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The Newfoundland Rangers

17GN-REGU-20150706-A04-K_Layout 1
17GN-REGU-20150706-A04-K_Layout 1

An historical change of government for the Island of Newfoundland came in early December of 1933, nearly a century after representative government [a form of responsible government or “Home Rule”] was first granted to the Island.

That December resolutions were adopted by which Newfoundland reverted from being a Dominion to the status of a Crown Colony once again. So far as affecting the common people, the new status made no difference to their freedom and little to their privileges. Government by Commission was carried out by a Governor and six Commissioners. Three were appointed by the King and three were appointed from Newfoundland. They were selected to exercise a time of austerity and to develop an industrial policy which would enhance the development of Newfoundland’s natural resources in hope it might become a bright jewel in the British crown.
One act of the Commission Government that proved to be of great benefit was the creation of the Newfoundland Ranger Force in the winter of 1935. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police was used as a model. The Ranger Force would be a partly military organization that performed a wide variety of roles. During the next 15 years the Force was an important link between the government and out-port residents who had no elected officials to represent their needs while the Commission was in power.
Ranger trainees had to be single. Marriage was possible after a five year enlistment period. Applicants had to be physically fit, between the ages of 21 and 28, stand at least 5’9” high, and weigh no more than 185 pounds. They also had to possess a Grade 11 education, which excluded many men who wanted to join at that time. Ranger uniforms closely resembled those worn by RCMP officers, with a khaki tunic and breeches with brown stripe. The men wore fur caps and overcoats in the winter and a blue serge dress uniform for formal occasions.
The Rangers worked directly under the Department of Natural Resources, but performed a variety of tasks for six government departments. They issued relief payments to the poor, enforced criminal and game laws, inspected logging operations, helped build roads, bridges, and other public works, collected custom duties, acting as truant officers and performed in other roles.
The first recruit joined the force on July 9th, 1935. The fifth person to join was Fred Beauchamp, regimental number five. By the end of July 30 men were training at Ranger headquarters in Whitbourne. After three months training 23 were sent into the field on duty and 7 remained at H.Q. Fred Beauchamp, now Corporal, was one of the seven. Two years later Fred was promoted to Sergeant and posted to Grand Bank and later,Twillingate. After eight years service Sergeant Beauchamp left the Rangers and became a successful businessman in Port aux Basques.
Early in 1936, the Commission of Government expanded the force to 50 members and established new detachments. The force expanded again the following year to include an additional 12 recruits, bringing its numbers to 72. Sergeant H. Walters and Ranger G. Guzzwell were posted at Channel in the autumn of 1937. Ranger R. Sparkes was at Rose Blanche.
In 1937 two men from Channel joined the Rangers, Rex Dingwell and Dean Bragg. Rex Dingwell left the Force ten years later with the rank of Sergeant. Rex went into the wholesale business and later retired in Corner Brook. Dean Bragg was posted to St. George’s and then to Hopedale and Nain in Labrador. After five years of service he left the Rangers and joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve.
The outbreak of World War Two in 1939 placed further responsibilities on the rangers, who had to enforce rationing and blackout orders, patrol for enemy submarines or aircraft, take military deserters into custody, issue national registration cards to residents aged 16 years or older, and help recruit volunteers for service in the Armed Forces. Although some rangers left the force to serve overseas in the early months of the war, the Commission quickly declared the unit an essential service in order to prevent others from doing the same.
Two more local men joined the Ranger Force. Joseph Lawrence from Channel, son of Joseph and Julia Lawrence, joined the Rangers in 1944 and left in 1947 to go to work with Bowater’s Paper Mill in Corner Brook and later on he became the administrator for the Hospital in St. Anthony.
Thomas Ford from Port aux Basques, son of Joseph and Estelle Ford, joined the Army and after the war he joined the Rangers in 1946 and was posted to Stephenville. Tom, as he was known, left the next year to join the City Mounted Police Force in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Following Confederation, the Smallwood administration decided to dismantle the Newfoundland Ranger Force. It was disbanded on 31 July 1950.

The Rev. Clayton Billard is a retired
Anglican minister and an avid historian. Comments are welcome. If you have
documents that may of interest, contact chantelle.macisaac@gulfnews.ca

That December resolutions were adopted by which Newfoundland reverted from being a Dominion to the status of a Crown Colony once again. So far as affecting the common people, the new status made no difference to their freedom and little to their privileges. Government by Commission was carried out by a Governor and six Commissioners. Three were appointed by the King and three were appointed from Newfoundland. They were selected to exercise a time of austerity and to develop an industrial policy which would enhance the development of Newfoundland’s natural resources in hope it might become a bright jewel in the British crown.
One act of the Commission Government that proved to be of great benefit was the creation of the Newfoundland Ranger Force in the winter of 1935. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police was used as a model. The Ranger Force would be a partly military organization that performed a wide variety of roles. During the next 15 years the Force was an important link between the government and out-port residents who had no elected officials to represent their needs while the Commission was in power.
Ranger trainees had to be single. Marriage was possible after a five year enlistment period. Applicants had to be physically fit, between the ages of 21 and 28, stand at least 5’9” high, and weigh no more than 185 pounds. They also had to possess a Grade 11 education, which excluded many men who wanted to join at that time. Ranger uniforms closely resembled those worn by RCMP officers, with a khaki tunic and breeches with brown stripe. The men wore fur caps and overcoats in the winter and a blue serge dress uniform for formal occasions.
The Rangers worked directly under the Department of Natural Resources, but performed a variety of tasks for six government departments. They issued relief payments to the poor, enforced criminal and game laws, inspected logging operations, helped build roads, bridges, and other public works, collected custom duties, acting as truant officers and performed in other roles.
The first recruit joined the force on July 9th, 1935. The fifth person to join was Fred Beauchamp, regimental number five. By the end of July 30 men were training at Ranger headquarters in Whitbourne. After three months training 23 were sent into the field on duty and 7 remained at H.Q. Fred Beauchamp, now Corporal, was one of the seven. Two years later Fred was promoted to Sergeant and posted to Grand Bank and later,Twillingate. After eight years service Sergeant Beauchamp left the Rangers and became a successful businessman in Port aux Basques.
Early in 1936, the Commission of Government expanded the force to 50 members and established new detachments. The force expanded again the following year to include an additional 12 recruits, bringing its numbers to 72. Sergeant H. Walters and Ranger G. Guzzwell were posted at Channel in the autumn of 1937. Ranger R. Sparkes was at Rose Blanche.
In 1937 two men from Channel joined the Rangers, Rex Dingwell and Dean Bragg. Rex Dingwell left the Force ten years later with the rank of Sergeant. Rex went into the wholesale business and later retired in Corner Brook. Dean Bragg was posted to St. George’s and then to Hopedale and Nain in Labrador. After five years of service he left the Rangers and joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve.
The outbreak of World War Two in 1939 placed further responsibilities on the rangers, who had to enforce rationing and blackout orders, patrol for enemy submarines or aircraft, take military deserters into custody, issue national registration cards to residents aged 16 years or older, and help recruit volunteers for service in the Armed Forces. Although some rangers left the force to serve overseas in the early months of the war, the Commission quickly declared the unit an essential service in order to prevent others from doing the same.
Two more local men joined the Ranger Force. Joseph Lawrence from Channel, son of Joseph and Julia Lawrence, joined the Rangers in 1944 and left in 1947 to go to work with Bowater’s Paper Mill in Corner Brook and later on he became the administrator for the Hospital in St. Anthony.
Thomas Ford from Port aux Basques, son of Joseph and Estelle Ford, joined the Army and after the war he joined the Rangers in 1946 and was posted to Stephenville. Tom, as he was known, left the next year to join the City Mounted Police Force in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Following Confederation, the Smallwood administration decided to dismantle the Newfoundland Ranger Force. It was disbanded on 31 July 1950.

The Rev. Clayton Billard is a retired
Anglican minister and an avid historian. Comments are welcome. If you have
documents that may of interest, contact chantelle.macisaac@gulfnews.ca

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