Nash Was the First

Pic of RCMP
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The RCMP, who “always gets his man,” have been part of Canada’s identity since the 1870s.  In RCMP history, Constable John Nash, tragically, was the first Mountie to die in the line of duty.

Nash was one of the original members who made the voyage westward in 1874 from Fort Dufferin, Manitoba to present-day southern Alberta.

The specifics of his death near Fort MacLeod in the Northwest Territories remain a mystery, because most of his service records were lost in the 1897 fire that damaged the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. However, there is a document held at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters. It confirms that Nash was born in 1849, that he joined the force in Halifax in 1873, that he was nominated to the Honour Roll, and that his death was related to an accident involving his horse.

We also know that he served the RCMP from October 18, 1873 to March 11, 1876.

As reported by edmrcmpvets.ca, Nash signed up for a five-year term of service with the RCMP.  For his service, he received a salary of 75 cents a day and a promise of a 160-acre land grant after his term.  Even though he didn’t serve the full five years, the land grant was granted to his mother in Halifax.

He was 27 years old when he died.

His final resting place is where he died, at Fort MacLeod (now part of Alberta), in Union Cemetery, in the North West Mounted Police Field of Honour (row 5, grave number 24).

For an impressive list of RCMP’s Honour Roll, go to Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After that, you can find a wonderful site through Library and Archives Canada, Without Fear, Favour or Affection: The Men of the North West Mounted Police.

13 comments

  1. Great post. As for the “Indian Wars” question (above), I’d be interested in coverage on the Metis issue. There’s a great little book by Gabriel DuMont on the “other” side of the Louis Real revolution. It’s very informative, and certainly NOT what I learned about Canadian History in my Canadian grade school.

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    • Sure. Just give me a bit of time, and I’ll get to it for you. In the meantime, I suggest you use the search field on the right side of my blog. I’m sure that if you enter Louis Riel, you will find some posts I’ve done so far about him and the rebellion. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

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  2. I read about the RCMP trek to the wild west. It was so interesting. They were completely unprepared, their pill box hats didn’t protect them from the harsh sun, I think I remember they had to drink their own urine???

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    • That wouldn’t surprise me. And it seems like a lot of people got surprised when they first appeared and decided to trek somewhere or just settle somewhere.

      I also find it a little amusing that we live in modern times, and I’m complaining of the cold this winter (coldest in 20 years they say). I’m such a wimp! LOL. 🙂

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  3. I really enjoyed this. I have a Canadian history question which I’ve been curious about for a long, long time, Years ago, I remember hearing that Canada never had any Indian wars like we Americans did. Is this true?

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    • I’m not sure what kind of Indian wars you mean. If you could describe a bit of the American one, I’ll do my best to find the answer for you. I love a challenge! 🙂

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      • I mean like the wars we fought against the Sioux Indians (aka Lakotas), the Apaches under such leaders as Cochise and Geronimo in Arizona and battles against the Comanches in Texas. In the east, we fought the Seminole Indians in Florida, the Creek Indians in Alabama during the War of 1812, etc.

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      • Basically, were there any particular Indian tribes in Canada which the Canadian army had to fight and defeat before its settlers could continue to move westward, occupy land and build towns, etc.?

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  4. We had a sheriff in my town in the 50s-60s who was a former RCMP. He was a character, though I’m sure that was just a coincidence, not a qualification! I always thought that background made him pretty cool. His son-in-law (also from a law enforcement background as a state trooper) replaced him when he retired. (It’s an elected position.)

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