In 1875, Assistant Commissioner Macleod put in place his plan to spread the NWMP more widely through the west. Part of this plan was the establishment of Fort Walsh and Fort Calgary, as well as numerous outposts.
Inspector James Walsh and B Division headed south to the Cypress Hills, an area frequented by several Native tribes and also the site of the massacre that spurred the formation of the force. As with the other posts, Fort Walsh was built to stop the whisky trade, enforce Canadian law, establish Canadian sovereignty and to encourage Native people to settle on reserves. Fort Walsh also dealt with the fallout of the "Indian Wars" in the United States: Lakota and Nez Perce sought refuge in Canada in 1876 and 1877. In order to deal with this situation, Fort Walsh became the NWMP headquarters from 1878 to 1882. James Walsh is best known for his peacekeeping work with Sitting Bull and the Lakota.
Buffalo, already reduced in number by the time of the March West, disappeared around 1879. Starvation, and strained Canada-US relations resulted, as Canadian Native people hunted on American lands. Two farms were established in the Cypress Hills area in order to teach Native people to raise their own food. The NWMP at Fort Walsh distributed treaty payments and relief rations, but only to Canadian Native people.
Once the Canadian reserves became established and the Lakota and Nez Perce returned to the United States, headquarters was moved to Regina, and Fort Walsh closed in 1883. By then the railway had reached Maple Creek, bringing with it settlers. The fort was dismantled and A Division moved to the new town.
The role of the NWMP, at Maple Creek and elsewhere in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, shifted, with policemen as likely to check for brands on cattle as for whisky. During the era of the open range ranches before the settlement boom, the Queen's Cowboys, as they were nicknamed, inspected Canadian and American herds of cattle and horses crossing the border for any signs of illness. Herds with suspect animals were quarantined until proven healthy. The Queen's Cowboys prevented any serious outbreaks of livestock diseases during this time.
In 1924 Fort Walsh was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The RCMP also recognized the importance of Fort Walsh to the history of the force.
The RCMP returned to the site of Fort Walsh in 1942 to build, this time, its Remount Ranch. The ranch buildings were reconstructs of the original NWMP buildings, and the ranch raised the large black horses that quickly became a central part of the internationally recognized image of the RCMP. The horses were used by the RCMP in recruit equitation training in Regina and for the world famous Musical Ride.
In 1966, new members no longer had to learn to ride a horse as part of their duties. The Remount Ranch was moved to Pakenham, Ontario two years later. The site was transferred to Parks Canada. Today, the Remount Ranch buildings are furnished to the 1880s and every summer guides in period costume help visitors relive the days of the NWMP at Fort Walsh from 1875 to 1883.