The Force in the North


Since the establishment of Fort Constantine by the North-West Mounted Police in 1895, a large number of NWMP detachments have opened and closed in a wide variety of locations throughout the Yukon. While only 19 Mounties accompanied Charles Constantine to FortyMile by 1898 there were 285 NWMP members in the Yukon.

"Fort Herchmer, located at Dawson, became the new headquarters in summer 1897. On June 13, 1898, after the Yukon Territory was created, the now 31 detachments were reorganized into "H" and "B" Divisions. Superintendent Samuel Benfield Steele arrived at the head of the Lynn Canal, the main entrance to the gold fields, in February, 1898. Inspectors D'Arcy Strickland and Robert Belcher took charge of the detachments established at the summits of White and Chilkoot passes. Their chief official function was collecting customs duty for supplies brought into the Yukon by gold seekers". (source: Origins of the RCMP, RCMP website)

Police posts could be as grand as Fort Herchmer in Dawson City or as simple as a tent set up near a busy mining area. Detachments often closed and opened in response to frequent population shifts. Many detachments were simple log cabins that were both office and home. Usually one or two Mounties patrolled hundreds of square miles by dogsled, canoe and on foot from these detachments.

Some detachments were opened only seasonally to patrol either the river or winter routes through the Yukon, while others opened and closed as mining activities rose and fell on the creeks. As the population dropped after the Klondike Gold, the number of posts was reduced to only 11 in 1911.

The Yukon’s most northerly detachment was huddled on a wind swept island in the Beaufort Sea. The detachment at Herschel Island was originally opened in order to monitor American whalers. In its final years, the detachment was a dog breeding station, supplying various RCMP detachments across the north. The detachment operated from 1903-1933 and 1948-1964.

The attached map will show detachment locations, photographs and present small histories at specific areas. The following detachments stories and overviews are largely compiled from Royal North-West Mounted Police Annual Report Sessional Papers. These are reports written by the Mounties who served in the North to their supervisors. They tell the detachment histories in the Mounties' own words.