Celebrating 100 Years of the RCMP Part 2- Records at Library and Archives Canada

Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan, 1878; NWMP Headquarters until 1882.http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/pam_archives/index.php?fuseaction=genitem.displayEcopies&lang=eng&rec_nbr=3711122&rec_nbr_list=3723709,3379430,3379427,3379428,3379429,3711122,4921978,3855779,3714948,3711794&title=Fort+Walsh%2C+Saskatchewan%2C+1878%3B+NWMP+Headquarters+until+1882.+&ecopy=e008128929-v6

Our national police force under the name Royal Canadian Police Force turned 100 this month. Last post, I gave a bit of history on the RCMP and gave an introduction to their website. This post, I\’m going to look at what Library and Archives Canada holds on your RCMP ancestor.

The LAC holds an impressive amount of material related to the RCMP. Most of it is not online. I did a quick archives search using \”RCMP\”, and got over 11,000 hits that are not online. This is the overall breakdown of the types of materials not digitized:

  • Architectural and technical drawings (94)
  • Art (606)
  • Maps and cartographic material (72)
  • Moving images (63)
  • Multiple media (3)
  • Objects (including medals and pins) (33)
  • Photographs (1,729)
  • Sound recordings (49)
  • Stamps and stamp products (135)
  • Textual material (10,412)
  • Unknown (24)

Most RCMP records at the LAC are classed under RG18, so when I did a search using \”RG18\”, I received over 43,000 hits. This is the breakdown:

  • Architectural and technical drawings (18)
  • Art (11)
  • Maps and cartographic material (22)
  • Moving images (43)
  • Multiple media (5)
  • Objects (including medals and pins) (2)
  • Photographs (27)
  • Sound recordings (35)
  • Stamps and stamp products (0)
  • Textual material (43,227)
  • Unknown (0)
Using \”NWMP\” (Northwest Mounted Police) as a search term gave me 745 textual records not online. Using \”RNWP\”, the name of the unit after Royal Honors were given to the unit, gives another 289 textual records. I used \”Dominion Police Force\” and got another 37 textual records. As you can see, the numbers are very different, and so are the breakdowns. Which just goes to show you, don\’t do a \”one and done\” method when using searching databases.
So what is online? Here\’s a few gems I found among the results:
Lastly, LAC has 1 database containing service files of Northwest Mounted Police. The collection, North West Mounted Police (NWMP) – Personnel Records, 1873-1904, also contains some Dominion Police files.
http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/nwmp-personnel-records/Pages/north-west-mounted-police.aspx
In the service files, you will be able to find documents such as:

  • Application for Engagement
  • Medical Examination
  • NWMP Description Summary
  • Discharge Board Report
  • Discharge Certificate 
  • Re-engagement
To search for your ancestor, click on Search: Database. You can search by Surname, Given Name, and/or Regimental Number. I did a search using \”Steele\”. Along with the legendary Sir Sam Steele, there were 8 other officer by the name of Steele. I clicked on the rather wonderfully named Godfrey MacNeil Steele. His service file is 34 pages long. Unlike the WWI service files you can get from the LAC, these can\’t be downloaded in bulk. You will have to download each page separately to your computer. But look at the amount of information on just the first page of his file:
On just the first page, you find out
  • He served from 1873 to 1876, before deserting
  • He died in May 1928.
  • He is buried in Westbank Cemetery in Westbank, British Columbia
  • His regimental number was 18A.
The second page has extracts from a correspondence log. It appears there was problems with his pay, and he made inquiries.
Some things to keep in mind when searching the database:
  • A lot of times, only first initials were used. You might have better luck searching without given names
  • It is unfortunately not a complete collection. Not all service records have survived.
  • This collection, as the title suggests, only has files up to 1904. LAC holds all the files up to 1920. If your ancestor\’s service falls between 1904 and 1920, you will have to contact Library and Archives Canada. These are not digitized, but you can still do a search to see if there is a file.
Next post, in Part 3, we will look at the records Family Search has.

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