The Queen's Cowboys - a Victor comic series.
featuring the North-West Mounted Police, the forerunners of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The badge of the North-West Mounted Police. Their motto (and the R.C.M.P.'s) is, Maintiens le Droit - Maintain the Right.
See The Victor issues 229 - 241 (first series entitled Boot and Saddle). Series reprinted in issues
859, 861, 862, 863, 864, 865, 866, 867, 869?, 871, 873, 875, 877, 879, 881, 883, 884, 885, 888, 889, 890, 892, 893, 896.
(note the stories did not appear in consecutive issues. The re-printed second series was also published under the title Boot and Saddle).
Second series issues 481 - 494, (second series entitled The Queen's Cowboys).
Writer:- J.T. Edson. (Edson based his stories in this series, on actual events and people. Although I'm not sure that Tex Yandel ever existed).
Artist:- Vicente Ibáñez Sanchis?.
Main cast:- Colonel (Commissioner French; Commissioner MacLeod; Constable (later Corporal, then Sergeant) Tex Yandel; Superintendent Samuel
Benfield Steele; Jerry Potts and Sandy MacTavish, scouts; plus others.
Time period:- Late 19th century.
The above map is from the end page covers of the book The Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (Kelly, 1973).
It is often assumed that the Mounties motto is, ‘The Mounties always get their man’, but in fact their motto is ‘Maintain the Right.’ In both of these
series, the Mounties always get their man and always Maintain the Right. These two series tell the stories of the North-West Mounted Police and their
efforts in bringing law and order to the harsh and wild lawlessness area of north-west Canada. The first series, ‘Boot and Saddle’, follows the
origins of the force, whilst the second series, ‘The Queen’s Cowboys,’ follows the forces later trials and adventures in the late 19th century.
Whether it be negotiating with Indian tribes moving from America to Canada, the North-West Rebellion, a train robbery or just everyday policing problems,
for example, maintaining law and order within railway construction camps.
Neither series revolves around one central figure, rather it is a rotating cast, different characters passing through each weeks episodes as required.
The stories are based on real events and people such as Superintendent Samuel Benfield Steele, Commissioner Macleod, Jerry Potts, scout and so on.
Constable (later Corporal, then Sergeant) Tex Yandel is the nearest the two series gets to having a central character. (I haven’t though been able
to verify if Yandel was a real person).
Although, some of what happened in these episodes is probably based loosely on events. For example, the story involving Bugler Bagley and his attempt
at retrieving stampeding horses scared by a thunderstorm, actually happened. Although, whether Bagley tangled with cowboys as portrayed in the episode,
(which can be read below), may not have happened. It might be that this incident was added by the writer to provide extra excitement. The incident is
described in the Kelly book, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police thus, 'Young trumpeter Bagley had ridden with the older men and was fast asleep in the
saddle when his horse delivered him back to camp, so exhausted from twenty-four hours without food or rest that he had to be lifted down and put to bed.
Bagley coveted an unusual buckskin with a black streak along its back, although he knew that another man had chosen it first. When the horses were
assigned the young trumpeter arranged to be "guarding" it. He got the animal, also the reputation of being a horse thief." (p.27-28 Kelly, 1973).
Each Victor issue always featured two pages of a story (the centre pages), in ‘colour’. The 'colour'
consisting of just the one colour, red! Strangely, these two North-West Police series featuring the Mounties (who wear red coats), were only published on
the central 'colour' pages on a few occasions.
The stories are good and the artwork excellent. This is one case where the true stories were better than fictional plots.
(For me I always remember the flowing locks of hair on the bare headed characters. The hair always had the appearance of being gelled. It's these images
that I always remember about this artist's work. The two series made a visual impact on my mind. This was because of the artwork and stories and my
interest in the Mounties.
The North-West Mounted Police - a very brief historical time line of facts from 1873 to 1904.
1873 - On the 23rd May a bill was passed by the Canadian Government allowing for a police force to be established in the North-West territories.
The North-West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.), came into being consisting of three hundred men. Lieutenant-Colonel French becomes the first
Commissioner of the N.W.M.P.
1874 - On the 8th July the Force headed west, destination the forks of the Belly and Bow Rivers, the supposed location of 'Fort Whoop-Up', where the whiskey traders
were illegally operating from. The march was long and arduous, with many animals dying. Reaching the locations between the two rivers, they failed to
locate 'Fort Whoop-Up.' They also found the surrounding land was very inhospitable, with little pasture for the animals. They needed to find pasture fast
and luckily they found the nearby Sweet Grass Hills. Thus The march west ended on the 18th September, after marching 1,009 miles. MacLeod learned the true
location of 'Fort Whoop-Up' (it was situated between the fork of the Belly and St. Mary's rivers) and arrived there on the 9th October, to find it empty.
Fort MacLeod was established in the broad loop of the Old Man's River. This became the permanent home of the N.W.M.P. in the Canadian West.
1876 - Sitting Bull, the leader of the Sioux Indians, retreated into Canada from the U.S. after the Battle of Little Big Horn. This resulted in a meeting of
all parties at the N.W.M.P. Fort Walsh, which led to a peaceful solution.
1885 - The North-West Rebellion. This was caused by the threat of starvation to the Indians, caused by the disappearance of the buffalo. The Metis
(Indians and French Canadians of mixed blood), were also discontent as they feared they would lose their lands due to the speard of settlement. Louis Riel
was invited back to Canada to lead their negotiations with the Government. The rebellion broke out in March. The rebellion was short lived as the rebels
were soon defeated at various locations. There had been talk of disbanding the N.W.M.P. but with the crushing of the rebellion, the Force's strength rose
to 1,000 men.
1904 - The force was re-named the Royal North-West Mounted Police.
1920 - The force becomes known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.)
For a much more detailed history of the N.W.M.P. please visit
Brief biographical facts about some of the people mentioned in the series.
Commissioner George Arthur French.
First Commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) 1873 - 1876. French had served with the British Garrison in Canada between 1862 - 1866.
Between 1870 - 1873 he was Inspector of Artillery for the Canadian Militia. The 'March West' in 1874 was a successful enterprise and French's
administrative and logistical skills played a major part in that success. French resigned from his post as Commissioner in 1876, due to
political differences between himself and his political masters in Ottawa. He retired in 1902, after resuming his military career in England,
Australia and India with the rank of Major-General Sir Arthur French.
Assistant Commissioner (later Commissioner) James MacLeod.
The second Commissioner of the R.C.M.P. MacLeod was a Brigade Major in the Red River Expedition under the command of Colonel Garnet Wolseley
dissident Metis (mixed Indian and French-Canadian blood), who had established a Provisional Government under the leadership of
Louis Riel. A lawyer by profession, Macleod had considerable charm and was widely trusted by the Indians. He was appointed Assistant
Commissioner in 1874 and by 1876 commanded the force. He resigned in 1880, clashing with the then Canadian Prime Minister over the rising
costs of the R.C.M.P. He then became Stipendiary Magistrate of the North-West Territories.
Jerry Potts, civilian scout (circa 1840 - 1896).
The son of a Scots father and a Blood Indian mother, Potts was invaluable in introducing the N.W.M.P. to the ways of the Frontier. He was
engaged by Assistant-Commissioner Macleod at Fort Benton. Potts had the uncanny ability to guide the force on its trek even through land
he didn't know. Macleod had originally only hired Potts to guide the force to 'Fort Whoop-Up', but he remained with the N.W.M.P. for a
further twenty-two years. ('Fort Whoop-Up' was a trading post of illegal whiskey traders, that the N.W.M.P. were determined to close down.
Which they did).
Superintendent Samuel Benfield Steele.
One of those real life characters full of energy and stamina, who lead an active life mainly in the N.W.M.P. and military forces not just in
Canada, but in other countries. The son of a Royal Navy officer, he began his career in the Canadian Militia in 1866 at the tender age of
fifteen. In 1870 he served in General Arthur Wolseley's expedition against the Fenian rebels. (The Red River Expedition). He joined the
N.W.M.P. in 1973 as a Sergeant-Major
and by 1878 was an Inspector. During the 1885 rebellion he raised Steele's Scouts, twenty-five Mounted Policemen regarded as the 'eyes
and ears' of the column they served with. By 1886 he had been promoted Superintendent and commanded the N.W.M.P. in the Yukon during the
1898 - 1899 gold rush. Later on leave of absence from the N.W.M.P., he served in the South African War raising and commanding Lord Strathcona's
Horse and then serving in the
South African Constabulary as a Colonel during 1901 - 1906. During the First World War he commanded the 2nd Canadian Division as a Major-
General in 1915. He died in 1919.
The stories below are from issues 864, 873, 489 and 494 respectively.
Kelly, Nora and William The Royal Canadian Mounted Police: A Century of History.- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Hurtig, 1973.- 318p.- ill.- index.- Bibliography.-
Ross, David and Robin May The Royal Canadian Mounted Police 1873 - 1987.- London: Osprey, Men-at-Arms Series, 1988.- 48p.- ill. colour plates of the uniforms.-
© Adrian Banfield, 2009.