They began life in the 19th century as the North West Mounted Police, but in 1896, the new Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, decided that the NWMP should be disbanded.
However, over in the west, the NWMP were becoming incredibly useful containing the excesses of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the force was maintained.
In 1919, the Canadian Parliament voted to merge the NWMP with the Dominion Police, a federal police force that focused on the eastern provinces. When the legislation took effect on February 1, 1920, the name became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and headquarters were moved to Regina.
(Side note: I’ve been to Regina. It’s the prettiest little city in the middle of the prairies, but unless you know your history, you wouldn’t know the RCMP are headquartered there at all).
My first real introduction to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was via the 1990s TV show, Due South, which featured Paul Gross as a do-right Mountie posted to Chicago. That show had a major influence on our coming to Canada: My son, who was eight at the time, agreed that moving to Canada was a good thing, as he wanted to see a real Mountie.
He did, too, about thirty seconds after we got off the plane in Vancouver. There were a half-dozen in the airport. Terry was bitterly disappointed because they weren’t wearing the traditional red serge coat and pointy hat, but the dark brown uniforms that are their standard working uniform – a fact that often surprises non-Canadians.