The Force in the North

The Agent of Government

Whatever was necessary, we’d do it.
-Corporal G.I. Cameron

The Mounties’ role from the time of their arrival in the Yukon in 1894 until the mid-1950s was far-reaching and often involved little traditional policing.  In many northern communities the Mountie detachment was manned by a single officer, who was the representative of the government. From marriages to funerals, from crimes to punishments, the Mounties were the legal agents for it all. “Diverse” best describes the range of the Mounties’ duties.

At Whitehorse and Dawson City, the police kept busy maintaining the post, performing drills and guard duty and as well as patrols and law enforcement. In addition to providing law and order, the lone Mountie at a remote detachment might act as customs agent, mining recorder, dentist, doctor, undertaker and game warden. Although often ill-trained and poorly equipped for such duties, the Mounties performed them nonetheless.

Corporal J.S. Hanna served at the Carcross and Tantalus detachments in 1905 and 1906.  His diary entries document the day-to-day life and duties of a member of the RNWMP. Maintaining a town census, recording suspect descriptions, making arrests and building coffins were but a few of his duties.