Officer in Full Dress, 1878

The photo is of Sub-Inspector W D Antrobus wearing the full dress uniform that was introduced in 1876, 3 years after the foundation of the NWMP. The first uniform of Norfolk jackets for all ranks was confusing and gave insubordinate constables the excuse not to salute an officer on the grounds that he couldn't tell whether he was an officer or not. There was a tradition in the Canadian Militia for units deciding on their own uniform. The officers wanted a smart uniform to boost their status.

The scarlet tunic was based on hussar lines in that there were six rows of gold gimp across the chest ending in caps and drops. The facings were blue despite their non-royal title. The general rule in British army uniforms, upon which this was based, was that a regiment had blue facings only if the title included the words 'Royal' or 'Queen's Own' etc. The blue facings lasted until 1886 when they became red, but returned in 1904 when the NWMP became 'Royal'. The other ranks never had the blue facings, until 1904. The collar was laced with gold and had the badge of rank on it. The Mounties retained this custom long after the British Army had moved the rank badges from collar to shoulder in 1880. The lowest ranking officers had the plain Austrian knot in gold gimp, traced with Russia braid. Inspectors had captain's style braid circlets around the knot and on the collar, while Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners and Superintendants had Royal Artillery field officer's sleeve decoration, a gold lace point highly decorated with braid, and matching collar.

He has a gold laced pouchbelt which supports a very ornate pouch on his back. The trousers were dark blue with a single gold lace stripe, worn for dismounted full dress occasions. In undress, the blue breeches had a yellow cloth stripe and I assume that when mounted in full dress the officer would wear the same breeches, with black knee boots. Antrobus wears a sword, an item not carried by Mounties below the rank of Staff Sergeant. The sword is slung from a belt worn under the tunic. The slings are brown leather with two gold embroidered lines. There was no full dress sabretache worn in this order. When mounted the undress sabretache was worn, suspended from plain brown leather slings.

The helmet on the table beside Antrobus is plain white without a badge. The coloured illustration appears to have metal rim and band around it but the photo shows it without these. The plume was white, but Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners wore red and white plumes. Surgeons wore black plumes. The gloves are white buckskin.

Regimental Details | Uniforms


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by Stephen Luscombe