Virden Legion celebrates RCMP 100th anniversary

To commemorate the formation of Canada’s national police force, 100 years ago, the members of the Virden detachment, active and retired, had a place of honour at Virden Legion’s club room, Friday evening, Jan. 31.

Legion member Hank Kyle, introduced the presentation of a plaque to the force: “I want to say ‘thank you’ to them for what they do, how they do it and the risks that they take.”

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He pointed to an incident that took place four decades ago, claiming the life of an RCMP constable here in Virden.

“Last Thursday, was the 41st anniversary of the shooting and the killing of Dennis Onofrey,” said Kyle. “There are two times that I can remember that the town was shut down. One… was when Dennis Onofrey’s funeral was on. Businesses closed their doors.”

Kelvon Smith presented a brief history before (acting corporal) Cst. Paul Morissette was invited to accept the commemorative plaque for the detachment.

Two cakes, one dedicated to the Northwest Mounted Police and the other to the RCMP, were served.

How the RCMP came to be

Prior to the arrival of the "North-West Mounted Police" to the Canadian West, it was a lawless territory. Due to several negative reports the Canadian Government decided, by an Act of Parliament, to form the "North-West Mounted Police" on the 20th of May in 1873. Then, after much organization and obtaining supplies, on July 8, 1874 the North-West Mounted Police marched west with three hundred constables, NCO's, and officers. Upon reaching Alberta they built forts and brought law and order to the land while creating legends of doing their duty under trying circumstances. Their word was trusted by traders, pioneers, and First Nations.

 On June 24, 1904 His Majesty the King gave the Force the title Royal. Now, they were the Royal North-West Mounted Police.

 Feb. 1, 1920 brought a further change.The Government of Canada decided to merge the Dominion Police and the Royal North-West Mounted Police together under the new name Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Mounties are sometimes called The Queen's Cowboys due to an interesting incident in Helena, Montana. At any rate, when news of the name reached the Canadian West the people approved of its fine western flavour.

The RCMP offers a variety of specialized careers. They have their own aviation unit of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, marine unit with small ships and patrol vessels, crime labs, detectives, general patrol constables, etc.  

You can even find the Queen's Cowboys in foreign countries as liaison officers. They can also be found protecting the Prime Minister and visiting VIP's. Mounties are posted at consulates, high commissions, and embassies, when needed.

Of course, they are also horsemen and horsewomen when posted to the RCMP's Musical Ride.

There's much more to be told of the NWMP, RNWMP, and RCMP in books from Border Regional Library, your favourite bookstore, or e-books; very interesting reading.

Researched by Kel Smith; Sources: The Scarlet Force, The Force Carries On, The Queen's Cowboy, and The Law Marches West

© Virden Empire-Advance