1891 -1900

The Northern Frontier…

Following a fact-finding mission in 1894 to the unorganized areas of what was to become the Yukon Territory, the N.W.M.P. submitted a detailed report to Ottawa.
This led to the dispatch in June 1895 of a small force of Mounties under Inspector Charles Constantine, who had been appointed Inspector-General for the territory as well as magistrate, gold commissioner, land agent, and collector of customs.
Under Constantine, and later Sam Steele, the fair and fearless law enforcement and the compassionate assistance provided to people during the wild Klondike Gold Rush era became another part of Canadian heritage.

In his 1884 report, Constantine had expressed concern about whalers wintering on Herschel Island off the Yukon’s north coast and in the unpoliced Mackenzie to the east.
They traded whiskey with the natives for “furs, walrus ivory bones and their young girls.”
With things under control in the Chilkoot, the N.W.M.P. turned their attention to the “Sodom and Gomorrah of the Ice-Fields.”
In August 1903 their men met the arriving whalers on Herschel Island.

“A lot of liquor came ashore the first few days, but most of it eventually fell into our hands.”

Law and order were soon established.
The whaling fleets vanished by 1906 with the discovery of a substitute for whalebone for women’s’ corsets, but the Mounties stayed at Herschel Island to take care of the Inuit along the coast and to maintain a Canadian presence in the North.

By the end of the 19th Century, the N.W.M.P. had made life on the western and northern frontiers secure.
In 1897 a contingent of Mounties attended Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in England.
Wearing felt hats, red cloth tunics, blue breeches and black boots and carrying Winchester rifles, they personified the glamour and dash of the high noon of the Empire.

At the breakout of the Boer War In 1899, Superintendent Sam Steele requested leave from the NWMP to volunteer for service in South Africa. By 1900 he was offerred command of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, a British army regiment, the first contingent comprised, in large part, by members of the NWMP. Steele and the Lord Strathcona’s Horse returned to Canada in 1901, however, Steele went back to South Africa and commanded ‘B’ Division of the South Arfican Constabulary until 1906. Returning to Winnipeg in 1907, Steele assumed command of Military Division No. 10, where he spent his time reorganizing Lord Strathcona’s Horse.

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