The Force in the North

Old Crow/Rampart

Old Crow

The RCMP detachment at Old Crow was established in 1929, the same year the community itself was established. A small community made up mostly of the indigenous Gwich'in, Old Crow is located on the Porcupine River and has only ever been accessible by aircraft or boat.

In the 1930s, Old Crow became the departure point for all northern patrols. These patrols included dog team journeys to Fort McPherson, NWT, and Herschel Island, Yukon. These patrols remained active into the 1960s. Until then, Old Crow was the only Yukon detachment that still used dogs for its winter patrols. The RCMP was converting to snowmobiles for its patrols and the other detachments were ordered to get rid of their dogs. In March, 1969, the last patrol by dog team was made by Constable Warren Townsend and Special Constable Peter Benjamin. The "Last Patrol" took them from Old Crow to Fort MacPherson and Arctic Red River, NWT, then back to Old Crow. The patrol took 26 days to complete and covered more than 800 kilometres.

The detachment at Old Crow also played a vital role during the infamous "Mad Trapper" manhunt. This case was the first in which the RCMP used radio technology and airplanes in their search for the fugitive. Orders and reports from numerous locations, including Old Crow, helped coordinate the massive manhunt that led to the capture and death of Albert Johnston, the Mad Trapper of Rat River.

Today, the RCMP still maintains a detachment at Old Crow. In 2005, the RCMP in Old Crow recreated a patrol to Herschel Island using modern transportation.


Rampart House was established as a Hudson Bay Company trading post in 1890 but was later moved upstream on the Porcupine River, about 400 kilometres north-west of Dawson City. Rampart House was a community that consisted of an independent fur trader and an Anglican missionary. The Gwitch'in had hunted caribou in this area, which was along caribou migration path. The Gwitch'in traded and visited at Rampart House as part of their seasonal round.

The NWMP had a detachment at Rampart House from 1913 until 1929. In 1929, the Gwich'in, along with the RCMP, moved to a new settlement upriver at the confluence of the Porcupine and the Old Crow Rivers. This new settlement was named Old Crow and remains the home of some of the Gwitch'in people today.