Thursday August 28, 2014

A Saskatchewan Provincial Policeman

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When Saskatchewan became a Province in 1905, it had not set up a provincial policing body, but instead had contracted with the Dominion government for the Royal North West Mounted Police to do the work. Then, under pressure of temperance organizations, Premier W. Scott needed a police force to administer the Provincial Liquor Statues, so in 1910, the Saskatchewan Provincial Police (SPP) came into being. He hired C.A. Mahoney, who was a former Ontario Provincial policeman to organize the new force. It was categorized as a "Secret Service" because members were to do a lot of undercover work to eliminate illegal liquor traffic. Mahoney recruited former members of the North West Mounted Police, veterans of the Boer Wars and others who had no military or police experience.

The new force was to become even more important to law enforcement in the province once World War One began in 1914. The Royal North West Mounted Police had offered its services as a cavalry unit to fight with the Canadian Expeditionary Force overseas, so many additional duties were turned over to the Saskatchewan Provincial Police. It was not long after, that provincial legislation was enacted to close down the bars (1915) and the liquor stores (1916.). By 1917, the additional war duties placed upon the Royal North West Mounted Police resulted in placing more of the day-to-day policing to the Provincial police force.

So, from 1917 to 1928 when they were disbanded, the SPP was the police presence in the majority of Saskatchewan Communities. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (having undergone a change of name in 1920) then resumed all policing duties, except in a few larger cities where municipal forces had been organized.

In Saskatchewan folklore, the Saskatchewan Provincial Policemen are mostly remembered with resentment for the enforcement of the unpopular prohibition laws.

(Sources: Mahoney's Minute Men, Saskatchewan A History and Listen! The Wind is Rising! (Dollard & SW Saskatchewan)

Contact Terri Lefebvre Prince, Heritage Researcher,
City of Yorkton Archives,
Box 400, 37 Third Avenue North,
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3



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