Faced with the task of establishing a strong Canadian presence in the North-West Territories, the Canadian government decided to form a paramilitary force, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), to secure the area and establish law and order. The murder of several Native persons by American wolf hunters at the Cypress Hills Massacre in 1873 prompted the decision. The N-WMP recruited men with previous military experience. By 1874, it comprised over 300 men, more than half of which, 174, had previous military experience. About 10 per cent, 32, were ex-members of batteries that had been recently established in Kingston and Quebec. One of these officers was Lieutenant-Colonel French, the man who became the first commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police. During the summer of 1874, the government dispatched a force of 150 N-WMP to the West. Two 9-pounder RML (rifled muzzleloader) guns were among the equipment the force brought west. With the arrival of the mounted force in the West, the Canadian government established its authority in the North-West Territories and a relationship with the First Nations that would facilitate subsequent treaty negotiations.

 

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Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre
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