The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is Newfoundland and Labrador’s Provincial Police Service; we have enjoyed a long and proud history which dates back to 1729. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Mounted Unit has been and continues to be a significant part of that history.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Mounted Unit was founded in 1873 and began with seven horses and seven riders. It increased to as many as ten over the next 21 years.
In 1922, the Mounted Unit was reorganized as a branch of the Constabulary. It continued as an important part of the Constabulary until 1951 when it was disbanded and the horses sold. At that time, there was no likelihood the Mounted Unit would ever be reorganized. The last 4 mounted police officers were: Cyril Leaman, Harvey Moores, W. Yetman and Vince Noonan.
In more recent years, police services throughout the world have instituted their own mounted divisions, as it is recognized that mounted police officers have no equal when it comes to crowd control and public relations.
Prior to 2003, Honorary Inspector William A. Bradley had provided a voluntary mounted unit for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. With his continuing support and through the efforts of Inspector Sean Ryan, as well as community and corporate financial assistance, the Mounted Unit of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was re-established as of November 17, 2003.
Honorary Inspector William Bradley donated two horses to the unit, Vince and Townshend.
On November 2, 2007, His Honour, The Honourable Edward Roberts, ONL, QC, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, Chief of Police Joseph F. Browne, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jerome Kennedy, officially opened a stable on Historic Government House Grounds as the new home of the RNC Mounted Unit.
On October 18, 2017 the RNC welcomed its newest Mount – Harvey is a six year old black male Percheron Cross. This horse is known as a Draft Horse and was born and raised in New Brunswick. He was last measured at 16.2 hands high and weighs approximately 1500lbs. Harvey was donated to the RNC by A. Harvey & Company Limited (Mrs. Susan Patten and the Patten family).
In addition to Harvey, the RNC has one other horse, Dr. Rich. Dr. Rich was donated by His Honour, The Honourable Frank F. Fagan, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland & Labrador and Her Honour, Mrs. Patricia Fagan in honour of their son the late Dr. Richard Fagan.
All members of this unit receive their training in partnership with the Toronto Police Mounted Division. Key areas of this comprehensive training included: crowd control and troop movements, formation riding, sensory training and policing from horseback. It takes anywhere from six months to one year to train these horses. Everyday thereafter, officers continue to provide training for the horses.
The horses in this unit are of a Percheron breed. The Percheron breed is one of the largest breeds of Draft horses. When they raise their heads high, they can stand over ten feet tall and weigh in excess of 2,000 pounds.
The breed originated in the region of Le Perch, France, over 1,000 years ago, where they were used to carry knights and kings. As work horses, they are very willing partners, affectionate and trusting.
These horses will retire from the Mounted Unit when they reach approximately 18-22 years of age.
While the horses hear the commands, this is not what they respond to. They respond to a subtle squeeze of their rider’s legs, to the shift in weight distribution in the saddle, and to the contact with the reins.
In addition to conducting patrols and special duties in the Northeast Avalon Region and the Corner Brook Region, the Mounted Unit also plays an integral role in the RNC Public Order Unit (POU) and Search and Rescue.
Dobbin, who passed away on May 25, 2018 at the age of 15, joined the RNC’s Mounted Unit in 2009 thanks to the generous support from Mrs. Elaine Dobbin who donated Dobbin in memory of her late husband, Craig L. Dobbin.
Fraize, who passed away on October 2, 2017 at the age of 20 was named after the late Detective Sgt. Tom Fraize, the first president of the RNC Association and founding president of the RNC Veterans’ Association. Fraize was donated to the RNC through funds raised by the RNC Veterans’ Association and the RNC Association.
Vince, who passed away on April 27, 2017 at the age of 20 was named after the Sgt. Vince Noonan, a Mounted police officer with the RNC in the 1950s. Vince was donated to the RNC by Honorary Inspector William Bradley. It should be noted that on October 20, 2014 Vince retired from the RNC Mounted Unit and remained in Newfoundland and Labrador; in South River, Conception Bay until his passing.
Townshend, who passed away on August 4, 2016 at the age of 21 was named after Fort Townshend, the base operation of the original Mounted Unit, which is home to the RNC’s Provincial Headquarters today. Townshend was donated to the RNC by Honorary Inspector William Bradley.