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.