The Ten Mile Patrol – By Sgt. D. A. Fleming


(Article taken from the Scarlet and Gold)

Editors Note:  #6095 Sgt. David Allison Fleming Sr. was a member of Calgary Division until his death.  He is the father of Calgary Division member #S9801 David A. Fleming Jr.

The following is taken from his file:  Reg. No. 6095 ex-Sgt. David Allison Fleming, Sr., 71 died June 20, 1966 at Calgary, Alta.  He was born July 7, 1894 at Aldershot, England, and joined the RNWMP Sept. 4, 1914 at Macleod, Alta.  He took his discharge a year later but rejoined at Maple Creek, Sask., on Nov. 11, 1915.  He left the Force again on Nov. 10, 1916 and a month later enlisted in the 77th Battery C.F.A.  He served in France and Belgium and was demobilized on Apr. 10, 1919.  He joined the Saskatchewan Provincial Police on Sept. 20, 1922 and served for one year.  On Aug. 1, 1927 he engaged in the Preventive Service and he became a member of the RCMP Apr. 1, 1932 at Regina, Sask. when the PS branch was absorbed.  He was promoted to lance corporal on Nov. 12, 1934 and to corporal on Dec. 1, 1935.  he was raised to Sergeant on Nov. 1, 1942 and he retired on Sept. 30, 1947.  The following day he signed on as a special constable and he retired to pension on Nov. 30, 1948, having served for over 26 years.  He had been stationed at Regina, Govenlock, Shaunavon, Swift Current, Fox Valley and Maple Creek. 

Just before the First World War I was stationed at old “A” Division, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, and being a recruit my duties were the ordinary Barrack routine, which at that time amounted to Stable Orderly, Prisoners, Escort, Saddleroom Fatigues and Guard Duties. 

One evening I was called into the Sergeant Major’s office and received instructions to patrol on the morning following, per Saddle Horse Number 396, to Ten Mile, Willow Creek and Kelvinhurst, all outlying detachments of the division.  I remember that I stood and received the instructions as solemnly as if the whole future of Western Canada lay on y shoulders.  I walked back to the barrackroom as proudly as one of Napaoleon’s Marshall’s, picked up my bridle, headrope and saddle blanket, and took myself off to the saddleroom, there to clean al leather and steel, and carefully shake and fold the saddle blanket.  After completing the cleaning of the leather work, I went to the stable, and saw that Saddle Horse Number 396, had plenty of hay and bedding.  Most horses had a name at “A” Division and it was rather odd that this animal had none, unless it was the coarse terms which were hurled at him by everyone that had anything to do with him.  In this his names were legion owing to his great liking of placing his teeth, when your back is turned, into your arms, pants, or anywhere he could take hold and he had a further liking of trying his best to place one of his hoofs upon your nethermost parts when the opportunity presented itself.  However, he was tough, and could hit the trail with the best of them. 

The following morning after numerous grunts, and excessive muscle pressure put forward by the horse, he was saddled, and bridled.  I then carefully tied on my slicker at the rear of the cantle, as we used the Western Stock Saddle at that time, and reported out to the Division Orderly’s office. 

After walking No. 396 out of the barracks ground, and west around the fence I struck the trail to Fort Walsh, Ten Mile, Willow Creek, and all points south, and adding a little pressure with my knees, as per riding instructions, he started off to trot two miles when I stopped and tightened the cinch, as per “The Care and Management of Horses.”  This done I continued south to the Lawrence Ranch, where I produced my Patrol Slip for settler’s signature, and appearing very serious, I asked the rancher if he had any complaints.  Receiving his reply in the negative, I entered in the remarks column – “No Complaints,” and went on to the ranch of Billy Smalls, where a policeman was always welcome at dinnertime.  I placed No. 396 in the barn, took off the saddle, and placed it over a rail in the corral as I did not wish to hang it up by the horn or stirrup like a cowpunchers, as it was too clean.  After dinner I went to the barn to re-saddle, and here I met with my first mishap as I found that a horse occupied the corral, and had nosed my saddle off its high perch.  There it lay, not on the ground, but in that rather sticky mixture of grass and water that is usually found in corrals.  The saddle, which I had to was immediately, and wait 20 minutes for it to dry, much to the amusement of the rancher.  I re-saddled, and obtaining Billy Small’s signature on my precious Patrol Slip, continued south.  Crossing Fish Creek to Kearn’s Ranch I obtained the third signature, and ultimately ended at Scotty MacLaren’s ranch in the Six Mile Coulee, where I enjoyed his true Scotch hospitality. 

MacLaren’s ranch lay in the bottom of a large coulee, the ranch buildings being on the south slope; and to the north lay a large hay meadow.  To the south the coulee was deep, and evergreens covered the west slope.  From the ranch ran a deep-rutted trail to the south-west going right up the coulee’s slope.  It was the Old Fort Wash Trail I would meet with more people thus by following the Six Mile Trail to Ten Mile.   

Next morning bright and early I took the trail to 0ld Fort Walsh.  I dropped down on to the Wood and Anderson Ranch, past the Police cemetery, and crossed the site of Fort Walsh on Battle Creek to Macleod Crossing.  I rode east here, and not finding the residents I was suppose to find, crossed to the Six Mile Coulee, where I found two half breed families named Munro and Adams at a wood camp.  I interviewed them and continued along to the Spangler ranch, where I fed and watered and continued my journey to Battle Creek Post Office.  This post office was operated by Arthur Emmanual Simpson, known to all as “Windy.”  His name suited him for he could talk on any subject, was good natured, good hearted, and could cuss faster than anyone I ever knew.  He had plenty of friends, knew all the gossip in the neighborhood, and ran a small store.  “Windy” was shrewd in his own way and one could learn a lot by just listening; I heard the history of the district past and present, and secured his valued signature.  Taking “Windy’s” advice I continued down the coulee to the Lindner and Patterson ranches, and finally arrived at Ten Mile Detachment, feeling quite proud of myself, and thinking, “Well, these blokes will be glad to see someone from the settlements anyway.”  But my thoughts were short lived. 

I dismounted in the detachment yard, and proceeded on foot, a bit stiff, to the door.  It opened and out strode the largest and most portly corporal I have ever seen in the Mounted Police.  Questions were fired at me in rapid order.  Name? Where from? Where bound?  When had I left Maple Creek, and where the … had I been taking two days to get to Ten Mile, when it was a one day ride?  Badly brow-beaten, I crawled into my shell in a hurry, but was saved a further going over by the arrival of Mrs. Botteley, to whom I was introduced by the corporal and, blushing furiously in my predicament, I did my best to acknowledge the introduction.  I later discovered that in meeting Corporal and Mrs. T.R.D. Botteley I had met two people who were always kind to a constable of the Force, no matter what time he arrived, and can also think of kindness shown to us all by them, when at times in winter Mrs. Botteley would send fresh eggs to the barracks when it was impossible to buy them. 

I informed Corporal Botteley of my instructions, and he instructed me to stable my horse, as it was a long way to the Jahn ranch on Middle Fork,  and to leave in the morning.  I therefore gave No. 396 the necessary attention and had time to look around Ten Mile Detachment. 

The following morning I continued my patrol from Ten Mile to Jahn ranch, and there met “Uncle” as Mr. Jahn was known by.  He raised fine Belgian horses and I saw many as I rode his range.  I continued to Willow Creek Detachment, and on arrival met Cpl. W. Bath, Cst. M. Brockie, Dr. H.L. Dixon, Government Vet., and Bill Tudgey, the cook.  The detachment buildings were of lumber, and the site was immediately below the breaks of Willow Creek, on which it was located.  A fine large stable stood directly north of the detachment and there was a nice garden.  Willow Creek was built in 1905, and Sergeant Pat Allen was its first occupant.  Before that “Pat” had been stationed there under canvas.  The detachment stood three-quarters of a mile north of the International Boundary on the west bank of Willow Creek, and approximately 85 miles south, south-west, of Maple Creek. 

I remained overnight at Willow Creek, and enjoyed the efforts of Bill Tudgey who could do more with Police rations than any man I ever met.  I enjoyed my visit with the detachment members and Mr. Dixon.  They were four good men and true. 

The following morning I rod to Kelvinhurst Detachment, traveling east via the Badger lease, where I met some riders from Q Ranch at Wild Horse – the home of many a good Police horse.  On arrival at Kelvinhurst I met Constable Warrior, known to the men as “Warhorse.”  Warrior was a fine chap and I enjoyed my visit with him very much, and the hospitality of the McKinnons, at whose ranch the detachment was situated.  While there I met Isaac Stirling, rancher, later a member of the Saskatchewan Legislature, and well-known throughout the district. The next morning Warrior accompanied me as far as Davis Lake, now, Cypress Lake, and continuing westward, met “Sandy” Gilchrist, a well known rancher in south western Saskatchewan and south eastern Alberta, whose ranch the Governor-General, Lord Tweedsmuir, visited in 1938.  Sandy gave me some letters to mail for him, and I rode west to Ten Mile. Passing the Marshall and Gaff ranches en route.  It was on the last stage of this part of my trip that I got a real view of this large territory.  Davis Lake lay to the east.  The Old Man on His Back Plateau lay to the south-east.  The tips of the Little Rockies, in Montana, could be seen to the south-southeast.  The Bear Paw Mountains lay to the south and in the distance to the south-southwest lay Signal Butte.  South-west rose the Three Buttes of the Sweet Grass Hills.  North-west lay the bench, with the sharp point of the “Indian Lookout” jutting out of the coulee above Fort Walsh; immediately to the north was the Gap of the Six Mile Coulee.  The site of old Ten Mile Detachment at the mouth of the Ten Mile Coulee lay immediately below.  It was a grand view.  In spots the landscape was quite clear, other parts were dim and hazy with many shades of blue.  It was the haze that the brush of Russell, the cowboy artist, has made so famous.  This then was old Ten Mile.  It was full of color and nothing drab about it.  A different setting altogether from what is seen in the north.  I continued to the old detachment site where I met ex-Constable Hugh Thomas and put up for the night with him.  In the course of our conversation, I received the following history from him: 

“Ten Mile Detachment area was patrolled by the police from 1875 to 1887, the patrols being details from Fort Walsh.  In summer the detachment covering the patrol remained under canvas in the Ten Mile Coulee, and in the winter the patrols were carried out from Fort Walsh direct.  During the rebellion of ’85, the patrol was kept in Ten Mile Coulee from the very early spring to the late fall, and care was taken to keep the encampment out of sight.  Fort Walsh was abandoned by the Mounted Police in 1883, and the personnel moved to Maple Creek.  At that time it was decided to build a permanent detachment at Ten Mile, so that the area from Fort Walsh to the international boundary line could be properly policed.  It was also decided to construct a telegraph line from Fort Benton, Montana, via Fort Assiniboia to Ten Mile and on to Walsh Station, on the C.P.R. in Alberta.  Ten Mile was to be the relay station.  This was constructed, and Ten Mile was used as such from 1883 to 1892. 

In 1887, certain buildings at Fort Walsh were dismantled, the logs being numbered at the time, and moved to Ten Mile, where they were re-erected.  These buildings were of spruce and pine logs, squaw notched, mud plastered, with pole roofs covered with hay and clay.  The buildings for the men consisted of a kitchen, 12 x 14 feet; a barrackroom, 12 x 16 feet; and a storeroom 10 x 12 feet.  These were located on the north side of the detachment site, facing south, to the west of them stood the stable and granary.  The stable was 24 x 18 feet and had three single stalls on either side.  The Telegraph Office stood east of the stable and south of the barrackroom.  It was a small room 10 x 12 feet, and to the south of which stood the officers’ quarters, which consisted of quarters and cookhouse combined.  The quarters being 12 x 16 feet and the cookhouse 12x14 feet respectfully.  The telegraph line from Walsh station, Alberta, to Fort Assiniboia was approximately 130 miles long.  The first operator at Ten Mile Detachment for the relay station was Constable Kennedy, the second and last operator being Constable J. Austin. Who died in Calgary about 1931. 

The then Ten Mile Detachment was built in 1892 – 1894, and the location of same was surveyed by the late Inspector Townsend.  The logs for these buildings were hauled from the head of the mountain about thirty-five miles north-west  of Ten Mile, after which they were peeled and, when erected, dovetailed, the roofs shingled.  A fence surrounded the entire detachment.  The detachment consisted of Officers’ quarters, barrackroom and cookhouse combined, stable, granary and saddleroom, and blacksmith shop, the building of which took a considerable time, and a sound job was made.  When Ten Mile was finally closed the buildings were purchased by a rancher in 1927, removed and re-erected.;  No telegraph office was built, as the telegraph system had been abandoned.” 

Before leaving the history of Ten Mile, one cannot but mention some of the old members, many of them being well known; Sgt. A.A. Menely, S/Sgt. Homes, Sgt. Pry Patterson i/c Scotts, Sgt. W.R. ‘Baldy’ McMinn, Sgt. Pat Allen, S/Sgt. Quinn, Sgt. Percy Cutting, Sgt, John Richards (Late Inspector), Sgt. Brown, Sgt. Mathewson, Cpl. Bailey, Cpl. Botteley, Cst. Tom  Nash, Louis Cabelle and Paul LaValle, Scouts, and Cst. F.J. Fitzgerald, late Inspector who died on the Dawson-McPherson Patrol in 1911.  Old-timers in the Cypress Hills still remember these men and speak of them with affection and respect. 

Ex-Constable Hugh Thomas informed me of an incident that happened at Ten Mile.  In the early winter of 1892-1893, Sgt. Pat Allen with four of five men went to Maple Creek to haul the winter supplies to Ten Mile.  The weather was so bad that it took them seven days to make the trip.  One item of the supplies was a five gallon glass jug full of coal oil, which was the total issue of light for the Detachment use until spring.  When passing through the Six Mile Coulee this jar was broken, and all the coal oil lost.  Allen apparently had groused about sitting in darkness until spring.  However, the next thing known, was that Pat had applied for leave and received it, and immediately took himself off to Ireland, and did not return until spring.  Sgt. Richards, late Inspector, was left in charge of the detachment, and it was necessary for them to save all bacon grease for lighting purposes, this was used in a tin cup with a wick hanging over the side, giving a very feeble light, which was all the light the detachment enjoyed until spring. 

Ex-Constable Thomas died in Maple Creek Hospital in 1939, and his last wish was that he be buried at old Fort Walsh Cemetery in his beloved Cypress Hills.  This was done and a large assembly of Maple Creek and country folk, with a sprinkling of red coats, did him a final honor. 

The hour was getting late, so Thomas and I rolled in, daylight coming all too soon.  At the stable No. 396 receiving the necessary care and attention, after which, when my back was turned, he caught me, yes, on the left side, and on my return to Maple Creek that day I had to favour the right stirrup all the way.  On my arrival at barracks I had completed my first patrol and felt more like a member of the R.N.W.M.P.