The purchase of the North-West Territories by the Dominion of Canada resulted in the need for a patrol along the border. A mounted force of between 100 and 150 men was recommended to keep the peace. These were first called The North West Mounted Rifles and then renamed The North West Mounted Police in 1873 with the ‘Royal’ being added after. In 1920, the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and the Dominion Police merged to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), affectionately called the Canadian Mounties (although horses are now only ridden for ceremonial events).
The RCMP is the largest police force in Canada and responsible for the enforcement of federal laws. Apart from Canada’s two most populated provinces, that have their own municipal departments, the Mounties are also in charge of regular policing. This includes: providing domestic service and counter-terrorism, protection detail for government officials and their families, and participating in international policing efforts.
The dress uniform of the Canadian Mounties is called the ‘Red Serge,’ and is easily recognizable. It consists of a scarlet tunic, midnight blue trousers with a yellow stripe running down the side, a brown felt wide, flat-brimmed hat with a characteristic Montana crease, a Sam Browne belt with sidearm lanyard, oxblood riding boots and brown gloves or leather gauntlets for riders. The uniform is most often worn during ceremonies, including the Musical Ride. This is an equestrian drill in which the members of the force demonstrate their riding skills and handling of the cavalry lance. The Mounties only use their horses for ceremonial purposes, including escorting the Governor General to the Opening of Parliament. The force’s everyday uniform consists of a grey shirt with dark blue tie, dark blue trousers with gold strapping, patrol boots and a policeman style hat.
The ranking system of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has roots based in its paramilitary background, adopting the rank insignia of the Canadian Army. The ranks consist of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, with commissioned officers being appointed by the Governor-in-Council. Commissioned officers are: the commissioner, deputy commissioners, assistant commissioner, chief superintendent, superintendent and inspector. The non-commissioned officers are ranked as: Corps sergeant major, sergeant major, staff sergeant major, staff sergeant, sergeant, corporal and constable. After 20 years of service, members of the Canadian Mounties are given the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal, with a class being awarded for each consecutive five years until 40 years.