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Canadian Western

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A Fistful of Loonies

The Canadian Western, or "Northern" as it is properly called, is The Western IN CANADA!, with a few characteristic differences. There tends to be more snow in Canada and Alaska, the other setting for the Northern, than in the western United States. As such, instead of the deserts and rock formations of the American Southwest, the iconic imagery associated with the Canadian Western is that of snow-covered boreal forests and mountain peaks.

Furthermore, there's the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, always dressed in the famous Red Serge uniform, who always get their man (or so they're supposed to do). If it doesn't have Mounties, it's not a Canadian Western. In a way, the Mountie represents a transition phase in the idea of the frontier lawman: he's often isolated out in the field, but he is part of a larger formal organization with the central headquarters located all the way back in Canada's urban national capital in Ottawa, Ontario, and will occasionally make the trip there on administrative business and vice versa. In reality, while they are a common staple, not every Northern has a Mountie as the central character, with examples being White Fang and the 2016 film Searchers.


There will also nearly always be a Remittance Man.

Despite popular belief, the Northern is not a Dead Horse Trope. It is still going strong with series such as When Calls the Heart and films such as The Mountie keeping the genre alive.


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  • A Canadian Heritage Minute about Superintendent Sam Steele, head of the Yukon detachment of the North West Mounted Police who kept the peace during the Klondike Gold Rush, is meant to illustrate the difference between the American Wild West and the Canadian West. An American frontiersman who crossed the border with gambling gear and a pair of revolvers hoping to make a quick buck gets caught at the border by Steele and his officers and sent right back into Alaska. Steele didn't even have to draw his own gun, and was barely fazed when the American drew his.

    Comic Books 
  • Jonah Hex (2005), an issue of the series finds Jonah Hex in the Northwest territories tracking down a bounty and running afoul of some Mounties who don't take kindly to an American Bounty Hunter roaming their country.
  • Lucky Luke has "Les Daltons dans le blizzard", where they flee to Canada. Contains this immortal line by Joe on seeing a Mountienote :
    "Hooray, a policeman!"
  • Much of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is set in the Yukon, with Superintendent Steele of the RCMP making a memorable appearance by attempting to arrest Scrooge.

    Comic Strips 

    Film — Animated 
  • Balto is set in Alaska, making it an Alaskan example of a Northern, and centers around the 1925 serum run to Nome. Animals are a common feature in Northerns and dogs and dog sleds were popularized by Jack London with both playing a major role in this one.
  • The Academy Award-nominated animated short Wild Life (Une vie sauvage) is about an English Remittance Man who goes out to Alberta to become a rancher in the year 1909. It is subtitled "A Western" and the main character's body is found by a Mountie.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Two noteworthy stories of the Northern genre are The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London, the former story even being set during one of the five most notable historical events to focus a Northern around: the Klondike Gold Rush. Another common feature of the Northern are animals with these two stories having been the one responsible for popularizing dogs and by extension dog sleds for the genre.
  • Many of the crime/horror novels by Michael Slade have elements of the Canadian Western. They feature a Mountie crime-fighting unit (Special X), discuss the history of the Mounties' patrols in the Canadian West and the Yukon, and include many other elements of the Western.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Canadian TV series, The Beachcombers, is technically a Western in the sense that it is placed around the real town of Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada's western most province. The regular character, Const. John Constable is a Mountie of a more realistic kind: he wears a standard regular duty uniform, only wears his Red Serge dress uniform on special occasions, and doesn't ride a horse on duty and instead uses a standard police cruiser and patrol yacht on the water.
  • The Canadian TV series Bordertown is set in a town that straddles the US/Canadian border somewhere in Saskatchewan. The border goes through the middle of the law enforcement office, with a straitlaced corporal in the Northwest Mounted Police having his desk on the north side, and a rough-and-ready U.S. Marshal having his on the south side.
  • Due South is this for part of the pilot, before Fraser ends up in Chicago.
  • When Calls the Heart is set in a town in the Canadian northwest (likely Alberta). Mounties, coal miners, outlaws, and schoolmarms drive the show's many plots.
  • Murdoch Mysteries sometimes takes the lead character out of the city:
    • In "Anything You Can Do...", Murdoch travels to rural British Columbia while tracking down a murderer with a North West Mounted Police officer (who turns out to be his half-brother.)
    • "Murdoch of the Klondike" has Murdoch take a leave of absence to become a prospector in the Canadian Gold Rush, inevitably finding a murder and working with Sam Steele of the NWMP.

  • The Challenge of the Yukon, dealing with the adventures of RCMP Sergeant Preston and his sled dog/ally Yukon King. Also a TV series in the 1950s.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Great Weird North is the Canadian sourcebook for Deadlands, expanding the Weird West setting into Canada and allowing PCs to be Mounties, trappers and other typically Canadian archetypes.

  • The musical Rose Marie. There are three film versions, all including considerable changes.

     Western Animation