The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
For over 50 years, the famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police has served as the symbol for the printing paper produced by the Northwest Paper division of Potlatch Corporation.
It began in the early days of the Great Depression, when the then-struggling Minnesota Paper Company sought an advertising theme that would establish its product as strong, dependable, and consistently able to do the job well.
Beginning in 1931, Northwest Paper Company commissioned nearly 400 paintings and illustrations, in watercolor, oil and line drawings, which were used to merchandise the company's printing papers. The illustrations of the RCMP in their distinctive red surge uniforms were an instant advertising success.
In all, 16 artists painted Mountie illustrations for Northwest Paper from 1931 until 1970, when it was determined the collection was large enough to meet the company's future marketing needs.
Hal Foster, who went on to create the Prince Valiant cartoon strip, was the first Mountie artist. As Foster devoted more time to cartooning and Northwest Paper's marketing efforts expanded from illustrations in printing trade magazines to calendars, memo pads and broadsided, other artists were called upon to contribute.
The most prolific and best known of this group is Arnold Friberg. Although most of his works were in oil, Friberg's first work for the company in 1937 was in watercolor. Over the next 33 years, he sold paintings or reproduction rights on 208 Mountie subjects to Northwest Paper. Friberg also is well known for his western and biblical illustrations. The latter interest led to a mounumental painting and costume design project for Cecil B. DeMille's film The Ten Commandments, which earned Friberg an Academy Award.
Potlatch recognized that it is not geared to be a corporate curator of a large art collection. The Tweed Museum of Art was considered an ideal choice to properly care for and present the collection to a wider audience it is also located near the Northwest Paper division of Potlach Corporation offices in Cloquet.
View a gallery of Mountie Images owned by Tweed. (available July 2016)
Between 1937 and 1970 Arnold Friberg painted over 200 Mountie subjects, making him the most prolific artist in the collection. At their 1973 centennial celebration, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made Friberg an honorary member for his realistic and accurate illustration of the force.
For information on Royal Canadian Mounted Police merchandise available at the Tweed Museum Store please visit the TWEED MUSEUM STORE MOUNTIE MERCHANDISE PAGE.