Arctic & Northern Biographies
Crime & Policing in the North
WHITEHORSE, YT - March 20, 2018 - One hundred and ten years ago, on March 20, 1908, the Officer Commanding of the Royal North West Mounted Police post at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, suddenly passed away from "cardial dropsy" (cardiac edema) at the age of 39.
Although buried at that location in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cemetery, he is best known for his service in the Yukon before, during and after the Klondike Gold Rush.
Inspector D'Arcy Edward Strickland was born on November 2, 1868, at Lakefield, Ontario.
A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada at Kingston, Ontario, he joined the North West Mounted Police on November 15, 1891, as an Inspector, having previously served as the Adjutant in the rank of lieutenant in the "The Prince of Wales" Canadian Dragoons at Cobourg, Ontario.
Inspector Strickland was posted to the Northwest Territories to "Depot" Division in Regina (now Saskatchewan).
In 1895, Inspector Strickland was the second-in-command, under Superintendent Charles Constantine, O.79, of a party of 18 members of the Force sent out to establish a permanent police presence in the Yukon.
The expedition departed "Depot" at Regina (now Saskatchewan) on May 1, 1895, journeyed by train to the west coast and then by steamship to Juneau, Alaska, and then to the point on the Yukon River where they constructed Fort Constantine, described by Superintendent Constantine in January 1896 as being "the most northerly military or semi-military post in the British Empire."
Inspector Strickland is prominent in the photograph taken of the NWMP party at Fort Constantine in 1895, wearing a white shirt and tie!
A big, beefy man who, judging from photographs taken of him, preferred to not wear the regulation uniform, Inspector Strickland was adjudged by his disapproving superior (Superintendent Constantine) to be a fun-loving person, "what is generally known as a good fellow" with "a taste for low company [and] a decided fondness for drink."
Inspector Strickland was accompanied to the Yukon by his wife Tannis and their son Roland. Their daughter Frances would be born in 1899.
The summer after Fort Constantine was established gold was struck on Bonanza Creek which drains into the Klondike River and the Great Gold Rush was on.
Inspector Strickland was placed in charge of guarding the White Pass which, along with the Chilkoot Pass, was one of the main entry points for the thousands of gold seekers on the "Trail of '98."
He established and commanded the NWMP post at Tagish in 1897.
In 1902, Inspector Strickland left the Yukon to join the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel (former Superintendent) Archibald Cameron Macdonell, as the unit's "popular and energetic" Adjutant, to fight in the South African War.
The 5th CMR arrived at Durban, South Africa in May 1902 only to find that the war was over. Shortly after arriving, the Canadian troops were shipped back home to Canada, having never seen combat.
Inspector D'Arcy Strickland resumed his career in the Force as the Officer Commanding at Prince Albert, Wood Mountain and then Fort Saskatchewan, until his death on March 20, 1908.
His son whom he brought to the Yukon as a child, Lieutenant Roland D'Arcy Strickland, served in the First World War and was killed in action on May 20, 1917, while serving in the 28th (Northwest) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
He was 21 years old, and is buried in the Ecoivres Military Cemetery near Vimy Ridge in France.
Strickland Street in Whitehorse, Yukon, and Mount Strickland and Strickland Lake are named for Inspector D'Arcy Edward Strickland.
We will remember him.
Text by Mark Gaillard
RCMP Veterans' Association
The grave of Inspector D'Arcy Edward Strickland at Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery, Alberta.
Inspector Strickland with the NWMP party at Fort Constantine in 1895, wearing a white shirt and tie.
Inspector Strickland was accompanied to the Yukon by his wife Tannis and their son Roland.