While the predecessors of the RCMP, the North-West Mounted Police were officially created with an act of the House of Commons in 1873, the force itself still needed to recruit troopers, officers, and more, and get everyone trained.  

Throughout the fall and winter of that year, and into the spring of 1874, 300 men would gather at Fort Dufferin, near what is now Emerson, Manitoba, for training. They would undergo many trials and tribulations throughout their training but would pass muster as the summer of 1874 came around.  

On July 8th, 150 years ago to the day, the NWMP, with Commissioner George French in charge, departed from Fort Dufferin on what would become known as the March West. They would head out, through Manitoba, into what is now Saskatchewan, where they passed places such as Butte Marguee, Roche Percé, Old Wives’ Lake, the Cypress Hills, and more on their journey to bring law and order to the North West Territories.  

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the story of their trip, from an encounter with a swarm of grasshoppers that would be an omen of scarce forage, to meeting with Indigenous leaders near Mossbank; from coming to the site of the Cypress Hills Massacre, which precipitated the creation of the force, to pointing a cannon at Fort Whoop-Up.  

The first episode looks at the creation of the NWMP, leading up to its departure 150 years ago today. Watch to learn more about the journey that would give Saskatchewan’s Highway 13 the moniker “The Red Coat Trail”. New episodes in this series will be coming out in the coming weeks.