Showing the Flag: The Mounted Police and Canadian Sovereignty in the North, 1894-1925

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University of British Columbia Press, 1985 - Social Science - 220 pages

Under their various names the Mounted Police have played a vital, colourful, but often controversial role in Canadian history, and nowhere has this been truer than on the northern frontier. The police were the agents through which the central government asserted sovereignty over the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, just as it had done earlier on the Prairies.

This book describes to what extent the RCMP shaped the northern frontier -- a frontier which steadily shifted, separating territory under actual government control from that in which it was nominal. The chapters treat each new spurt in this expansion and the period of contact and transition which followed.

As agents of the government the police imposed on the Canadian North a system largely alien to it which was designed not to express the aspirations of the north but to regulate and control it. Through the enforcement of laws and in other public services the RCMP demonstrated that the land and its people including the Indians and Inuit, belonged to Canada. This political nature of the force was of the highest importance. In assessing their performance of often harsh and dangerous duties, Morrison refers to them as "group heroes" in the "Canadian tradition of collective heroism."

In view of the current concern over Canada's sovereignty in the Polar Seas, this book is a timely explanation of how the territory was originally brought into the orbit of Canadian control in what was thought to be the final chapter in Canada's "manifest destiny."

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About the author (1985)

William R. Morrison is a professor of history at Brandon University.

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