became Sir Cecil Denny. He died on the 24th of August, 1928 at the age of 78, in Edmonton. He was buried in the Union Cemetery in Calgary, the city he helped found in 1875. He never married.
Sir Cecil left a fund of some $2000.00 to be distributed to destitute members and ex-members of the Force. This fund was administered by Calgary Division Veterans until 1968, when it was transferred to Dominion Headquarters in Ottawa.
The Force attracted many young men from Eastern Canada and abroad to its ranks during its early years. The lure of adventure, the frontier life and the opportunity to acquire land grants outweighed the poor pay and the dismal living conditions which were supplied by a government reluctant to loosen its purse strings.
Some years ago, Mr. N.L. Barlee, Publisher of the Canada West Magazine at Summerland, B.C. came into possession of letters written by 19 year old Constable A.R. Dyre of Ontario, who was serving in the Territories in the early 1880’s. Mr. Barlee kindly gave permission to us to use them in this account of the early days in the west.
These were Mr. Barlee’s comments on the letters in his magazine:
’’Some years ago Canada West received from a subscriber a series of letters written by a North West Mounted Police Constable while he was stationed on the western prairies. Although some passages display some of the prejudices of the day, they do provide a rare insight into the life and duties of a young North West Mounted Policeman shortly after that famous force came into being….
The following letter was selected because it was written from Fort Calgary and vividly described the conditions and the atmosphere of those early years as viewed by this young man:
‘North-West Mounted Police
Fort Calgary, Sept. 14, 1882.
Yesterday I was nineteen and I must tell you how I spent my birthday. Sam Brown and I had all day and I took my herd horse, Serge a Severne broncho. The cuss bucks a little sometimes and the first time I mounted him he tried but did not succeed in bucking me off, but when we had been out on the prairie till dinner I left Sam in charge of the herd and mounted the broncho to ride to the Fort, but I had hardly got my feet into the stirrups when he started to buck and I can safely say that I never got such a shaking up before. Imagine a horse gathering himself up till his feet were nearly all together and then jumping as high as he could coming down stiff as a poker, then open his mouth, lay back his ears and give one buck after another almost as fast as you can count and you will have a faint idea of this cat with a horse hide over it. All at once he gave a buck that threw all the preceding ones into the shade and straight way a red and yellow ball flew in one direction and a roan broncho in another. When the ball lit in the long grass it unwound itself and found that it was yours truly. I looked around and saw that horse running to join the herd for all he knew how. I went for dinner on Sam’s horse and when he was gone for his I lassoed one of the herd with my picket rope and it proved to be Old Emperor, the one that fell back on Sergt. Major Lake. I herded all afternoon with him but did not ride him to the Fort as the Sgt. Major might be mad at me riding his trooper, whom no person ever mounted but himself, so I caught a little mustang and he carried me through alright.
I went to a dance last night and you would gently snicker if you could see one of these western brakedowns. Ranchers, cowboys, halfbreeds, Indians and policemen were the gallants, while the “ladies” were all squaws and halfbreeds but nary a white woman. I suppose you want to know how they were dressed, but I all know is there were a great many beads, ribbons, moccasins and such truck flying about. I got back to camp at three o’clock and was up when “dress for stables” blew.
Sept. 17. My turn came for night herd last night and as I want to learn to ride those bronchos I picked out one that I thought would run well. He did not buck but as my chum and myself were going at a pretty stiff pace after the herd, my horse all at once got his foreleg into a badger hole and over his head I went kerflop and the horse on top of me. He tramped on my left arm and as he said goodbye I felt a gust of wind on each side of my head when he let his heels fly, but a miss is as good as a mile and as he galloped among a lot of brush the bridle got caught and held him till I caught him again. I mounted him again and we drove the herd into a nice grassy bottom field and left them. We then rode about a mile further on where two men were burning lime and one of them turned out to be a man from Ottawa, knew people in both Richmond and Manotick. We picketed our horses and sat near the fire talking of people in Ontario and they invited us to share their tent with them and we slept soundly till about five o’clock when we gathered the herd up and got back to the Fort in good time for stables so everything turned out lovely after our “hard night’s herding”.
But I guess you are about tired of hearing about our horses so much so I will stop and tell you about our new fort. The kitchen, barrack rooms and mess rooms are beginning to look something like a fort and the officers’ quarters have been commenced and when everything is finished we will have a snug a roost as there is in the North West. The barrack room will be finished in three or four weeks (time enough to move the tents, won’t it). We get 15 cents a day extra and work enough to keep us from getting lazy. From half past 8 till 11 o’clock and half past one to 4, then stables, and when our turn comes for guard we have 4 hours on and 4 off as it is Provost Guard, that is 4 men are on guard and do 4 hour sentry, then are relieved for 12 hours to do whatever he likes then he goes on again for another 4 hours and so on for a week when the new guards come on. The Commissioner and head surgeon are expected here today. The Blackfeet swear they won’t take the treaty money this year.
Give my love to all at home and remember me to all inquiring friends and be sure to write soon too.
Yours as ever,
Further letters in the series tell of moving into the new Fort on October 27, 1882 after nearly five months in tents. He also describes a grand ball they gave in early November with a sumptuous supper at midnight. At a Treaty money ceremony at Blackfoot Crossing a flying bullet narrowly missed one of the constables. During the winter the men were skating on the ice of the Elbow River for recreation.
April 7, 1884 he is complaining of the low pay, which can only be supplemented by catching a whiskey dealer or a gambler. Then he says, “The nigger was strung up here on the 29th of last month and died game.”
The next series of letters begin five months later from Columbia Crossing, B.C. during the railway construction there. He is chasing horse thieves, braving avalanche dangers and dealing with a mentally deranged prisoner.
When word reaches him of the Riel Rebellion, he reveals his eagerness to get back to the prairies and take part in the action. His wishes are fulfilled and he tells of his march from Calgary with the troops to Fort Edmonton and on to Fort Pitt.
His description of his experiences, with bullets flying around him and friends being wounded beside him are vivid. He is anxious for his brother not to reveal all this to his parents. His last letter is dated Sept. 3, 1885 from Battleford. He has rather strong criticism of General Middleton and his troops. The final letter of the series, dated Nov. 23rd, 1885, comes as a shock to the reader who has been getting to know this young man from his letters home. Inspector John Allen is writing to Constable Dyre’s older brother to report his death on October 31st from typhoid. He was buried with military honours in the cemetery near the Fort, beside his comrades who had been killed in the Rebellion.
During the first two years of the Force’s service in the west, a reputation was established for fearlessness and integrity in dealing with the Indians and whiskey traders. Assistant Commissioner James F. Macleod was most responsible for setting this example and his officers and men held him in such respect that they willingly followed the same course.
Macleod was assigned 10 officers and 140 men and given orders to build a fort and establish law and order in what is now Southern Alberta. He carried out these orders and also soon won the confidence of the Indians, including Chief Crowfoot, who considered him a good friend.
During this same period, the reputation of the men for hard work and hard drinking was being established, while the government at Ottawa were known for poor pay and penny pinching toward the Force.
Col. Macleod was eminently qualified for the position he held in the Force at this time. He had obtained a law degree in Ontario in 1860. He also served in the Militia and took part as a Brigade Major in the Wolseley expedition to the Red River in 1870.
He joined the Force in 1873, was appointed an Assistant Commissioner and spent the winter with the Force at Lower Fort Garry. He was in charge of the first patrol sent out by the Force to investigate a complaint of bootlegging along the shores of Lake Winnipeg. The patrol travelled by dog team and they completed arrest and the destruction of liquor.
In late 1875, Col. Macleod resigned his commission to accept an appointment as stipendiary magistrate. In 1876 he was appointed Commissioner of the N.W.M.P. following the departure of Commissioner French. He served in this capacity until June of 1880, when he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of the North West Territories. He remained a Judge until his death in September, 1894, at the age of 58. He was buried in Union Cemetery in Calgary.
The Force was not the first organized group of white men on the northern plains. Early explorers and fur traders crossed these plains years before the arrival of the N.W.M.P., usually in comparative safety. The Canadian-United States Boundary Commission, with a small escort of troops were completing their survey of the border west to the Rocky Mountains in 1874 at the time of the arrival of the Force.
Although the police were few in numbers, their arrival did encourage settlement of the western plains by farmers and ranchers. Many ex-members of the police played prominent roles in the development of the west, becoming involved not only in farming and ranching, but in trading, in the lumber business, some became magistrates and judges. Some progressed to high military rank in the Armed Forces, two of these were Major-General Sam Steele, and in later years, Major-General George Pearkes, V.C. General Pearkes also became a member of Parliament, was appointed to the Cabinet and later served as Lieut.-Governor of British Columbia. P.C.H. Primrose, another ex-member served as Lieut.-Governor of Alberta. Some members became involved in business ventures while still serving in the Force. Reg. No. 102, Constable R. Whitney was said to be the first white man to run cattle during the winter on the open range in Southern Alberta. He had purchased 25 head of cattle in 1876 from Montana, released them south of Fort Macleod and in the spring found the herd in good condition and all in tact.
Within the next two years, thirty ex-members were ranching and farming in the Macleod-Pincher Creek area.
These men who shared the bond of membership in the N.W.M.P. and had served in this sparsely settled land had much in common and no doubt had attended social gatherings wherever possible to meet and renew friendships with old comrades. As their numbers increased they perhaps would discuss forming an Association of ex-members who had shared so much of the adventure and hardship since 1873.
The earliest recorded information of the N.W.M.P. Veterans' Association appears in editions of the Calgary Herald, dated April 3rd and 17th, June 19th and November 6th, 1886.
April 3rd, 1886
'The meeting called for Friday, the 9th instant to form an Association of the ex-Mounted Police of the district, will, we expect be largely attended.
Such an Association could have nothing but good results. Bound together by the ties that years of service together must form amongst any body of men, the old Mounted Police of the Territories are in a peculiarly excellent position for forming a union amongst themselves. Such unions are frequent amongst the ex-members of Militia in Canada but the Mounted Police are much more in the position of a regiment on active foreign service than of the volunteer battalions. They are on duty together for a number of years continuously, have the same hardships, pleasure, pursuits and aims in common, and in after life may be supposed to take the greatest interest in each other's future.
It is for the sake of allowing this interest to take a practical shape that no doubt this Association is proposed. In cases of sickness, and death it is not unnatural that the police should like to aid each other. A benevolent and mutually helpful union would be nothing but right and we hope the preliminary meeting will be largely attended.'
April 17, 1886
'A meeting of the ex-Mounted Police of the Calgary District was held in the town hall yesterday. Twenty-four ex-members of the Force turned up and it was decided to form an organization for benevolent purposes of residents of the district who had served in the Force.
Major Walker was elected President, Mr. G.C. King, Vice-President, Mr. Gilmour, Secretary, Mr. Ellis, Treasurer, and Dr. Lauder, Physician. A committee was appointed composed of the following gentlemen: Messrs. Owens, Boys, Butlin, Grogan, Ward, Dunne and Wilson, and the meeting adjourned for three weeks. Gentlemen at Macleod and Edmonton have been corresponding with a view of getting them to form similar associations in those districts.'
June 19, 1886
'A special meeting of the N.W.M.P. Society was summonsed on Tuesday afternoon to consider various subjects of importance, among others we understand, to get a general opinion of the Calgary (members) which, to speak, the mother society, to what the general aim and object of the Association shall eventually be, whether it shall simply exist as a purely benevolent society or partake of the semi-military character, and in the latter case, whether the Government might not reasonably be asked for a subsidy in the shape of arms and money for the erection of an armoury and to recognize the society generally. We think ourselves that this latter shape is the one which any organization of former officers and troopers of the N.W.M.P. should naturally take while still existing for benevolent and social purposes. Of course all ex-mounted policemen could not be expected to serve again as volunteers in scarcely any event but such as would summons every citizen in town to the field. Some may be physically incapable while others would be prevented by the nature of their occupations and business. But there will always be left a large number of ex-M.P., who would be only too willing to put on their belts again in case of any emergency in their own district. And it would greatly strengthen the hands of the Government to know they could depend on this district of Alberta of, say, a couple of hundred men, well acquainted with the country, accustomed to riding and the use of arms and last but not least, to discipline and able either to give an order or obey it. Had such a body been organized and armed the famous Sunday a little over a year ago, we venture to think there would have been very little alarm at the threatened Blackfoot raid.
Another part of the work which such a society could well perform which is especially stated in its Constitution, is the collection and preservation of documents and traditions concerning the past history of the Force. There must be many a "curious yarn" about the great march of '74 and old times at abandoned posts, stories of Pelly and Walsh and Wood Mountain worth preserving. The sooner that the experience of the "old timers" of the Force and their description of the country as it used to be are collected the better, since every year lost increases the difficulty of so doing. There are many ex-members of the Force, both here and all over the country to whom such a task would be both interesting and congenial.
At any rate we hope soon to see the society placed on a practical working basis for extension all over the Territories as whatever shape it may ultimately assume it cannot help but be a benefit both to the ex-M.P.'s themselves and the community at large.'
Nov. 4th, 1886
THE ANNUAL DINNER OF THE EX-M.P.
'The first annual dinner of the ex-members of the Mounted Police force took place at the Royal Hotel, Calgary on Thursday, Nov. 4, 1886. The repast was served in the new dining hall, which was prettily decorated for the occasion with flags, mottoes, and colored streamers, while a huge buffalo head, the badge of the Mounted Police, frowned on the wall over the President's chair.'
This is the earliest mention of a "Constitution" as such in any of the material that seems to exist today for examination. Whatever format it took, whether written or printed, we can only assume, as no copy has been found at this time.
'Amongst the guest present General Strange, Major Stewart, Major Hatton, Inspector Moody, Dr. Henderson, the members of the new council, Rev. J. McDougall, Sam Livingstone, Sgt. Major Wilde and the Sgts. Mess, F. Annand, A.G. McDonald and others.
An excellent dinner having been done ample justice to, the health of the Queen and Royal family was heartily responded to, after which followed a long list of toasts to the Army and Navy, which brought General Strange to his feet with an excellent speech. The N.W.M. Police, the Alberta Mounted Rifles, Steele's Scouts and Rocky Mountain Rangers; the Lt. Governor and N.W. Council, Sister Societies, the Press and Pioneers; to which Sam Livingstone and Rev. J. McDougall responded, and several other toasts. The speech making was interspersed with music from the N.W.M.P. band, and songs from Messrs. T.H. Dunne, Braithwaite, Henders and Kenly. Shortly after midnight the group dispersed, well pleased with the way in which the ex-M.P.'s ran the dinner.'
Colonel James Walker, ex-Superintendent, was deeply involved in the formation of the Association, since 1886. In fact the early history of Calgary reflects to a great extent the activities and interests of Walker. He joined the Force in 1874 as a Sub-Inspector. For four years, 1876 to 1880, he was in charge of the Battleford area, which along with Wood Mountain and Fort Walsh was the most troublesome area in the West due to the presence of Sitting Bull and his Sioux tribe. The Cree Indians were also very demanding and the responsibility for control of such chiefs as Big Bear and Poundmaker fell on Major Walker’s command. In 1880 Walker was promoted to Superintendent and was posted to Fort Walsh. Prior to taking over this command, he was ordered to Ottawa, where he was interviewed by Sir John A. MacDonald, then Prime Minister. As a result of this interview, Walker was offered a position as manager of a large ranch to be established by Senator M.H. Cochrane of Montreal. Walker resigned his commission and accepted the offer to manage the ranch.
This ranch was to consist of one hundred thousand acres bordering the foothills of the Rockies, with its headquarters at present day Cochrane. At the time it was the largest ranch in the territories and at one time ran close to 12,000 head of cattle. Walker managed the ranch for three years during which time very severe winters were encountered and cattle losses were in the thousands.
In 1883, Walker resigned from his position and plunged into the business and civic life of Calgary. He purchased the Cochrane Ranch Saw Mill and operated it for many years. He obtained the contract to supply material for the first wooden sidewalks in Calgary. He was President of the first Agricultural Society formed in 1884 and was instrumental in obtaining land grants of 90 acres from the Minister of the Interior for $2.50 per acre. The present site of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede were in this acreage.
He also served for 18 years on the Calgary School Board, was Chairman of the first Municipal Council and Director of the first Hospital.
Tony Cashman in his book, “Singing Wires”, states that James Walker received the first government message over telegraph wires at North Battleford on Nov. 20, 1877, from Superintendent Jarvis, N.W.M.P., Edmonton. It appears that this earlier involvement and interest in the new methods of communications to the Territory, led to his having it installed in Southern Alberta, first in Calgary in 1886. He also managed to find the time to operate the first telephone and switchboard.
In 1885, with the out break of the Riel Rebellion, Walker was appointed by General Strange to be in charge of the protection of settlers between High River and Red Deer.
The years from 1899 to 1900 found him a member of the Royal Commission appointed to settle the Metis claims in the North West Territories.
During the First World War, although in his sixties, Colonel Walker served overseas in the Forestry Corps.
Although James Walker did not receive the publicity and the recognition of some of the other early members of the Force, he must surely rank in stature with Macleod, Steele, and Walsh in his achievements during his service years. And in reading any accounts of the early days of Calgary, one must be impressed by the scope of the things he introduced and the influence he had in the city's growth and development.
It is a pleasure to report here, that since this report was begun, when Calgary celebrated its Centennial year in 1975, the citizens were asked to choose the "Citizen of the Century" and they chose Col. James Walker, as the one who had done the most for Calgary in the first 100 years of its history.
The name of Col. Walker is found frequently and prominently in all the affairs of the newly formed Veterans' Association from 1886 and for as long as he lived.
It is not really known how active the new Association was in those years. At least 245 members and ex-members of the Force took part in the Boer War and so it seems likely that this was the cause of it becoming somewhat inactive during this period.
The Association was re-formed in 1901, when a convention of former members of the Force met at the N.W.M.P. Barracks in Calgary on the 10th of July. (Quote from Calgary Herald)
"THE VETERANS' BANQUET"
'On Friday evening the North-West Mounted Police Veterans held their first annual dinner at the Queen's Hotel with Commissioner Walker in the chair and Colonel Herchmer in the vice chair. On the chairman's right were Commissioner Perry of the North-West Mounted Police and the Hon. A.L. Sifton, and on his left Inspecting Supt. Roberts of Winnipeg. On either side of the vice chair were Capt. White of the Navy, and A.E. Cross, M.L.A. and R.S. Lake, M.L.A. for Grenfell. After all had partaken of the repast, the chairman rose and proposed a toast to the King, which was duly honoured. The next toast was to the Lieut-Governor and North-West Government. A letter was read from His Honour expressing his regret at not being able to be present, and name of the Hon. Mr. Sifton was included. He made a happy reply, complimenting the North-West Mounted Police on the efficient work they had performed in the North-West.
The Chairman called on Ex-Mayor Reilly, who delivered an eloquent address of welcome to the visiting delegates and complimented the Force on the efficiency which had marked their administration of affairs in the country.
The next toast was Our Fallen and Absent Comrades, drunk in silence, after which Comrade S.L. Saunders sang The Boys of the Old Brigade with much feeling.
Colonel Herchmer proposed the next toast, which was the Legislative Assembly. It was responded to by Messrs. Cross and Lake, of the Legislative Assembly, after which Mr. Hooley sang When Jack Leaves Home Again.
The delegates was responded to by Comrades Roberts of Winnipeg, Woods of Fort Macleod, Johnson of Medicine Hat, Forbes of Edmonton, Burton of Battleford and Chaplain Bray of Medicine Hat.
The Press was proposed by Assistant Commissioner Wood and responded to by Braden and McCaffary of the local papers.
Comrade Whitehead sang The Sunshine of Paradise Alley. Comrade Miller gave a humorous recitation.
The next toast was the North-West Mounted Police, coupled with the names of Commissioner Perry and Inspector Wilson. Commissioner Perry stated that the Force numbered 830 men. He hoped to see it increased. Nowhere in the world were the same number of men covering so large an area of country; the North-West Territories, parts of Manitoba, British Columbia and the Yukon were covered, and it was also contemplated to establish a post at the mouth of the Mackenzie River. He said that the police had a better reputation outside of Canada than at home, and referred to the name they had won for themselves in South Africa where such a large number of Strathcona's Horse and the C.N.R., both officers and men were either members or ex-members of the Mounted Police, including the first Victoria Cross Winner and the first Colonial to receive it. He hoped to see the time when the Government of Canada would establish the Veterans as a reserve corps of the Force. There were about 2000 in the country. On resuming his seat he was loudly applauded.
Inspector Wilson complimented the members of the Veterans' Association on their marching and drill, which he witnessed in the morning on their march to the graves of the late Colonel Macleod and Superintendent Jarvis, so showing that although long years had elapsed since many of them had done duty, they had not forgotten their drill and it certainly was a source of congratulation that in case of need the country had only to call and 2000 of her citizens in the north west were ready to step into the ranks, a well drilled and disciplined corps. He said that although the Veterans' Association were good men and true he would remind them that they had just as good stuff in the force today as ever.
An orchestra composed of F.A. Bagley, S.L. Saunders, C.A. Whitehead and A. Goodler rendered several musical selections and concluded the entertainment with a collection of patriotic songs, among them being the old Indian war music which caused some members to take to the floor and perform the dance.
At the convention held at the Barracks on Friday morning, called for the purpose of organizing an ex-North-West Mounted Police Association, delegates were present from Macleod, Calgary, Fort Saskatchewan, Millarville, Olds, Medicine Hat, DeWinton, Regina and Winnipeg. Major Walker was appointed Chairman of the convention and F.A. Bagley, Secretary.
After some discussion the name selected for the association was the North West Mounted Police Veterans. All ex-members of the Force and officers and men of the North West Mounted Police, who had served 10 years were to be eligible for membership. A Constitution was adopted. The organization was to consist of headquarters and local post. Memorial Day would be observed October 13, the day the police arrived at old Fort Macleod. The following officers of headquarters post were elected.
Comptroller - Colonel Irvine, Stoney Mountain
Commissioner - Major Walker, Calgary
Assistant-Commissioner - C.E.D. Wood, Macleod
Inspecting Superintendent - J.J. Roberts, Winnipeg
Adjutant - F.A. Bagley, Calgary
Paymaster - Colonel L.W. Herchmer
Surgeon - Dr. C.A. Kennedy, Macleod
Chaplain - J.H.G. Bray, Medicine Hat
Orderly Officer - J.F. Forbes, Fort Saskatchewan
Macleod was selected as the next meeting place of the H.Q. Post.'
This article appeared in the Calgary Herald of July 15, 1901 and refers to the first annual dinner of the North West Mounted Police Veterans as an Association. This should not be confused with the first annual dinner at the Royal Hotel, Calgary on Nov. 4, 1886, as ex-members of the mounted police force.
This is the second earliest mention made of a Constitution. But again we have been unable to find an original or copies of such a document.
The titles used for the officers in the Veterans' Association were the same as those used in the Force, but this did not continue, as for some time now the officers of the Association have had the commonly used titles of President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer and so on.
At the Convention and dinner were two former Commissioners of the N.W.M.P., A.G. Irvine and L.W. Herchmer. Irvine held the rank from 1880 to 1896. He retired with a gratuity and then became Warden of Stoney Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba.
L.W. Herchmer followed Irvine as head of the Force in 1896. Supt. Crozier had been acting as second in command and had had high hopes of becoming Commissioner. However, Sir John A. McDonald appointed his friend and former Kingston neighbour, Herchmer. He had served in the British Army and on the International Boundary Commission, but had never been in the Force. Herchmer named his brother, Supt. W.H. Herchmer to be Assistant-Commissioner which caused further discontent in Crozier and other officers.
Ex-Commissioner Herchmer was later the first president of the Vancouver Division of the Veterans’ Association.
It is known that in September, 1901, veterans of the N.W.M.P. gathered at Calgary, along with members of the Force. The occasion was the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Calgary. The Royal Party inspected 173 mounted members from Depot, "D", "E", "K" and "G" Divisions. This was apparently the largest concentration of members of the Force at one place since the March West in 1874. During the inspection the Duke presented South African War Medals to Veterans and Police members.
In the fall of 1906, Inspector Burton Deane, the first Adjutant of the Force and the man responsible for the first “Rules and Regulations”, transferred from Lethbridge to the Command of “E” Division at Calgary. Deane was later the author of the book, “Mounted Police Life in Canada.” The following information about Calgary was obtained from this book:
He states that upon his arrival to take command, the old officers’ quarters was condemned and torn down as the Force had already authorized the expenditure of $5000.00 for new quarters. The Post consisted of about 37 acres. The new house was “to be built on the site of the old one which had been prettily situated.” Construction started in August, 1906. The basement was dug by prisoners from the N.W.M.P. Guard Room. To speed construction Deane instructed the cook to supply the working party “all the meat they want to eat and charge the excess ration to me, but tell them I want to be in by Christmas.” The carpenters’ union demanded a wage increase of 10 cents an hour to earn 55 cents an hour. Because of this increase the cost of the house exceeded the budget by $1200.00, so the house cost $6200.00. The house was finished in December, but Deane’s wife who had been ill “at the West Coast,” died Dec. 24th and never saw the new quarters.
Deane stated that the new quarters had a 12 foot veranda on the south and east sides. Deane lived in the quarters until March, 1914. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway had been attempting to purchase the N.W.M.P. property for over a year and made the purchase for $250,000.00. The City Assessor apparently valued the site at $1000,000.00.
Deane mentions in his book having planted a carragana hedge around the house. The Calgary Cricket Club was near by as he mentions the players trying to keep the cricket balls out of his garden.
Also on the site was the only jail for females in Alberta, as well as a jail for men. The only jail in the west with more prisoners was at Dawson. Calgary had up to 96 prisoners, male, on occasions. Deane mentions that his former residence was now to be moved to the opposite end of the enclosure for the use of the Railway Station Agent. The Police vacated the area at the end of April, 1914.
The residence was later moved across the Elbow River, where it is still located and now the property of the City. It bounds the east side of the new Fort Calgary Historical Park in downtown Calgary.
In 1912, H.J. Adams, was Adjutant (Secretary) of the Veterans' Association. Applications for membership were received from four ex-members of the Force. One of these was Reg. 128, R.W. Fletcher, who served from 1878 to 1887. In the early years some regimental numbers were re-issued and some members who took a discharge and later rejoined the Police were not given their old number. This is likely why Flecher's number was so low. Reg. No. 581, Daniel (Peach) Davis also joined the Association in 1912. Davis joined the Force at 19 years of age in April, 1876, and served until 1887.
At Fort Walsh in 1882, Davis was detailed to escort over one thousand Indians to their new reserve near Battleford. He was able to keep the reluctant tribe moving by keeping the carts and wagons of food supplies at the head of the column and this making sure the Indians followed him.
No doubt the men of the Force knew and appreciated what a remarkable feat the young constable had accomplished. But in the Commissioner’s official report was this brief statement:
“Bears Paw and Poor Man left Ft. Walsh on 23 May for Battleford. They were accompanied by a constable of the Force who issued rations while enroute. They arrived at Battleford on Jun 17th.”
Thus is obscurity achieved. Davis was issued a new uniform and his comrades insisted that the old one walked away unaided.
After leaving the Police (1887), Davis moved to Calgary and was a member of the Veterans' Association for many years, until his death at the age of 70.
It was also in 1912 at Calgary that the Division designed and had produced a medal designating membership in the Association. The origin and description of the medal appeared in an article in the R.C.M.P. Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 4, Page 294:
"A Veterans' Medal and Its Origin"
"Recently the RCMP Museum in Regina was presented with a medal whose origin appeared to have been lost in some forgotten era in the history of the Force. All that was known about it was that it belonged to the late ex-Cst. Joseph Squires (Reg. No. 2586) who served in the NWMP from 1891 to 1896. The medal was a gift from Mrs. K.L. Jacobs, a great-niece of ex-Constable Squires and wife of a member of the Force. But some expert investigation of by G.E. Blake, former Dominion President and Secretary-Treasurer of the RCMP Veterans' Association, brought to light a fairly complete story of the medal's origin.
In his search for information, Mr. Blake received the co-operation of both Calgary newspapers which published stories about the medal. These produced contacts and from them and other sources Mr. Blake was able to piece together a history of the award. Composition of the medal is silver plate on brass and the original order for it was placed with the jewellery firm of D.E. Black Co. Ltd. Calgary.
The medal was produced by Roden Bros. Toronto, a firm no longer in existence. D.E. Black Co. Ltd. was acquired some years ago by Henry Birks & Sons, Ltd. Order for the medal was placed in 1912 by "E" Division of the NWMP Veterans, which was based at Calgary, and the award was apparently restricted to that group of Veterans. It appears likely that the late Col. G.E. Sanders, CMG, DSO, (Superintendent, Rd.) was a prime mover in the decision by the Calgary Veterans to adopt this membership badge.
An interesting and rewarding sidelight to the "investigation" found Mr. Blake in possession of one of the medals. His daughter, who is on the staff of Birks, showed a photo of the medal to Mr. D.E. Black and asked him if he remembered it. Mr. Black did, but in addition looked through his desk and found one in "mint condition", which he generously presented to Mr. Blake."
Colonel G.E. Sanders did not join the Association however until 1913, whereas Col. James Walker was an organizer and member from 1886 and Fred Bagley from at least 1901, and with their military background and interest in the Association, it would be logical to assume that they would promote such a medal.
During 1913 and 1914 several more ex-members of the Force joined the Association. It is likely that about these years the Calgary Division Constitution and By-Laws were introduced and adopted. It is assumed they were created out of previous efforts by ex-members back in 1886, through 1901, the final draft, adoption and approval taking place sometime between the years 1904 and to 1920 and put into print when G.C. King was Superintendent (President) of Calgary Division. A copy of this matter exists for our reference.
The only information found on the activities of the Association from 1913 to 1916 was, that during 1914 a meeting was held in Calgary, nothing further is known about it.
The Calgary Herald of July 3, 1917, recorded some of the activities of the city's celebration of the 50th year of Confederation and with the Herald's permission a portion of their article is quoted:
"Thousands see Confederation Day Ceremony. G.C. King (#304), Postmaster, unveils monument at Historic Site. Interesting address by A.H. Clarke, K.C., M.P. Parade went past the NWMP Barracks, along Seventh Avenue, at the old site of the Riders of the Plains, now the Grand Trunk Station _______Unveiling Ceremony of the huge stone to mark the spot of the first police post. Ceremony performed by G.C. King, himself one of the original members. Parade led by R.N.W.M.P. headed by Major Fitz Horrigan and veterans of the R.N.W.M.P."
Julien Nash, Reg. No. 4762, who is a long-time member of the Association of Calgary and a knowledgeable veteran, advises that the memorial stone was provided by the Col. Macleod Chapter of the I.O.D.E. of Calgary.
The years 1912 to 1922 had members joining each year. In 1922 Reg. No. 122, Fred Pope and No. 730, Andrew McMillan joined. "G" Division, Edmonton, R.N.W.M.P. Veterans' Association held their annual meeting on the 5th of January, 1922. G.C. King was a delegate from Calgary. One of the veterans present at that meeting was Reg. No. 2922, J.L. Jamieson, who served in the Force from July 14, 1893 to July 13, 1898. After leaving the Force, Mr. Jamieson took employment with the C.P.R. He was a member of Headquarters Executive of our Association in 1923 and he was a member of Calgary Division during 1931-1932.
During the 1973 R.C.M.P. Centennial Celebrations at Calgary, held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede, Mr. Jamieson, then residing in Victoria, B.C., was the guest of the Association, as the oldest living ex-member of the Force as to the date of enlistment, July 14, 1893. During the festivities, he was one of those chosen to be presented to the Queen.
The activities of the H.Q. Division of the Association for these years, 1919 to 1922, is perhaps best described by quoting a letter dated January 18, 1923 from Edmonton and written by P.H. Tucker, Secretary to all members. The letter was sent to Mr. Griz Adams, Reg. No. 621, N.W.M.P. Rtd., of Maple Creek, Sask., and turned over to the Association by Dave Fleming, Jr. of Calgary Division.
"Next fall is the 50th Anniversary of the old force. This Association has recently been in communication with Sir Lomer Gouin, the Minister in charge of the force, also with the Acting Commissioner, with a view to having the Anniversary celebrated in a fitting manner in the West. We have made some suggestions with regard to this event and are prepared to co-operate with the parent body in making this event something that will be long remembered. In the past this Association has made representations to the Government then in power on behalf of the old members of the Force, some of the things we have asked for are, 1885 medals, scrip for those members of the Force that served in the Rebellion, also increased pensions for those that gave the best years of their life to the Force. We consider the pensions now paid are inadequate under present day conditions and we consider the Government should raise the pensions to the present day scale or give a bonus to make them equal to the present pension scale. Our experience has been that we could not make any headway in our requests, mainly because our Association was not strong enough in membership, and we have hesitated about branching out until we were satisfied that the Association was going to be a success. So far we have confined our membership to British Columbia and Alberta. At the present time we have Divisions at Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Macleod and Lethbridge with the Headquarters at Edmonton. Letters received from a number of ex-members of the Force show that they are anxious to help us in our work. We want to be strong to demand from the Government what we consider is justly due our old comrades. We have been promised the support of a large number of members of Parliament. This, backed up by a strong membership will go a long way toward getting our claims granted. Then too the fact that this is the Jubilee year of the Force will, we hope, be a factor in our favour. All our Divisions at the present time are in a very healthy and flourishing condition, their monthly meetings are looked forward to by all members, and the annual reunion and dinner wherever started has proved a big success. To these reunions come ex-members of the Force from near and far. We are anxious that every ex-member of the old Force should participate in the Anniversary celebrations and any benefits that are to be derived thereby. We are also anxious to have every possible ex-member of the Force as a member of this Association. If there is no Division being formed near them, ex-members could join the Divisions already established, or if there is a sufficient number in a district, they could form a detachment and be attached to one of the Divisions. The Association aims to help every member of the Force that is in need of help. We try to find positions for those requiring them, help the sick, and in every way try to keep up that spirit of comradeship for which the Force is always noted.
This year's Headquarters Executive are, P.C.H. Primrose, Rev. J.M. Comyn Ching, G.E. Sanders, Col. J. Walker, J.J. Marshall, Rev. H.C. Lewis Hooper, J.J. Roberts, S.A. Kelly, J.D. Nicholson, V.H. Smyth, J.L. Jamieson. G. Goodall, P.C. Engel, E.W. Bavin, R.E. Tucker, J.S. Lambert and myself as Secretary-Treasurer. There are very few of the original members of the Force left, most of those that are, are members of the Association.
We are anxious to get in touch with as many ex-members of the Force as possible. If you know the whereabouts of any such and would furnish me with their names and addresses, I will be pleased to write to them. Should there be any information you would like regarding the Association, I would be pleased to furnish it upon hearing from you. Or if you wish to get in touch with any of your old comrades, if I have their address I will gladly furnish it or obtain it for you.
P.H. Tucker, Sec.
October 4, 1923 - This date is the earliest for which written records of the Calgary Division are in existence, except for applications for membership and the Constitution and By-Laws. From this date on our information is confirmed by various records, books, letters and minutes of meetings. The annual meeting was held on this date with Col. G.E. Sanders presiding. The meeting was held in the local court room with the permission of the local magistrate, the same Col. G.E. Sanders. Twenty-five members were present and of these, five had participated in the march west in 1874: Col James Walker; Reg. #322 S/Major F.A. Bagley; #92 S/Major G.B. Hall; #304 G.C. King; #236 Fred Hope.
The main topic of discussion was whether or not to disband the Division. A motion was made and passed "to carry on". Accounts to be paid were $31.82 while assets consisted of $4.00. This state of affairs obviously created a problem, which was resolved by a motion to have members pay $1.50 each, to be credited to next year's dues. It already appeared that the west was "next year country". Comrade Ambrose loaned $10.00 to the Association. This was the year in which Julian Nash became a member. Sixteen known members belonged, including one life member, believed to be Col. Walker. The President was Col. Sanders, Walker was Vice President and G.C. King was Secretary.
Reg. No. 304 G.C. King, joined the Force as a Sub-Constable on April 28th, 1874 at age 25. He was from England and indicated that his previous occupation was that of a clerk. He was posted to “F” Division and apparently spent his three years of service in “F”. He was a member of the troop that selected the site of Fort Calgary. King stated that the Bow River was crossed in a wagon box covered with canvas and that he was the first member of the troop to set foot on the site of the future Fort.
During 1877 King took his discharge from the Force and accepted the position of manager of the I.G. Baker Co. Store at Calgary, succeeding D.W. Davis.
In 1884, the Civic Governing Committee, Calgary was formed to push for incorporation of the village. Calgary was incorporated that year, with George Murdoch as the first mayor.
In 1886, the council was re-elected but a rival group protested the election. The local magistrate, J. Travis, declared the rival group elected. The Territorial Government intervened and ordered another election. The election brought in a new council, with G.C. King as Mayor.
In 1924, the Association received its Dominion Charter dated January 14th, 1924 from the Secretary of State. Dues were $3.00 per year. On the 3rd of January, Comrade Wilson, Toronto Division, was the guest of "E" Calgary Division and gave a talk on the formation of Toronto Division in late 1923.
On July 1st, 1924, twenty members of Calgary Division went by C.P.R. to attend the Golden Jubilee at Fort Macleod. The Fort Macleod ("D") Division were hosts to the visiting members. Several members of the March West in 1874 were present, including Reg. #92, G.B. Hall; #281 E. Larkin; #30 T. LaBelle; #217 R. McCutcheon; #322 F.A. Bagley; #299 C.E. Denny; Col. James Walker; William Parker; #236 Fred Pope.
At this meeting Fred Bagley was presented with a Life Membership in "E" (Calgary) Division, an honour bestowed on him in recognition of his role in the formation of the Association in 1901.
Records indicate that Calgary had one other Life Member, and although he was not named, undoubtedly he was James Walker.
Also in 1924 Dominion Headquarters of the Association at Edmonton, forwarded to each Division a "crest die" for stamping stationery. Meetings were held in Calgary at the Great War Veterans' Building "free of charge".
In 1925, G.E. Sanders was President and Julien Nash, Secretary of the Calgary Division. The City of Calgary was celebrating its Golden Jubilee. In conjunction with the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, it was proposed that the Force and its veterans play a very prominent part in the festivities. All ex-members of the Force who served in 1873-74 were to be guests of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the City of Calgary. The C.P.R. provided free transportation to Calgary, and the Palliser Hotel supplied them with rooms and meals. All other ex-members were supplied transportation on the C.P.R. at a cost of one cent a mile. These veterans were billeted in accommodations given by the City, with the Armed Forces providing beds and bedding. Also all ex-members of the Force were admitted free of charge to the Exhibition Grounds and twenty-five grandstand seats were also provided daily for the use of the veterans.
All the arrangements for contacting the veterans, providing information, assisting with local transportation, other entertainment, etc., were left to the local members of the Association.
The first investment of the Calgary Division was in the purchase of a second-hand typewriter for $25.00. At the time of purchase it was discovered that cash assets on hand were only $22.50. Fortunately the vendor saw fit to accept that amount. Secretary Julien Nash then purchased a ribbon for the machine for $1.00, using his own funds.
The Veterans held a mass meeting on July 8, 1925 in the Bailey Block, Calgary. Col. G.E. Sanders was the Chairman and Julien Nash, Secretary. Nineteen members who had served in the Force in the first two years of its existence were in attendance. Two of those present were brothers, one resided in Saskatchewan and the other in British Columbia. However they had lost touch with one another several years earlier and so neither one knew the other brother planned to attend the Jubilee. In 1873, three brothers, Sam, Richard, and Godfrey Steele, had joined the Force together. At the Jubilee, Richard walked into the meeting and was reunited with his brother Godfrey. The third brother, Sam, who later became Major-General Sir Sam Steele, had died on January 30, 1919 at Putney, England and buried among other pioneers of Canada’s West in St. John’s Cemetery in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Richard and Godfrey, together with G.C. King are shown in an old photo taken during the Stampede Parade standing in a canvas-covered wagon box, just as they did in 1875 when crossing the Bow River to reach the site of the proposed Fort Calgary.
Father Doucet who had been camped on the river flats at the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers when the Force arrived, was also a guest of the City during the Jubilee celebrations.
Mrs. Macleod, widow of Col. James Macleod, attended a special function at the Palliser Hotel, accompanied by members of her family and the nineteen original members of the Force. A presentation was made by Col. Sanders and G.C. King on behalf of the Veterans present, to Mrs. Macleod, and she was made an honorary member of the Association.
On Tuesday morning, July 7, 1925, in Central Park before a large crowd, Sir Cecil Denny unveiled a memorial stone cairn commemorating the arrival of the N.W.M.P. at the site of Calgary in late August or early September, 1875. The actual date of the arrival was unknown in 1925 and is still uncertain.
1926 - There were 47 paid members. The Division helped with the financial arrangements for the funeral of ex-Sgt. Major G.B. Hall, a member of 1874. A grant of $25.00 was made by H.Q. Division to D. (Peach) Davis and a private donation of $10.00 was made by Col. Sanders. Meetings were held in the Great War Veterans' Association Hall.
Col. Walker and Col. Sanders were appointed a committee to approach the city in an effort to obtain a plot of land in the local cemetery for deceased members.
Mr. Longstreth, an author, who had been in the City for two weeks, was introduced to members attending and Association meeting. He was writing a book on the Force and was looking for material.
There was a continuing discussion at meetings about the refusal of the Government to give land grants to members of the N.W.M.P. who served and saw action during the Riel Rebellion. All members of the Armed Forces and the Militia received such grants.
1927 - The Division and all members joined the British Empire Service League (Canadian Legion) and received Charter No. 46. Swift Current Division had joined in 1926.
The Division sponsored a dance to raise money to assist ex-members of the Force. About $200.00 was raised. J.C. Rykert, a member of Calgary Division but residing in Montana, gave a donation of $70.00 for welfare work. Rykert apparently joined the Force in 1875 and it appears that he was a member of "F" Troop when it arrived at the site of the future Fort.
1928 - On the 2nd of March at the monthly meeting, a motion was made and seconded to disband the Calgary Division. This resolution was possibly related to the formation of the Provincial Police Force in the Prairie Provinces. The President, Major Pennifather, was strongly against such a motion and suggested that "as time went on he hoped to see the Mounted Police again on duty in Alberta as in the old days". The resolution was defeated.
The Division was very interested in having a buffalo meat dinner and made enquiries at the Burns Company place of business. The meat was available for 35 cents a pound. After considerable discussion over the price a decision was reached that such meat was a luxury that ex-policeman could not afford.
A book, “The Silent Force” by Longstreth was published and it seems that the author sent a complimentary copy to each Division of the Association. As mentioned previously, the author had attended a Calgary Division meeting in 1926.
1929 - On May 31st, a letter was received from an ex-member of the Force, Reg. No. 1129, George A. Allen from Mombasa, Kenya Protectorate. Allen had served from 1885 to 1891 and had spent some of his service in Calgary. Upon taking his discharge he lived in Calgary and Division records show that he was a former Alderman of the City. He visited Calgary during its Golden Jubilee in 1925. He joined the Veterans' Association that year.
In his letter Allen suggested that he was very interested in giving substantial financial assistance towards a Memorial home for ex-members of the Force. He offered to give a donation of 500 English Pounds to a fund for this purpose, with an additional 100 Pounds per year for five years.
On June 17th, 1929 a special meeting was held to discuss another offer from Allen of a proposed gift of $5000.00. The Division wrote to him and suggested the money be put in a Trust Account.
During the late 1920's and 1930's the Division, with the aid of the Col. James Macleod Chapter of the I.O.D.E. were trying to raise money to give assistance to indigent ex-members of the Force. Assistance was also given to help defray funeral costs of some deceased ex-members where necessary.
In July 1930, G.A. Allen arrived in Calgary and on July 26th a special meeting was held to further discuss his offer of a large donation towards the building of a Memorial home for destitute ex-members of the Force. Also present at this meeting was G.C. Kernahan, recorded as being one of the founders of the Scarlet and Gold magazine and a former member of the Force. Allen addressed the meeting and stated that he favoured some type of a home, but he realized there would be continual expenses involved in its operation. He offered to donate 100 Pounds Sterling a year towards operational costs and to provide in his will that after the death of his wife, half of his estate would be left to the Memorial Fund. Minutes of the meeting do not offer any information as to the value of the estate.
The Col. James Macleod Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, expressed in writing their support in such a venture as establishing the proposed home.
In September, 1930, Allen apparently purchased a small house in Calgary. The Association was to rent out the dwelling and to look after maintenance and taxes. The title for the house was to be in Allen's name. At the September meeting Kernahan and W.C. Proby, both ex-members of the Force, presented a proposal for raising $100,000.00 to provide the Memorial Home for Calgary. After much discussion, a motion was passed that the Division try to raise funds for this purpose if H.Q. Edmonton gave its approval for the project.
In November, having received approval from H.Q., a committee was formed to proceed with the fund-raising campaign. W.C. Proby was appointed Field Secretary and Kernahan a member of the Fund Committee. Each man was to be paid $200.00 per month and to receive 20% of the collections, from which they would pay all expenses incurred. Much time and effort was put into the proposed fund-raising preliminaries and there was a great deal of support from the public.
The following prominent people allowed their names to be used as supporters of the project to solicit subscriptions from the public:
H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Lord Willingdon, Governor-General of Canada
The Right Honourable R.B. Bennett, Prime Minister
The Right Honourable W.L. Mackenzie King
The Lieutenant-Governors of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
Governor Charles Sales, Hudson's Bay Co. London, England
E.W. Beattie, K.C., President of the C.P.R.
Sir Henry Thornton, President of the C.N.R.
Pat Burns and A.E. Cross of Calgary
The Royal Trust Company to be Depository and Trustee
On January 14, 1931, a special meeting of the Association was held to discuss the Memorial fund. The meeting was turned over to Mayor Davison of Calgary. Attending this meeting were A.E. Cross, A. Hannah, K.C., John Burns, President of Burns & Co.. W. McDonnell, Western Superintendent of the Bank of Montreal. These men were to form an Advisory Committee which was also to include four members of the R.N.W.M.P. Veterans' Association.
A motion was passed to limit expenses to 10% of collections. The new objective was to try and raise $200.000.00. G. Kernahan was appointed Secretary to the Committee and W. Proby was again to be Field Secretary, each to receive $200.00 per month as before. Col. G.E. Sanders represented Calgary Division and a Colonel Bovey was to head the Eastern Committee in Toronto.
Certainly, it would seem that the groundwork for a successful project had been laid. Unfortunately, within three months, the Advisory Committee recommended that the project be abandoned. This recommendation apparently resulted from information about the soliciting of funds which came to the attention of C.E.D. Wood, the founder of the Ft. Macleod Gazette, during a trip he made from Calgary to Winnipeg.
C.E.D. Wood, mentioned in the preceding paragraph was not a stranger to the members. He joined the Force on August 21st, 1880 at Fort Walsh, N.W.T. He was 23 years old and had formerly been a Master at Trinity College, Port Hope, Ont. Wood was injured at Ft. Macleod when thrown from a horse. July 24, 1882 he was invalided from the Force. Before the end of the month he had obtained a loan of $500.00 in Fort Benton, Montana, bought a hand-operated printing press, hired ten Blood Indians to turn the press, gathered the news and published the first edition of the Gazette.
This was the third newspaper to be published in the Territories. In 1878, P.C. Laurie moved a small press from Winnipeg to Battleford, the seat of Government, and published the first paper.
To return to the account of the fund-raising drive, the facts given to the Committee by Mr. Wood led to the Association accepting the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that no more funds be accepted. So a fine dream vanished. However, there was much more work and anxiety in winding up the project than in its formation. It was not until October, 1934, that the books were finally closed, $1760.00 being returned to requesting donors.
These were the years of the "dirty thirties" and the Association had frequent requests for financial help, not only from ex-members of the Force but in particular from wives and families of these members. The local Division, with the always sympathetic aid of the Col. Macleod Chapter of the I.O.D.E. and with private donations from some members, gave what help they could. Vancouver Division also gave financial assistance to Calgary Division with income from the magazine, Scarlet and Gold.
The Division was still responsible for the rental of the Allen house and were encountering difficulties, the rent being reduced from $25.00 per month to $20.00 and finally to $17.00. Allen's investment in the small house was $2700.00, with $450.00 still owing at 3% interest. The Division members found that with the cost of maintenance and taxes, the lower rental did not permit payments on the debt to Allen. So the title and responsibilities were returned to Mr. Allen who was by then living in London, England.
1934 - The City of Calgary celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the arrival of the Force. Commissioner James McBrian of the Force was present for the occasion and attended a meeting of the Veterans' Association. At this time the city agreed to set aside thirty burial plots in Union Cemetery for exclusive use of veterans' of the Force. This project, begun in 1926 as previously mentioned in this narrative had at last succeeded.
During the annual general meeting in 1935, it was recommended that the Association name be changed to the R.N.W.M.P. and R.C.M.P. Veterans' Association. Calgary Division members discussed the proposed name change at some length, as there was considerable opposition to the change. A motion was made and passed that, "brevity and conciseness be the guide in re-naming the Association". The Division recommended that the name either remain the same or be changed to the R.C.M.P. Veterans' Association.
During 1937, Dominion Headquarters was transferred to Calgary from Edmonton. Julien Nash, then President of Calgary Division, was elected President of Headquarters Division.
Reg. No. 4762, J. Nash, joined the Force in 1908 at the age of nineteen. He served for eight years at several detachments in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, including Ft. Macleod, Standoff, and Ft. Walsh. He left the Force in 1915 rather than re-engage and immediately joined the Canadian Army. He served with the 49th Edmonton Regiment at Ypres and the Somme. He was wounded in action and eventually returned to Canada. He then joined the Alberta Provincial Police for a short period and then accepted employment with the Alberta Government Telephones. He became a member of the Veterans’ Association on October 23, 1923.
From 1924 to 1926 Julien Nash was Division Secretary. From 1927 to 1931 he was on the Executive. He then served as President for the years 1932, 1933 and 1936, 1937. In 1937 he was elected Dominion President and retained this position for 12 years. Since 1949 he has been a Life Member of Calgary Division. His experience and judgement have been of great benefit to the Executive and members who have succeeded him in office. He has been the main source for a great deal of the history here and without his knowledge and assistance this undertaking would have been most difficult to complete successfully.
Records from 1901 of Calgary Division reveal that many different members were active for short periods of time in the work of the Association. However, it was apparent that the continuous existence of the Association through the years was mainly due to three members, James Walker, G.E. Sanders and Julien Nash.
G.E. Sanders, C.M.G., D.S.O., was a graduate of Royal Military College, Kingston. He joined the Force in 1884 and served until 1913. During the Boer War he served with the Second Battalion of the Canadian Mounted Rifles as Commanding Officer of “D” Squad. He was wounded twice and was awarded the D.S.O. When the war ended he returned to the Force and served in Southern Alberta and in Calgary. He took his retirement from the Force in 1913 and was appointed a Magistrate in Calgary. During the First World War as a Colonel, Sanders again served overseas with the Canadian Army. He was awarded the C.M.G. Following the war he returned to Calgary and returned to his former position as Magistrate.
Col. Sanders was always very interested and active in the affairs of the Veterans' Association, serving as President for several years and was also a member of the Headquarters Executive.
As a long time friend and associate of Sanders, Julien Nash described him in these words:
"He treated everyone as an equal. He remained President for several years and the longer I knew him the more I admired him and his wife. He was very generous although his pension was small compared to present pensions. He never talked of his charities but I know he helped out financially quite a few veterans.
In 1937 he took over the Dominion Headquarters as well as "E" Division, Calgary. I became Dominion President, Col. Sanders was on the Executive and he invited us to hold our H.Q. meetings at his house. He always brought out a bottle of Seagram’s 83. We always valued his advice.
He was not well for the last two years of his life. On his death he was buried in the Veterans' Plot, alongside his wife who died in 1933. We felt that a great man had passed away. I personally, was greatly grieved, for he was in every respect a wonderful gentleman and friend. Colonel Sanders died on 19th of April, 1955."
The 1920's to the late 1930's were obviously difficult years for many ex-members of the Force. There were continued requests to Members of Parliament to act regarding the failure of the Government to give land grants to the members of the Force who had served during the Riel Rebellion on the same basis as grants to the Militia and the Army. The Government did, apparently, make some adjustment and cash grants were made to a few survivors or their widows. Division records also show many instances of charity to destitute ex-members and financial and other assistance to some descendants and widow of members. There was constant pressure on the Commissioners of the Force to take action to mark the graves of those members who had died destitute or without a family to take an interest in their death or their graves.
The activities of Calgary Division for the years from 1940 to the present time are well recorded in the minutes of meetings. During World War Two, many members and ex-members of the Force served in the Armed Forces in Canada and oversees and because of this the activities of the Association were limited.
By the 1950's and 1960's the Division interests had shifted to the improvement of Division activities to make it more interesting to the members. There are at least three events of importance during this period that deserve mention.
On November 20th, 1957, the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Veterans' Association was formed. The Auxiliary has been a charming addition to the Division. Their meetings, using the term loosely but not derogatorily, are held at the same time as the Division meeting. Each year they entertain the Division with a "Pot Luck Supper" and dance. They are also very helpful in efforts to raise funds for Division projects.
In 1963, Dominion Headquarters, Calgary launched a most ambitious project with the publication of the first issue of the "Mountie" magazine. The President of Headquarters, E.H. (Ned) Rivers described the reasons for the venture in his editorial. The following extract from the editorial is quoted:
"Publication of the Mountie fulfils a long cherished dream for us; one that dates back to our organization's formative years. For a time our thinking was directed toward a house organ - a publication for our members - but at the urging of a great number of people outside the Association , we decided to set our sights a notch higher. The result, we hope, will be a magazine of strong general interest, equally appealing to the public, to our own members and, of course, to members of the active Force of the R.C.M.P.
Although much of the content will deal with true cases from the files of the R.C.M.P., topics of current general interest will not be overlooked.
The purpose of this undertaking is threefold; to bring the "RCMP story" to the people of Canada in an interesting and informative way; to contribute to the literary life of Canada by providing still another source of factual articles for the Canadian reader and a new outlet for Canadian authors; and to establish a fund in Dominion Headquarters of our Association for those within our purview who may require some assistance."
A great deal of time and effort was involved in the publication, unfortunately the hope for support from Association members and ex-members of the Force was not forthcoming. Only five editions of the magazine were published and when the success of the venture appeared in doubt the project was cancelled.
In 1973, the Association, especially Calgary Division began to plan for the celebrations of the Centennial events most important to the Force and to all its Veterans. Early in 1973 the members of Calgary Division added new head gear to their official dress of blue blazer and grey trousers. This was a "Ranchman's Hat" in a colour closely resembling the stetson worn by members of the Force, but the style and shape of a cowboy's hat. It seemed most appropriate, especially when we noted in the Logo used by the City in 1975, it featured an RCMP stetson and a cowboy hat on each side of the Calgary Tower. There were many events in 1973 which the Association members and their families were pleased to attend. The high point of the year in Calgary was the featuring of the Centennial of the Force during the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. The Division members marched proudly and well in the Parade under the leadership of Reg. No. 9293, Fred Burt-Johns, a veteran of both World Wars and years of service in the Force.
The Calgary Association and the Ladies' Auxiliary operated a Hospitality Centre in Flare Square during the Stampede where members of the Force and their families as well as Veterans and families and friends could meet and talk over "old times". The centre was visited by Her Majesty, the Queen, Prince Phillip, Governor-General Mitchener, Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Lougheed. The Presidents of Alberta Divisions of the Association and senior guests were presented to the Queen and guests.
1974 marked the Centennial celebrations of the March West and the arrival in Southern Alberta at the present site of Fort Macleod. Many members from Calgary Division attended the Dominion Convention at Lethbridge and Fort Macleod and everyone agreed it was one of the best "get-togethers" in many a year.
We conclude our history of the Veterans' Association and particularly the history of Calgary Division where it all began a century ago and now join in celebrations with the City of Calgary on its one hundredth birthday in 1975. There were many functions which the Veterans and their wives attended and some in which they took a prominent part.
In May, we were honoured to be the hosts for the Annual Dominion Convention the Veterans' Associations from across Canada. The Ladies' Auxiliary also helped greatly in all the events of those few days and the men were most appreciative.
Again, as in 1973, the Calgary Division members marched in the Stampede Parade behind Fred Burt-Johns and received compliments for their fine appearance and applause from the spectators lining the Parade route. The people realized that these were the men who had followed the fine example of those few who came to this area a century earlier and who could have had no idea of the tremendous progress that would result from their bringing peaceful settlement to the West.
As the reader of this history reflects back over 89 years, since the idea of a Veterans' Association was fostered at Calgary on April 19, 1886, and remembers all the "ups and downs" before such an organization was firmly established as the strong Association it has become, we honour the memory of those 24 men who recognized the need for this comradely association of all who served in the ranks of the N.W.M.P., R.N.W.M.P. and R.C.M.P. We hope our Association will continue to grow and we must all do our bit to keep it strong.
#13407 R.C.A. Leech
My gratitude to #13818 C.T.W. Wallace and to my wife, Blanche for their invaluable assistance. Also for the publishing expertise of R/743 Fred Kyle.
1. N.W.M.P. Corps History – Chambers
2. Fifty Mighty Men – Grant MacEwen
3. Law Marches West – Cecil Denny
4. N.W.M.P. – Turner
5. Maintain the Right – Atkins
6. Between the Red and the Rockies – Grant MacEwen
7. Mounted Police Life in Calgary – Deane
8. The Calgary Hearld
PART TWO - YESTERDAY AND TODAY (The next 25 years)
Calgary Division continues to be a thriving division with a continual growth in membership and a concern for the welfare of its members. In 1996 the division undertook an initiative to bring in members’ spouses and any other people who have been closely associated with the Force, such as secretaries, as Associate Members. A good effort and turnout is made to attend funerals of ex-members and their spouses.
In 1986, Calgary Division hosted the Dominion Annual General Meeting (AGM) with 508 people attending the banquet dinner at the Palliser Hotel. The President's Reception was renamed, in keeping with a western theme, the President's Hoedown. This turned out to be a great success and is still often spoken of as being the best. Calgary Division will again be hosting the AGM in 2001, the first year of the new millennium. It takes a great effort on the part of many members to make this function a success.
Calgary Division has been an important supporter and player in assisting the Fort Calgary Historical Society restore Fort Calgary Historical Park, the original location of the N.W.M.P. barracks upon arriving in Calgary. Members volunteer each year to work at Fort Calgary as Ambassadors providing information about the Force and the Veterans' Association to tourists. Members of the division also serve on the Board of Directors. Each year a good number of members volunteer to work at a casino where thousands of dollars are raised for the Fort Calgary Historical Society.
Remembrance Day celebrations are attended annually with a good turn out of members. Family members of deceased members are assisted financially, when necessary, through the Benevolent Trust Fund. Ex-members and their families are also given moral support during difficult times of illness and death through direct contact by many of our caring members.
In 1997 Calgary Division assisted with the World Police and Fire Games held in Calgary by volunteering as drivers, security and at the registration desk. A Pin project, commemorating the games, was also undertaken.
Also in 1997, Calgary Division was proud to nominate #13724 Bill Westgate for the Governor General's Caring Award. Commissioner Phil Murray personally presented this award to Bill on behalf of the Governor General at the Legion's Dominion Command Convention in Winnipeg on June 15th, 1998.
For the past four years Calgary and Lethbridge Divisions have been meeting at Claresholm for a day of golf. This is a very much enjoyed day by those attending with many old friendships being renewed and new ones made. Many old stories are told and re-told. Calgary Division launched their “1st Annual Alberta R.C.M.P.”. Veterans’ Golf Tournament in 1998. Three successful consecutive tournaments have now been held.
Many socials have become an annual event. In February a luncheon is held at the Legion, Branch 264, which honours our widows and life members; in March a good number of members attend the Calgary RCMP Regimental Dinner at Spruce Meadows; April is the occasion of a well attended and enjoyed dinner and was the official launch of our 125th celebrations in 1998. June brings a well-attended barbecue. July is a busy month with members volunteering at the Old Morley Detachment, which is a popular attraction on the stampede grounds, as well as attending the annual Calgary RCMP Pancake breakfast with retired Officers assisting in the cooking of pancakes and sausage. For the past two years the division has participated in the Calgary Stampede parade. An open-air antique bus, supplied by Brewsters, is used and occupied by Past Presidents of the division as well as some of our ‘old timers’. Octoberfest is celebrated by holding a great dinner at one of our fine eating establishments, such as the Austrian Canadian Club. The year winds up with a wine and cheese party after the November general meeting. In addition, each May and October there is an ex-member luncheon with over 100 ex-members attending. While the Veterans’ Association does not sponsor this luncheon, it is well supported by division members. Also, many ex-members meet for coffee twice a week; on Wednesday at Northlands Shopping Centre and on Friday at South Centre Shopping Centre.
In addition to the above, on May 23rd, 1998, several members participated in a commemorative tour of the grave sites of members of the N.W.M.P., R.N.W.M.P. and R.C.M.P., located at Union Cemetery, noted in Part One above, which was given by Mr. Donald Sucha of the University of Calgary. During the tour Mr. Sucha gave a brief outline of each member's service. On June 22nd, 2000, a troop of veterans attended a memorial service at Union Cemetery, at which time new headstones were dedicated at two unmarked graves. Calgary division donated $150.00 towards the cost of these headstones. A troop also performed at Fort Calgary during a Flag Raising Ceremony to celebrate the 125 anniversary of the N.W.M.P. arriving in Calgary.
Calgary Division enjoys a good relationship with Calgary Sub-Division and its members. Since 1998, a member of Calgary Division attends and participates in the Calgary RCMP Recreation Club meetings. This no doubt goes a long way in bring both serving and ex-members closer together in a social atmosphere.
The following are some organizations to which Calgary Division has made financial donations over the past few years:
- Fort Calgary Historical Park
- Trans Canada Trail Project
- Salvation Army
- Alberta Slain Peace Officer Fund
- RCMP Long Island Camp
- Restoration of the St. Roch
- Ducks Unlimited
- RCMP Celebrity/Charity Golf
- Robert Rebeyka Memorial Tournament
- Canadian Legion
- Friends of the Mounted Police Museum
The following is an article scheduled to appear in the November, 2000, issue of the Force’s magazine entitled Pony Express.
“Life after retirement
RCMP vets across the country lend a helping hand
BY MELANIE ROUSH
From Vancouver to St. John’s, RCMP veterans are lending a helping hand to the Force. “We never know what we’re going to be asked to do,” says Casey Pendergast, president of the Nova Scotia Veterans’ Association.
There are some 6,500 retired members who belong to the RCMP Veterans’ Association, which is composed of 32 divisions, in every province and territory. Each division maintains its ties with the RCMP by contributing in a variety of ways.
In Nova Scotia for instance, retired members helped out after the 1998 crash of Swiss Air flight 111 off the shores of Peggy’s Cove. Vets provided security during the crash investigation, guarding parts of the plane that had been recovered. Last year, the Nova Scotia Division rededicated a burial plot of one of the original members of the March West in 1873. Currently, the division is designing a veterans’ flag that will be carried in parades. The flag should be ready by 2001.
At the other end of the country, some 760 members of the Vancouver division bolster the regular member workforce by volunteering as drivers or security for such events as the APEC conference, the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, and the B.C. Games for Athletes with Disabilities.
The vets also worked closely with the Vancouver Maritime Museum to launch the voyage of the St. Roch II this year. Now the division is talking about someday acquiring the Vancouver Fairmont Barracks to turn into a veterans’ rest home. “I enjoy keeping in touch with what’s going on in the Force and seeing if I can do something worthwhile to promote the welfare of our members who are in need of caring.” Says Jim Druchet, president of the Vancouver division.
In Calgary, members of the Veterans’ Association help out at the Calgary Stampede, often doing some of the cooking at the annual RCMP Pancake Breakfast. They also patrol the old Morley Detachment on the Stampede grounds, which houses RCMP artifacts. In addition, vets act as ambassadors at Fort Calgary. The Fort was built when the Northwest Mounted Police first arrived in the city, and the vets stationed there answer tourists’ questions about the RCMP and help with fundraising efforts to rebuild the fort.
“I’ve always had a great respect for the Force and I’ve always enjoyed the comradeship of other members,” says Clarence Lacey, secretary of the Calgary division. “It’s a fraternal organization where we look after each other.”
This idea of comradeship is one of the reasons many vets are still active today, according to Ron Sparks, the association’s executive director. “The Force is like a family for most older members. It was a way of life, more than a job and you would no more leave the Force than leave your family,” says Sparks. “Many members joined when they were 18 and stayed for 35 years.”
Each division is independent and in addition to these activities, the Veterans’ Association also handles applications for the RCMP Benefit Trust Fund and inspects graves of former members. Every Year, there’s an annual general meeting. Next year’s meeting takes place in Calgary. The Toronto division is in charge of the 2002 meeting. Proceeds from an RCMP boutique, run by one of its members, will provide funds for the meeting.
The Veterans’ Association is currently compiling a comprehensive list of what each division is doing across the country which should be released later this year.”
Calgary Division Ties To Its Roots
Calgary Division enjoys the prestige of having three members who have direct family ties to the early days of the N.W.M.P. The following is a short overview of these members family history.
Associate Member Marjorie Helen Baxter.
Helen’s maternal Grandfather, Reg. #198 Peter O’Hare, joined the N.W.M.P. on May 29th, 1875, and served unit October 4th, 1888. He returned to the Force as a Special Constable in 1890 and was in and out of the service until eventually retiring to pension on April 20th, 1920. He was stationed at places such as Fort Macleod, Calgary, Fort Walsh, Maple Creek and Swift Current. Her father, #5200 Frank P. Baxter, joined the R.N.W.M.P. in 1911 and served in the R.N.W.M.P. and R.C.M.P. for 35 years, retiring at the rank of Superintendent. A cousin, #13066 James H. Baxter joined the R.C.M.P. on October 31st, 1938 and served until his retirement, at Calgary, on February 7th, 1963 at the rank of S/Sgt. Both Frank and Jim Baxter were members of the RCMP Veterans’ Association. Frank Baxter served as President of both Calgary Division and Dominion Headquarters.
Helen herself has an extensive career in the R.C.M.P. She joined the R.C.M.P. as a Civilian Employee on December 9th, 1940 at Weyburn, Saskatchewan. From June, 1945 to January 1947 Helen worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs in Saskatoon and Calgary as a steno. On January 11th, 1947, she returned to the R.C.M.P. where she worked at Calgary Sub-Division until her retirement on June 30th, 1978, except for 15 months when she worked for Visa Control in England and Sweden. During her later years at Calgary Sub-Division, Helen was secretary for the Officer Commanding. Helen worked for several O.C.’s, training them all, and no doubt because of her expertise, had a significant influence on the operations of the Sub-Division. Helen joined the RCMP Veterans’ Association on January 28th, 1998.
Honorary Member John Kennedy Ryan.
Jack has an extensive family connection to the N.W.M.P., having had five close family members who served with the N.W.M.P. during the Force’s early years.
a. John Ryan Sr., Jack’s Grandfather, was born in Ireland and passed away at Fort MacLeod, Alberta. John Ryan Sr. was employed by the N.W.M.P. as a Civilian Member and worked in the office of the Comptroller.
b. Dr. George de Veber, son-in-law of John Ryan Sr., was also employed by the N.W.M.P. as a Civilian Member and served as a physician.
c. Reg. #239 Sgt. Charles Ryan, second son of John Ryan Sr., and Jack’s uncle, joined the N.W.M.P. on April 19th, 1874, and was a member of the “March West” that year. Charles was promoted to Corporal on October 19th, 1878 and to Sergeant on January 16th, 1880. He took his discharge on June 22nd, 1881, having served nearly 11 years. During his service he served as Orderly to then Assistant Commissioner James F. Macleod.
d. Reg. #752 Cst. Thomas Walter Ryan, second son of John Ryan Sr., and Jack’s uncle, joined the N.W.M.P. on May 11th, 1882, at the age of 16 years. He took his discharge on June 22nd, 1892, to assist his father with the farm at Fort MacLeod. He re-engaged on May 11th, 1894, but again took his discharge on July 30th, 1897, to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
e. Reg. #3076, Cst. William John Ryan, third son of John Ryan Sr., and Jack’s father, joined the N.W.M.P. on June 2nd, 1894, at Fort MacLeod as a bugler. His application showed Chief Justice James F. Macleod, second Commissioner of the N.W.M.P., and Superintendent Samuel Steele of the N.W.M.P. as his references. William took his discharge on August 23rd, 1897, with service recorded as “Very Good”. He re-engaged on December 12th, 1898, and took his discharge on December 11th, 1901, at Regina.
Jack was approved as an Honorary Member of Calgary Division on April 29th, 1998.
Honorary Member Elizabeth M. Aylen.
Mrs. Aylen is the daughter-in-law of Reg. 1157, Dr. Peter Aylen. Dr. Peter Aylen was born in Aylmer, Quebec on Sept. 5th, 1861. He entered the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University in 1882 and upon completion of his third year, his schooling was interrupted in order to serve as a Hospital Sergeant in the Medical Corps of the N.W.M.P. on April 8th, 1885. He was discharged on June 19th, 1885, at which time he returned to McGill University to complete his medical training. He returned to the N.W.M.P. on July 1st, 1886, at which time he received his commission and was assigned Officer number O.76 with an annual salary of $600.00 per year.
During his service Dr. Aylen was stationed at various detachments including Regina, Battleford, Calgary, Fort MacLeod, Fort Edmonton and lastly Fort Saskatchewan. He retired from the Force on May 1st, 1895, and took up a private practice in Fort Saskatchewan only to accept another contract as Physician and Surgeon with the Force in 1886. Dr. Aylen was to “provide medical service to the local members and prisoners maintained in the Guardroom”, which he did until his retirement from the Force in 1914.
Mrs. Elizabeth Aylen created the Doctor Peter Aylen Memorial Scholarship, which is available to medical students with a preference to members of the R.C.M.P. and their children. Information regarding the scholarship is provided to successful students which specifically makes mention of Dr. Aylen’s contribution to the Force.
Mrs. Aylen was made Honourary Member of Calgary Division on October 27th, 2000, at the age of 95 years.
Fort Calgary Historic Park
Calgary Division has had a close relationship with Fort Calgary Historic Park since its conception some years ago. Fort Calgary is located at the original N.W.M.P. site on their arrival in Calgary in 1875. A considerable amount of work and money has gone into Fort Calgary these last few years with a barrack building being constructed in 2000. The following article appeared in the October, 2000 issue of Focus on the Fort.
A Unique Partnership
“Since the beginning of the Interpretive Centre at Fort Calgary, a unique partnership has been maintained with the R.C.M.P. Veterans Association. A representative (currently Frank Gough) sits on Fort Calgary’s Board of Directors, the R.C.M.P. Veterans archives is maintained at Fort Calgary, the Veterans assist in providing a link to the active R.C.M.P., and Veterans have volunteered their time to interpret to the public. The Veterans manned the former “hands-on” room before the era of the new exhibits and, since the beginning of the transformation of the Interpretive Centre, have continued their role, speaking to the public about the role of the R.C.M.P., assisting with uniform try-ons and other aspects of the interpretive program.
This year, the R.C.M.P. Veterans have added even more to the interpretive season. As we planned for the first year of costumed interpretation and “bringing the fort to life”, we approached the Veterans for special assistance. To portray the part of the Northwest Mounted Police well, we felt the Interpreters needed training in aspects of military life that only a Mountie could give them. Our first ever “Boot Camp” was launched, with Ray Sales and Mel McPhee training the Interpreters to salute, stand at attention and at ease, march properly, wear the uniform correctly, and polish their boots and buttons. “Boot Camp” continued unofficially after Interpreter Training was over, with various R.C.M.P. Veterans providing additional guidance to our Interpreters in flag raising, ranks and protocol, uniforms and badges, drill and other aspects of police life over the season. The results have been terrific and staff, volunteers and public alike have been very impressed with the N.W.M.P. at the fort and how seriously the Interpreters have taken their roles.
The R.C.M.P. Veterans also assisted Fort Calgary in a number of special events, providing extra members at special events to interact with the public, escorting special guests and taking on some additional roles. Marching in their blazers and Stetsons under the command of Retired Staff Sergeant Ray Sales in a N.W.M.P. Sergeant Major’s uniform, with “Trumpeter Bagley” (Petty Officer Kristen McKenna) and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corp “Undaunted” Band, they added dignity and ceremony to the evening performance of the musical ride. They performed the Retreat Ceremony, lowering the flag and giving an “eyes right” as they marched to honour two former Musical Ride members, Bill Ritchie and Chuck White. At Union Cemetary the Veterans formed a Colour Party, with R.C.M.P. Corporal Pat Webb and U of C Pipe Band Piper Will Bailie, to honour original N.W.M.P. ”F” Troop members, Acting Constable (Corporal) George Clift King, second mayor of Calgary, and his friend, Sergeant James Colvin in a ceremony to mark their unmarked graves. At the signing of the formal agreement between the Rotary Club of Calgary and Fort Calgary, Ray Sales also assisted in N.W.M.P. uniform with one of our Interpreters to provide an Honour Guard.
Throughout the season, the core of Fort Calgary R.C.M.P. Veteran volunteers have been on duty also most every day without fail, talking to the visiting public about the role of the R.C.M.P., their own experiences with the Force, and the role of the N.W.M.P. at Fort Calgary. They have made many friends with visitors, staff and volunteers alike, and left hundreds of visitors richer for the time spent in conversation with them.
Last, but not least, two of the R.C.M.P. Veterans, C.T.W. “Wally” Wallace and Mel McPhee have worked quietly behind the scenes every Tuesday for many years, with a third volunteer, Jack Crossley, to keep Fort Calgary’s archives in order. They organize the rolling storage, find key artifacts for exhibits, create storage trays and holders for valuable items and ensure the artifacts are all properly recorded on the computer.
Whoever began this partnership in the dawning day of Fort Calgary Historic Park showed great foresight. The staff of Fort Calgary, the volunteers and the public continue to benefit each year from this unique partnership, this year perhaps more than ever. Thank you to the R.C.M.P. Veterans who participate in it.”
Curatorial Division Manager
Calgary Division holds monthly meetings at Fort Calgary on the last Wednesday of each month at 7:30 P.M., with the exception of July, August and December. From time to time these meetings are supplemented with or replaced by a social dinner or luncheon. Emphasis is placed on letting the Executive Committee run the affairs of the division, thereby keeping the regular meetings short to allow for more socializing of members. At time of writing, Calgary Division has 367 members (262 regular members, 99 associate members and 6 Honourary members).
#21449 (O.1391) Clarence J. Lacey
Secretary (November 1st, 2000)