Over my years of collecting Royal Canadian Mint
) commemorative coins, I have, from time to time, been surprised by the multiple dates the RCM
identifies as anniversary years for what it presents, at least on first glance, as the same historical event. One such case is the two different dates it has used for commemorating the founding of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
celebrated the 100th anniversary of the RCMP in 1973 with a commemorative 25-cent coin and silver dollar. In 1998, it marked the RCMP's 125th anniversary. That made sense -- 1973 + 25 = 1998. In 2020, however, 22 years after the 1998 release, the RCM
issued a silver $5 commemorative coin for the 100th anniversary of the RCMP - Huh? How did 125 + 22 become 100?
I decided to do a bit of research and figure it all out. Fortunately, I've learned that the RCM
's reasoning for its RCMP anniversary dates is straightforward and logical though its marketing terminology could be a bit more defined and accurate.
As noted above, in 1973, the RCM
issued a commemorative 25-cent coin; it was struck for circulation as well as for collector sets. The Mint also issued a non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) commemorative silver dollar for collectors. The commemorative reverses of the two coins used similar but different designs of an RMCP Mountie on horseback; both designs were the work of Paul Cedarburg, and both coins were promoted as marking the 100th anniversary of the RMCP.
In reality, 1973 was the 100th anniversary of the creation of a police force that became the North-West Mounted Police. "In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force, and sent 150 recruits west to Manitoba. The new police force gradually acquired the name North-West Mounted Police (NWMP)...In 1904, King Edward VII conferred the title of "Royal" upon the North-West Mounted Police." (from "History of the RMCP" at https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/history-rcmp)
The year 1873 was also used for the basis of a 1998 NCLT silver dollar that was advertised as commemorating the RCMP's 125th anniversary.
In 2020, the Mint marked the 100th anniversary of the Royal North West Mounted Police being combined with the Dominion Police to become the RCMP with a silver $5 coin. It was in 1920 that an Act "to amend the Royal North West Mounted Police Act came into force. The Act changed the name of the RNWMP to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and allowed for the move of RCMP headquarters to Ottawa from Regina. In addition, the Dominion Police was terminated and its roles and responsibilities for federal policing in Eastern Canada were taken over by the RCMP." (from "History of the RMCP" at https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/history-rcmp
.(Image Credit: Royal Canadian Mint.)
So, at least two different "founding" events are commemorated by the RCM
as RCMP establishment anniversaries:
1. The 1873 date which was when the RCMP's predecessor (the NWMP) was formed - this date has given rise to the 1973 commemorative 25-cent coin and NCLT silver dollar plus the 1998 NCLT commemorative silver dollar.
2. The 1920 date which was when the name "Royal Canadian Mounted Police" officially replaced the name "Royal North West Mounted Police" and the force was given the responsibility of being a national police service.
I'm sure the RCM
appreciates having two different founding dates to commemorate, it gives them more opportunities to strike and issue collector coins with a popular theme!
In 2023, the RCMP is planning to celebrate its 150th anniversary thanks to its roots that date back to 1873 and the North-West Mounted Police - it seems a safe bet that the RCM
will issue one or more coins to mark the occasion of the roots of Canada's national police service.
has issued multiple coins with an RCMP theme over the years, but many do not commemorate a specific anniversary - most have been more of a numismatic tribute to the force vs. being a traditional commemorative. (The 1998 Last RMCP Dog Sled Patrol silver dollar is an exception - you can read more about it here: 1994 Last RMCP Dog Sled Patrol
Now that I understand the chronological roots of the RCMP and the early dates associated with its organization, I will no longer be surprised by a new coin's date as long as it's based on one or the other (1873 or 1920). If the RCM
comes up with another "founding" date in order to issue a new coin, it will be time for me to conduct another research cycle!