The RCMP can be criticized for many things, such as busting multiple cannabis grow-ops in the 1980s and 1990s throughout Canada, rather than pursue dangerous crimes. Also, there’s been accusations of institutionalized sexism and racism in the force
But the majority of the members serving in the RCMP across Canada have been thoughtful, helpful and supportive in the communities where they are serving – certainly, Assiniboia isn’t an exception. Even if the local detachment should have larger numbers and an increased presence, the RCMP in Assiniboia are a reliable and trustworthy force in town, regardless of a recent bad apple caught stealing money meant for a charity in January 2017.
Despite the presence of COVID-19, the RCMP are out patrolling Assiniboia’s streets.
The RCMP have established a professional presence in Assiniboia since the late 1920s and earlier. Without Assiniboia’s RCMP detachment, chaos would rule.
Every week, the RCMP have addressed a series of crimes and attended to a variety of investigations in the area. In doing so, the RCMP have proved their worth to Assiniboia and the surrounding regions several times over – data exists to show the RCMP’s value in this region. For example, during the week of Nov. 9-15, the Assiniboia RCMP responded to 21 calls for service, including one sudden death incident, a hit and run, fraud over $5000 and four traffic tickets/warnings.
The RCMP had been part of Saskatchewan’s fabric since the late 1800s, when they were known as the North-West Mounted Police. “Once the North-West Territories were organized as part of Canada in 1870, the government became responsible for law and order,” Historian Thelma Poirier wrote in Wood Mountain Uplands. (p. 49).
The North-West Mounted Police were created in 1873 to patrol the great swathes of forests and prairies to the west of Ottawa formerly known as Rupert’s Land and ruled by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Poirier continued: “In July 1874, three hundred troopers of the North-West Mounted Police under Commissioner George A. French rode west from Dufferin Manitoba to establish a police force in the North-West Territories.” (Wood Mountain Uplands, p. 49).
The Red Coat Trail roadway near the Assiniboia Regional Park Golf Course represents a portion of the approximated 1,300-kilometre route taken by the North-West Mounted Police in 1874, when they arrived in Western Canada on horseback. At this time, Saskatchewan and Alberta were part of the Northwest Territories and didn’t become provinces until 1905.
Barracks for the Royal North-West Mounted Police were established in Assiniboia in February 1914 – the police force had changed their name after 1904 with the ‘Royal’ designation added after their service in South Africa’s Boer War. The actual location of the barracks is unknown, but some thought it could have been the former Home Hotel building at 109 Second Avenue East.
The federal police force left Assiniboia in 1916, when they mobilized for war duty in the First World War.
The Saskatchewan Provincial Police took over policing duties in Assiniboia during the war.
The Royal Northwest Mounted Police returned in 1919, with Sergeant Howard representing the force.
A year later, the RNWMP became the RCMP in 1920 after merging with the Dominion Police.
The RCMP detachment opened in June 1928 soon after the Saskatchewan Provincial Police disbanded. The federal police force rented a house situated on Lot 34 and Block 28 on Fifth Avenue and owned by Albert Chekay for $35 a month to use as their office. The RCMP moved again in 1932 to Third Avenue East then to 118, Fourth Avenue East, where the force remained until June 1950.
Assiniboia was also policed by locally hired officers until the 1940s. The town police included E. Campbell, E.A. Lawrence, C. Wynn-Jones, Mr. Kite, Rudolf Moen, A.J. Johnson, and R. McElgunn.
After spending much of the 1950s inside the west end office of the Masonic Temple on the First block of Fourth Avenue East, the RCMP moved again to a new building at 101 Dominion Road on April 1, 1959.
The RCMP have played an important role in Assiniboia’s history – the force’s mandate doesn’t only pertain to keeping law and order, but also for sustaining the free and democratic values of Canada where ever members are stationed. In the words of the RCMP motto: “Maintiens le droit,” or “uphold the right.”