The Mounted Police and Prairie Society, 1878-1919


363 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 0-88977-103-0
DDC 363.2'09712




Edited by William M. Baker
Reviewed by Louis A. Knafla

Louis A. Knafla is a professor of history at the University of Calgary,
the co-editor of Law, Society, and the State: Essays in Modern Legal
History, and the author of Lords of the Western Bench.


This collection of 20 scholarly essays has been compiled in celebration
of the 25th anniversary of the Mounted Police’s Centennial of 1973.
The essays, all published in whole or in part over the past 30 years,
are grouped into five subject areas: First Nations, Law Enforcement,
Social Issues, Characteristics of the Force, and Crisis and Change.
Baker offers a short introduction and there is an interpretive overview
by Steve Hewitt.

Several themes emerge from the collection. First, the Police must be
seen in the context of prairie society, as men who reflected its hope
and despair. Second, they acted more as community workers than as
policemen. Third, they contributed to the isolation of Native peoples
and their loss of identity. Fourth, they had a restrictive view of the
criminal law and enforced it quite selectively. Fifth, World War I
provided a dramatic change in the Police, bringing them to the forefront
as a surveillance agency acting on behalf of a capitalist state.
Finally, they brought to the prairies not only an Anglo-Canadian culture
but also the strong face of state sovereignty.

Together, the essays provide a good cross-section of scholarly opinion
on the history of the Mounted Police from their origins to the end of
World War I. The lack of an index is unfortunate.


“The Mounted Police and Prairie Society, 1878-1919,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024,