Canadian Military Police Civil Branch
The Dominion Police

Background - The Military Service Act, 1917

The Military Service Act of 1917 allowed the conscription of men for service in the final years of the First World War. Introduced by the Conservative government it was politically explosive, however the Act had questionable military value. Although 100,000 men were eventually conscripted, only 24,132 of those men served on the Western Front, compared to the more than 400,000 who volunteered throughout the war.

Call-ups began in January 1918. Of the roughly 400,000 men who registered for conscription, about 100,000 were actually drafted. Of those, only 24,132 served on the front lines in Europe. Although the number of conscript soldiers was small – compared to the 425,000 Canadians who served overseas throughout the war – conscripts were vital in bolstering the depleted divisions of the Canadian Corps during the final, important battles of 1918. Ultimately, the Act's military value was questionable, but its political consequences are clear. It led to the creation of Borden's Union Government, and drove most of his French Canadian supporters into opposition, as they were seriously alienated by this attempt to enforce their participation in what they considered an imperial war. More broadly, the conscription crisis bitterly divided the country along French–English lines. Serious anti conscription riots took place in Montreal and Quebec City, on several occasions outnumbered soldiers fired on rioting civilians. Opposition Members of Parliament actively campaigned against the Act

Letter sent by Liberal Member of Parliament Jacques Bureau a lawyer and former Solicitor General Of Canada to a constituent.

Loosely translated the letter reads:
I send you under separate cover few copies of the speech I say sue the obligitory military service. You would be very kind to distribute in your parish.

The Act provided for deferments and exemptions which opened the door for corruption and political bias. Not only the normal judicial and political corruption took place but unfortunately even Military Police were caught up the web.

The Court Marshal Findings of a Military Policeman charged with attempting to sell conscription exemptions.

Conscription exemptions.

Many members of the Military Branch of the Canadian Military Police Corps in Canada were appointed Special Constables and Peace Officers for the purposes of the Military Service Act and the War Measures Act.

The Dominion Police

The Dominion Police was created on 22 May 1868. Primarily active in Eastern Canada, the initial responsibilities were the protection of federal government buildings and providing bodyguards for government dignitaries. Plainclothes detectives carried out secret service work arising from the activities of the Fenian raids, and enforcing certain federal laws such as those relating to counterfeiting. Upon the transfer of the Royal Navy Dockyards at Halifax and Esquimalt to Canadian jurisdiction in 1905, the Police took over responsibility for combating theft, espionage and sabotage.

On the 31st of May, 1918, Privy Council Order 754 transferred the officers and men of the Dominion Police from the Department of Justice to the Department of Militia & Defence. The Dominion Police became the Civil Branch of the Canadian Military Police Corps. The Civil Branch expanded from a force numbering less than 100 members in 1918 to almost 1000 all ranks by it's disbandment in 1920. The Civil Branch were primarily concerned with apprehending draft evaders, resisters and deserters.

Militia General Order 815

Plainclothes Identification

Plainclothes Military Police Civil Branch Identification Badge
Stamped nickel plated brass measuring 1 1/16 inches wide by 1 3/4 inches high.

Plainclothes Military Police Identification Badge
Number 4 Military District (Montreal)
Stamped nickel plated brass measuring 1 7/8 inches wide by 2 inches high.

Plainclothes Military Police Warrant Card.

Dominion Police brass uniform button.


On the 1st of February 1920 the Dominion Police Force was disbanded and the majority of its members were taken on strength by the Royal North West Mounted Police which was then reformed as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.