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History played a big part in bid

One of the major selling points of Fort Macleod’s bid for the Alberta Police and Peace Officer College has been the long history of policing in the community, dating back to 1874 with the arrival of the North West Mounted Police and continuing to this day in the form of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“I think it’s been an important factor because part of what they’re looking for is a community to embrace the college, its staff and its students,” said Mayor Shawn Patience. “We have 132 years of history as a police town that we are proud of. We appreciate, protect and preserve the history of the North West Mounted Police, the Royal North West Mounted Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We take a lot of pride in our policing history and it’s important to us.”

Patience said the pride Fort Macleod takes in that history was important to the bid.

“From our point of view it was important because it showed that we will open our arms to the college,” he said. “We welcome the police college and we want it here.”

The history of Fort Macleod begins with the history of the North West Mounted Police.

On October 13, 1874, a cavalcade of 150 uniformed men with arms and supplies arrived, charged with stopping the whisky trade and bringing law and order to the west, with Colonel James Macleod in charge.

Jerry Potts led the troops on a trek of more than 1,200 kilometres, which was made longer due to incorrect maps and inadequate guides. Upon arrival a fort was built on an island in the Oldman River, about a mile east of the current townsite. Housing a hospital, stables, living quarters, stores, kitchen and blacksmith shop, the fort was crudely constructed so it would be up before winter hit. That was the site of the fort until 1884, when it was moved away from the river bottom to a site on the west side of the current town. A restoration project is currently underway for the site.

About two weeks after their arrival the first call to duty came, with the arrest of whisky traders about 60 kilometres north of the fort at Pine Coulee.

The force received much support and respect from the large native population in the area, and just two months after the Mounties arrived Col. Macleod and Blackfoot Confederacy Chief Crowfoot met and began a fair and friendly relationship that was enjoyed for years by both parties.

Members of the detachment took on a larger than expected role in the young town, acting as undertakers, magistrates and postmasters in addition to their regular duties.

Fort Macleod was headquarters for the mounties until 1878 when it was moved to Fort Walsh after a reshuffling of the force.

In 1904 the force became known as the Royal North West Mounted Police. Fort Macleod remained headquarters of ‘D’ Division until 1919, when it joined ‘K’ Division, headquartered in Lethbridge.

After absorbing the Dominion Police, which had carried out policing in eastern Canada in 1920, the name was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

A reserve squadron was in Macleod for three years until 1922, when the division was abolished. One non-commissioned officer and one constable were all that remained.

When the number of officers stationed at Fort Macleod began to dwindle in the early 1900s, a town police force was created in 1904. G.S. Cotter was the first police chief.

Later that year Fred P. Rhodes took over the job and his duties grew to include town and liquor licence inspection and pound keeping. He was replaced in 1911 by Chief Lawson.

The RCMP continue to look after the policing needs of Fort Macleod today, with eight members, including one corporal and one sergeant. They are supported by a detachment chaplain and a three support staff.

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Index of Police College Stories - Listed by release date in Gazette

Apr 24 - Fort Macleod town council is planning for the future

Jan 10 - Province gives Fort Macleod $10.26-million for police college costs

Sep 11 - Wildrose Party will fight for Fort Macleod

Sep 04 - Fort Macleod residents devastated by decision to scrap police college

Sep 04 - Fort Macleod asks premier to reverse college decision

Sep 03 - Fort Macleod calls on premier to reverse police college decision

Aug 29 - Residents of Fort Macleod punished for voting Wildrose

Aug 29 - Wildrose says Fort Macleod victim of Tory fiscal incompetence

Aug 29 - Government cancels funding for police training college

Aug 28 - Council awards police college permit

Aug 01 - Police training facility will be unique in Canada

Nov 01 - Province approves grant for police college infrastructure

Oct 19 - Target schedule is set to build police college

Sep 27 - Stakeholders convene to discuss police college

Aug 24 - Police college sod-turning

Aug 16 - Police college sod-turning Mon. Aug. 22

Jul 26 - Fort Macleod puts more cash toward college

May 17 - Province moving ahead with police college plans

May 03 - Council okays transfer of police college land

Apr 05 - Police college site work could start in summer

Dec 01 - Macleod finds way to build police college

Dec 01 - Macleod pitches co-op to build police college

Nov 30 - Macleod feels positive about police college

Aug 25 - Police college partner possible

Aug 18 - Council works on own plan for police college

Jul 07 - Calgary project no threat to police college

Jun 09 - Mayor pushes solicitor general for collect action

Mar 31 - Macleod’s neighbours support police college

Mar 31 - Mayor says government just has to make college a priority

Dec 30 - MD council writes to support police college

Dec 02 - Southern Alberta backs police college

Nov 25 - Regional group lobbies for police college

Sep 23 - Police college has not been shelved — yet

Jul 29 - Mayor: ‘Police college project not cancelled’

May 06 - Infrastructure minister says college a priority

Apr 22 - Facebook page supports police college

Apr 01 - Council lobbies for progress on police college

Feb 18 - Solicitor General urges police college patience

Nov 04 - Police college discussed during Question Period

Nov 04 - Macleod mayor confident police college is coming

Oct 21 - Fort Macleod ‘anxious’ for police college start

Apr 16 - Province gets nine police college proposals

Mar 12 - Macleod can do business with police college

Sep 05 - Province reviews police college P3 proposals

Jun 26 - Police college Web site created

Jun 06 - Police college project is on track

May 30 - Police college officials visit Fort Macleod

May 23 - Police college headlines open house

Mar 28 - Solicitor General: ‘Police college is coming to Macleod’

Jan 31 - Mayor strikes police college committee

Nov 22 - Steering committee meets to discuss police college

Sep 13 - Opportunity knocking for Fort Macleod

Sep 13 - Macleod prepares to guide growth

Sep 13 - Police college is Fort Macleod’s destiny

Sep 13 - Mayor weathers police college criticism

Sep 13 - Fort Macleod celebrates successful college bid

Sep 06 - Fort Macleod lands Alberta police college

Sep 06 - P3 partners sought for police college

Sep 06 - Police training centre will be world-class

Dec 21 - Council designates land for police college

Dec 21 - Macleod’s police college bid in province’s hands

Nov 23 - Task force builds police college bid

Nov 02 - Council still pursuing college