The Pride of the Mounties

Mountie On the Rapids

Ask most Americans about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) — more commonly called the Canadian Mounties — and you’ll frequently hear comments indicating a generally high regard for the Mounties and their association with the frontier derring do.  With their iconic red serge coats and dimpled Stetson hats, the public image of the Mounties has had a warm reception in the American imagination, even if over the years, like many police forces, they have had their ups and downs and share of controversies.

My early introduction to the Mounties included watching as a kid countless Dudley Do Right cartoons, which presented an amiable if bumbling caricature of a Mountie, and educational reels from school about the valor of the Mounties.  Slightly later came Monty Python’s humorous send up of another Canadian icon, the lumberjack, which featured the good-natured Mounties providing a back up chorus.  Probably because of all these sources I almost always thought of the Mounties as a wilderness fighting force, and did not fully understand their broader policing role.

The idea that the Mounties “always got their man” also stuck with me from childhood.  Fittingly, that unofficial motto was attributed to the Mounties by an American publication (at least according to the Wikipedia entry on the RCMP).  The RCMP as we know it today resulted from the merger of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, which first patrolled the Northwest Territories starting in the late 1800s, and the country’s Dominion Police.   As testament to the acclaim enjoyed by the Mounties, they were frequent heroic subjects of popular American books, pulp fiction, magazine stories, radio shows and movies from the 1920s through the 1960s.  A sampling of related pop culture images is collected below.

30 responses

  1. Great post! I’m glad I stopped by to see these fabulously illustrated covers, especially the one from The Saturday Evening Post. I just looked it up, and it was painted by Edgar Franklin Wittmack. His paintings are really beautiful.

  2. I well remember the old movies with the hero always the Mountie, he usually had a side kick a French Canadian woodsman named Pierre or such!!!

  3. Hi thanks for giving alike to my poem “crazy”. I’m also glad I brought me here for a visit. Among other things I love antiques especially old signs and posters and your Mountie cover and art collection is great.
    Alex

  4. Did you collect these (paper) covers yourself, or do you have a digital source (and are you willing to share it?) The covers are great, thanks for pulling this together. And do watch ‘Due South’ if you get a chance!

    • Thanks for the comment. I gathered the covers from several sources and had to look extensively to do so. I had not heard of “Due South”, so thanks for mentioning that show, which I’ll check out.

  5. I too appreciate Canada, with a close physical proximity–Minnesota–and convenient travel options to another country.
    My intro to “Mounties’ was Nelson Eddy as Sergeant Bruce and Jeanette MacDonald as Rose Marie singing Indian Love Call.
    Thanx for the reminder.

    • Carol, thanks for your comments and sharing that memory — good stuff! Glad you’re so close to Canada, and, of course, Minnesota is full of natural treasures as well. Best wishes, Brett

  6. Nice post. I will really date myself, but I remember loving a TV series (probably black and white) in the mid to late 50’s called “Sgt. Preston of the Yukon” or something like that. The Sergeant was a Canadian Mountie with a horse Rex and his faithful dog King. (Rex and King – quite a royal duo).

    • Thanks. I’ve seen some of the old Sgt. Preston of the Yukon shows on YouTube. A little hokey like many shows back in its day but I think the show got right the vast respect held for the Canadian Mounties.

  7. After Custer got his lumps at Little Big Horn, many of the Sioux and Cheyenne, fearing reprisal, fled north into Alberta. They were camped and behold, here comes a Mountie riding in, unarmed, to ask the Indians what their intentions were in Canada. I guess they were so freaked out by his red coat and nerve to ride in unarmed, that they never killed him. lol!

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