Gravesite Inspection Update: Commissioner Herchmer

 

Photograph of NWMP Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer/

 

 

 

 

Veteran Murray Macham sent us the following update information on our Division Gravesite inspection program.

 

 

 

 

 

As you walked through that training centre gate many years ago you knew that an inspection was going to be part of your life, daily, and sometimes many times a day.

Uniforms were cleaned and pressed and boots and brass were shining particularly brightly today when the RCMP Saskatoon subdivision headquarters personnel assembled at HMCS Unicorn for the semi-annual inspection.  The complete officer's kit, including uniform, equipment, cars, and quarters, were examined by Inspector W.W. Peterson, officer commanding the subdivision.  He is shown left accompanied by Staff Sergeant F.W. O'Donnell subdivision non-commissioned officer, inspecting the ranks.

Uniforms were cleaned and pressed and boots and brass were shining particularly brightly today when the RCMP Saskatoon subdivision headquarters personnel assembled at HMCS Unicorn for the semi-annual inspection.  The complete officer’s kit, including uniform, equipment, cars, and quarters, were examined by Inspector W.W. Peterson, officer commanding the subdivision.  He is shown left accompanied by Staff Sergeant F.W. O’Donnell subdivision non-commissioned officer, inspecting the ranks.

 

Then years after retirement, having met with some protocol after your death, along comes another inspection and sometimes a hair cut around your grave marker or headstone.

Recently this past year I had that experience with the 5th Commissioner of the RCMP when I took on this oversight, and found the Herchmer marker in the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

Photograph of the grave marker for former Commissioner Laurence Herchmer. Note that the top of the marker has been broken off. Photo taken by Veteran Steve Gibson.

Photograph of the grave marker for former Commissioner Laurence Herchmer. Note that the top of the marker has been broken off. Photo taken by Veteran Steve Gibson.

Along with Veteran John Schneider we visited the marker and John being a bit of a stone mason realized that the marker was fragile. Enter into the picture Dennis Fabbro the cemetery manager who took up the challenge with us to get the marker cleaned as he had a poultice that he wanted to try out that would be non intrusive of the stone. It needed hot sunny weather and we got it done.

Photograph of the updated grave marker for Commissioner

Photograph of the updated grave marker for Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer.

An amazing transformation for the Commissioner. But not satisfied I was wanting to perhaps repair some vandalism as the cross at the top was broken off. An expert from JB Newell Monuments who met Dennis and myself after inspecting the marker told me that the stone was too fragile to work with, as the vibration of saws might cause the stone to crumble. So a final salute to you Sir and until the next inspection rest well.

The Commissioner is also in the Masonic Section which caused me to wonder if he and I shared that connection. The records of the Grand Lodge of BC and Yukon showed there were no records of his membership. However a historian at the Grand Lodge agreed with me that his fraternal membership was most likely in India where he served in the Armed Forces. (2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles). Many who served in India during that era joined Masonic Lodges but without knowing in what jurisdiction or what lodge he belonged to it would be difficult to verify that.

Working my way through Mountain View Cemetery several “in need of repairs” have been documented and some already dealt with, and will be identified in later submissions. I am also trying to get a working spread sheet together of all cemeteries in the Lower Mainland and their veteran occupants, and next spring and summer will be asking for help in walking among those we share experiences with. Several veterans and spouses have sent requests to be included in these walks and if you want to add your name simply email me and I’ll add you on. During the “walk about” we will also be identifying the grave location with a GPS marker so in years ahead it will not be a hide and seek venture.

I might also add there is a certain amount of pleasure being caught giving the marker a grass trimming around the stone edges and then explaining what you’re doing. Who knew I had the skills of a Depot Division barber?

Murray Macham closing block

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