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), who 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

December 20th

1878 – #18 & 23 Sergeant Edward Carr had to get his rifle and shoot two bears that forced their way into the barracks square at Fort Saskatchewan. Carr had two different regimental numbers because he was issued number “18” when he joined the NWMP in 1873 and was issued the new number “23” when the Force organized its records and renumbering took place in 1878.

1933– #11201 Constable Thomas Paulreceived commendation for difficult patrol with two dog teams from Fort Chippewyan to Embarrass Portage, Alberta.

1946– Four German prisoners of war were hanged at the Lethbridge Provincial Jail for the murder of fellow prisoner Cpl. Karl Lehmann at the Medicine Hat POW camp in Sept. 1944.  Note: If you would like to read the in-depth article on this case, send me an email, and I will forward it to you. Larry

2003 – Constable #38731 Cameron Jan Joseph responded to a complaint of a home invasion in Terrace BC where an elderly man was assaulted. While en-route he received a radio description of the suspects involved and then observed a man fitting the description attempting to hide behind a dumpster. As Constable Joseph exited his police car to investigate, the man suddenly rushed him and attacked him with a 6-inch hunting knife slashing him below the chin. Bleeding profusely Constable Joseph fought back and knocking his attacker off balance with the car door he attempted to restrain and disarm him. When constables Barnhill and Lofroth arrived on scene they found Joseph struggling valiantly with his enraged attacker. The man was then quickly subdued and the two policemen applied much needed first aid to their partner and rushed him to the hospital. There he received over 20 stitches to close the 13-cm gash that nearly cut his jugular vein.

On July 15, 2004 in recognition of his bravery and tenacity in the arrest of the extremely violent subject Constable Cameron Jan Joseph was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for bravery.

December 19th

1964– Honour Roll # 128

#23499 Constable 3rdclass Reginald Wayne Williams drowned, while on patrol, when his police car skidded off of a wharf and plunged into the water. While on routine patrol on the icy streets of Sooke British Columbia Cst. Williams drove onto Government dock and skidded off the end, dropping 18 feet into the frigid water. Although his vehicle was pulled out from 12 feet of water within 15 minutes he had died from drowning.  21-year-old Cst. Williams had joined the RCMP only eight months earlier. He was buried in his hometown of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba at the Hillside Cemetery.

1968– Four teenagers were cruising the icy roads of rural Prince Edward Island when their car left the highway and overturned in five feet of water in Fullerton’s Marsh. Constables #22436 D.R. MacLeod and #24551 D.D. MacDonald responded to the scene and rushed into the water, managing to remove three of the occupants to safety. The driver, Clifford Smith, couldn’t be removed because his legs were trapped, and he was suffering from shock. So, the two policemen took turns entering the car and holding the victim’s head up in an air space. After an hour in the icy water the vehicle was raised using a crane and the driver was removed. Constable MacLeod had to be treated in hospital for hypothermia. Both constables were awarded Life Saving Certificates by the Honorable J. George MacKay, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.

December 18th

1961– Honour Roll # 115

#18200 Constable Joseph Thor Thompson age 27, died at Selkirk, Manitoba as result of injuries he received when his police car was crushed by the wheels of an aircraft landing near at Lethbridge Alberta.   See September 26, 1957.

1979– After responding to a motor vehicle collision near Milestone Saskatchewan #33551 Constable Michael J. Boyce rescued two men from burning car that had collided with a tractor-trailer. As he was attempting the rescue the gas tank exploded forcing him to back away from the car. He then rushed back to the vehicle and succeeded in the rescue of the occupants. On My 5th1981 Assistant Commissioner R.J. Mills, CO of “F” Division presented him with the Commanding Officers Commendation for Bravery.

1992– Assistant Commissioner #19209 / O.844 W.L. (Les) Holmes was the recipient of a very special honour when Native Elder H. Healy of the Blackfoot Nation bestowed Holmes with a ceremonial eagle feather headdress and gave him the native name of “Chief of all Chiefs” in recognition of his commitment and contribution to Aboriginal Community relations.

2002– 53-year-old #27513 / O.1540 Superintendent Dennis Masseywas driving from a Calgary City police station to the RCMP office at Springbank Alberta. While he was traveling west on 16th Avenue, Northwest he encountered an eastbound truck and flat deck trailer loaded with a large propane tank. As the truck approached the propane tank broke free from the trailer and careened across the center line and crushed Massey’s police car. Superintendent Massey had to be cut from the wreckage and succumbed to his injuries in hospital later.

Superintendent Dennis Massey had 33 years’ service with the force and was survived by his wife, mother, a brother and a sister. He is not on the Honour Roll.

Note: I just checked the Honour Roll and it has been recently updated and I am pleased to report that Dennis Massey along with three others who were denied that honour have been added to the Honour Role. He is number 243.

December 17th

1906 – Life in the remote bush can be extremely hard but even more so if you are not equipped with some common sense and basic necessities. After receiving a complaint that a family was destitute and near starvation #O.138 Inspector John Genereux, #1747 Constable Charles Tasker and a Native guide hiked from Battleford Saskatchewan to Tramping Lake to investigate. When they arrived at the run-down cabin, they found Mr. James Tait, his wife, his sister and seven children near starvation. They had no food, no firewood and didn’t even have an axe!  Leaving all of their supplies the trio hiked back to their detachment and upon arrival on December 27th

Constables #3069 William Burke, #4150 Donald Foster and #4482 Horace Townsend were sent back with additional provisions and clothing so the family could survive until spring.

1964 – Honour Roll Number 127.

#22240 Constable Robert Weston Amey, age 24 became the second Mountie to be killed in Newfoundland when an escaped convict shot him.

Early in the morning of December 17th, Winston Churchill Noseworthy, John Snow, James Thorne and Melvin Young escaped from the Penitentiary at St. Johns Newfoundland and made off in a stolen car.

Forty miles away near the village Whitbourne, they ran through a roadblock that had been set up by Constables #21018 David Keith, #22164 Garry Cluley and Robert Amey. After a high-speedpursuit the fugitives abandoned their car and ran for cover in the village and were cornered by the policemen but refused to surrender. While Constable Amey returned to his patrol car to use the radio to call for help the four men rushed Constable Keith, overpowered him and managed to grab his revolver. When Amey rushed back to assist his partner, 19-year-oldMelvin Young fired three shots and hit him in the chest killing him instantly. After murdering Constable Amey, Melvin Young fled into a nearby grocery store and took the owner hostage. By then Constable Keith had grabbed his dead partner’s revolver and arrested the three remaining criminals who stayed at the scene. After handcuffing the trio, he attended to Melvin Young and eventually convinced him that he had no chance of escaping and to give himself up.

The four men were returned to the penitentiary and were charged with escaping custody. Melvin Young was convicted of murder and was sentenced to die by firing squad, but had his sentence commuted to life in prison. He only served eight years before he was released on parole.

Robert Watson Amey had only been in the RCMP for five years. His body was returned to his parents at his home in Pondville Nova Scotia near Arichat where he was buried at the Anglican Church Cemetery.

1971 – #17625 / O.958 Sergeant Allen James Richards was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation for perseverance and dedication to duty after he went undercover to win the confidence of known bank robbers. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was held-up by four men who stole over $81,000. A few hours later #19522 Corporal Gary A. Loeppky and #27142 Constable H.W. Summerfeldt arrested one of the suspects.

Although he was well known to the local criminal community because of his years of work in the safe blowing squad, Sergeant Richards agreed to go undercover and pose as a bail bondsman and try and win the confidence of the bank robbery suspect in hopes that he would be led to the rest of the crew and the missing money. Suspecting that the police were watching him and not knowing Richards background, the suspect led Richards around Vancouver taking him into several hotels and bars where he figured Richards cover would be blown if he was a cop. Sergeant Richards was able to play his role so well that he succeeded in winning the confidence of his target and was able to gather enough evidence to arrest the other three robbers.

1973 – Three Medals of Bravery are earned by #19778 Sergeant Thomas Charlton and Constables #25637 James Adam Bell, and #24636 Brian Leicht.

The three policemen responded to a bank robbery at a shopping centre in Burnaby BC and decided to try and apprehend the robbers without getting into a shootout and endangering bystanders. The officers waited at the side of the bank and when the robbers left Sergeant Charlton pounced on them and grabbed hold of one of the robbers. The second man then pulled his gun and shot at the police, wounding Constable Bell and nearly hitting Constable Leicht. Before any other shots could be fired the policemen knocked the men to the ground and subdued them. Constable Bell was rushed to hospital and later recovered from his wound. In recognition of their bravery in apprehending the two violent criminals without injury or loss of life to the public present all three men were awarded the Medal of Bravery.

December 16th

1919– The first member of the Mounted Police to be Hanged for Murder!

On this day former Sergeant #6020 John Lindsay Wilson was charged with the murder of a wife nobody knew he had. In 1912 Wilson left his home and family in Scotland to come to Canada to seek a new life after he had been caught embezzling money from the business he co-owned with his in-laws. He had promised his wife Molly (“Polly”) Hutchison and their two children that he would send for them once he was established in Saskatchewan, he never did. After drifting through a variety of jobs he enlisted in the Royal Northwest Mounted Police on January 8th1914 and was posted to F Division (Saskatchewan).

Eventually Wilson stopped writing his wife and family and in 1917 contracted tuberculosis and was sent to the military corps hospital for treatment. There he met and fell in love with Miss Jessie Patterson. For the first time in a long time, life was going along rather pleasantly for him. He had recovered from his illness, been promoted and was making a new life with Jessie, things were pretty good until Polly decided to come to Canada and find her husband.

When she arrived unexpectedly from Scotland and phoned him he didn’t have the courage to tell her the truth so he began living a double life for nearly six months keeping his women separated in different communities and embezzling fine money from the Mounted Police to cover his expenses. When his wife Polly became pregnant he decided that it was time to end their relationship.

On September 27, 1918 Wilson took Polly for a drive in the country and then shot her in the head with his service revolver and buried her body under a culvert near Waldheim Sask. As he drove his car back onto the road he crashed into the ditch, so he burned the vehicle to destroy the bloodstains and any other evidence of the murder. Later the same day he obtained a marriage license and he and Jessie Paterson were married the next day. In an attempt to create the perception that Polly was still alive, Wilson continued to write letters to his in-laws in Scotland. Eventually her family became suspicious and asked the RNWMP to investigate.

Meanwhile the Force became suspicious of Wilson’s activities and investigated him for fraud and on November 7, 1919 he was charged and demoted. While serving his sentence in the Regina Guardroom he attempted suicide and was rescued by the Provost Constable #5833 Constable Ernest Pascoe. After serving his term he was dishonorably discharged from the Force.

By then the Force had assigned #4754/ O.0190 Sub-Inspector Charles John Prime to investigate the Hutchison family concerns and when Polly’s body was discovered Wilson eventually confessed to his crimes. He was convicted and hanged on April 20, 1923. He was buried in the South Hill cemetery in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

In 1994 the story of Wilson’s exploits was recorded by author Lois Simmie in her book “The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson”.

1976– Dorval Police Dog handler Constable D.R.J. Jean and his partner “Smokey” were asked by the Canadian Bomb Data Center to assist the National Public Archives Photography section in locating photographic negatives containing a dangerous substance. The problem was the Public Archives collection consisted of over 5,000,000 items in over 10,000 boxes and the negatives containing nitrocellulose base emitted a highly explosive gas when they deteriorated. After providing a sample for the bomb dog to sniff Constable Jean and Smokey conducted a seven-hour search and identified every box containing the potentially dangerous negatives.

1981– Honour Roll Number 169.

#31787 Constable Barry Flynn McKinnon age 27 was killed in a police motor vehicle accident, near Hamilton, Ontario.

Constables Barry McKinnon and #33242 James Stavert of the Toronto Drug section had been conducting surveillance in a rental car in Brantford Ontario and McKinnon had just dropped his partner off at his home in the Village of Burtch, and was headed home at the end of his shift. As he drove north on Highway #54 he encountered a flatbed tractor-trailer that had run out of gas at the bottom of a blind hill near Cainsville. Constable McKinnon was unable to stop his vehicle in time to avoid colliding with the truck and trailer because another oncoming car was passing the truck in the southbound lane. Unable to steer to the ditch because the shoulder of the road was lined with a crash guard made of three-foot posts and steel cables, he slammed into the back to the flat deck trailer and was propelled through the windshield of his car to his death.

Barry McKinnon was raised in Moncton, New Brunswick and was one of four children from the same family to join the RCMP. He joined the Force in 1974 and was married but had no children. He was buried at Wallace, Nova Scotia.

1982– North Vancouver member #33603 Constable Dave Senay responded to a report of a distraught man at a bus terminal armed with a hand grenade. During the 45-minute conversation Senay listened to the man’s extensive knowledge of military weapons and tactics. He eventually succeeded in convincing the man to surrender and when he was searched he was found to be unarmed. For his patience and tack in dealing with a potentially dangerous situation Constable Senay was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation, by the Deputy Commissioner T.S. Venner, CO of British Columbia.

December 15th

1901– #3136 Constable Charles James Townshend Stewart is granted a Leave of Absence to join 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles for service in the Boer War. He later received a commission in the Imperial Yeomanry.  He was killed in action on September 28, 1918, while serving as a Colonel with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry during WWI.

1952– The RCMP in Kamloops British Columbia received a missing person’s report concerning Fred and Jean LaBrie and that a man had been selling their furniture and driving their truck.

#16381 / O.489 Constable Wallace ‘Wally’ Todd was assigned the investigation and interviewed a man calling himself Henry Godin. The Constable was advised that Godin and the LaBrie’s were business partners but they had gone to retrieve more of their personal effects from a storage locker in Kamloops.

While Constable Todd was investigating his story, Godin disappeared. The missing truck was eventually found after it had been sold and a search of the vehicle revealed an empty.32 cartridge casing.

On December 15, 1952 Godin kidnapped the manager of the Bank of Commerce in Williams Lake as he was closing the bank and forced him to drive him around for several minutes and then back to the bank. There he ordered him to open the bank and unlock the safe.

While this was happening, an off-duty employee of the bank along with a friend noticed the open door to the bank and went inside to enquire. Godin was spooked by the fact that he was outnumbered and fired a shot and fled from the building and ran down the street.

Immediately the police were called and Constables#15226 William Pooler, #15627 Ron Winn and #17299 Jack Groves rushed to the scene and began tracking Godin’s tracks in the snow. The following morning, they had him cornered, the suspect fired at them and in the ensuing shootout Godin was shot in the chest.

While he was being treated in hospital, Godin’s fingerprints were forwarded to Ottawa and he was identified as 27-year-old Henry Seguin who was wanted for the murder of taxi driver Leonard Hurd in Maxville, Ontario.

Sequin was convicted for the bank robbery in British Columbia and then tried for murder in Ontario and was sentence to hang. Although he was the prime suspect in the disappearance of the LaBrie’s he refused to discuss the matter with police.

Moments before he was to be hanged on January 19th1954 Seguin cheated the hangman by poisoning himself with potassium cyanide that he had smuggled into the prison.

On September 18th1956 two human skeletons and a dog were found by a hunter in ravine by Long Lake Road 10 miles south of Kamloops. The remains were examined by Forensic Identification member #16445 Constable Dennis Jobling using superimposed photographs of the skulls and comparing them to photos of the victims he proved the skeletons were the LaBrie’s.

1974– Constables,#28408 Barry J. Mellish and #29497 Howard W. Geldart and civilian received commendation saving 3-year-old child and the attempted rescue of mother from van which had plunged into Folly Lake near Truro, N.S.

1983– Honour Roll Numbers 171 and 172.

Pilot #S/2706 Special Constable Wayne Graham Myers age 42 and #25289 Corporal Francis “Frank” Eugene Jones age 36 were killed in RCMP helicopter crash near Ucluelet BC.

On Thursday December 14th,the weather was perfect for flying so Ucluelet Detachment Commander, Corporal Frank Jones arranged for the RCMP helicopter based out of Courtenay to pick him up in Ucluelet. Cpl. Jones wanted search for some stolen logging equipment along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

As the pilot was entering an abandoned logging camp at the mouth of Cat Ears Creek, his vision was hampered by sunlight and he couldn’t see an abandoned suspension cable that was strung across the valley.  The Bell Jet Ranger “MP-DXB” flew directly into the cable and when the main rotor blades hit it the helicopter crashed killing both men instantly.

When they did not return as scheduled an immediate search was begun involving Search and Rescue Aircraft, Coast Guard personnel and the RCMP Patrol Vessel “Manyberries” crewed by #29753 Corporal Frank F. LaLear and Constables #32634 Robert J Mollett, #34502 Kim A. Bloy and #35982 Larry Burden.

By daybreak the search was intensified and at 11:15 am the wreckage was discovered. The investigation later determined that no notice to airman had been published and the owners of the suspension cable hadn’t bothered to hang warning markers.

Corporal Frank Jones had joined the RCMP in 1966 and was a popular member who had served in several communities in British Columbia over his 17-year career.

Wayne Myers had a varied flying career and had only joined the RCMP in 1982.

2006– #31796 / O.1643 Beverly Ann Busson COM, (nee MacDonald) was appointed as the interim commissioner. Commissioner Busson has many firsts in her 32-year career. She was a member for the first female troop in 1974; she was the first woman promoted to the rank of inspector in 1992 and was the first woman to command a Division.

Though she was considered for the role of permanent commissioner she chose not to accept the post and served as interim commissioner until July 16, 2007 when she retired and was replaced by Mr. William Elliot COM, the first civilian to hold the post.