It is said that “the Mounties always get their man.” One of the best men they got was Jerry Potts, but he was not a criminal. He served as police scout and guide for twenty-two years. No gallery of famous characters in Canadian history would be complete without a picture of Jerry: round-shouldered, bow-legged, pigeon-toed, and scarred from head to foot from fights with the Indians.
The Mounties discovered him when they were making their long march west in 1874. They were trying to get to Old Man River to set up a base, but they became lost when they reached Sweet Grass. Colonel Macleod made a side trip to Fort Benton on the Missouri River, and heard about Jerry Potts. He persuaded him to help the new police force, and they went to Sweet Grass together.
Needless to say, the Mounties were not impressed by Potts at first, but they soon learned that there was no better man on the prairies to help them out of trouble. When water was needed, Jerry could find a spring. When food was scarce Jerry could find a buffalo. He was never lost, even in the dark.
On one occasion when he was looking for a pile of stones as a landmark, Colonel Macleod asked, “What’s the matter? Are you lost?” Potts answered, “No, stones lost!”
He seldom spoke when he was travelling, but concentrated on looking for the landmarks that would show him the way. He guided the first force from Sweet Grass to Old Man River where they began building Fort Macleod on October 14, 1874.
In one of his early Indian fights, Jerry Potts received a gun pellet in the flesh below his left ear, but refused to let it be taken out. It was his good-luck charm. Somehow the pellet worked its way out in 1896 and he was greatly disturbed. He died later that year, and was buried at Fort Macleod with full military honours.