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Law Came to The North American West

In the early days there was no law in the west.


When the west was being settled there were robberies, claim jumping and unlawful deals were problems in the boomtowns.  The towns grew so fast that there were not enough lawmen to enforce the laws.  In the early days many boomtowns were not recognized by the government so there were sheriffs hired by the townspeople.  These lawmen were often just as bad as the criminals.  Many of them were gunslingers and some were gamblers that took bribes from the criminals.

The Justice in the boomtowns was usually performed by vigilantes.  This type of justice usually caused more problems.  Sometimes a town had several vigilante groups which made it even worse.  There were many arguments and fights that broke out between the groups.

The boomtowns were finally recognized by the government and they became entitled to police officers.  There were laws passed to stop people from carrying weapons in town.  The officers kept a strict watch on drinking and gambling.  There were penalties and fines or even death and this helped discourage lawbreakers.

It was almost 20 years before the United States began expanding west, Canadian fur trappers and explorers had reached the Rocky Mountains by then.  Trading posts were built and the trappers and the Native Americans traded beaver pelts for blankets and guns.  While American settlers were going west the Canadians were also moving west.  In 1867 Canada became a country.

More people moved west and more problems developed.  There were disputes over land which caused fights between the settlers.  The Native Americans fought the settlers.  American whiskey smugglers crossed the border into Canada and sold alcohol illegally.  There were no laws so many people settled these problems violently.

In 1873, the Canadian government decided to put a stop to the lawlessness of the west.  300 strong and healthy men were recruited to form the North West Mounted Police who were known as the Mounties.  They brought law and order to the Canadian West.  They organized the settlers into communities, drove out the American outlaws and protected the Native American people.  The Mounties are known and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Their bright red coats represent law and safety throughout Canada.

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