History: The ’74 Mounties: The Great March Across the Plains – Part 1

Reprinted from the January 1950 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The ’74 Mounties: The Great March Across the Plains
By Major Fred A. Bagley, late of Banff, Alberta

Editor’s Note: With this issue we commence a series of instalments written by one of the members of that famous police force, the North West Mounted Police, which marched across the plains in 1874 to bring law and order so that settlement of the West could commence. Major Bagley was one of the originals and before his death in 1946 he had prepared a record of the March and relates many of his personal experiences.

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Then pass the tea, and let us drink
  We guardians of the land.
You bet your life it’s not your fault
  That whisky’s contraband.

“The most extraordinary march on record!”

Thus a distinguished European military officer referred to the 2,000-mile march of the North West Mounted Police across that section of the Great American Desert at present forming the most southerly portions of the Western Provinces of Canada, and which now (1938), owing to the hot, dry summers of the past few years, plus a plague of grasshoppers, seems to have reverted to the primeval, desert-like character it had when we traversed it in the year 1874.’

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