The Newfoundland Ranger Force, 1935-1950

Tuck, Marilyn (1983) The Newfoundland Ranger Force, 1935-1950. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

A new broom sweeps clean. In 1934 and 1935 the British controlled Commission of Government swept aside relics of Newfoundland’s political past and created new administrative structures that were impartial, efficient and economical. The Newfoundland Ranger Force was one of these creations. The Force comprised a total of 204 men in its 15 years of existence, varying in size from 31 Rangers in 1935 to 79 in 1946. This small and elite force was originally intended as a forest ranger service or group of game wardens to develop revenue-producing fur farms in the vast uninhabited interior of the island. But it evolved into a police ranger force with wide-ranging administrative duties designed to improve government services in the outports. -- The purpose of the Ranger Force changed in response to other developments in the government. Commission of Government reformed aspects of Newfoundland’s administration in the hopes of eliminating dependence on political patronage in an impoverished and traditional society. Reforms in the fisheries and customs departments improved the sources of government revenue and professionalization of the civil service itself rationalized its administration as much as society would tolerate. Reorganization of the law enforcement agencies spread government control and services beyond the capital of St. John's to the outports. In the spring of 1934 Commission of Government reorganized the existing police force, the Newfoundland Constabulary, and restricted it to the more heavily populated areas and industrial centres such as the Avalon Peninsula, Corner Brook and Grand Falls. In the fall the Commission agreed that there should be a ranger service as recommended in the Amulree Report. This group of game wardens was supposed to regulate the government beaver farms in the centre of the island. Training the first members of such a Force was begun in the summer of 1935. In the meantime, however, the Commission had increased the duties of magistrates in the rural districts by designating them administrative agents of all government departments. When the magistrates failed to meet this challenge to perform the functions of district officers, Commission of Government turned to the Ranger Force in the spring of 1937. Rangers became administrators and the Force reached the zenith of its power. In the next three or four years the Rangers established a reputation for dependability, honesty and efficiency comparable to that of the North-West Mounted Police in Canada. -- Then came World War Two and the defence bases. Thousands of Americans and Canadians injected unprecedented amounts of money into a struggling economy. The presence of ‘foreigners’ in a small population that had had to adjust to very few immigrants was both stimulating and traumatic for Newfoundland society. The Ranger Force had to meet the challenge of an erosion in traditional values. In some areas the Force had to assume more police duties, and in general the Ranger Force grew to resemble the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in rural parts of Canada such as northern Ontario. The Rangers managed to keep pace with the higher quality of government services, but government expectations and control of the Rangers became uncomfortably strict. Government regulations now could be enforced because of improved communications, and Rangers who had been trained to be extremely independent and make their own decisions in the field disliked the unaccustomed supervision. In 1947 the Ranger Force assumed a new role when the Rangers reported on the outport reactions to the form of government of their country. The referendum which was to follow held out two possibilities for the Rangers--either their continuation under Commission of Government or a changed role under another form of government. The latter happened when Newfoundland voted to confederate with Canada in 1949: in 1950 the Newfoundland Ranger Force amalgamated with the RCMP. The Ranger Force ceased to exist as an independent organization and the Rangers shed their blue serge uniforms and emerged in scarlet tunics.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5558
Item ID: 5558
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 118-123.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1983
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Newfoundland Ranger Force; Police--Newfoundland and Labrador

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