Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

RCMP History: A Select Bibliography


For general background on the origins and development of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from 1873 to 1973, the most comprehensive books are Stanley Horrall, The Pictorial History of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 1873-1973 (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1973) and William and Nora Kelly, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, A Centennial History (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1973).

The March West, 1873-1874

The establishment of the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873 and the March West in 1874 have been the subject of three recent books. David Cruise and Alison Griffiths, The Great Adventure: How the Mounties Conquered the West (Toronto: Viking, 1996) and Jim Wallace, A Double Duty (Winnipeg: Bunker to Bunker Books, 1997), both based on original accounts of the March West, are readable and comprehensive. A third book on the subject, Fred Stinson, RCMP, The March West (Ottawa: GAPC Entertainment, 1999), is an illustrated account of the early years of the NWMP.

North-West Mounted Police, 1873-1904

The story of the NWMP and the early development and settlement of western Canada is told in a number of books, including Rod Macleod, The North-West Mounted Police and Law Enforcement, 1873-1905 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976); Ron Atkin, Maintain the Right (New York: John Day, 1973); and William Beahen and Stanley Horrall, Red Coats on the Prairies: The North-West Mounted Police, 1886-1900 (Regina: Centax Books, 1998). Although dated in some respects, John P. Turner's two volume history, The North-West Mounted Police, 1873-1893 (Ottawa: The King's Printer, 1950) is still a useful and very detailed account of the early years of the NWMP.

Participation of the NWMP in the 1885 Rebellion is described in Jim Wallace, A Trying Time (Winnipeg: Bunker to Bunker Books, 1998) as well as Donald J. Klancher’s The North West Mounted Police and the North West Rebellion (Kamloops, BC; Goss Publishing, 158 pp; 1997, revised 1999), while the Mounted Police role in the Klondike gold rush is told in Helene Dobrowolsky's book, Law of the Yukon: A Pictorial History of the Mounted Police in the Yukon (Whitehorse: Lost Moose Publishers, 1995).

Memoirs and Biographies

Good first-hand accounts by early members of the Mounted Police include: Sam Steele, Forty Years in Canada (London: 1915; reprinted in Toronto, 1973); Jean D'Artigue, Six Years in the Canadian North-West (London: 1882; reprinted Belleville: Mika, 1973); Dr. R.B. Nevitt, A Winter at Fort Macleod (Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1973); Cecil Denny, The Law Marches West (Toronto: J.M. Dent, 1939; reprinted in 1972); R.B. Deane, Mounted Police Life in Canada (London: 1916; reprinted Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1973); and John Donkin, Trooper and Redskin in the Far Northwest (London: 1889; reprinted Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1973). Also very informative is Robert Stewart's Sam Steele: Lion of the Frontier (Toronto: Nelson, 1979; reprinted Regina: Centax Books, 1999).

Of Further Interest

No study of the Mounted Police would be complete without reference to the annual reports of the Commissioner published in 1874 and from 1876 to the late 1960s. The earliest reports, to about 1914, are detailed accounts of all aspects of Mounted Police activities in western Canada and in the Yukon. The annual reports can usually be found in larger public and university libraries. The annual reports for the years 1874 through 1889 were reprinted in three volumes by Coles Publishing in 1973.

Two collections of articles and readings from an academic perspective are worth consulting on a wide variety of Mounted Police topics, Hugh Dempsey (ed), Men in Scarlet (Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1973) and William Baker (ed), The Mounted Police and Prairie Society, 1873-1919 (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Society, 1998).

The individual stories of all members who have been killed in the line of duty is told in Robert Knuckle, In the Line of Duty: The RCMP Honour Roll since 1873 (Burnstown: General Store Publishing, 1994).

For a comprehensive study of the RCMP uniform, James Boulton's Uniforms of the Canadian Mounted Police (North Battleford: Turner-Warwick, 1990) is essential reading; Boulton's work has been updated by Jacques Brunelle, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the 1990s: Their Uniforms and Kit (Winnipeg: Bunker to Bunker Books, 1994). A more accessible, but less comprehensive, history of the uniform is found in David Ross, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 1873-1987 (London: Osprey Men-at-Arms Series, 1987).

Donald J. Klancher’s Insignia of the Canadian Mounted Police : 1873-1998 (Kamloops, BC; Mounted Police Research and Consulting; 620 pp; 2009) offers a comprehensive list of the insignias and badges used by the Force for over a century.

For those interested in firearms and related equipment, R.F. Phillips and Donald Klancher provide a thorough account in their book, Arms & Accoutrements of the Mounted Police, 1873-1973 (Bloomfield: Museum Restoration Service, 1982).

William and Nora Kelly tell the story of the essential contribution of the horse in Mounted Police history in The Horses of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Toronto: Doubleday, 1984).

For those interested in the history of the RCMP Veteran’s Association, Donald J. Klancher’s The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Veterans' Association : 1924 – 1999 (Kamloops, BC; Goss Publishing; 280 pp;1999) describes its history up until the end of the last century.

And for younger readers, Joann Hamilton-Barry provides a brief, but comprehensive overview of RCMP history and present-day operations in Boldly Canadian: The Story of the RCMP (Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1999).

The Internet is another source of information for Mounted Police history. In addition to the main RCMP web site, one can learn about the Mounted Police connection with Fort Steele and the history of the RCMP supply vessel, ST. ROCH. One can also visit the RCMP Heritage Centre at Depot Division in Regina, Saskatchewan and tour the historical exhibits.