Charles Dickens visited Canada once briefly, for a reading tour, but his son, Francis, served with the North West Mounted Police. (Associated Press)

The son of prolific English writer Charles Dickens spent time in Western Canada as a member of the North West Mounted Police — and a little piece of his history is stored in Calgary.

Francis Dickens was the third son and fifth child of 19th century English writer Charles Dickens and served as a member of the North West Mounted Police between 1874 and 1886. His officer's sword is currently stored at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

According to veteran Victoria journalist Vic Parsons, who recently published a book about Francis Dickens, the relationship between father and son was strained, and that may have had a small impact on Canadian history.

In his book Lesser Expectations, Parsons says the elder Dickens wasn't a very good father and as a result, his son Francis grew into a man who was reluctant to take charge, especially as an officer with the force in Western Canada.

Francis Dickens served mainly in Alberta and Saskatchewan before being discharged for medical reasons in 1886.

He died at the age of 42 in Moline, Illinois, after suffering a heart attack at the beginning of a speaking tour.

With files from The Canadian Press