OTD: North-West Mounted Police established

On today’s date in 1873, the North-West Mount Police (NWMP), a predecessor of today’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), was established following an Order in Council signed by Canada’s third Governor-General Lord Dufferin.

Earlier that year, the government of prime minister John A. Macdonald proposed an act to establish a mounted police force for the North-Western Territory. A major region of British North America until 1870, the territory included present-day Yukon; the mainland Northwest Territories; northwestern mainland Nunavut; northwestern Saskatchewan; northern Alberta; and northern British Columbia.

The new force was unveiled as the “North West Mounted Rifles,” but amid concerns about antagonizing both the U.S. population to the south and the Indigenous population at home, the force was renamed the NWMP when it was officially established in 1873.

According to Library and Archives Canada, the general duties of the NWMP included:

  • establishing law and order;
  • collecting customs dues;
  • enforcing prohibition;
  • supervising the treaties between First Nations and the federal government;
  • assisting in the settlement process;
  • ensuring the welfare of immigrants; and
  • fighting prairie fires, disease and destitution.

The Mint’s 2023 Fine silver issue marks the RCMP’s 150th anniversary.


In 1998, the Royal Canadian Mint featured the RCMP in its Proof double dollar set—the only set with both a commemorative silver dollar and the aureate dollar depicting the common loon.

The set also included 50-, 25-, 10-, five- and one-cent coins plus a toonie.

The Proof silver dollar, designed by Adeline Halvorson, commemorates the 125th anniversary of the founding of the NWMP, a member of which is featured on the coin’s reverse. The obverse bears the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by artist Dora de Pedery-Hunt.

The silver dollar is composed of 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper and has a weight of 25.18 grams plus a diameter of 36.07 millimetres. There was a mintage of 130,795 pieces.

More recently, in 2023, the Mint issued another silver collector coin to mark the RCMP’s 150th anniversary.

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