THE KOOTENAI OUTPOST OF THE NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE

During its formative era, the North West Mounted Police established a series of outposts that dotted the Canadian Prairies. Numbering close to two-hundred, most of these outposts were scattered throughout rural areas, geographically isolated from cities and towns. They provided law enforcement protection for local ranchers, homesteaders and First Nations.

The Kootenai Outpost, (later named Big Bend), was built of logs harvested within the river bottom, adjacent to the Waterton River. This location is now beneath the waters of the waters of the Waterton Reservoir. It was in operation for twenty critical years on the frontier from 1887 to 1907. The Force launched a manhunt for Charcoal in November 1896, murderer of Sergeant Brock Wilde of the Pincher Creek detachment. The hunt largely centered near the Kootenai Outpost. Wilde’s memorial stone is exhibited next to the Outpost.

One to four Mounties were stationed at various times in the history of the Kootenai Outpost. These cramped quarters not only served as their headquarters for daily patrols, but also provided living quarters. A root cellar housed much-coveted provisions and firearms while a set of corrals and outbuildings stabled their horses and protected their supplies from changeable weather conditions. Following the outpost’s closure, the buildings became the headquarters for a private ranching operation.

Additional pre-World War One N.W.M.P. Outposts in the Pincher Creek area included North Fork (west of the Porcupine Hills), Police Flats near the eastern entrance to the Crowsnest Pass, Peigan and Porcupine on Olsen and Beaver Creek respectively, and Waterton Lakes.

A historic reminder from days gone by, the Kootenai Outpost was photographed in the early 1970s before its move into the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, where it lies today as a feature building of the museum.

THE KOOTENAI OUTPOST OF THE NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE