Women have made significant contributions to the RCMP over the years serving as wives, public servants, civilian members and as regular members.
As early as the 1890s the Force employed females as matrons and gaolers to deal with female offenders and as part of the escort when female prisoners were moved from one place to another.
In the early 1900s women filled positions such as fingerprint technicians and lab technicians. Dr. Francis McGill, often referred to as the “First Woman Mountie” was the Force’s first Honourary Surgeon appointed in 1946, but she had been the director of the Saskatchewan lab from 1922 to 1942 and associated with the Force for many years in the fields of medical science, forensic medicine and pathology.
On May 23, 1974 RCMP Commissioner M.J. Nadon made an announcement that the RCMP would begin accepting applications from woman for regular police duties. This announcement opened up positions in areas which had previously been reserved for males. The first troop of 32 female regular members was Troop 17. Their engagements took place from locations across the country and they arrived at Depot, Regina, on September 18 and 19, 1974, to commence training. This first all female troop graduated from Depot on March 3, 1975.
Since 1975 women have made considerable progress. For example, in 1981 the first female was promoted to corporal and the first females served on the Musical Ride; in 1987, the first female served in a foreign post; in 1990, the first female was appointed detachment commander; in 1992, the first female officers were commissioned; and in 1998 the first female Assistant Commissioner was appointed.
The following sources are suggested for further reading:
Joy Duncan. Red Serge Wives (Co-op Press Ltd., 1974)
James Mackenzie. Troop 17: The Making of Mounties (Calgary, Detselig Enterprises, 1992)