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the Legacy of the NWMP Today
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The RCMP in Popular Culture

What could be more romantic than a handsome rider, dressed in a red jacket, dark pants, shiny boots and a Stetson, arriving to save the day? The Canadian police officer was adopted early by writers and movie producers as a hero for stories and movies.

In Print

Before television, movies and even radio, people chose books to escape from the problems and drudgery of daily life. Westerns and romances were especially popular. As early as 1897, stories of the NWMP filled the British Boys' Own Paper and several authors penned novels about the fearless Mountie pursuing the evil doer and bringing law and order to an untamed land.

Pulp magazines were printed on cheap paper, usually with very colourful covers, and contained fast-paced stories with a hero, a heroine and at least one bad guy. In 1925, the first stories presenting Mounties as the heros and set in the far north hit the shelves. North-West Stories, and later, North-West Romances became the longest running titles in pulp fiction history. Other publishers cashed in with Complete North-west Novel Magazine and Real Northwest. These stories introduced the likes of the Silver Corporal, who had almost superhuman powers. Other Mounties played center stage in comic strips: King of the Mounted (United States), Dick Daring (Britain) and Jim Canada (France).


Radio shows also featured Mounties of heroic proportion including Sergeant Preston with his horse, Rex, and dog, Yukon King. This radio show ran from 1939 until 1955. In 1955, Sergeant Preston came to life on the small screen, entering homes on Thursday nights and later, on Saturday mornings.

The Silver Screen

The Mounted Police were truly immortalized by the Hollywood movie makers. The first film was produced in 1910, The Riders of the Plains. It was followed by Cameron of the Mounted, The Trail of '98, Eskimo, Rose Marie (Nelson Eddie and Jeannette McDonald), Susannah of the Mounties (with Shirley Temple) and North West Mounted Police (Gary Cooper), to name just a few. Almost 300 movies shot in Canada by Hollywood studios included a Mountie character.

As producers churned out more films with Canada's Mounted Police in starring roles, the Force became concerned with the image others were projecting. By the 1930s, most films had at least one RCMP member on the film site acting as a consultant to ensure greater accuracy. Often active and retired members were used as extras. In return for the technical help, the RCMP specified that no one would know of their involvement with the production.

Several television shows featured the RCMP. Included are Beachcombers with Constable John, Bordertown with Corporal Clive Bennett, Forest Rangers with Sergeant Brian Scott, and the cartoon Dudley Do-Right. Most recently though, Due South, with actor Paul Gross playing Constable Fraser assisted by his husky Diefenbaker, has portrayed a more realistic RCMP officer in a modern setting but with all the same RCMP values.

Taking the RCMP Home

The RCMP is truly a Canadian symbol, and as such, can be found on no end of souvenirs and memorabilia. Kitchen towels, figurines, stuffed animals, postcards, fridge magnets, Christmas decorations, calendars, games, colouring books, a Canadian Barbie TM doll in Mountie uniform, ashtrays, clothing, caps, license plates and more guarantee that any visitor to Canada can find just the right memento of their visit.

Commemorative postage stamps, plates, coins and even swords have been issued for special anniversaries such at the 100th anniversary of the March West and the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Force.

In 1994, the Mounted Police Foundation was established to protect the image and integrity of how the RCMP was presented. This Foundation ensures that any product with the RCMP name or logo is of the highest quality and positively reflects the image of the police. Royalties from these products are funneled into community policing and the programs it supports such as Boys and Girls Clubs, DARE, and rape crisis centers.

A publicity shot for the movie Rose Marie with Nelson Eddie and Jeannette McDonald.
A publicity shot for the movie Rose Marie with Nelson Eddie and Jeannette McDonald.

On the set of the movie North West Mounted Police.
On the set of the movie North West Mounted Police.
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