The North West Mounted Police

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Our guest contribution this month has a Canadian theme. Hugh Lodge, in collaboration with other members of the Stuttaford family, has spent 7 years researching their history, following the family, not only back to Dartmoor, but overseas to South Africa, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. 


Patient research has teased out the stories of a brave man and a tough woman, each of whom played their  part  in the taming of the wilderness that was Western Canada in the latter part of the 19th century. John Morehouse Stuttaford was one of the founding members of the North West Mounted Police and he rode in the first contingent to man Fort  Macleod in 1874. That fact alone puts him into Canada's history  books and his death in 1927 at the age of 85 was headline news because he became the last survivor of this historic expedition. We'll be presenting Sarah Stuttaford's story in the next Issue.


The Canadian Government set up the NWMP (North West Mounted Police) in 1873 in an attempt to bring an enormous area, now the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, under some sort of control. As early as 1870, the Government had talked about laying down a railway which would cross Canada but rumours suggested that it would be far too dangerous to start work in this wilderness in its untamed state. 

Map courtesy

The area was inhabited by Native Indians plus American fur traders who not only traded with the Indians for alcohol but trapped the white wolf with poisoned bait. Dogs were an essential part of Indian hunting culture but they often found the poisoned carcases of the wolves and died after eating them.

This created mounting tension which the Canadian Government was determined to bring under control. Matters came to a head with the Cypress Hills Massacre in 1873 when wolf hunters attacked an Indian camp, killing up to 200 people. When they returned home to American territory, they were greeted as heroes for what they had done, leaving the Canadian Government outraged.

İRoyal Canadian Mounted Police


Legislation was forced through Parliament and soon the first contingent of police were in training. The following summer, around 300 riders, including John Stuttaford, set out on the long journey that would bring the rule of law to the vast territories of the West.

Eventually the NWMP were renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and today, they have a presence throughout Canada. The broad-brimmed hat and the distinctive long spur came later but their determination to "always get their man" was there from the very beginning and John Stuttaford was part of that.

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