ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Andrew Waterman The Telegram email@example.com
When George Powell joined the RCMP in 1953, the new officer from Ontario found himself in Newfoundland and Labrador, working with members of the former Newfoundland Ranger Force.
“Some of the people would call the office and they’d want to know, are you a Canadian Mountie or are you one of ours?” Powell said.
The RCMP had taken over and absorbed the Rangers on Aug. 1, 1950, a year after Newfoundland joined Confederation.
Compared to now, those days were pretty rudimentary, Powell says.
“It was a different atmosphere, a different life,” he said.
Prisoner escorts were all done by rail, and there was no calling for backup on a two-way radio. Sometimes, especially in rural parts of the province, the single officer who manned a rural detachment might be gone for almost a week. Their wives would take over, despite women not officially being allowed to join the RCMP until 1974.
“She would look after everything, taking the phone calls, helping people, even looking after prisoners,” Powell said.
Powell finished his career as a chief superintendent in British Columbia, but moved back to Newfoundland soon after he retired 32 years ago.
On Friday, Powell was back at RCMP headquarters in St. John’s to celebrate the release of a book called "In Search of Adventure — 70 Years of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador," by Helen C. Escott and published by Flanker Press.