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THE NORTH-WEST MOUNTED POLICEMAN.
A Character Sketch.
BY AN EX-POLICEMAN.
VER the wide Canadians should be proud. On the prairies of that margin of every page in the history of Great North- the civilization of the North-West, his West” of ours there figure is indelibly stamped, and though rides a gallant, he follow the vanishing Indian down scarlet-clad horse- the fast dimming trail of the buffalo, man, omnipresent yet will his name and his fame ever be throughout the remembered in the land which he has length and breadth helped to civilize. of that vast terri- He presents himself for our obser
tory. From the vation in a variety of guises. On a fertile fields of warm summer day he may be met Manitoba to the strolling down the street of some ristowering peaks ing railroad town, or found seated at
of the Rock- the dining table of some first-class ies, and from the bleak, desolate hotel, as a natty cavalry man. From plains of Montana to the far-off, lone- the button of his forage cap to his sy Slave Lake, his scarlet jacket is brilliantly burnished spurs, he is as known, feared and honoured. He it spick and span as any dandy trooper is who upholds the majesty of law and in the Imperial service; and looks exorder, and sways the sceptre of au- actly what he is, a smart, active solthority over a tract of semi-wilderness dier. On the contrary, while doing measured by tens of thousands of square miles. Within the limits of his jurisdiction mighty is his word and great is his power. He has made the strong arm of British justice a terror to evil-doers, a bulwark and a defence to the peaceable colonist. From the low doorway of his teepee, the Redman scowls askance at the scarlet-coated figure, but the herds of the Paleface graze unmolested. After one glimpse of the blue and yellow forage cap, the typical western desperado, the “ Bad Man,” fresh from lording it over those who frequent the saloons and gambling-hells of the Western States, degenerates (?) into a quiet, peaceful, inoffensive personage. This scarlet-clad horseman is the
Mw.M.P. North-West Mounted Policeman of
Bandsman Canada, and of his brilliant record, of his gallantry and of his efficiency, all
special duty far removed from civil Though he appear in divers outization, he looks exactly what he is ward garbs and upon various duties, not, a border ruffian. Clad in som- yet the inner man is essentially the brero, buckskin shirt, and “Shaps,"* same, a distinct, though broad type, with unshaven (alas ! often dirty) and as a type easily considered. The face, he looks as tough as a broken- elements constituting his nature are down cow-puncher. At the same time not so incongruous as might be supit must be admitted that he looks ex. posed. It is true that he is a combinatremely business-like. He may be tion of All sorts and conditions of dirty, but his horse is not; he may men,” men blown together by the not look fit to appear upon a full “round-up." of the winds of heaven, dress parade, but the condition of his but these do not differ from one anaccoutrements is above
is above reproach other so much as might at first glance Again, when the gentle zephyrs of the appear. The wanderer, the rollingNorth-West blow softly from the pole, stone, the ne'er-do-well, and the prodihe appears in a third character. Wrapped from head to foot in furs, and seated in his narrow “Flatsleigh,” + as he threads his way through the forests and muskegs of the far north, he appears more like an Eskimo than anything else. And he must needs be like an Eskimo in more than outward resemblance, in order to face, on those long dreary miles of patrol, the icy breath of the Arctic winter.
DETACHMENT GUN SQUAD. * Chapareros, or heavy riding overalls of horsehide or calfskin. + A large toboggan, with low back and sides, drawn by dogs or horses.
that he patrols the prairies as a NorthWest Policeman.
In his veins flows the hot, strong blood of the Anglo-Saxon, that fierce, restless current, which, ever surging impetuously onward, has encircled the globe from sunrise to sunrise. Some slight admixture of foreign element there is, a dash of the Teuton or the Gaul, but it is merely a drop in the flood and does not appreciably affect the intensely national character of the man, His is the deep thirst for excitement and adventure, the admiration for muscle and manliness, the
generous scorn for all baseness and cowardice, that distinguishes England's sons
all the world over. His Heming
is the reckless, dashing bravery, the cool, calculating courage, the calm, quiet endurance, that has conquered .so many fields for
our Motherland. With a heart that beats a maddened response to the clanging and clashing
of steel, to the thunder gal, who chiefly recruit the ranks of of galloping hoofs, or the sweet, clear the force, are practically one and the notes of the trumpet singing of fame same individual, and any minor differ- and glory and honour, small wonder ences of rank or station they may pos- that he bolds a foremost and an honsess are soon effaced in the mill of dis- ourable place among the people whose cipline. Whatever has been the pre- guardian he has become. vious life of the recruit, whether clerk In the close pursuit of horse-thieves or aristocrat, student or farmer, he or other criminals, our friend is in his soon becomes but one of a class, and glory. Should he win the race, the but one uniform among many. From prize will probably consist of an inthe midst of a heterogeneous collection terchange of leaden courtesies, oftof humanity he rises as a distinct times deeply felt and long rememfigure, and it is as a distinct figure bered—but this prospect only adds to
MOUNTED POLICEMAN IN STREET DRESS.
his enjoyment, only sinks the spurs duties fail, he falls back upon fielddeeper into his horse's flanks. He sports and athletics. He dearly loves rather enjoys hearing the sharp whip- a horse, a dog, or a gun, and is ever like report of carbine or revolver, and ready for anything that will keep his the vicious scream of a ricochet- muscles active and his mind free from ing bullet sends no chill to his heart. ennui, anything in the shape of fun He calls it “living” to gallop along or excitement. In this, as in many with tiny spats of dust rising from other ways, he is nothing but an the prairie around him, and the zip- overgrown schoolboy, a schoolboy in ping as of insects in his ears. He his love of fun and amusement, in considers it “an experience
an experience ” to have his light heartedness and his irrespona bullet through his body, and fondly sibility. The troubles and cares of imagines that it enlarges his views of humanity weigh lightly upon his life. And death-what cares he for shoulders, the problems of life trouble death as he rushes along through the not his brain. It is nothing to him fragrant prairie breezes, swaying re- whether the world be advancing or sponsive in the saddle to every mo- retrozrading—he has his duty to do tion of his horse, and each nerve and he means to do it, at the same tingling with excitement as his quarry time extracting all the pleasure poscomes into view on the crest of a rise sible out of life. So when not enahead! What cares he that the Rider gaged in sterner games, he rides and of the White Horse follows close shoots, plays cricket and football, and upon his trail, while yet the intoxi- enjoys himself mightily. Utterly cating joy of the headlong chase fills wild and careless, he has absolutely his breast!
no thought for the morrow, no care If there is no chance of a stray or anxiety for the future. Food and bullet or two flying about, he is not clothing are provided for him in averse to an encounter with a prairie abundance, and these, with a regular fire; nor will he murmur at a ininers' supply of pocket money, are quite strike or even a bar room row. All sufficient, he thinks, to satisfy the are pies in which he delights to have heart of man. a finger; and when these and other The amusements mentioned above
are, unfortunately, not his only ones; truly are the rougher and grosser vices, others he has that are not perhaps so but his also are the rougher and sturinnocent. Often, far too often, he dier virtues. He drinks, but he is no embraces vice in the form of pleasure, hypocrite; he swears, but he does not confounding, dissipation with amuse- lie; he gambles, but he does not steal ment. He drinks more or less, gam- and call it politics or business or some bles habitually, and his language at gentler name. times is positively heart-rending. His His is a stern, hard life, a life that, faults cannot be denied, but many ex- in a very short time stamps itself clearcuses may be made for them. Therely upon his individuality, not only of is no gentle hand of mother, sister or character but also of appearance. After sweetheart to hold him in check by a year or two in the force, his its soft restraint; no home ties to sub- quires a sternness eminently suited to due his stormy passions by their sweet, drag the truth from the deceitful refining influence. Living in the bosom of the Indian, but quite unsuitmoral (or rather immoral, atmosphere ed to the tender, veiled glances of a of a barrack-room, separated from most drawing-room. There is a ring of of the culture and refinements of life, command in his voice that is not exhis temptations are peculiarly strong. actly “the smooth phrase of peace.” Let him, therefore, be judged gently, His hand, once white and soft, becomes for if he has many vices he has also hard, brown and muscular, more fitted many virtues. Brave, open-hearted to grasp the butt of a pistol or the hilt and generous to a fault, intensely of a sabre than to turn the leaves of loyal to his friend and conirade, with a music book. His bronzed, weathera high sense of duty (as he sees it), beaten face clearly tells the tale of and a stern resolution in executing it, many a hardship and privation, of he possesses most of the qualities that many a difficulty and danger. Heat endear a man to his fellows. His and cold, hunger and thirst, fatigue