Insp. William A. Cunning


Photograph of WIlliam Cunning in 1914 at Depot Division



Inspector William Angus Cunning has the distinction of being one of the longest serving members in the Force – 45 days short of completing 45 years of continuous service.  He joined as a North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) member and retired as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) member.

He was born on May 7, 1868 at Gaspe Quebec.  However, he was raised and educated at Port Hope Ontario.   With the outbreak of the North-West Rebellion and at the age of 16, he headed to the North-West Territories and joined up with the 12th Battalion of the Canadian Militia.  Unfortunately, the hostilities ended before his training was completed.





On June 14, 1887 and at the age of 19, he was sworn into the Force at Toronto and was assigned the regimental number 2006.  At the time, the age of engagement to the Force was 22 years old.  It would appear that strings were pulled to over-ride the engagement policy.

William Cunning completed his NWMP training at Depot Division in Regina and was transferred to general duties in the Regina area.   In May 1888, he was transferred to Wood Mountain and over the next two years was transferred between Wood End, Old Carlyle and Cannington Manor.  During this time, his duties were to patrol the district Indian reserves and Canada-U.S. border.

Photograph of William Cunning with his family in 1897 in Regina

On March 18, 1890, he married Miss Sara Amelia Cox who was a school teacher in the southern Manitoba area.  Later the same year, he was transferred back to Regina where he was selected to be a member on the Governor-General’s escort troop.  Once the escort duty was completed, William Cunning was transferred to Morden and later to Snowflake in Manitoba.  The following year, he was transferred to Estevan and a year later year back to Depot Division where he would remain for the rest of his career in the Force.

In 1893, William Cunning received a medical examination regarding a renewal of his engagement in the Force.  At the time, Dr. E.N. Scott made a comment on his medical report about this member – “fit and upt to standard but this man is in the habit of using more tabacco than is good for him – pulse 84.”

Between 1901 and 1909, William Cunning was disciplined for two separate incidents where he exercised poor judgement:

  • April 3, 1901: Drinking liquor while on duty and was demoted from Corporal to Constable; and
  • September 7, 1909: Overstayed his Pass and received a $10 fine.

On September 12, 1904, he reverted back to his rank of Corporal and promoted to Sergeant on January 19, 1905 then to Staff Sergeant 9 months later to become the Depot Quarter Master.   William Cunning was promoted to Inspector (O.220) on Manuary 1, 1927 and retired from the Force on April 15, 1932.

Photograph of William Cunning and his brothers

In 1918, he won the Connaught Cup as the best shot in the Force in the annual competition.

After retiring from the Force, he remained in Regina with his wife.  On December 12, 1964, he passed away and is now buried at the Depot Cemetery.  In a fitting tribute to his contribution to the Force, two locations in Saskatchewan were named after him:

  • Cunning Bay was named after him. This Bay is located in northeast Saskatchewan between Wollaston and Reindeer Lakes.
  • Cunning Crescent in Regina, Saskatchewan.

His son and grandson both served in the Force: Constable Cecil A. Cunning, Reg. # 9897, served from 1923 – 1925, and Sergeant Arthur G. Cunning, Reg. # 13842, served from 1941 to 1962.

Photograph of William Cunning's grave marker at Depot Division

Author banner for Veteran Ric Hall