The Red Coat Trail

In early July of 1874, the great trek by the North West Mounted Police to bring law and order to the Canadian West began. Two hundred and seventy-five men, half as many oxen, 90-odd cattle, 310 horses, 114 Red River carts, 73 wagons, field guns, mortars, forges and field kitchens all tagged along.

It seems that a place known as Fort Whoop Up and the mayhem associated with it was the cause of it all. After covering over 800 miles from July 8 to September 30, the Mounted Police discovered that the place had been deserted in advance of their arrival.

In anticipation, it appears that the whiskey traders abandoned their fort:

…B, C and F Troops north to Fort Whoop Up at the junction of the Belly and St. Mary rivers. There they found that the whiskey traders had learned of the mounted police’s approach and had gone out of business. – Diary of Commissioner George Arthur French, N.W.M.P.

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