1881 – 1890

Of Railroads and Rebellion!

The railroad would prove to be a powerful influence in the development of the West and the unity of Canada.
Canada’s ability to partly move military forces quickly from Eastern Canada by rail during the North West Rebellion of 1885 was a significant factor in quelling the rebellion in fairly short order. But first, that remarkable feat of railway building faced the young nation. For their valuable role in this grand national enterprise, the N.W.M.P. were highly praised by General Manager W.C. Van Horne in a letter to the Commissioner of the Force:

“Dear Sir,

Our Work of construction for the year 1882 has just closed, and I cannot permit the occasion to pass without acknowledging the obligations of the company to the North West Mounted Police, whose zeal and industry in preventing traffic in liquor and preserving order along the line under construction have contributed so much to the successful prosecution of the work. Indeed, without the assistance of the officers and men of the splendid force under your command, it would have been impossible to have accomplished so much as we did. On no great work within my knowledge, where so many men have been employed, has such perfect order prevailed. On behalf of the company and of all the officers, I wish to return our thanks and to acknowledge particularly out obligations to yourself and Major Walsh.

(Signed) W.C. Van Horne,
General Manager.”

During the North West Rebellion in 1885 the Mounties again served with distinction.
They saw action at Duck Lake, Fort Pit, Cut Knife Hill, Batoche, and in the pursuit of Big Bear.
Their Outstanding contribution in the containment and suppression of this rebellion is largely unknown to Canadians mainly because their contribution has not been adequately presented in historical writings readily available to the public.

East Kootenays, British Columbia

By 1887 considerable unrest had been caused by the encroachment of white settlers into the East Kootenays, where the upper Kootenay Indians were on the point of an uprising in retaliation.
The Dominion Government sent a detachment of 75 N.W.M.P. to Galbraith’s Ferry under the command of Superintendent Sam Steele.
They arrived August 1, 1887 and established Kootenay Post, the first N.W.M.P. post in British Columbia.
Diplomacy, fairness and common sense settled the problems peacefully.
On August 7, 1888, Steele and his men returned to Fort MacLeod in Alberta.
Residents changed the name of Galbraith’s Ferry to Fort Steele in honour of Steele’s achievements.

Settlement Grew

Small settlements soon grew up around the Mounted Police forts.
As the policemen became time-expired, many of the settled as farmers or ranchers in the territory they helped to make safe for development.
The N.W.M.P. oversaw and assisted peaceful settlement of hundreds of thousands of people on the Western plains.
The Mounties knew where each settler lived and maintained contact with them though an extensive mounted patrol system.

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