________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 22 . . . . June 27, 2008


The Mounties. (Discovering Canada).

Robert Livesey. Illustrated by A.G. Smith.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
90 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-55005-135-3.

Subject Heading:
Royal Canadian Mounted Police-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Ian Stewart.

**½ /4


On July 8, 1874 Commissioner French led the Mounties on a 1200-km march west to the junction of the Bow and Belly Rivers (in southern Alberta today).His objective was to locate and shut down Fort Whoop-Up, the stronghold of illegal whisky traders. For two months, the parade of 67 covered wagons, 114 ox carts, 90 cattle, 310 horses, framing equipment, and artillery guns snaked across the prairies. The cavalcade of red-coated troops was bitten by black-flies, scorched by the hot sun, and torn by tornadoes. Wagons broke down or were bogged down in the deep mud as they proceeded over steep hills and across wide rivers. The horses were thin from starvation; the men were exhausted. They found themselves lost on the endless flat prairie. George French wrote in his diary that he was "alarmed for the safety of the force."


In this illustrated short history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Robert Livesey and Albert Smith aptly describe how the first mounted policeman Commissioner French led across the scorching Canadian prairies, in the 1870s, were exposed to unparalleled dangers, unbelievable hardships and harrowing adventurers. In fact, one might say that danger hardship and adventure were hallmarks of the "Force" that brought peace and stability to Canada's new territories in the western prairies and the Arctic. The book would be a worthwhile addition to a school or classroom library.

     The story of the North-West Mounted Police and how it developed into Canada's well- respected Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a tale worth telling. There is nothing in The Mounties that has not been told many times before; however, the stirring tales of Fort Whoop-Up, James McLeod, Jerry Potts, Sitting Bull, the Klondike Gold-Rush, Soapy, Smith and the "Mad Trapper of Rat River," the St. Roch and the North-West Passage and the murder of four officers in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, might inspire students new to the story of western development to delve deeper into Canadian history.

     The recent stories of scandal, political interference and gross ineptitude, at the highest levels of the RCMP, are not ignored by Livesey and Smith. These inclusions teaches students the invaluable lesson that no person or organization, even though esteemed by society, may be above reproach and must be closely monitored. Student activities included in the book are making a Mountie pill box hat, a tracking and observation game, panning for gold, fingerprinting and identification and a Mountie crossword puzzle.


Ian Stewart teaches at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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