June 28, 2011

Canada uses machine guns to keep Soapy Smith out.

Display showing both machine guns.


 


Donald Sinclair's letter
side 1
(Click image to enlarge)
In 1985, previous to my internet use, one of my first research  tools was placing ads in western and history magazines in the US and Canada.. In June 1985 I received a letter from a Donald Sinclair in Saskatchewan, Canada stating that he knew of a museum displaying two machine guns used by the north-west mounted police at the two pass summits to keep Soapy Smith and his gang out of Canada. He wrote that the weapons are located at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum in Regina, Saskatchewan. I found the story rather hard to believe but he had given me the address so I wrote the museum to check the authenticity of the story.

Donald Sinclair's letter
side 2
(Click image to enlarge)
I also wrote Mr. Sinclair and thanked him very much. I also asked him if he happen to be related to Rev. John Sinclair, who properly buried Soapy and took some of the most well-known photographs of Soapy, both while living and deceased. Ronald Sinclair was not related to the rev. Sinclair, but rather to farmers in South Dakota in the 1870s-80s and he told me about this in his second letter seen here. Unfortunately his first letter is not around. In my earliest days of research I was not keeping a lot of my correspondence and it was one day when my father noticed me throwing away a letter that he convinced me to save all of them. While I may have a huge collection of papers they do bring back many memories that had been long forgotten, such as the very moment I tossed out a letter and my father taught me to save them. These old letters also add provenance and source to my written word.

Mr. Sinclair was also a fan of Soapy's history in Alaska. Without me asking him, he drove 150 miles  from his home to the museum in July 1985 to take a few photographs of the machine guns to send to me. All the photos in this post minus the one at the bottom are his.

Maxim Nordenfeldt .303
(Click image to enlarge)



Museum letter
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In July 1985 I received the reply letter from the RCMP Museum and sure enough the museum claims the two machine guns, one air-cooled, the other water-colled, were placed at the summits to be used against an invasion by the Soapy Smith gang. The museum text displayed with the guns reads as follows.

Maxim Nordenfeldt .303 calibre air-cooled machine gun. 
This machine gun was set up by the N. W. M. P. in the Klondike to deter Soapy Smith and his gang who were operating from Skagway against the miners returning south with their gold. This gun was located at White Pass Summit in the year 1898 and later served to deter the Order of the Midnight Sun Society.

The White Pass summit was equipped with the air-cooled Maxim machine gun while at the Chilkoot sat a Norden .303 caliber water-cooled machine gun, both capable of firing 500 rounds a minute.


Norden .303 caliber water-cooled
(Click image to enlarge)
Maxim Nordenfeldt .303
(Click image to enlarge)













Norden .303 caliber water-cooled
(Click image to enlarge)


The RMCP Museum is located at 5907 Dewdney Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4T 0P4. Their website is RMCP Heritage Center.













Machine guns: page 562.




Jeff Smith









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1 comment:

  1. Yes, Jeff, I've seen the guns while researching at the museum archives. The original Mounties also took some heavy artillery on their original trek in 1874: one or two 9-pound cannons. My great-grandfather wrote of what a pain in the ass they were. All for naught. The American whiskey traders had all fled by the time they got to Fort Whoop Up in S. Alberta.

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