Honouring our past: 126, Colonel, The Honourable PCH Primrose, Entered RMC 1881

 

It is with great pleasure that we publish as our frontispiece of this number of the Review a picture of No. 126, Colonel The Honourable P.C.H. Primrose was born in Pictou in 1864 and after attending Pictou Academy, N.S., entered the College in 1881.

He graduated as a corporal in 1885 and joined the Royal North West Mounted Police, as that celebrated Force was then called, as an inspector, that same year. On April 15th, 1915, he retired with the rank of superintendent to become stipendiary magistrate for the city of Edmonton, which position he held until 1935.

We cannot improve on the account of Colonel Primrose’s service with the R.N.W.M.P. given by T. Morris Longstreath in “The Silent Force” so we take the liberty of quoting the following passages from that book: –

 

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“August 1, 1885, was one of the Force’s lucky days. On that day a youth of twenty years, who missed six feet by half an inch, and whose fair hair and blue eyes were given a touch of falcon by the nose, managed a commission for himself and took his two oaths. The examining surgeon had remarked, ‘Will make a good man for the Force, but he is at present reduced by college life and work.’ The new inspector applied for leave, the commissioner (it was Irvine, then) demurred; he insisted, Irvine refused; he replied that he would rather give up his commission than not see his relatives. Irvine gave in. The incident was significant of both men, but especially of Philip Carteret Hill Primrose, the inspector who was to dominate, with a respectful insistence, circumstances as he had at twenty dominated the commissioner.

“Fifteen years of development and of ripening followed before this man was to present in their fullness all the shrewd, analytical, caustic, irascible qualities of his greatness, when he was known as ‘Ten Twenty-eight’ (ten dollars fine and twenty-eight days, c.b.-confined to barracks), his common formula of punishment; or by his famous reply to a later commissioner: ‘You make ‘em, I break ‘em.’ During his long maturity, Superintendent Primrose’s command became a model to the Force. His views of constabular conduct were ascetic, his Police standards severe. His knowledge of Criminal Code was hardly matched and his application of it masterly. Under him men learned accuracy, learned to work for the shining sake of excellence. Their master’s praise was rare, but they were confidant that their efforts we understood, appreciated, and abetted by his hawk-like genius. He was scrupulously just, and though he might drive them, might increase the pace with flicks of sarcasm, Primrose’s fame equals the greatest in the estimation of the driven; which is fame indeed.”