Our prissy police no men of Steele


by admin on August 4, 2010

Am I the only one who remembers Sam Steele, the founding figure of the RCMP?

Sam Steele left Ontario with the Northwest Mounted Police and was stationed in the Klondike when gold was discovered in 1896 and the world rushed north to get rich in the gold fields.

Skagway in Alaska was ruled by a gang leader named Soapy Smith. He and his band of thugs ran roughshod over Skagway, and Alaska became synonymous with thieves, hooligans and murderers.

Just west of Alaska was the Chilkoot Pass, leading uphill through snow-filled mountains to the fabled Yukon gold fields. The Smith gang saw great pickings in those goldfields for their rapacious members. Their plan was simple: Cross over the mountains into Dawson and recreate lawless Skagway.

They didn’t count on Sam Steele. Destined to be a legend and the perfect symbol of male goodness and strength, he anticipated the American invasion. A powerfully-built six-foot-six, Steele stationed himself at a critical mountain pass where he and his Northwest Police barred the way.

“Give up your guns or go back” was his order to Americans seeking entry into Dawson. And they obeyed after a few run-ins with the man of steel (if you permit a pun here). Steele’s word became law. The Canadian north was never the Wild West. In fact, its history in typical Canadian fashion might be considered boring. Because of Steele and the men who followed and imitated him, the RCMP was created. Our West was similarly law-abiding, a place where pursued American Indian tribes came seeking shelter from brutal American armies.

And so you have it. The RCMP was founded on the legend of Sam Steele. And for close to a hundred years the Mounties lived up to his legend. In the process they spawned a slogan coined by the press after Mounties hunted down Albert Johnson, “The Mad Trapper of the North.”

Johnson became a tabloid sensation in 1931 after he killed a Mountie and then fled north, defying the RCMP to catch him. Catch him they did and shoot him dead they did, but it took three Mountie lives and seven months of dogged pursuit over some of the most forbidding terrain on earth. While the world watched in horrid fascination, the Mounties earned the epitaph which until recently has been their motto:” They always get their man.”

Well, as they say, those were the good old days. Today’s Mounties are becoming famous for goof-ups involving Tasered Polish immigrants, strange deaths in jail cells, arrests of their own drunken men and scores of incidents in which the “Horsemen,” as Americans once nicknamed them, brought shame and disgrace on their force.

Perhaps the final nail in their public-relations coffin occurred last week when several senior Mounties appeared before a House of Commons Committee to protest the actions of their recently-appointed civilian commissioner. His assignment was to bring the force under control.

Sam Steele must be rotating in his grave at warp speed when the following complaint was aired (which I will paraphrase and misquote for brevity and mockery): “We can’t take it anymore. He’s so mean. He yelled at us and then he threw papers in our face. Please make him go away.”

Sam Steele would have done more than yell at them and thrown paper at them. He would have thrown them out of his office and out of the force.

“Won’t you come back, Sam Steele.

“Won’t you come back.

“We’re so all alone . . . “