The following article is from the book Uncle John's True Crime: A Classic Collection of Crooks, Cops, and Capers.
If the Americans hadn’t disrespected Canadian borders, we might not have the Mounties.
LAWLESSNESS IN THE WEST
In 1869, with Canada about to take control of its interior from the Hudson’s Bay Company, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald outlined his plan for a paramilitary police force to patrol the region. The idea didn’t really get going, though, until 1873, after the Cypress Hills Massacre. That year, American wolf trappers in Montana lost a lot of horses to thieves who appeared to be headed for the Canadian border. The trappers followed and lost the trail, but stumbled on a camp of 300 Nakota natives. In a tense standoff full of accusations and alcohol on both sides, the wolf trappers opened fire on the Nakota camp, killing at least 20 people.
The massacre outraged Canadians for a number of reasons, including the fact that Americans were invading their territory with impunity. And it wasn’t the first time either. Just a few weeks earlier, whiskey traders had started illegally selling alcohol at Fort Hamilton (nicknamed “Fort Whoop-Up” because of the whiskey trade) near what is now Lethbridge, Alberta, and rumors swirled that the traders had flown the American flag over the fort. They didn’t really, but the incident was enough to speed up the formation of Macdonald’s police force, which he named the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), or Mounties. They got guns, horses, and red uniforms, in part to differentiate them from the blue of the American cavalry ...just in case the recurring border incursions turned into a full-scale war.
ON THE MARCH...WITH A TRANSFER IN CHICAGO
The first squad of 309 Mounties was assembled in 1874. Scoring an early point for multiculturalism, if not for sensitive language, Macdonald had specified that the new force should be a “mixed one of pure white, and British and French half-breeds.” Pay was 75¢ a day, and recruits had to be between 18 and 40 years old, physically active and able, and literate in either English or French.