Reg. #247 Frederick A. Bagley 


 (Joined Calgary Division 24th February, 1914)


The following articles were found in Bagley’s Veterans’ Association file.






(origin of newspaper article unknown)

 Born in Jamaica, British West Indies, in 1858, he enlisted in the North West Mounted Police when the force was first formed in 1874.  He left Toronto as a member in 1874, traveling to the end of the railway at Fargo, North Dakota, and from there to what is now known as Emerson, Man. (then known as Dufferin), and westward across the plains on a five months’ journey which ended with the establishment of Fort Macleod at the Belly River.  After helping to build the fort and establish the first western headquarters, Major Bagley was transferred to Fort Saskatchewan.  Later he was stationed at Fort Garry, Fort Qu’Appelle and Fort Battleford.  He also took part in suppressing the Riel Rebellion in 1885.  He proceeded to Calgary in 1886 patrolling the Blood Indian reserve, and in 1887 went to Regina where he organized the first Mounted Police band.

 Major Bagley was one of the members of the force selected to go to London in 1897 for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and two years after his return from overseas left the force with the rank of Sergeant Major.

 In 1901 he enlisted in the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles at Calgary and served in the South African war, gaining the rank of major.  During the First World War he served with the 82 Battalion with the rank of captain and quartermaster, and later transferred to the 92nd Battalion as second in command in 1915.

 He lived in Calgary until 1924 and organized the first Canadian rifle team to go to England for Empire competitions and also founded the Calgary Elks’ band.

 Major Bagley came to Banff to reside in 1924 and at the time of his death was writing his memoirs and a history of the North West Mounted Police.

 He is survived by his wife, at Banff; and three daughters, Mrs. B. Hinchcliffe, Edmonton, Mrs. Roy Bent, Lethbridge, and Mrs. Bert Connelly, Lundbreck.

 The funeral service was conducted Friday afternoon at St. Mary’s Church with Rev. Father E.A. Doyle officiating.  After a short resume of the life of this pioneer of the West, Father Doyle briefly explained the text from John, Chapter XI, “I am the Resurrection and the life,” together with the text from 11 Machabees, Chapter XII, “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins.”

 “Having loved Major Bagley in life let us not forget him in death, by our prayers to God.”

 As the cortege left the church an escort of Royal North West Mounted Police Veterans and Legion members preceded the funeral coach in the procession to the cemetery, while the active pallbearers comprised of the following members of the R.C.M.P. marched alongside:  Corporal Oliver, Constables Gostling, Carter, Scanlan, McCallum, and Grey.  In attendance were Col. Hancock, assistant commissioner, R.C.M.P., and Inspector McGibbon, officer commanding Calgary Sub-Division, R.C.M.P.

 At the graveside Father Doyle pronounced the last rites following which members of the Canadian Legion filed by the grave each depositing a poppy on the Union Jack draped casket.

 Honorary pallbearers were six members of the R.N.W.M.P. Veterans’ Association: F.E. Shillan, J. Nash, F.A. Caswell, A. Ball, J.E. Cullen and E.V. Rose.

Banff Funeral Service supervised by Jacques Funeral Home, Calgary, were in charge of arrangements, and internment was made in the Banff cemetery.

 (Editor’s Note:  October 8th, 1945)



(Taken from Western People, dated December 1, 1988 By Gray Campbell)

The 1874 Mounties had their Red River carts traveling in groups of three, with one sturdy oz to each cart.  The driver controlled the leading ox by means of a rope attached to the beast’s horns.  The second and third oxen with ropes around their horns were tied to the cart in front.

 Young Bagley’s first experience driving a cart was a disaster.  First he had to conquer his initial fear of the oxen; then his impatience caused a rather drastic correction as they fell behind in the column.  With a stout stick he belted the lead ox and all three set off across the prairie in a mad gallop.  The trumpeter was left standing, unable to keep up or stop them as they shed the sacks of rations far and wide.  Horrified at the sight of the stampede, he figured only the Rockies would stop them.

 Fortunately Col. Macleod was cantering along, saw the unfortunate recruit’s predicament.  He halted the runaways and sent a detail back to gather and reload the scattered cargoes.

 The cart, made of oak, did not have a spike or metal bolt in its frame.  In addition to the wooden bolts there were yards of shaganappi (raw hide) wrapped around the spokes and felloes.  There was no grease for the axles and Bagley described the noise of one Red River cart, with squeals, grunts and groans more horrible than Swift’s packing plant in Chicago during a hog killing.

 With 114 carts in the brigade, the outfit could be heard on the prairie long before it was seen.  When they eventually reached Old Man’s River they were surprised to learn the din had so impressed the Blackfeet that they estimated the force must be “as numerous as ants on an ant hill.”

 The unexpected duty of driving ox carts was, at first, a humiliating demotion.  But there were some perks to soothe their wounded pride.  The brigade carried all the food in bulk and, by soldier cunning, it was possible to make a selection from several carts for a decent meal.  So during their time on the drive they were able to avoid the eternal “23” (a mug of tea) or “wet and dry” (tea or water with hard tack).

 Most of the time they were able to scrounge a satisfactory meal, but one time he and Sub-Const. Jean Claustre found themselves separated from the rest of the brigade.  Their noon stop was beside a small pool of stagnant water.  The sub-constable’s cart contained only flour.  Bagley had loads of sugar.  They had a glorious feed of flour paste and brackish water.  Bagley noted that they experienced no bad after effects.

 Before he was relieved of this duty and returned to his pony in the column, the trumpeter had a more serious mishap.

 He came to a coulee and descended a very steep approach to a corduroy bridge across a partly dried up creek.  The situation was dicey but he made the attempt.  He maneuvered the leading ox safely onto the bridge and was almost across when he heard a thunderous crash.

 The second ox and cart were upside down, suspended in mid-air over the side of the bridge, anchored fore and aft to the tail of No. 1 cart and the horns of No. 3 ox.  The latter, whose sturdy legs were braced, was determined not to follow.  The entire load had been dumped into the mud.

 Tension was quickly relieved by hacking at both ropes.  Ox and cart dropped quickly into the liquid mud and were gradually dragged out to the bank of the creek.  The load, noted Bagley, and probably the driver, were not improved by the mud bath.

 Shortly after this unnerving experience, he was returned to the troop, but the column was not faring too well.  The great march was turning into a weary tramp.  The horses were played out and the commissioner ordered all ranks to dismount and march on foot every second hour.

 Bagley vividly recalls an incident when Sgt. Smythe decided to disobey the order and climbed into the cook wagon.  The commissioner rode by, caught him there and threatened to put him under arrest.  The sergeant refused.

 The commissioner, with a grim smile, rode off without comment while the sergeant retained his seat among the pots and pans.  “Discipline,” said Bagley, “suffered a setback there and then.”

 Bagley tried to follow orders and plugged along, riding and walking the stipulated hours but began to play out.  Just short of camp after a long, hard march he sat down and took off his riding boots.  His feet were blistered and bleeding.  While wondering what to do, Capt. Walker came along.  Without a word, Walker tossed Bagley on his back and carried him the rest of the way.  (Many years later when he had almost caught up with Supt. Walker in rank, Bagley was often reminded of this incident.)

 It was not the happiest of times on the 1874 march.  Bagley mentions how all ranks were suffering stomach disorders from the brackish waters along their route.  Henri Julien said they passed through barren country and suffered a great deal from the heat.  “Our skin felt as if on fire from the combined effects of hot winds, dust and mosquito bites.”

 They passed the Butte Marquee or Hill of the Murdered Scout where a Cree had killed a Mandan during a skirmish some 70 years before.  Bagley said their Metis pointed out the rock and some of the men decided to carry it with them as a souvenir.  They did not carry it far and, in retrospect, Bagley decided the blood stains were most likely red lichen growth.

 Critically short of water, the guides told them that a spring lay just ahead, but it was only a dirty hole.  But both Bagley and Julien mention they dug holes, sank barrels and found water cool and sweet in sufficient quantity for horses and men.

 They managed to struggle on until in the afternoon of July 24.  La Roche Percee came into view.  On the bank of the Souris they made their next rest camp and Bagley reported a riot of bathing and washing of clothes.  In addition to water, wood and grass they found outcroppings of coal for their portable forges.

 Some of the horses, extremely tired, did not reach camp until the following morning; many of them lay down, unable to rise.  The commissioner decided to remain camped for a few days.  The men had their first issue of buffalo pemmican; they held a church parade and organized a band composed of fife and a tin dish for a drum, played with tent pegs.

 While still in rest camp many officers and men visited Roche Percee and puzzled over the hieroglyphics that scored on its sides.  Some initials and words indicated that Custer and men of the 7th United States Cavalry had visited from their headquarters near Bismarck, two years before Custer’s Last  Stand.

 Letters and papers reached them from Dufferin and they learned the American press had been running a story that the force had been exterminated by the Sioux.  It had been doubtlessly circulated by the deserters who had taken leg bail over the frontier.   The commissioner sent a careful report back to Dufferin that his command was in good health and high spirits.

 A horse in F troop died but the majority picked up rapidly on good pasture.  The commissioner decided, however, that it was time to disperse the column.

 On July 29 all horses were paraded and 55 of the weakest were placed under inspector Jarvis in A Troop.  The best mounts in A were divided among the other troops.  Jarvis and Sub-Insp. Gagnon were sent off to Fort Edmonton, taking with them 24 wagons, 55 carts, 62 oxen, 50 cows and calves and 12 half-breeds.

 It was the last time all six troops would be together and they parted with good wishes and farewells.  Trumpeter Bagley saddled up and joined the five troops under Col. French.  The column proceeded northwest, fresh and eager for more adventure, no one more keen to penetrate the vast land than young Bagley.    

 Major and Mrs. Bagley Mark Golden Wedding

(origin of newspaper article unknown)

Last of Original ’74 Mountie Band is Well-known

 Banff, June 10. – A host of friends, Banffites and Calgarians, Tuesday will call at a bungalow in Banff to offer their congratulations to Major and Mrs. Fred Bagley on their golden wedding anniversary.

 Last survivor of the small band of North West Mounted Police “originals” who in 1874 trekked across the prairies to introduce law and order in the west; veteran of the Riel Rebellion and the Boer War; organizer and conductor of the first Calgary orchestra and band; “Father of the Musicians Union of Calgary,” as testified by an illuminated address presented to him by that organization and pioneer and starter of many other ventures which have become part of the west, Major Fred Bagley, 88, will, with his gracious wife receive well-wishers.

 Major Bagley was born in Jamaica, British West Indies, in 1858. In 1870 his parents moved to Kingston, Ont., and it was in that city, in the spring of 1874 that he enlisted at 16 as trumpeter in the newly-formed North West Mounted Police.


 Summer of 1874 saw him trekking across the prairies behind Colonel French, to the Sweetgrass Hills.  From one police fort to another he was moved during the following few years and the Riel Rebellion of 1885 found him on duty at Frog Lake.  By 1890 he was staff sergeant.

 Lucy May Kerr-Francis was born at Lindsay, Ont. In 1868.  Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kerr-Francis, Lucy May’s parents, in 1885 decided to go to California via Calgary.  They liked Calgary so well they did not go on.  Lucy May met Staff Sergeant Fred Bagley, and they were married on June 11, 1890.

 The young couple were immediately sent to Banff where Staff Sergeant Bagley was under Inspector Harper.  Immediately after the Indian trouble with “Almighty Voice” the Bagleys were sent to Duck Lake where Staff-Sergt. Bagley was placed in charge.

 During the following few years, the Bagleys were stationed again in Banff, at Maple Creek, Battleford, Calgary and Regina, then in 1899, with the rank of Sergeant Major (of “A” Division) Fred Bagley retired from the force.


 He served as captain throughout the Boer War, then on returning to Calgary was engaged as city license inspector.  From that he changed to work in the land titles office.  On the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined and helped to recruit the 82nd Battalion, then with the rank of major was transferred to the 192nd Battalion as second in command.  Following the war he rejoined the staff of the land titles office, then in 1924 retired from that work and move to Banff.

 He was headquarters bandmaster of the first Mounted Police band at Regina; organized the first Calgary Mounted Police band.  Old-timers still remember the Mounted band which he led through Calgary’s streets.  He organized the Calgary Citizen’s band in 1903, and later took the band to the 15th Light Horse on tour of Canada, and the British Isles.

 Following the war of 1914-18 he organized and conducted for some years the Elks band of Calgary.  He is a life member of the Alberta Rifle Association and was its first president.


 For a few years after taking up residence in Banff, Major Bagley interested himself in and work, but in the past few years has spent most of his time with his books, his souvenirs, and his diary.  The diary is the only known one existing of the day by day experience of the “originals” of ’74.  From it, Major Bagley is reconstructing some of his adventures of the “originals” and writing them in detail.

 Major and Mrs. Bagley have three daughters:  Mrs. J. Hinchliffe of Edmonton, who is with her parents for the golden wedding celebration; and Mrs. Roy Bent and Mrs. Bert Connelley, both residing at Lundbreck, Alta.


(origin of newspaper article unknown)

 One of three last remaining members of the old original group who joined the Mounted Police at its inception in 1873, Fred Bagley had gained distinction as a police officer and a soldier, as well as a good citizen whom the people of Banff will miss for many years to come.  Major Bagley was No. 247 of the old Force and came west with men like Col. Walker, Sir Cecil Denny and many others of that famous group who faced the early west on a march that has few parallels in modern history.  They came to enforce law and order on a new frontier and begin a reign of peace and prosperity which laid the foundations for a prosperous Canadian West.

Many of the present-day features that have gained distinction for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were inaugurated during the time that Fred Bagley served with the men of Scarlet and Gold.  He was first bandsman among the members of the force and was the leader of the police band in Calgary where he was stationed for many years.

 Serving with distinction in the South African War where his knowledge of men and horses stood him in good stead, he was promoted and returned with the South African Contingent as a major.  Many historians of the force have likened Fred Bagley to the ideal police officer of the early days.  He was a strict and stern disciplinarian, yet with-all, maintained a keen faculty for friendship and comraderie that gained him a very wide circle of friends throughout the whole province of Alberta.  Settling in Banff, he became a well-known figure, beloved by all.  He retained a keen memory all through his later years, memories which covered the whole growth of the Canadian west.