The province of Alberta owing to its cosmopolitan population is hard to police, alien settlements being scattered all over it. These people, banded together as they are, and in a good many instances retaining the customs and mode of life they lived in their own countries before coming to Canada, are not as yet educating themselves with regard to the laws of this country, it is impossible to obtain evidence from them, and they are too prone to look upon any policeman as an enemy instead of a friend.
(W. C. Bryan, APP Annual Report, 1921)
Willoughby Charles Bryan was a western cowpuncher whose adventures took him from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the Mexican army of Porfirio Díaz to the Texas Rangers and the Northwest Mounted Police. A native of Nottingham, England, Bryan was born on 17 December 1866 and immigrated to Manitoba in 1883.
After returning from the United States, Bryan joined the N.W.M.P. in 1888 and served for twenty years. In 1916, he was authorized to raise the 191st Battalion from southern Alberta. He specifically appealed for Mounties to enlist, calling his former police colleagues, “the finest soldiers in the country.”
After the 191st was broken up, Bryan returned to Alberta to become deputy superintendent of the provincial police. He was appointed Police Commissioner in 1922, a position he held until retirement in 1932.
He died in Colwood, British Columbia on 21 January 1947.
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