NWMP: Firm Discipline

Photograph of a NWMP member

 

 

 

In conducting some research on NWMP members, I came across the Personal File of Constable John Henry Beggs (Reg.#1139).

 

 

 

 

At the age of 22 years and 3 months, Beggs joined the NWMP at Winnipeg on February 4, 1885 and undertook his basic training at “Depot” Division.  He was previously employed as a farmer.

In his first year in the Force, Constable Beggs was becoming a management challenge in a ‘strict and compliance‘ organization:

April 6, 1885 – Absent From Morning Parade – (Depot Division)

May 18, 1885 – Absent from Barracks in the night and left Barracks while under arrest – (Prince Albert)

May 30, 1885 – absent from Stables in the Evening – (Prince Albert)

August 10, 1885 – Refusing to work hauling wood to the Mission Stockade in the morning of August 8 – (Prince Albert)

December 7, 1885 – Absent from tattoo roll call on December 8 – (Fort Saskatchewan)

December 16, 1885 – Returned from being absent on December 8 – (Fort Saskatchewan)

February 4, 1886 – Directly refusing orders given to him by the Orderly Constable (Fort Saskatchewan)

February 4, 1886 – Mutinous conduct by inciting men both by word and deeds to set out to undermine the Commanding Officer by disobeying all ordered them by their superior officer.  Also pulling down the Union Jack flag and hoisting of a flag showing disregard to the authority of the Commanding Officer(Fort Saskatchewan).

From his actions on February 4, 1886, Constable Beggs would become one of the principals (other principal was Constable George Cheke) to encourage and lead a mutiny at the NWMP Fort Saskatchewan.  Other members who joined his cause were as follow and received the corresponding Service Court sentence for their involvement in this mutiny:

Reg. #569 – Constable Albert Thom – received fine 1 month pay & 9 months of hard labour;

Reg. #598 – Constable John Joseph – received fine 1 month pay & 9 months of hard labour;

Reg. #601 – Constable Charles Ogle -received fine 1 month pay & 9 months of hard labour;

Reg. #608 – Constable Colin Campbell -received fine 1 month pay & 9 months of hard labour;

Reg. # 611 – Constable Thomas Craigie -received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. # 780 – Constable John Tayler -received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. #957 – Constable Charles Thompson –received fine 1 month pay & 9 months of hard labour;

Reg. #984 – Constable Joseph Chater -received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. #989 – Constable Arthur Clare – received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. #1005 – Constable Arthur Rushton – received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. #1087 – Constable William Smith – received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. #1096 – Constable George Cheke – received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour;

Reg. #1139 – Constable John Henry Beggs -received fine 1 month pay & 1 years of hard labour; and

Reg. #1387  – Constable Anthony Gallagher  – received fine 1 month pay & 6 month of hard labour. (escaped while serving this sentence).

While serving his hard labour sentence at the “Depot” Guardroom, Constable Beggs’ problematic behaviour and defiance continued.  While as a prisoner, Beggs’ was charged and convicted in Service Court for eight additional offences which increased his sentence 8 more months: assaulting the guards, possession of a pipe and a knife.

Photograph of the NWMP, RNWMP & RCMP Guardroom in "Depot" in Regina

Photograph of the NWMP, RNWMP & RCMP Guardroom in “Depot” in Regina (Source of photo – RCMP Veterans’ Association – Vancouver Division)

On May 7, 1886, the Commissioner put him on bread & water in leg irons, 24 hours a day, for seven months, for a disturbance in a cell & repeated other offences, again a consecutive sentence.  At the expiration of his 20 month sentence in June 1887, Beggs was ‘Dismissed‘ as ‘worthless and incorrigible.’  At the time, there was no mechanism for Constable Beggs to appeal his Service Court sentences.

NWMP Discharge Certificate for Constable John Henry Beggs (Source of image - Library Archives of Canada: NWMP file)

NWMP Discharge Certificate for Constable John Henry Beggs (Source of image – Library Archives of Canada: NWMP file)

The discipline records on Beggs’ file are of historical value for their research purposes. They illustrate the harsh penalties applied in the NWMP during the development of the North West Territory and reflect some of the problems encountered to “maintain discipline and good order amongst the men.”

I wonder where the rest of his life took him…probably ended up a member of parliament!

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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