Boer War Page 92x
Rare Boer War Discoveries
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Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Mysteries of the Royal Mounted - Solved

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Gauntlets, Royal North West Mounted Police, 1904-1920
Orig. leather - Size - 14"
Found - Toronto, ON
When dealing with antique items be careful to reevaluate your assumptions, especially before throwing things away, or selling them off. These gauntlets might have been thrown on the trash heap of history, as cowboy gear, had we not taken a second look, and sought out photos of RNWMP officers a century ago, and done a close double check on what they wore on their hands.
Some time ago, we discovered a treasure trove of regalia and badges said to have belonged to a member of the Royal North West Mounted Police from 1904-1920.

Among the lot was a pair of gauntlets which we "discarded," as probably thrown in by somebody by mistake. We thought they were too new and were probably cowboy gear from the 1930s or 40s...

We were wrong.

In fact the gauntlets right, which we had assumed were simply a working cowboy's gloves, were in fact, definitely RNWMP issue.

Through close-up photo research of policemen a century ago we have confirmed that these were worn by Mounties at least during the period from 1904-1920. We have seen photos of RNWMP officers wearing gauntlets exactly like these, containing the same type and rows of stitching that these have.

These gauntlets then, belong to the same lot of RNWMP gear as found elsewhere on this site.


Was there a uniform change in 1904, along with a name change from NWMP to RNWMP? Beyond changing names on badges and shoulder flashes, it does not seem likely.

It is possible then, that these same gauntlets might have been issued previously to the NWMP.

The Mysterious Cowboy Gauntlets

The Mysterious RNWMP Martingale

Some time ago, we acquired the Mounted Police martingale left, from the estate of a Mountie who had attended the Coronation March of 1911, along with other members of the RNWMP. He later was apparently long associated with the RCMP Musical Ride in the 1920s and 30s. This martingale was his, as was the Globe lithograph of the Mounties at the Coronation in 1911 below, both treasured personal souvenirs from a man who cherished his career as a Mounted Policeman.
Martingale Mystery: There was a disquieting discrepancy. The family claimed he had used the martingale on the Coronation ride in 1911... But the martingale says Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while the group who went were Royal North West Mounted Police.

In line with good historical investigative technique, we postulated - full details on the link above - that perhaps this was a special manufacture done for the Coronation Ride of 1911.

We have been unable to come up with proof for this hypothesis. Indeed we have proof that it did not happen..

We had noticed, from the start, that Art Hider painted the Mounties in the parade with white rope martingales, not leather as this one is. We thought artistic license might be at work here, even though we knew Art was a stickler for authenticity in every detail when he painted.

We have since uncovered rare photos of the Canadians lining up hours before the parade in London, below, and actually riding in the parade, later, using white rope martingales all the way. The distinctive large white hangman's knot in the rope is quite noticeable, in both Hider's artwork and the photos.

Art Hider 1: family memories 0.

The men are also wearing the same gauntlets we feature above.

As is often the case with family histories - search the Agar Adamson Flag for a typical controversy - family lore runs events from different times and places together.

No doubt there was a RNWMP member in the family; no doubt he was in the Coronation March of 1911, and kept this litho of the occasion; no doubt this was a martingale he used and treasured. But it must have been from an earlier period..

The next mystery remains... What was his precise connection to the Musical Ride?

How the Mounties Got Their Name

Setting: The streets of London, June 1911

Street Urchin: Say, guv'nor where's that uniform from.

Mountie: Why it's from Canada son. It's a Mounted Police uniform.

Street Urchin 2: 'Es a Mountie they calls 'im, a Canadian Mounted Policeman, right guv'nor?

Mountie: Not exactly son, but close. We're actually North West Mounted Policemen.

Street Urchin: Oh, I knows were that is. Me oncle fought in the Nor' Wes' Frontier. Got a medal there, 'e did. Ye be from India then, right sir?

Mountie: Oh, no, no son. Canada's not near India, and we're not police from that North West frontier...

Street Urchin: Ye be confusin' me right proper now sir. Not from India, and not police from the Nor' Wes' Frontier, then why would ye be takin' their name, guv'nor? Don't seem right sir...

Mountie: Well just forget the North West part son; just call us Mounted Policemen from Canada then. Canadian Mounted Police. That'll be just fine. In fact, if you like, call us Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Your King honoured us by giving us that title not seven years ago.

Street Urchin 2: Ye be meanin' King Eddie then, gov'nor? Called ye Royal, did 'e then?

Mountie: Yes that's right, we're Royal Mounted Policemen from Canada, now.

Street Urchin 2: Sounds grand sir... Hey Patrick, come over 'ere right quick and meet this Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman. All the way from Canada, he be, near the North West Frontier in India, right gov'nor...?

And so it came to pass that nine years later, fed up with being confused with a North West Frontier in India, the Force changed the name permanently to the name that was first used, out of exasperation, by the Mounties in the streets of London during the Coronation Parade of 1911.

Art Hider and the Globe were the first to give up on the name North West Mounted Police. Though they published a grand coloured litho featuring the Royal North West Mounted Police in the parade, they did not use that name at all in the caption when it was issued as Historical Picture #7, in the Christmas Globe of 1911. They must have mulled over the titling for some time. Perhaps it sounded too local, too regional, too insignificant a name for such a grand occasion.

Instead, they labeled the litho which graced the walls of thousands of Canadian homes for decades after, as Canadians at the Coronation. Could Canadian Mounted Police, make that Royal Canadian Mounted Police, be far behind...

And in 1920, as is so often the case, officialdom followed popular usage, and dropped the local North West , replacing it with Canadian. The regional police force went national as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Now people around the globe got to know where that red uniformed Mountie really came from...

All due to an unknown, but inquisitive, street urchin in the streets of London...

Above, the Mounties from Western Canada in Montreal before boarding ship for England, and below, saddled up, just hours before the parade began in London, bottom.

Final Notes: the Martingale

Upon closer examination it appears the large badge, featuring the Victorian crown, is original with the martingale, dating it to the reign of Victoria 1837-1901, so ten years before the Coronation Parade of 1911, in which the mountie owner had ridden. The lower badge, featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police scroll, was sewn on later, though it too looks c 100 years old. All the niches have ancient Brasso residue.

Was this martingale used by the mountie during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration ride in 1897, possibly as a member of the British military, and did he subsequently bring it to Canada and adapt it for whatever reason, with the RCMP badge? Many Brits who were in the Jubilee Parade, subsequently fought in South Africa, and many emigrated to Canada after the war. Many sought police work out west and joined the RNWMP. Their badges, medals, and souvenirs commingled, like their families, and frequently turn up at Canadian militaria auctions, an odd blend of British and Canadian memorabilia.

So the family recollections might have been right after all. He had used the martingale at a grand parade allright, perhaps during Queen Victoria's Jubilee Parade in 1897, or her Funeral Parade in 1901, just not the Coronation Parade of 1911, when he returned to the Ould Sod, to ride proudly, but this time as a Canadian, not a Brit, and using a white rope martingale...

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000