Stuart Taylor Wood

March 6, 1938 - April 30, 1951

Descended from a distinguished line that included Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States, and Jefferson Davis, President of the American Confederacy, Stuart Taylor Wood, the RCMP's eighth Commissioner, was born on October 17, 1889 near Napanee, Ontario. Because of his father's career in the RNWMP, Wood lived at a number of police posts prior to attending Upper Canada College in Toronto. Wood attended the Royal Military College in Kingston, where he graduated in 1912. Shortly after he secured a commission in the RNWMP.

During World War I he served in France and Belgium as a lieutenant of a cavalry squadron. Upon returning to Canada in 1919, he served in the Yukon at various posts, including Herschel Island where he also held the appointments of Justice of the Peace, Coroner, Sheriff, Game Inspector and Customs Officer. Following his northern service Wood was posted to western Canada. In 1935, he attended a four month course at Scotland Yard studying police methods of France, Belgium and the United States. Following the course he was appointed Director of the Criminal Investigation Branch of the RCMP with the assignment to modernize police operations and techniques.

Wood was appointed Commissioner in1938 following the death of Commissioner Sir James MacBrien. Wood as commissioner through the difficult war period, formed the First Provost Company (Canadian Provost Corps) for overseas service, helped establish a system of registration for aliens, and dealt with the espionage cases of 1945-46. He opened up new detachments in the North, organized a permanent RCMP Band, established the first RCMP scientific laboratory and museum in Regina and horse breeding station at Fort Walsh, improved wireless communication and broadcasting, instituted a preventive policing program directed towards youth and negotiated provincial policing contracts for Newfoundland and B.C. He had brought gradual growth to the Force, improvement of scientific methods of crime detection, law enforcement and crime prevention.

In 1943 Wood became a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, and in 1947, was awarded by the United States Government the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm. Commissioner Wood retired from the Force on May 1, 1951. He died on January 4, 1966 in Ottawa and is buried in the RCMP cemetery in Regina.

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by Stephen Luscombe