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ARCHIVED - " Without Fear, Favour or Affection:" The Men of the North West Mounted Police

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Biography: James Tinsley


The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) attracted young boys, well below the minimum age, to its ranks from its very outset in 1873-74. Fred Bagley was a few months short of his 16th birthday when he signed on. The NWMP was generally strict about age limits, but determined young men always found a way.

James Tinsley was born in May 1872 and lived with his parents in Hamilton, Ontario, when a recruiting mission arrived in the spring of 1888. Young Tinsley presented himself and told the recruiting officer that he was 18, almost two years more than his real age. He was engaged on April 26, 1888, and sent to Depot Division in Regina. The truth soon came out, but instead of sending him home, Commissioner Herchmer decided that he could remain with the Mounted Police as a trumpeter until his 18th birthday. Only then would he be posted for police duties elsewhere. Tinsley agreed.

After serving five years, Constable Tinsley took his discharge in May 1893. He later observed that "nothing startling happened to me during my service." He gained self-confidence that served him well in the years ahead. After leaving the NWMP, James Tinsley remained in policing for the next 43 years, first in Brockville, Ontario, and then for over 30 years with the Toronto Police before retiring in 1934.