The history of policing in Canada stretches all the way back to the 16th century when early explorers formed cities with local constabularies and watchmen. Over the hundreds of years since, police forces, departments, and services have been established to protect individuals and communities. Canadian citizens and officers have, in the recent past, prioritized community policing, inclusion, and diversity as high values for protecting Canadians with excellence. The timeline below highlights some of the major events and accomplishments in the Canadian history of policing.
The History of Policing in Canada
Early Colonization: Explorers like Jacques Cartier (1491–1557) and Samuel de Champlain (1567–1635) claim “New France.” Champlain establishes several cities, including Quebec City. Municipalities handle policing locally by establishing local constabularies and watchmen systems.
1835–1840: Canada adopts the “Peelian Principles” of Sir Robert Peel*, then-Home Secretary of England. Law enforcement officers are uniformed citizens, accountable to their communities, and may exercise force in exchange for protection and maintenance of public order. Toronto (1835), Montreal (1838), and Quebec City (1840) create police departments.
1855: The London Police Force (now the London Police Service) is established.
1868: The Canadian government forms the Dominion Police Force (DPF), which operates primarily in the eastern portion. The DPF provides state security by protecting government buildings, functioning as secret service, and maintaining criminal records.
1873: Prime Minister John A. MacDonald establishes the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) to enforce laws in the wake of conflicts between Indigenous peoples, Métis, and American hunters and traders.
1904*: In recognition of their participation in the Second Boer War, King Edward VII titles the North-West Mounted Police “Royal.”
1919–1920: The Royal North-West Mounted Police merges with the Dominion Police Force to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
1963: The Toronto Police appoints the first female Inspector.
1990: Nearly every Canadian police force has added the term “community policing” to its mandates.
2019: The Calgary Police Service implements body cameras across all frontline officers.
Prepare to Lead with a Bachelors of Arts in Policing
You bring real-world experiences; we bring education and innovation.
Our BA in Policing teaches you a range of skills and competencies:
- Learn various models of policing and their correlating leadership needs
- Discover Canada’s history and how it influences perspectives on policing
- Expand your psychology and mental health knowledge
- Grow your understanding of inclusion and diversity’s importance in policing
- Hone your communication skills
Wilfrid Laurier University designed our Bachelor of Arts in Policing with working and retired police officers in mind. Earn your degree entirely online and enhance your role as a leader.
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