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R.C.M.P. in Del Bonita Area

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts,
Page 42

Very little is known of the R.C.M.P. in this area in the early days. Most of the members of the force were from well-to-do English families who came to Canada to join the newly organized North West Mounted Police. Ranchers and farmers in the early days of the west welcomed the periodic patrols of the Mounted Police, not only for the protection they offered, but for the friendships they provided, and for the latest news those upholders of the Law brought to the isolated homes.

Officials records are not available to indicate that there was any actual police station at Del Bonita, but the Mounties had stopping places in the area. One was at the Otis Hitt farm in 1915. The Hitts had two extra rooms built onto their house. These were used by the Mounties when they stayed in the area.

Another was on the North branch of the Milk River, south of the McIntyre Ranch at the Taylor home. Another was located in the Twin River area. A 1907 N.W.M.P. reports that at Whiskey Gap there was one Constable and one saddle.

Irvine Morton remembers that Leo Hester served with the R.C.M.P. in the early days and spent the winter of 1910 living in the rock house at Ross Lake.

Latham Bowen recalls Carlisle King serving with the Border Patrol and staying at their place while he recovered from some illness.

Jim Howitt recalls that while he was living in his sheep camp, the R.C.M.P. came and asked to be shown the section pins. They wrote them in the books and had Jim sign them to show they had made their patrols. The Police also checked to make sure the horses were picketed out by hobbles on their feet. It was illegal to picket them with a halter and rope.

Colin MacKenzie remembers that their home was a stopping place for the R. C. M. P. and the old Provincial Police on their patrol through the lease country. They were expected every couple of weeks. Corporal Holgate from Warner on horseback, and Constables Ellis and Madison from Magrath, also Corporal E 0. Shaw from Cardston are some he remembers. Later in the automobile days, Corporal Carter from Coutts and the R. C.M.P. with Constables Jack Gibbons and George Weston called at the MacKenzie home.

These policemen came out from Magrath and Cardston on horseback. They checked on cattle, bootlegging, and other infractions of the law. They also wanted to be sure that all was well among the homesteaders.

Frank Mains recalled that when they moved their buildings about 1904 up into the coulee where the rocks are, some of the ranchers told them there was a Mounted Policeman buried there. The story was that he was lost in a storm and freezing anyway, so shot his horse and turned his gun on himself, not knowing that he was only three miles from the Brown Ranch cabin on the north side of the Milk River.

He also recalled another incident prior to 1908, when a Mounted Policeman was shot. The Mounties were after a half-breed and they got him in the open on the run. They didn't want to shoot him. One policeman, on a fast horse, rode up alongside of him and asked him to surrender. He shot the Mountie out of his saddle, jumped the Mountie's horse, and escaped over the line into Montana.

Colonel Roberts of the Royal North West Mounted Police patrolled the area in the early 1900's, and sometimes called at John Main's home.

The Mounties made regular patrols to see that all was well among the homesteaders, and to help settle minor disputes.

Today the R.C.M.P. still uphold the law, and make routine road patrols of the high country area. With modern transportation and communication, they are easily contacted, and offer a feeling of security for everyone.

Milk River Ridge N.W.M.P. 1888

Extract from Annual Report of Superintendent R. B. Deane, "K" Division, N.W.M.P., 1888:

"The camp at Milk River Ridge is situated within view and easy access of the trail leading from Lethbridge to Benton, along which there is a fair amount of travel. Illicit whiskey traders, etc., as a rule, cross more to the westward. The forty miles between the ridge and "D" Division outpost at Pot Hole Coulee is a long stretch of country to watch. Whiskey traders bring their loads to the line and, if necessary, cache them while they look ahead. When the coast is clear they load up their teams and make a rush for it. The boundary being so near they can easily do this, and as they know every inch of the country and have selected their spot for crossing the river, a little darkness, so far from being unfavourable to them, screens without hindering their operations."

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Mary Tollestrup