The Ontario Provincial Police Force: The History And Emergence

May 20th, 2015 / By triOS College

Did you know that Ontario didn’t have an organized police force until the year 1909? Keep in mind that the province wasn’t formed until 1867, of course, but this means that the province went without consistent policing for over forty years! Today, the growth of the province since that time created the demand for police foundations courses. These courses develop officers who contribute to the short but eventful history of the Ontario Provincial Police Force.

police badge handcuffs and fingerprint

The police force plays an instrumental role in modern society, but this was not always the case. Law enforcement didn’t always exist in the way that we understand it today.

Where Did Policing Start?

The police force plays an essential role in modern society, but this was not always the case. In fact, policing as a profession is a fairly new idea in the grand scheme of things. That’s not to say law enforcement wasn’t needed—only that it didn’t exist in the way that we understand it today. Perhaps you’ve heard of the English Bow Street Runners? They famously policed the streets of London in the 1750s, and eventually went on to form one of the world’s first organized police forces.

Who formed Canada’s first police force? That’s a little more difficult to answer. There were night watchmen patrolling the streets of Quebec City as early as 1651, but these were not police officers as we would consider in the modern sense. The 1877 Constable’s Act introduced the position of “provincial constable” into existence in Canada, but these men were part-time. They typically worked independently and had few resources and manpower at their disposal.

How the Ontario Provincial Police Force Came to Be

That changed in 1909 with the establishment of an Ontario Provincial Police Force. The force became necessary as the population grew and concerns with law-breaking increased. There were only 51 members of this initial force, and they didn’t even have uniforms until the following year! It took another thirty years for the OPP to undergo major reforms and experience critical growth. A centralized system of command helped establish the foundations of the OPP that we recognize today.

Changing environments have altered the outlook of the OPP since its formation. The OPP are always quick to respond to new and challenging scenarios, ranging from special protection of core facilities during the Second World War to bomb disposal in the 1970s. They even created anti-terrorist task forces to operate within Ontario following the tragic events of the September 11, 2001. The history of the OPP’s development drives the curriculum of police foundations courses to create graduates that can respond to any situation they might be faced with in the field.

In existence for over a century, the OPP is one of the largest active police forces in North America, policing a province with more than 12 million people using over 6,200 uniformed officers (including part-timers), 3,000 active civilian employees, and over 850 members of the auxiliary. Together they work to ensure that Ontario is safe and secure.

Let’s Get Started

The province of Ontario is truly diverse, with an ever-changing urban and rural landscape and a unique cosmopolitan population. These wide-ranging frontiers present distinctive challenges for the OPP to face on a daily basis. During times of economic uncertainty, Canadian Senator Colin Kenny argues that we need more Canadian police officers.

The Ontario Provincial Police Force have learned many lessons over the past hundred years, but there will always be new challenges to face. Give yourself a competitive advantage with a police foundations course to become a part of the O—or any of Canada’s excellent police forces. Get in touch with us at triOS today to find out how you can make your dream a reality.


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