Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP




The achievements and contributions of the Force have been built upon the individual contributions of many past Veterans. These contributions have largely been forgotten.






Veteran Sgt. Larry Burden ( #35982) served in “E” Division for 20 years has spent over ten years researching and summarizing these achievements by specific date. Nearly every day, Larry sends out an email message with a selection from his work in progress manuscript “This Day In The RCMP” to individuals interested in these historical notes.

In an effort to share his research to a large group, Larry has agreed to permit us to develop a webpage on our website. Each webpage will post Larry’s historical notations over the past week.

If you wish to contact Larry Burden or provide additional information about his research, please email him at

January 23

1941 – German prisoner of war Franz von Werra escapes from a train near Prescott Ontario and evades the RCMP and military personnel and he makes it back to Germany, only to die in action a year later. Franz von Werra the only German POW to make a successful escape in Canada.

1956 – A newly created Mace is presented to the tenth session of the Council of the North-West Territories by Governor General Vincent Massey and is carried into the House of Commons by #12763 Sgt. James N. Reid who acted as Sergeant-at-Arms and presented it to Mr. R.G. Robertson, Commissioner of the North-West Territories. The Mace was commissioned by the Governor General and given as a gift to the people of the North-West Territories and presented to their legislators as a symbol authority. The 5 ½ foot high mace though similar to the traditional emblems found on other maces used in the Parliaments of Canada and England is unique in its workmanship and the materials used in its construction. The Mace or “Anaotalok” the great club was made by nine Inuit artists from Cape Dorset (Oshawetuk Ipeelie, Lutka Qiatsuk, Kovianaktuliak Parr, Ashevak Ezekiel, Peter Pitseolak, Nungoshuitok, Qavaroak Tunnillie, Moses Tauki and Kovianatuliak Ottokie) who were paid $70 each and was made with a variety of materials from across the territories. The shaft is made from a narwhal tusk from the Foxe Peninsula. It includes free cooper from the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and pure gold from the mines of the Mackenzie District in the design of the crown. Musk-ox horns and carved whalebone decorated with porcupine quillwork from Yellowknife support the crown and orb. The foot of the mace is made from a piece of oak recovered from the Sir William Parry’s ship “HMS Fury” that was wrecked on Somerset Island in 1825 and found by the crew of the RCMP St. Roch. Governor General Vincent Massey requested that the mace be carried by a member of the RCMP because of the long association the Force has had with the north. This was a very special privilege that bestowed on the Force and for Sergeant J.N. Reid a veteran of several years’ service in the north, a truly great honour. The original Mace became too fragile to continue being used and was replaced with a replica in 1959 and is now stored at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

1978 – Honour Roll Number 155.

Photograph of Constable Dennis Anthony

Photograph of Constable Dennis Anthony Onofrey (Reg. #32104).

#32104 Constable Dennis Anthony Onofrey age 27 was shot and killed at a motel, in Virden, Manitoba, while investigating a suspected stolen motor vehicle.

Cst. Dennis Onofrey had just over three years’ service when he was murdered and three of his comrades were injured in a shootout with two criminals from British Columbia. While working night shift in Virden, Cst. Onofrey cruised by a local motel and ran the licence plates on the vehicles in the parking lot and got a “hit” on a van with British Columbia plates. Suspecting that the vehicle was stolen he made enquires with the Motel office and learned that the room was registered to a Mr. and Mrs. Crystal. He then called for backup and when #25435 Cpl. Russ Hornseth and Constables #34034 Candice Smith and #28827 John O’Ray arrived the members went to the hotel room and knocked on the door. At first the lights came on but were then suddenly turned off and Onofrey became cautious and pulled his revolver out of his holster and pointing it at the door knocked on the door several more times.

When a man partially opened the door Cpl. Hornseth told him to step outside so they could talk to him. Before Cst. Onofrey could react the man produced a shotgun and shot him in the chest from killing him instantly. As Cpl. Hornseth ran for cover the gunman continued to shoot and hit him in the face imbedding several pellets in his forehead and destroying one of his eyes. Constable Smith found herself pinned up against a wall managed to fire a few shots before she was shot twice in the abdomen and rendered unconscious. Cst. O’Ray quickly dove over a snow bank and then circled around neighboring houses and came back to help Cpl. Hornseth as the two fugitives ran out of their room and tried to get into one of the police cars. O’Ray fired and hit the woman in the back but she was dragged into the patrol car and they sped away.

The pair then stopped at three different farmhouses and changed vehicles and took a hostage who they forced to take them to the local doctor’s house. Shortly afterwards the RCMP surrounded the house and agreed to take the wounded fugitive Dorothy Malette to the hospital. The standoff continued for another four days when H. Bruce Arthur, finally gave himself up.

Both were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison with no chance of parole, but Arthur died in 1991 of complications from surgery and Malette received parole after serving 15 years.

Dennis Onofrey was buried in Assumption Cemetery in Winnipeg Manitoba leaving behind his wife Paula who was six months pregnant and their two-year-old daughter.

January 24

1904 –Escaped murderer Ernest Cashel was captured and taken back to jail. Cashel escaped from jail on Dec 26 1903 after his brother slipped him two loaded revolvers. His escape resulted in three constables being sentenced to serve hard time and then be dishonorably discharged. (See January 7th)

1964 – Child birth has always been a challenge but when there are complications and you are in isolated locations such as Grise Fiord NWT it can be deadly.

After the wife of S/Cst Peeyameenie delivered her baby she began was hemorrhaging and was in danger of dying. Due to the fact that there was no medical help available locally the detachment contacted United States Air Force base at Thule, Greenland by radio. Following the instructions from the base doctor relayed by Cst. #21791 Smith, Constable #20799 Robert C. Currie cleaned the placenta off the uterine wall with a kitchen spoon. After the operation Mother and baby were later flown to Winnipeg where she recovered fully. #O.865 Robert C. Currie joined the RCMP in1959 and retired an Assistant Commissioner in 1994.

1979 – For their roles in the planning of XI Commonwealth Games at Edmonton Alberta #19702 Sergeant Ronald G. Easton and #23148 Staff Sergeant Colin E. Killam received the Commanding Officers Commendation and #17912 / O.949 Inspector Ronald A. McIntyre was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for outstanding service.

1997 – #32523 Corporal Barry Gray Shannon is awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Corporal Shannon served as a Police Monitor for the UN Protection Force Civilian Police (UNPROFOR CIVPOL) in Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia from November 1992 to May 1993. While working at the Civilian Police Station at Sarajevo Airport, Cpl. Shannon and his associates were subjected to constant heavy shelling. In January of 1993 Corporal Shannon risked his life on two separate occasions, while dodging artillery fire, he went into harms way to the rescue UN monitors who had become disoriented during sniper attacks. With his assistance, the monitors were led back.

January 25

1923 – Photograph of Sgt. Major Frederick Anderson circled in red.

1935 – RCMP veteran #5694 Sergeant Major Frederick Anderton, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

1968 – #16974 S/Sgt Guy Houde received a commendation for assisting Scotland Yard, in the arrest of 33-year-old Charles Wilson at Rigaud Quebec.
Charlie Wilson was a notorious underworld figure and one of the masterminds behind one of the greatest robberies in British history “the Great Train Robbery” when over £2.5m was stolen from a Royal Mail train on August 3rd, 1963.

Wilson along with twelve other accomplices were identified and eventually rounded up by police as a result of their finger prints being left at a farmhouse. Sentenced to 30 years in prison he made his escape on August 12, 1964 after serving only four months when a gang of three men who broke into the jail in the early hours of the morning. With a stolen ladder they broke into the grounds of a mental hospital next to the prison, and used a rope ladder to scale the 20ft (6.1 metre) high prison wall. After his escape he fled to Canada and hid out for four years before Scotland Yard was tipped off when his wife made the mistake of telephoning her parents in England. After his capture in Canada Wilson returned to jail in the UK, where he served out the rest of his sentence. When he was eventually released from prison he moved to Spain and was shot dead by a hit man on 23 April 1990 as he relaxed by his swimming pool.

The criminal exploits of Charlie Wilson were detailed in the 2004 book “Killing Charlie”: The Bloody, Bullet-riddled Hunt for the Most Powerful Great Train Robber
by Wensley Clarkson.

2004 – Fraser Valley Traffic Services member #47796 Cst. Chad William Greig was on highway patrol duties in the town of Hope British Columbia when he encountered a suicidal woman on the bridge over the Fraser River. Backed up by Cst. Kevin Page (looking for reg #) he succeeded in getting close enough to the woman to grab her by her jacket as she attempted to jump into the raging river. In the process Cst. Grieg was nearly dragged over the bridge railing by the woman who repeatedly beat on him in an attempt to free herself from his grasp. Fortunately two other police officers rushed in and as the woman continued her struggle, the policemen were able to pull her back to safety. In recognition of his courage, Cst. Greig was awarded both the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery and on October 13, 2006 he was presented the Medal of Bravery.

January 26

Photograph of a Canadian Red Ensign (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles)

1924 – The “Red Ensign” becomes Canada’s official flag and is in use until the present flag is introduced in 1965.

1940 – As King George VI was preparing to leave the Canadian headquarters at Aldershot, England after spending five and a half hours visiting the Canadian Division, he recognized #11288 Sergeant Andrew Drummond-Hay and singled him out. Sergeant Drummond-Hay had acted as one of his Majesty’s bodyguards during his Royal Visit to Canada in 1939. In addition, the King greeted another member he remembered, the Company #9894 Sergeant Major Charles Graham who was in charge of the No.1. Provost Company (RCMP) motorcycle escort squad.

1975 – #20255 Constable R.B. Cooke of Valleyview Alberta Detachment encountered a 13-year-old boy driving his father’s car. When Cooke took the child home to his parents he discovered that the father was intoxicated and hostile to the police. A struggle occurred when the man attempted to take the car keys from Cst. Cooke and failing to get the keys, he retreated into his house and came out pointing a loaded rifle at the policeman. Cst. Cooke succeeded in talking the man into dropping the weapon and then arrested him and took him into custody. In recognition of his courage and restraint Cst. Cooke was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1979 – When a neighbour’s house in Vernon, British Columbia caught on fire, #32920 Cst. Charles Neil Duncan, and Auxiliary Constable Dieter Juergen Nieswand rushed into the burning building in an attempt to save a two-year-old child. Entering through the front door they were initially driven back by the intense smoke and heat. Undeterred Aux. Cst. Nieswand tried to crawl into the kitchen on his hands and knees but was soon overcome by the smoke and had to be pulled out by his partner who then crawled back inside the house with a wet towel wrapped around his head but he too was driven back outside by the blaze. Refusing to give up, both men went back inside again and Cst. Duncan succeeded in finding the child and passed him to Aux. Cst. Nieswand, and then they rushed outside to safety. For their heroism in saving the life of the child both men were awarded the Medal of Bravery.

1981 – Constable #30909 R.X. Jerrett is awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation for his thorough fraud investigation into a case involving a scheme to procure money from the Yukon Government.

1985 – Around 1:00 a.m. a woman called the detachment in Meadow Lake Saskatchewan reporting that a man armed with a rifle was ringing her doorbell. When the police officers arrived, they conducted a quick search of the property and discovered a broken basement window. While the other constables searched the outside area for the suspect, #27367 Corporal William C. Cameron went inside the house with the owner to check on the broken window and see if anything had been stolen. As they were leaving the basement, the homeowner was confronted by the man holding a rifle. When she screamed, Corporal Cameron shoved her aside and placed himself in the line of fire. He then grabbed the barrel of the rifle and knocked the gunman to the floor and arrested him. When they checked the rifle, they discovered that it was loaded and the hammer was in the cocked position. Corporal Cameron was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1987 – Honour Roll Number 185.

Photograph of Special Constable Gordon Zigmun Kowalczyk (Reg.# S/1550) (Source of photo – RCMP Quarterly magazine).

# S/1550 Special Constable Gordon Zigmund Kowalczyk age 35 was murdered on duty at Calgary, Alberta, during a routine traffic stop.

Gordon Kowalczyk had joined the RCMP as a Special Constable in 1975 and was assigned to the Calgary Airport. On the night that he was brutally murdered he had responded to a complaint of a “gas and dash” at nearby gas station. When he attended to the scene he learned that the suspects had left in a pickup truck without paying for $20 worth of gas. Shortly afterwards he radioed that he was checking a black Ford pickup on Highway 2A. A few minutes later passing motorists found his body lying in the middle of the road and called the police. The investigation revealed that Cst. Kowalczyk had been shot six times at close range with a shotgun and the killer had stolen his service revolver. The investigation quickly stalled due to lack of any witness to the murder but nearly a month later the police got a big break in the case when a man and a woman robbed a pizza parlor in Edmonton. The robbers fired a shotgun blast into the air during the robbery and the ejected shell casing matched those found at the murder scene and this time a witness could provide the police with a vehicle description and a licence plate number. The trail quickly led to a farmhouse near Crossfield Alberta and to the arrest of a mother and her son. The investigation determined that 43-year-old Linda Marie Bowen and her son Andrew Kay were responsible for several armed robberies and the night Cst. Kowalczyk was murdered they had intended on robbing the gas station he was dispatched to. Andrew Car was in a stolen pickup truck and his mother was across the street in her car acting as the lookout, but whereas the station was closing, Kay panicked and drove off without paying for the gas.

When he was stopped a short time later Andrew Kay shot Cst. Kowalczyk at point blank range and then stepped out of the vehicle and fired five additional rounds into the policeman as he lay on the highway.

Kay was convicted and sentenced to 25 years and his mother to 13 years in prison for the senseless murder of a policeman. Gordon Zigmund Kowalczyk had three young children and was remarried. He was buried with full military honours at Queen’s Park Cemetery in Calgary Alberta.

1991 – Body armour stops more than bullets. #24385 Cpl. R.C. Toner is patrolling on rainy highway near Cole Harbour, NS, when a Jaguar car struck a passing van, then crashed into driver’s door of Toners police car pushing the door in and bending frame. He is saved from serious injury by his Kevlar body armour.

January 27

Photograph (left to right) of: Chief Constable R.J. Stewart of the Vancouver Police Department; Sgts. D.E. Dichrow, T.M. Wagner and Commanding Officer “E” Division – D/Commr D.K. Wilson (Source of photo – RCMP Quarterly).

1988 – Sergeants, #23868 Dale E. Dichrow and #25825 Thomas M. Wagner earned Commissioners Commendations and Commendations from the Vancouver City Police for the rescue of the occupants of a burning house in Vancouver, B.C. Both members were conducting drug surveillance on a building when they saw that it was on fire and rushed into the blaze and succeeded in getting all of the occupants out safely.January 28

1965 – Canada receives Royal Proclamation replaces the Red Ensign with the new Maple Leaf flag as the official flag of Canada.

1976 – Constables #24609 John Hay and #30669 Louie S. Racz responded to a call for assistance at a farm near Yorkton, Sask. Shortly after they entered the house a very agitated and emotionally charged man came in brandishing a loaded high power rifle. Though the man was acting irrationally and at times incoherently, the two policemen managed to calm him down enough that he laid down the rifle. In recognition of their actions, both constables were awarded Commanding Officers commendations.

January 28

1965 – Canada receives Royal Proclamation replaces the Red Ensign with the new Maple Leaf flag as the official flag of Canada.

1976 – Constables #24609 John Hay and #30669 Louie S. Racz responded to a call for assistance at a farm near Yorkton, Sask. Shortly after they entered the house a very agitated and emotionally charged man came in brandishing a loaded high power rifle. Though the man was acting irrationally and at times incoherently, the two policemen managed to calm him down enough that he laid down the rifle. In recognition of their actions, both constables were awarded Commanding Officers commendations.